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After the CDC announced new stay-at-home orders, many people found themselves adopting reformed schedules, adding daily to-do lists and learning to work from home. With the additional complications of an unfamiliar routine — like dealing with household tech issues — navigating the day can grow even more problematic. To help simplify some of your tasks, we scanned through some of the best smart home devices that can help you with everything from cleaning your space to adjusting your room temperature. They all build on the smart home capabilities that a smart assistant enables for you. After all, the smartest home includes smart devices that communicate with each other. Here are some of the top gadgets you can control using your voice, an app or your home’s smart assistant.
In this article
- Best smart bulbs
- Best devices to control your TV
- Best smart thermostats
- Best smart vacuums
- Best smart plugs
Best smart bulbs: Philips Hue, Wyze and Lutron
My wife and I used to fight over whose turn it was to get out of bed and flip the light switch when we were done reading. Now that our room is outfitted with Philips Hue’s smart light bulbs — which themselves connect to your smart home assistant as long as they get power. We can just say, “Alexa, turn the lights off” and go to sleep.
The Philips Hue white bulbs are great when you’re just starting out and getting used to smart lighting. The white bulbs with ambiance kick it up a notch, allowing you to spread sunlight-esque tones during the day and warmer, redder tones at night.
If Philips Hue bulbs are out of your price range, consider great alternatives like the budget-friendly Wyze bulbs.
A smart switch like the Lutron Caseta is designed to work with your existing lights, requiring even less lift.
Best devices to control your TV: Logitech Harmony, Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast
I like to watch TV while I make lunch. I used to have to walk into the living room, turn the TV on, wait for it to start up and then pick a show before I could start making lunch in the kitchen. With the Logitech Harmony Hub, I can just tell my smart assistant to turn the TV on and control it with my voice. The Harmony Hub comes on its own or with the universal Elite Remote Control to let you simplify your remote situation. I can ask it to switch the input to a smart TV hub and then use that through a smart assistant.
If I was using the Amazon Fire Stick, I’d be asking Alexa to turn on my latest show.
If I was using the Google Chromecast, I’d ask the Google smart assistant for it.
With either of the above options (or additional alternative like the Apple TV, Roku TV and others), I’d be choosing the day’s streaming content all while I’m making a sandwich.
Best smart thermostats: Google and Ecobee
The biggest draw of a smart thermostat like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat or Ecobee SmartThermostat is automation: If you program it right, you’ll rarely have to touch it again. It can automatically change the temperature in the morning when you leave for work, in the evening when you come home, at night when you go to sleep and on a mix of these while you’re off on vacation or out of town. Such automation can also go a long way in saving you on your utility bills since you can keep heaters or the A/C off when you don’t need them working.
But sometimes you still need to adjust the thermostat by a degree or two in the moment, and I can’t tell you how convenient it is to do so with a simple voice command — especially when the lone, wall-mounted thermostat is on the other side of the house from you or you just don’t feel like getting up. Bonus: The Ecobee SmartThermostat comes with an Alexa-ready microphone built-in so you don’t actually need a smart assistant for it to work.
Google Nest’s more budget-friendly option is another good way to get started on your smart home temperature control.
And the similarly priced ecobee3 lite is your budget-friendly and Alexa-centric option.
Best smart vacuums: Roomba and Eufy
I always dreamed of having a robot butler and the Roomba brings me one step closer to my imaginary utopia. If you spring for one of the Wi-Fi connected models — like the Roomba 675 or Roomba 960 — you’ll be able to start a cleaning job with a simple voice command. You’ll also also be able to easily find it if it goes missing under a bed or couch or tell it to “go home” — that is, return to it charging dock — when company unexpectedly arrives at the door.
Best smart plugs: Belkin and AUKEY
When there isn’t a smart version of the product you want — or you already have a perfectly good non-smart version at home — a smart plug can help bridge the gap.
With a simple voice command, you can turn on a lamp, fountain, space heater, or any other plug-in device. Belkin’s WeMo Mini is one of the more popular, brand-name products.
AUKEY has a solid budget-friendly option for about half the price of the Belkin WeMo.
Smart home devices: endless possibilities for your doorknobs, yard, music and more
I could go on forever. These days, just about any smart home device worth its salt will support Alexa and Google Assistant Whatever you’re looking to control with your voice, there’s probably something out there for you
15. Smart locks
16. Smart speakers
Look for legitimate tags like “Works with Alexa” or “Works with Google Assistant” labels on the box (or product page), and you should be good to go.