How Smart is Your Home?
Home automation is exactly what it sounds like on the tin, “automating the ability to control items around the house” and it provides homeowners security, comfort, convenience, and energy efficiency by allowing them to control smart devices, often by a smartphone app on their smartphone or other networked devices.
But, with so much consumer choice on the market how can you be sure you’re buying the right smart technology for your home and your budget?
We’ve rounded up the best home automation products out there so you can find the best, shiny new gadgets that are useful enough to be worth your hard-earned cash.
Samsung SmartThings Home Hub
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced home automation hub that is easy to set up, the SmartThings Hub is a system worth considering. It connects to ZigBee, Z-Wave, IFTTT, and other Wi-Fi enabled devices, so you can ‘automate your lights, doors, outlets, and more while you’re away from your home.’
The SmartThings Home Hub integrates with many other devices, including Bose, Honeywell, Leviton, Google Home, Ring, and many more. This allows you to expand your SmartThings system to help you automate multiple items in your life.
“The Hub is the brain of your SmartThings system and is required to add devices.”
Window & Door: SmartThings Multi-Sensor
This is available to buy as part of the Samsung Home Hub Starter Kit or it can be purchased separately. Reviews indicate that “door and window sensors are about the same from one company to the next when it comes to functionality, but we suggest the SmartThings Multipurpose sensor because it’s easy to install and the interface is convenient if you want to sync your door sensors with other home automation products.
Smart Digital Assistant: All-New Echo Dot by Amazon
The Echo Dot is Amazons most popular voice-controlled home speaker offering a “hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms and more.”
But, which model is worth your cash and investment, Echo vs. Echo Dot? “Bigger doesn’t always mean better, and Amazon’s Echo Dot is proof of that. The Dot is the smallest of the Echo devices, yet it is the best value for your money, costing a third of the price. It can do everything the Echo can do, the only difference being it does not have as powerful of a speaker.”
Tons of smart home devices work with Alexa, so having an Amazon smart speaker makes it easier to integrate home automation products. We recommend the Amazon Echo Dot because it is ‘more affordable than the larger Echo and still offers most of the same features (controlling smart devices, playing audio books, answering questions, etc.).’
August Smart Lock Pro
The smart home is ‘getting smarter,’ but not everyone wants to do away with their old systems completely. For example, ‘while there are plenty of smart locks out there designed to completely replace your old lock in favour of a keypad or new keyhole, some people want to keep the ability to use their older keys.’
That, however, is where August comes into play with the August Smart Lock Pro, ‘which fits onto your existing deadbolt and allows you to keep using your old key when you (or your landlord) wants to, while still adding the benefits of a smarter lock.’
But while August is hailed by many as the ‘best manufacturer of these retrofit smart locks, the August Smart Lock Pro still isn’t cheap: At £179, for just the lock, and £219 for the lock with the “Connect” Wi-Fi adapter, the August Smart Lock Pro is an investment.’
With a few different models available, how do you know which is best for your budget? For its custom motion zones and longer video recordings alone, it’s easy to see why people would happily pay the extra money for the Ring Pro over the standard model, but you will likely need to factor in the additional cost of a professional installation.
Ring Pro Doorbell
Away from home and worried about security? Monitor your front door from your phone and ‘answer the door from anywhere with the Ring Pro Doorbell.’ ‘Being able to answer the front door when you’re not home is a nifty feature, but maintaining video surveillance on motion outside your home is also useful for security purposes. The Ring Pro makes this easier than ever with crystal clear 1080p video recordings and hardly any false-positives.’
Nest Cam Indoor-Outdoor Camera
Nest Cam manufactures both an indoor and outdoor Nest Cam model with reasonably similar features, but each model can ‘monitor anywhere in your home – all it needs is a plug socket and a WiFi connection.’
You can view a lived feed from the camera directly on your smartphone, tablet, or PC from anywhere in the world. You can even communicate with audio, record, stream, and receive notifications when sound or movement is detected, making Nest Cam the ideal security device when you’re away.”
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Smart Home Technology round-up! Which Smart Home technologies have you invested in to enhance your living space?
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