What are smart devices for the home?
Smart home devices transform your home into an automated, voice-activated, application-centric center. Install your thermostat from your workstation, watch pets with a remote camera, or set up an alarm with your voice.
Amazon Echo speakers and Google Home speakers, two good examples of smart home devices, are cylindrical speakers connected to a power source and the Internet. They can be used as voice-activated music players, but they can also read messages, set alerts, and answer questions like a personal search engine. Below I detail 7 of the best for 2018.
The Best Smart Home Devices
1. Smart Speakers
Amazon has redesigned its range of Echo Smart speakers with a new look. Well, Echo mixes more easily with paints and fabrics in your home and has a price reduction from $49.00 (US) to $199.99. Echo uses Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, who connects through the cloud to ask questions or play music.
Amazon Echo Dot works just like her big cousin. It’s Amazon’s most fuel-efficient smart speaker, starting at less than 50 pounds and offering almost the same functionality as the echo, but in a smaller case. Amazon Echo Dot is $49.99 on Amazon.
And new to the Echo family is the Echo Show, a videophone and a smart speaker from Alexa. The voice control features a seven-inch touch screen that allows users to make video calls, control home smart appliances, and shop online. It can be used to play videos or use other functions such as using a baby monitor. You can read the in-depth review here.
Other Smart Speakers include:
Google followed Amazon in the smart home hub market, which Google launched at the end of 2016. The device can ask questions from Google’s search engine, such as giving restaurant recommendations, answering traffic information and reading a daily schedule. You can connect to several other Google Home speakers, including the new Mini and the upcoming Max.
It can also activate Voice Speaker linked to a Chrome Audio linked, or connected to a TV using the Diffusion Google Chrome buttons to your settings.
Google Home Mini
Google’s Home Mini is the answer to the Echo Dot, this smart home mini-speaker suffers from many of the same problems as the dot, but again has a reduced price, which means that this smart speaker is one of the least expensive to set up a smart home Only $59.99. With the Home Mini, you can use the usual functions of intelligent speakers. Like the larger Google Home, it can work with Google’s Chromecast family to control live TV or control compatible Chromecast speakers. It is small at only 1.5 inches (or 40 millimeters) in height and comes in a variety of colors including white, coral and carbon. Google also launches a larger Google Home Max speaker, which was just released in December of 2017 in the US.
With Google Chromecast, you can turn almost any speaker into a smart speaker with a 3.5mm headphone jack and pair it with your smartphone or Google Home Assistant. You can then pair them with multiple speakers and stream music from your phone to sources such as Spotify or your own music library by using “OK, Google” as your activation phrase.
To set up a new Chromecast Audio, search for a device using the Google Home app and give it a name. You can then call your Google Home smart speaker to play audio from different speakers in the house. You can also refer to a Google Chromecast video sender and use your voice to select TV shows. Chromecast is not compatible with the Amazon Echo Speaker.
The new Sonos One is a multi-room speaker that can be controlled via its smart home hub. It is not only one of the best speakers in several rooms, but also compatible with Amazon Alexa. This means you can restore songs using voice commands and integrate Sonos into your Amazon Echo setup.
Learn more about the best smart speakers in my earlier post: What is the best smart speaker for 2018? Amazon, Apple or Google?
2. Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest Learning Thermostat is Google’s in-house heater control and thermostat. It allows you to configure your heating with the help of your application from a smartphone while learning your energy routines. Nest works with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa but is not compatible with Siri. Rival Thermostatic systems include Centrica-controlled Hive, which can also be controlled with the two main configurations of Smart Speakers.
3. Philips Hue Smart Bulb
The Philips Smart Bulb series has been around for several years, and there are a number of Philips kits ranging from cheaper light bulbs to Hue adaptive lights. Philips Hue Smart Bulb can be used to set up 16 million colors, and it works with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s HomeKit through the app or your voice. You can set preset scenes, such as: For example, dimming light for movie sets or warm light for a nice evening at home, and these can also be switched on with your voice.
The ecobee4 has everything its predecessor, the Ecobee3, has, but it also has a touchscreen interface and as a remote sensor that can heat or cool all the rooms in your home. But the new version also includes Alexa, so you do not need an echo or echo dot to control your other smart devices, ask about the weather or do whatever you can with the Amazon’s voice assistant.
5. Keen Home Smart Vent
The Keen Home Smart vents are one of the leading smart innovation happening to homes. Smart vents adjust airflows to rooms that happen to be over conditioned and redirect it to rooms that need it the most. Kenn Home Temp Sensor and the Smart Bridge allow the Keen home smartphone app to schedule, manage room temperatures and control thermostats.
6. Neurio Home Electricity Monitor
Neurio is bridging the data gap between storage, solar and the grid. The Neurio Home Electricity Monitor is probably the biggest thing happening to data and power management right now. Neurio increases energy efficiency by helping homeowners find energy hogs, thereby saving them some more money. For those house with a lot of home appliances, Neurio is highly recommended if you are on an energy budget.
7. Rachio Smart Sprinkler
Rachio Smart Sprinkler is the ultimate device that turns to your local forecast, water, food, sun exposurea nd more. It precisely sprinkles water to all the nooks of your yard. It only waters when it is needed, not during and after rain, and in that way, saves you money. With the smart app, you can monitor your yard from anywhere.
There is so much more available in home automation, but here I have given you 7 that will make your life simpler and save you money at the same time.
Richard Webb is an entrepreneur, fitness author of Fat Burning Secrets (available on Amazon), bodybuilder, blogger of fitness & technology, and a digital nomad working mainly from Mexico and travels frequently to Texas and California. He has 25 years experience working in software technology, so he truly considers himself as an unusual combination of bodybuilder-tech nerd.