Technology has transformed the way we live, and there’s no need for your home to be left behind. There’s an abundance of smart home devices that can elevate your daily life and make things easier, safer, and more convenient.
While the devices might cost a bit upfront, they pay off in the long term to enhance your lifestyle. From speakers and lights to security systems, kitchen appliances, and more, here’s my roundup of some of the best smart home devices worth having in 2021.
Table of Contents
- Speakers that speak to you
- Secure your home
- Enhance your family life
- Control your lights and devices
- Communicate – with loved ones and your devices!
- Seize the day, smartly!
Speakers that speak to you
A smart speaker can elevate your everyday life by making it convenient to listen to music from all your favorite streaming services, tuning into the news, setting timers, alarms, and reminders, checking on your calendar or schedule, controlling your smart lights, etc.
Of course, it can also be used as a regular Bluetooth speaker whenever you need it. But what should you keep in mind when selecting a smart speaker?
The first aspect to consider is compatibility. Most smart speakers work with Android and iOS devices though there are exceptions like Apple’s HomePod mini. It is also necessary to think about which ecosystem you prefer.
For instance, those who use various Google services should go for a speaker featuring the Google Assistant for better integration. Similarly, Amazon Alexa makes life easier for those who use a lot of Amazon services.
Of course, sound quality is vital too. There’s no guarantee that a more expensive speaker will produce better sound, and a lot depends on the space you want to use the speaker in.
In general, I’ve picked two speakers that strike the ideal balance between these different criteria and can add value to almost any user’s life.
1. Sonos One
This smart speaker offers the best of both worlds with support for both Alexa and Google Assistant. It boasts excellent sound quality for all music genres, from pop and rock to jazz and classic, and everything sounded amazing.
It’s also got Apple’s AirPlay 2, so you can control it with your iPhone, iPad, etc. This makes it a great HomePod alternative.
I love the Sonos S2 app that lets you control the speaker and use other features such as ‘room groups’ that lets you set up multiple connected speakers. Moreover, it comes at a pretty reasonable price given the quality and features. This makes it an ideal addition to any home.
- Great sound quality
- Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Excellent app
- Setup takes some time
2. Apple HomePod mini
If you’re committed to the Apple ecosystem like me, then this is the smart speaker for you. It’s affordable and durable, boasting sophisticated, engaging sound. Siri lends it substantial smart skills, and it works like a charm with all your Apple devices.
At just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it’s smaller than other similar devices like the Amazon Echo, but from the moment I started playing music, it was clear that the size does not compromise the sound quality. It’s loud and produces a mature sound that any audiophile will love.
- Perfect for Apple users
- Great sound quality
- Elegant design
- Not of much use without a connected iOS device
- Not much third-party service support
- No dedicated app to control it
Secure your home
Make the most of technology and bolster the safety of your home with smart cameras and locks. A smart camera lets you know what’s going on at home when you’re out and about.
You can always keep a check on your kids, pets, or property through an app on your phone that provides a live or recorded feed from the security camera. Some security systems have additional features like alarms, two-way audio, and motion detection notifications, which are all factors you should consider when buying one.
As for smart locks, I think this is one of the most important components of your smart home. It monitors who is entering and leaving your home and makes it easier for family members to come and go.
Smart locks have varied features such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, voice control, and customize access and privileges for family, friends, and employees.
Keeping this in mind, here are my top picks for the best security system for your home, consisting of a camera and lock.
3. Blink Mini
This plug-in security camera offers the best balance of features and affordability. It’s got 1080P HD recording, motion detection, built-in infrared night vision, and two-way audio that lets you monitor and hear the inside of your home. Check the feed on your smartphone no matter where you are.
You can see, hear, and speak to people and pets in your home on your smartphone with Blink Mini’s live view and two-way audio features. You can also get motion alerts on your smartphone and customize motion detection zones so you can see what matters most.
- Wealth of features
- Easy setup
- Live view is not continuous
- App could be better
4. August Smart Lock
This lock might be a lot pricier than what you’re used to, but the value it offers is worth considering. It’s compatible with Apple HomeKit and lets you control and monitor your door from anywhere. It automatically locks behind you when you leave and intelligently unlocks as you approach.
Moreover, it can easily attach to your existing deadbolt so that you can use your existing keys at any time. It has a holding force of 600 pounds, and its DoorSense technology confirms whether your foot is securely shut. You can keep an eye on who is coming and going, thanks to the 24/7 activity feed.
You can also opt in to use your smartphone’s fingerprint or facial recognition as an added security verification before operating your lock remotely. And Alexa can also provide notifications when the lock battery is running low so you can proactively replace it.
- Apple HomeKit integration
- Easy to install
- Customizable auto-lock and unlock
- A bit pricey
Enhance your family life
Enrich your everyday family life with the right gadgets. I have chosen a baby monitor, thermostat, and air purifier to take care of your home’s environment and ensure peace of mind. Of course, the prime concern when choosing such devices should be safety and value for money. My choices are from reputed companies and offer a good balance of utility, cost, and convenience. Let’s check them out.
5. Baby Monitor
Get a clear HD bird’s eye view of your baby from anywhere on your iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, or Echo Show device. You can even hear or speak to your baby with two-way audio. Further, get real-time sound and motion notifications with adjustable sensitivity. It also lets you monitor the nursery’s temperature and humidity to ensure your little one is comfortable.
It’s the best baby monitor for every family because it gives you your baby’s sleep stats each morning, plus a timelapse highlight reel of their sleep so that you can rewatch their entire night in seconds. Get personalized, science-backed sleep guidance and tips from the world’s leading pediatric sleep experts right in your Nanit app.
- Wealth of features
- Complete baby monitoring solution
- Easily portable
- Good picture quality
- Lights might be a bit distracting
6. Google Nest Thermostat
Save energy and maintain the ideal comfortable temperature in your home with this Energy Star-certified smart thermostat. It automatically turns itself down when you leave, so you don’t waste energy heating or cooling an empty home.
It’s programmable, so it lets you create an energy-efficient schedule in the Google Home app on your phone. Further, the remote control lets your family members change the thermostat temperature from anywhere on a phone, laptop, or tablet.
The Savings Finder looks for ways your thermostat can help you save and suggests tweaks to your schedule in the app. You also get reminders to keep things functioning optimally, and the smart monitoring periodically checks your heating and cooling systems to alert you if something doesn’t seem right.
Please note that although Nest Thermostat is designed to work without a C wire in most homes, some systems, including heating only, cooling only, zone controlled, and heat pump systems will require a C wire or other compatible power accessory.
- Energy saving
- Safety standards
- A bit pricey
7. Smart Air Purifier
Air quality is vital for maintaining good health, especially for young children and older adults. Ensure your family’s wellbeing with this top-rated smart air purifier that can be controlled remotely, letting you set schedules, adjust fan speeds, and more, all from your phone.
The ultra-fine nylon pre-filter and activated carbon filter capture large particles and absorb odors and fumes, while the H13 True HEPA Filter captures 99.97% of airborne contaminants. This rids your living space of microparticles of dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and more.
Moreover, with noise levels as low as 24dB, this smart purifier cleans your air without keeping you up at night. You can even turn off its lights with the Display Off button to prevent distractions in the nighttime.
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Complete clean air solution
- No disturbing lights or sounds
- Replacement filters can be expensive
Control your lights and devices
Lights, plugs, and switches might sound boring, but I’ve got to admit this is my favorite category of smart home devices. Something about turning on and off lights and controlling appliances with voice commands seems magical and makes me feel like I’m living in some high-tech science fiction story.
I love how you can create mood lighting and set the perfect environments for all kinds of activities, from family fun time to parties, intimate events, dinners, movie nights, and more.
Smart plugs can be inserted directly into a regular wall outlet or power strip and have an outlet where you plug the device you want to automate, such as a lamp or fan.
Before buying one of these, you should consider where you want to place the outlet and its compatibility with your devices and preferred voice assistant. Here are my top picks for switches and lights that will change your life.
8. TP-Link Smart Plug
I love how this smart plug easily lets you create schedules to automatically power on or off your home electronics and appliances. You can create a schedule for each device any day of the week or customize it by a specific time in a day.
Further, it offers security benefits too in the form of the Away mode that automatically switches lights off and on when you’re not in. This can thwart intruders by giving the impression that someone is home. At the same time, keep energy bills low by effectively managing devices that use the most power. Scheduling allows you to prevent power-hungry devices from being left on longer than needed.
It works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana, and you can set auto-turn off countdown timers to ensure that you never leave appliances running.
- Easy setup with no hub required
- Comprehensive app to control your home
- Bolsters safety of your devices and home
- Does not work with Siri
9. TP-Link Kasa Smart Switch
This is a great companion to the smart plug described above. You can replace your old switches with these smart ones to control your devices from your phone. Further, group your smart switch with other smart devices to control them simultaneously or set custom scenes to match any occasion like waking up.
You need a neutral wire and standard wall plate size but no need to understand complex switch wiring. You must connect to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection and then use the Kasa app to go through the easy step-by-step installation.
Just like with the smart plug, you can use a timer or countdown schedules to make your smart switch automatically turn on or off while you’re home or away. You can turn electronics on and off from anywhere with your smartphone and voice control through Alexa or Google Assistant. Finally, it’s UL certified for safety and comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Easy for anyone to install and setup
- More energy-efficient than conventional switches
- Works with Google Assistant and Alexa
- Two-year warranty
- Does not work with Siri
10. YEELIGHT Smart LED Bulb
One of the things I love most about my home is the smart lights I’ve installed and the varied lighting and moods that they enable. Swap your traditional bulbs with this smart one and change the look and feel of any space instantly.
You can adjust the color, brightness, and color temperature of the light through the intuitive iOS and Android app. Further, you can control each light individually or group multiple bulbs, lamps, and other fixtures together to synchronize lighting for a whole room.
This makes it a breeze to transition your lighting from evening tonight and even daytime. I enjoy syncing the bulbs with music to create personalized lighting scenes for whatever my mood is. Moreover, timers and smart schedules help to automate my daily routine.
It’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free voice control and integration into other smart home functions. Pretty neat!
- 16 million colors
- Easy to set up and control
- Supports IFTTT app for automation
- May not get as bright as a regular bulb
Communicate – with loved ones and your devices!
The internet and smartphones have changed the way we stay in touch with each other and how we interact with devices around us. If you love video calling, Ive found just the device you need to communicate with loved ones in authentic ways. Secondly, you should invest in an automation hub to make your smart devices communicate with each other in precisely the ways you like. Let’s check out my two devices.
11. Amazon Echo Show
Check out this smart display that lets you call friends and family who have the Alexa app or another Echo device with a screen. It also works as a means to make announcements to other devices in your home. Ask Alexa to show you security cameras, control lights, and adjust thermostats as you like.
You can even use this to create morning routines and achieve other tasks like cooking along to recipes, updating to-do lists and calendars, knowing the weather and traffic conditions, etc.
It features an 8″ HD screen and stereo sound for a great experience every time. Moreover, it also doubles up as a digital photo frame to add a personal touch to any space.
- Smart home control features
- Privacy controls
- Could be more customizable
12. Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub
Here’s the ultimate automation solution for your smart home. It’s a fuss-free way to make all your smart devices turn on and off according to your custom settings. There’s no cloud involved, no latency, and no delays for complete ease of use, privacy, and reliability. Local processing means your devices and automations work even when your internet is down.
It works with a wide range of smart devices, including lights, speakers, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smoke/water detectors, locks, thermostats, sensors, and more. Further, it’s got powerful built-in apps such as Rule Machine, Simple Automation Rules, Mode Manager, and Motion Lighting that let you build your own unique automation for all of your smart devices. Custom coding is also possible if you’re technically inclined.
I found the accompanying app to be suitably detailed and helpful. You can create customized dashboards for each room and user for remote monitoring and control of your home.
- Secure and private
- Powerful control of all smart home devices
- Plenty of customization options
- Local access only
- Complex to set up for beginners
Seize the day, smartly!
No matter how busy we might be, there’s no escaping the mundane daily chores of living. Thankfully, I’ve found some gadgets that have eased the routine and simplified my life. Cooking and cleaning can be pretty labor-intensive, so I’ve picked a smart pressure cooker and a robot vacuum. They, of course, require an investment up front, but it pays off in the long term.
13. Chef IQ Smart Cooker
Cooking healthy meals for the whole family becomes easy-breezy with this smart cooker that’s got 300+ presets, and over 1000+ presets built into the accompanying app. Simply input your ingredient and get the exact cooking time and temperature settings.
Connect the cooker to its app via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to control it and access 100+ guided recipes and culinary how-to videos. Further, use the precise built-in scale to easily measure ingredients and cook by weight, simplifying both prep and cleanup-no measuring cups needed. Four integrated smart sensors measure ingredients accurately and tell you exactly how much liquid is needed to cook meals to perfection. Just put in your ingredients and let the cooker handle the rest!
- Variety of guided recipes
- Makes cooking easier
- Suitable for beginners and experts alike
- A bit pricey
14. iRobot Roomba
There’s nothing worse than having to clean up, but hey, what are robots for? The Roomba has changed my life by taking my worst chore off my to-do list. You can use the iRobot HOME app or the voice assistant of your choice to schedule it to clean up daily dirt, dust, and debris for effortlessly spotless floors.
It follows a 3 stage cleaning system, and dual multi-surface brushes grab dirt from carpets & hard floors. My favorite is the edge-sweeping brush that takes care of those difficult to reach corners & edges.
Further, a full suite of advanced sensors allows this smart vacuum to navigate under and around furniture, while the Cliff Detect feature keeps it from falling downstairs. It also learns your cleaning habits to offer up personalized schedules that fit your lifestyle.
- Suitable for carpets and floors
- Advanced sensors to catch every speck of dust
- Less noisy than a regular vacuum
15. Philips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake-Up Light
Your sleep cycle can hold the key to many aspects of your health. And here’s s nifty little gadget that can help you set a sleep routine. It offers a magical combination of light and sound to take control of your sleep hygiene.
For starters, it is proven to give you an easy and energetic wake-up and improve your mood in the morning with a customized sunrise. It simulates the morning light to glow brighter gradually and gently wake you up with ambient nature sounds of your choice.
Then, when it’s time to wind down the day, it helps you relax with guided breathing and a sunset simulation that lets you doze off peacefully. As someone with highly photosensitive eyes, I love how you can choose the light intensity levels that are right for you, with 25 brightness settings.
I also appreciate that this lets me eliminate other devices from my bedroom, such as my phone or even an alarm clock. It’s the perfect all-in-one sleep-and-wake solution.
- Compact size
- Comprehensive sleep hygiene
- Customizable light and sound
- Quite pricey
Let me know your favorite smart home devices in the comments below. Or, share any questions you might have and I’ll help you buy right.
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