In 2021, smart home systems and devices will be more impressive and comprehensive than ever.
Using a smart system isn’t limited to just asking Alexa to let you know the weather or play that new Drake song. Now you can use smart gadgets to grill chicken at the next family barbecue and turn off the lights in the living room while you watch a movie or vacuum your floors.
Your home devices offer a sense of convenience, but can also handle more serious tasks, such as: B. as your home security system when you are out of town. In other words, they’re not just for fun anymore – they meet some essential needs as well.
The difference between smart devices and smart systems
Before we are added to our list, it is important to define our terms. An intelligent system is the higher-level command center that controls your individual products – think of Alexa or Google Assistant. In essence, an intelligent system is what you talk to when something is about to happen. A device, on the other hand, is a single product that reports back to this system – think of Amazon Echo or Philips Hue lightbulbs.
Now let’s dive into our list of the best smart home devices and systems of 2021 so that you can decide for yourself which systems and products will best improve your life.
Best smart home systems
If you are looking to buy a smart home system, you should check out the reviews and their integrations.
While the ratings will tell you how good or bad the technology is, the integration information will show you how many products you can actually connect your system to.
When examining integrations, you should also consider existing smart devices that may be compatible or incompatible with the system. Today, most good smart home systems are based on the latest technology and offer a long list of third-party integration options. For example, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant connect to smart thermostats like Nest or Ecobee – not just thermostats made by their own companies.
When your devices are all well connected, working well, and easy to use, your smart home experiences will be much smoother.
Here are four key smart home systems that we recommend.
1. Amazon Alexa
With more than hundreds of millions of compatible devices, Alexa is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive smart home ecosystems available today. While you’ve probably heard of Alexa being used in the form of eco-speakers (“Alexa, what’s the weather like today?”), You may not know that Alexa is now built into many other smart products, including thermostats and televisions .
With Alexa, every aspect of your smart home is easily accessible and controllable. With Alexa, you can talk to apps like Spotify as easily as you can ask them to turn off the lights. With Amazon’s ecosystem being one of the most widespread in the industry, most intelligent products integrate seamlessly with Alexa, including products from Philips, Samsung, Nest and Schlage. Alexa can now close your garage, lock your doors and adjust your house’s temperature. To find out if Alexa works with a particular device, simply search for the tag “Works with Amazon Alexa”.
Alexa’s ability to integrate and talk to most other smart devices and apps ultimately makes it one of the best choices for your smart home.
2. Google Assistant
If there’s a real runner-up for Alexa, it’s the Google Assistant. Although the Google Assistant has fewer third-party integrations, it can often answer questions and execute commands that Alexa can’t execute due to Google’s huge involvement in the search engine space. Google Assistant has an accuracy of 92.9%, while Amazon Alexa has a score of 79.8% (ZDNet). Ultimately, the assistant wins when it comes to understanding how people speak naturally.
For example, if you use the “I don’t like this song” wizard on Spotify, it will skip to the next while Alexa simply tells you, “Thumbs up and down are not supported on Spotify.” Small differences like this could move you to Google as it’s often more helpful (and less literal) than Alexa.
Assistant can also be integrated with products from most major brands like Philips, Belkin, August, Nest, and popular apps like Spotify and Uber.
3. Wink Hub
Wink Hub is touted as “the first smart home hub for the mainstream consumer”. Unlike Alexa or Assistant, Wink has no brand loyalty, so you can choose different smart product brands and seamlessly blend them together.
Wink Hub 2 supports smart home protocols like Bluetooth LE, Kidde, Lutron ClearConnect, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and more. If you want to create a fully integrated smart home with kitchen and wall appliances synchronized, this may be your best option. You can download the Wink Hub app and control commands such as light switches or garage doors from your phone while you are out and about.
4. Samsung SmartThings Hub
This Samsung system brings together a wide variety of smart devices from different brands, including smart thermostats, WiFi routers, light bulbs and security devices. Users with the Smart system receive a SmartThings Hub wall mount and have unlimited access to the smart devices connected to the hub via the SmartThings IOS or Android app.
Samsung’s SmartThings Hub has expanded its own range of smart devices in recent years. In fact, the hub’s product range includes the SmartThing Wi-Fi plug, the SmartThings Lightbulb and the SmartThings Cam.
You can also use the SmartThings Hub to set compatible smart devices to perform various actions, such as: B. switching on and off when entering or leaving a room. While you can give voice commands to the SmartThings Wall Hub or the app, you can also integrate Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant into the system.
Best smart home devices
- Amazon Echo (4th generation)
- Philips Hue
- TP-Link HS220
- Ecobee SmartThermostat
- NetGear Arlo Q.
- Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker, Deluxe
- ConnectSense Smart Outlet
- Ecovacs Deebot N79S
- LG Smart TV
1.Best Speaker: Amazon Echo (4th Generation)
Price: $ 99.99
If you’re looking for a relatively affordable device that can meet your daily needs, you probably don’t have to look any further than the Amazon Echo. The speaker connects to Alexa to play your favorite music, make calls or send messages, answer questions and set alarms for you: “It’s 6:00 pm, time to go to your tennis lesson.” It also connects to other smart products in your home so you can use it as a link between you and your smart TV.
The speakers can be synced for multi-room sound, and the Echo has advanced voice control. With the Echo, you can turn on the TV, order a pizza, and make a grocery list – without ever leaving your couch.
2. Best lights: Philips Hue
Price: $ 49.99 / bulb
With Philips Hue bulbs, you can control both the light intensity – dimming or brightening on command – and the color of your lights. You can create special color-coordinated moods (i.e. choose the “Enable Energy” theme in your app for a specific room you are in, or sync it with your music). You can also set color-coordinated alarms to make sure you wake up to a light pink bedroom every morning.
These lights work with most smart home systems, making them arguably the most flexible option. If you don’t want color, you can also get Philips Hue White.
3. Best light switch: TP-Link HS220
Price: $ 18.99
Philips Hue lights and similar smart lights are fantastic and effortless – until someone flips a light switch. In this case, your lamps will not work until you fold them back.
For ease of use, consider buying smart light switches that you can control from your phone or smart home, regardless of whether your physical light switch is up or down. With the Kasa app, you can create scenes and intelligent actions. For example, you can tell the app that you are “watching TV” below and the switches will automatically turn off all the lights above.
TP-Link HS220 works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. However, you may need to consider other options if your primarily using Apple HomeKit, Wink, or some other smart system.
4. Best thermostat: Ecobee SmartThermostat
Price: $ 249.99
With Ecobee you can control the air temperature with voice commands. However, unlike other smart thermostats, it also works as its own Amazon speaker (rather than just working with an Amazon speaker), allowing it to perform many of the same tasks that your Alexa or assistant can do, including playing music, shopping and controlling other devices. Of course, if you already own a smart speaker, consider a cheaper thermostat option.
Ecobee can be seamlessly integrated into apps and other home ecosystems such as Alexa or Apple HomeKit. Also, it can control the room you are in rather than the room it is installed in.
5. Best security: NetGear Arlo Q.
Price: $ 84.99
While some of these smart devices are more about convenience and entertainment, the NetGear Arlo Q is a really useful tool for keeping your home safe. The NetGear Arlo Q records high quality video and audio data and even produces exceptional quality images of people in pitch darkness.
You can customize whether your camera records automatically when you are not home or set a time-based schedule for work. While it is more expensive, it offers free video and audio backup for seven days, which makes it a worthwhile investment compared to some other smart security systems.
6. Best Grill: Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker, Deluxe
Price: $ 299
Anyone who grills regularly knows the inconvenience – going in and out of the house to check the meat, hoping the temperature is hot enough but your steak won’t burn, and adding coals or lighter liquid if necessary. This tool does all of that and warns you on your smart device when your grill is preheated, what the internal meat temperature is and when your meat or fish is fully cooked. The 725 square inch cooking space and four internal chrome racks allow grilling for large and small occasions.
7. Best Outlet: ConnectSense Smart Outlet
Price: $ 59.95
With a smart socket, you can control even your most basic devices. During the initial installation, specify the device that is to be connected so that you can control its functionality via the app. A small change like this can make a huge difference in your home.
8. Best vacuum: Ecovacs Deebot N79S
Price: $ 164.99
Personally, I’m willing to triple that price for any device that can vacuum my floor for me, but at this price point the Ecovacs Deebot N79S is a pretty impressive proposition. It integrates with smart home systems and other apps, offers a manual steering option and cleans surfaces surprisingly well. It also has a long battery life.
9. Best TV: LG Smart TV
Price: Varies based on screen size and features.
LG was the company that offered Alexa and Google Assistant connectivity for its smart TVs.
A smart TV allows you to connect your streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, your cable box, and other video devices in one place. Many smart TVs, like LG’s products, also offer voice control features that you can use to ask the TV to find a movie or show.
If you’re just starting out with your smart home development and just want a simple smart TV that integrates with major streaming services, you can get an LG TV with 4K, Google Assistant, and Alexa capabilities from 479.99 Purchase US dollars.
Smart devices can increase your productivity and make life more comfortable. In addition, technology is getting cheaper and cheaper. A few purchases can turn your home into a smart home.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for completeness.