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The Ultimate Guide to Smart Home Appliances and Features That Matter

I’m going to show you ten different smart home appliance categories to help you get started. I’ll show you what to watch out for and some of my favorite devices. It’s a lot to take in, so let’s start at the beginning.

There are three main ways smart home appliances and devices can work together.

a. Cloud services: “If This and That (IFTTT App),” and all you have to do is download the App on your phone. It’s effortless to use. You can set things up like if your garage door opens, then turn on the lights in your house, or if you plug in your Android phone at night, turn everything off in the place. I would use something other than this solution because it’s very limiting. I only use it if it’s the last resort to get things to work together.

b. Second, our assistants like Amazon and Google These have routines and allow you to control multiple devices with one action. I get asked all the time which assistant I prefer. Right now, I lean towards Amazon because I can trigger their routines with other devices. For example, if your doorbell is pressed, the lights can flash, and echo devices can announce, “Someone’s at the door.” This action will only happen if it’s not during the baby’s nap time. 

Google will update the routine soon, but you can only run a pattern with a voice command or from a schedule. However, Google is an excellent choice if you use many Google services like I do (YouTube, Google Keep, Calendar, Chromecast, etcetera). I also like their displays better. They’re much faster and easier to control compared to Echo displays. Amazon and Google are constantly updating their assistance to improve it so that it will come down to your preference.

c. The last way devices can work together is with Hubs, like SmartThings and Home Assistant. These can control devices locally without the cloud, allowing devices to turn on much faster and be more reliable. They can also connect way more sensors and run advanced automation.

Home Assistant is the most powerful and secure Hub you can use, but it has a steep learning curve. SmartThings has its quirks, just like any other hub. However, I prefer it because I can still do advanced automation, and it’s reasonably straightforward. Do I need a hub? Technically, you don’t have to have one, but it does help all the devices work together. For example, many sensors use Z-Wave and Zigbee, and you need a hub to connect to those. 

1. Home Appliances

These are the most popular things in a smart home. I recommend getting Smart Switches and Smart Bulbs; they are way more family-friendly because anyone can use them without needing an app or Voice Assistant.

You might be thinking, “All smart light switches are pretty much the same. They can toggle and dim the lights, right?” Yes and no. There’s more to it. The less expensive intelligent light switches do just that. Most of them use Wi-Fi, and they work great at automating your existing lights in the house. It even works with SmartThings. If you have an older home, it may not have neutral wires, but you still have options. 

One is Lutron Caseta, which is a very reliable smart switch. C by GE also announced one recently. There’s also Inno Valley, which is the Z-Wave switch.

What’s interesting about Inno Valley and another company called Sues is that you can set it to control your smart lights and not cut the physical power to the switch. You can even select multiple presses to trigger different lighting scenes, which is pretty awesome.

2. Smart Light Switches

Smart Light Switches that get creative with the prime real estate on your wall. They can have motion sensors, Amazon assistants, cameras, and touchscreens. There are a lot of really cool features. And it’ll come down to how much you want to spend.

3. Smart bulbs

Smart bulbs are still lovely for changing colors, but there are a few things you should look out for. 

a. Warm and cool whites: If a smart light doesn’t have good warm and cool whites, I almost want to get it. Having the lights automatically change to a cool white during the day can be very energizing, and having a warm white at night to help relax is one of my favorite things.

b. saturated, bright colors: Also, look for saturated colours like LIFX and Yeelight. The colours are fun for the kids and me. Primarily for myself, but the colours are helpful to use as notifications. For example, you can change the colours to let you know what the weather will be like for the day.

c. Reliability: Reliability is another significant factor. Smart lights that connect directly to Wi-Fi can occasionally disconnect, which is annoying. Bulbs that connect to a hub using Zigbee and not Wi-Fi seldom have connection problems.

 d. Power on State: power outages, Some smart bulbs will turn on long after a power outage, even in the middle of the night; I highly recommend getting one that returns to its previous on-off power after a power outage. Of course, all of these features to look out for also apply to smart light strips. You can do so many things in automation with smart light strips and bulbs. 

e. Compatibility: Always check if the smart home appliance is compatible with any of the connectors you will use to run it.

4. Cameras and video doorbells

Cameras and video doorbells can be great additions to your smart home. For doorbells, there are three crucial things you’ll want to consider when deciding what to get.

a. Monthly fees: Eufy is popular because it doesn’t require a monthly subscription. The battery version of the Eufy doorbell is what I’m using, and it works well.

b. Zone and in-person detection:. If you get a new notification when you shouldn’t, it can get annoying quickly. Eufy, Arlo, Ring Pro, and Nest Hello all have these separately or offer them with a subscription. Last is automatically showing the live view on a smart display. Ring Doorbells can do this on the Echo Show but not on the Nest Hub displays. The Nest Hello can even detect familiar-looking surnames or names, which is terrific. You can quickly see who is at the door without getting on your phone.

So if you’re using Amazon Routine and Echo devices, don’t get the Nest Hello because it’s not compatible, and vice versa. If you’re using Google Assistant, don’t get a Ring doorbell. As for cameras, most of this applies as well.

Security and reliability are your top priorities; like recording 24/7, you should consider paying extra to have your cameras wired. The wired cameras work well for me. I have liked using Eufy lately because many people like the Blink camera as well; however, right now, Eufy can’t trigger Amazon’s routine when it detects motions like Arlo and Blink’s camera scan. This can be nice for turning on an outdoor light with your activity to announce to an echo device that someone is outside.

5. Smart Lock:

 I prefer locks with a Keypad built into the door lock because it is convenient for temporary codes for people like dog sitters.

There are more smart presses with fingerprint readers on them, which makes opening the door much easier, as you can imagine.

I liked using the Schlage locks; it has a connection that uses Zee-wave in the front, and the front battery lasts for 12 months on it, but it’s not as user-friendly as Wi-Fi Schlage Encode; the battery running the code only lasts about six months, but it’s tranquil and user-friendly.

Most smart locks automatically lock a few minutes after being opened. It doesn’t get left unlocked. I also have it automatically close right before bedtime. It’s just one less thing to worry about, so someone doesn’t sneak into your house.

6. Thermostat

 I’ve enjoyed using Nest, Honeywell, and Ecobee, and each one is made for a different type of person. 

Nest is perfect for someone who wants it to be as easy as possible. You can set it up, or it can set itself up by learning your schedule. It’s very good at switching to away mode to help you save money, which mainly works with other Nest products from Google. But that may change soon. 

It has a wireless temperature sensor. The tensors are too limited. The Honeywell Home also has more flexible sensors, and the home-away features work well.

Ecobee is much more customizable than the others, but it could be confusing for some. Out of the box, few things are expected, like the other two thermostats. But if you want to customize the exact temperature swing and change all the settings, Ecobee could be for you, and I’ve loved using it.

7. Robot Vacum:

There is only one I recommend; get one that maps the house using a lighter so that it won’t miss a spot and will avoid the area getting stuck. Also, the one that doesn’t require light to work. There are lots of other features that are nice. 

Mapping, which is smooth, cameras to avoid objects on the ground, and self-emptying bins. 

I really like the Robo Rock S6 Pure. There are other good options out there. They can work with voice assistants, but I prefer to automate vacuuming when everyone is out of the house.

8. Smart sprinklers

have been using Rachio, and it’s working very well. It changes automatically with the weather and seasons. I just set it and forget it, and Rachio is compatible with SmartThings.

9. Smart Garage Door

This will notify you if the door was left open and allow you to close it if you are away from your house. I’ve been using myQ for a while, and it checks those boxes. It comes with a sensor to go on your door and a controller that uses RF. It is compatible with many existing garages, and it works well. 

10. Routers

Make sure to get one with decent specs to handle all of the Wi-Fi devices. I have still been using the Gryphon router, and it hasn’t had any issues with all my smart home devices connected to it.

Now if you want to buy new smart home devices and Only Connect them with IFTTT, here are the devices I like, and I know they are compatible.

Philip Hue, LIFX , Ecobee, Honeywell T9, Arlo, Blink, Ring, August, Wyze, TP-link Kasa, MyQ, Lutron Caseta, Yeelight, Rachio, BOND

These are the devices I will recommend if you want to use Amazon Routine (Amazon Alexa)

Philip Hue, LIFX , Ecobee, Honeywell T9, Arlo, Blink, Ring, August, Wyze, TP-link Kasa, MyQ, Lutron Caseta, Yeelight, Rachio, BOND, C by GE Lights, Schlage Encode, Eufy, Sylvania Smart+, Govee, Tecking (smart life), Brilliant switch, IKEA Tradfri, Roborock, Nanoleaf

For those of you using smartThings

Philip Hue, LIFX , Ecobee, Honeywell T9, Arlo, Blink, Ring, August, Wyze, TP-link Kasa, MyQ, Lutron Caseta, Yeelight, Rachio, BOND, IKEA Tradfri, Roborock, Nanoleaf, SwitchBot, Sylvania Smart+, Inovelli, Zooz, Brilliant Switch, and Bose Speakers.

HomeKit users, I remembered you guys; I like Home Kits for its clean UI.

Philip Hue, LIFX, Ecobee, Arlo Pro 2, Schlage Sense, C by GE Lights, Eufy Cam 2c, August, Brilliant Switch, Nanoleaf, MyQ (With Bridge), Lutron Caseta, Yeelight, Rachio, IKEA Tradfri.

Finally The Home Assistant:

Philip Hue, LIFX , Ecobee, Honeywell Total Connect Confort, Arlo, Ring, August, Schlage Connect, TP-Link Kasa, MyQ, Lutron Caseta, Yeelight, Eufy, Nanoleaf, Inovelli, Zooz

If you stuck around the whole time, thank you, and check out other content.