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The Best Smart Home Starter Kit

A smart home enhances the security of your home, makes everyday tasks more convenient and brings a cool factor that some other novelties in your home might even dream of.

The only downside is the installation process. Since a smart home is made up of many different parts, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly which devices work with others and where to start.

To speed this process up and let you dive into smart home technology, we’ve put together a smart home starter kit to help you decide which type of device is right for you. We have recommended our best products and provided links to other articles that cover all of these topics in more detail.

Let’s start with the front of the house.

Smart locks

Smart locks are more than just added security. They make it easier to get in and out of the house. How many times have you tried to find the key when your hands were full? How many times did you have to leave a spare key under the mat to let your dog in?

We recommend August Smart Lock This is one of the most popular smart lock options available to consumers. It slips onto the bolt and can be installed in just 10-15 minutes using a screwdriver.

After you set up August, it will automatically unlock when your phone is within reach, and will automatically lock again after a specified time.

August cannot be selected or opened with a flip key. Guests can download the August app and receive a temporary code to unlock the door, making it ideal for unusual visitors looking to access your home. August also logs every person who walks in and out, so you always know what’s going on around your home.

To learn more about smart locks, read our article here.

Smart Security Cameras

Your CCTV camera should be tied to your overall home security system, preferably with a third-party surveillance system. This means you don’t have to be constantly present or connected to respond to a problem; if something happens around your home, the monitoring company can turn to the authorities for you.

On the other hand, additional security cameras are always helpful. If you need a smart camera to monitor a specific area of ??your home, we recommend Nest Cam Indoor for indoor use or Nest Security Camera for outdoor use.

Both cameras provide real-time 1080p video and provide two-way audio, night vision and motion detection. Cameras only record when motion is detected, so you don’t have to worry about filling up your cloud storage.

You will receive a push notification of the activity. From there, you can ignore it (if your dog has turned on the camera) or call the authorities.

For other types of CCTV cameras, see our full description here.

Smart doorbells

A smart doorbell is similar to a security camera, but it only covers one area: the one right in front of your door. It’s the perfect solution for porch pirates — people who like to rip shiny Amazon Prime boxes off their porch in the middle of the day.

In our online shopping and delivery community, you may not always be home to pick up your package when it arrives, but you can keep track of it.

For porch security, several options are better than Skybell HD video intercom. If you know anything about smart doorbells, this might surprise you. Nest Hello and Ring are popular options, but Skybell HD beats them in several important areas.

First, it’s cheaper than any of the other options and integrates with Nest, IFTTT, and Alexa. Best of all, Skybell HD offers free cloud storage.

The downside is that there is no web application, but most people would still not use the Internet to check their home. Two-way audio communication allows the delivery driver to send the package somewhere out of sight or alert someone that you are watching. After all, there is little that can scare a thief away like knowing they are not as invisible as they think they are.

For other smart doorbells and which brand is best for you, check out our review here.

Smart lighting

Smart lighting is one of the original smart home technologies. Turning the lights on and off at the touch of a button was nothing short of ingenious, but it’s safe to say this is old news.

The technology is still incredible, but smart lighting is available almost everywhere. The market is full of dozens of options that are difficult to figure out. Brands like Philips Hue and LIFX dominate sales, but are they really the best options?

The answer is whether you want smart white light or smart color changing light. If you’re not a fan of color, the 16 million different shades that Philips Hue and LIFX offer will be wasted. For controlling the lighting that you want to be bright, such as in the kitchen or bathroom, white light is great.

Colored lighting is best used to create ambience, which usually means indirect lighting. Shaded lamps, table lamps and other lighting systems benefit the most from color-changing lamps.

For standard white bulbs, you won’t find a better light bulb than Ikea Tradfri smart flashlights. At just $ 13 per bulb, these are some of the most affordable smart flashlights on the market. They work with Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit. You can choose from three color settings: warm white, warm glow, and cool white. Tradfri lamps are the best option to provide adequate lighting for the entire home.

However, with lamps that change color, it’s hard to go wrong with the Philips Hue The company was founded in 1891, and while their lamps weren’t always smart, Philips has always been in the lighting business. Hue’s color-changing bulbs sell for a higher price, and the starter kit costs around $ 200, but the functionality more than makes up for the price.

The starter kit includes three lamps and a Hue bridge. After setting up your system, you can schedule the lights to turn on at different times, choose from several color presets (or make your own), and even set up the lights to flash in time to the music.

If you want to know about other types of smart lights on the market, check out our article here.

Smart thermostat

Smart thermostats bring more than just convenience to your home – they make it easy to cut utility bills. Smart thermostats learn your daily routines and automatically adapt to your lifestyle.

When everyone leaves home for the day, the thermostat turns off a few hours before you arrive home. Smart thermostats perform micro-adjustments throughout the day to maintain a constant temperature in your home at no additional cost.

Nest is a popular name in the market, but we don’t recommend it. If we had to pick one smart thermostat for the average person, that would be the ecobee4 This smart thermostat is said to save homeowners up to 23% a year on heating and cooling costs, but the real appeal lies in its room sensors.

Most smart thermostats only measure the temperature in the room they are in, but the ecobee4 allows users to place sensors throughout the home so that the thermostat can better read ambient temperatures throughout the house.

Installation takes about half an hour. Once set up, the ecobee4 has built-in Amazon Alexa, which allows users to adjust the temperature using their voice.

The Ecobee4 is the latest addition to the market, and while the only difference from the previous iteration is the addition of Alexa, there is no price increase. For around $ 238, you can get a great thermostat that will pay off over time.

To learn more about smart thermostats and options, read our review here.

Smart Assistants

Smart home is convenient, but voice control takes it to a new level. The three main options for controlling your smart home are Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit (or Siri). While each has its own pros and cons, Google Home and Amazon Alexa provide almost the same level of control over your home.

Apple HomeKit is much more limited in its compatibility and is not the best choice for home control, although a HomeKit-compatible HomePod has the best sound quality of any smart speaker.

We recommend the Amazon Echo Show The screen can connect to compatible smart doorbells, display weather, check calendar, and more. You can also give voice commands to the display. The only thing that Echo Show lacks is YouTube due to the constant rivalry between Amazon and Google.

Google Home’s voice is slightly more attractive than Alexa, but the Echo’s functionality is unmatched Amazon is constantly releasing updates for the Echo that make it even more powerful than before.

To see a detailed comparison of the various smart assistants on the market, check out our review here.

Other Smart Home Tech

You can add hundreds of devices to your home. Smart plugs are useful for remotely controlling power and monitoring energy consumption, while more advanced equipment such as smart ovens, smart washers and dryers allows you to control your daily tasks with your voice. These are not necessary for a smart home, but they can be a good addition if you decide to expand it.

Smart home hubs provide compatibility between usually incompatible devices. For example, a Zigbee device and a Z-Wave device (the two main types of smart home protocols) don’t usually work with each other, but using something like Samsung SmartThings Hub can make your smart home easier to operate and give control over your entire system from a single app.

Use this article as a guide to get you started, but remember that your desires for your home are unique. What we recommend may not be the best option for you.

Take time to familiarize yourself with what’s available and then decide which devices are best for you. Before you know it, you’ll forget the last time you flipped the switch.

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