Note – This post has been fully updated in February to reflect the best smart home products in 2017
With Christmas 2016 showcasing just how ‘big’ smart home products now are, we thought it was high time that we updated our ultimate list of the best smart home products of 2017. That is the question that we have posed to our team today, and the outcome is an extensive list of the most brilliant, the most weird, the most wonderful and everything in between. Scroll down the page to see our top smart home gadgets of 2016 and the start of 2017, and we’ll be keeping this up to date over the remainder of this year.
The Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot
What is it? Ostensibly a bluetooth speaker, but in reality so much more. Think of the Amazon Echo and its companion Amazon Echo Dot as a grown up Siri, with more use cases and the ability to act as the centre of a voice controlled smart home. The Dot costs just £50 and the larger Echo £150. Amazon have been very shrewd with the Echo, consciously working to avoid positioning it at the centre of the smart home revolution to begin with, and instead positioning it as a great bluetooth speaker (which it really is). However, thanks to the Echo skills – you can see the best ones here – the Echo can do so much more. From playing music, to ordering goods on Amazon, to hailing an Uber or re-ordering your laundry – this nifty gadget belongs at the heart of the 2017 smart home. You can see the 3 best compatible devices for the Amazon Echo here too.
Best smart home gadget for – controlling the smart home via accurate voice recognition, playing music in high quality (although buy the bigger Echo if this is the main focus) and bringing some useful voice automation to the table
OriGlam LED Energy-efficient Motion Sensor Toilet Light – automatically activates when you visit the bathroom at night
This smart motion sensor helps eradicate fumbling in the dark when trying to find the toilet light-switch in the middle of the night. It cleverly provides just enough light to ensure you can see what you’re doing, but without completely dazzling you into a fully awake state. To further help, it has a clever colour coding system based on whether the toilet seat is up or down, ensuring there are no nasty surprises once daylight hits in the morning.
You can learn more about it here on the official Origlam website and you can expect to pay $12 / £8 for this nifty starter smart home tech.
Best smart home product for: 1. Ensuring you can see where you’re going when you go to the bathroom at night. 2. Ensuring you don’t have a nasty mess to clean up in the morning. 3. Not tripping over the cat
The Nest cam outdoor will rev up your home security solutions in 2017
Simple and elegant, the Nest outdoor security camera is helping keep homes safer in 2017. We wrote a post here which talks about how you can upgrade your homes security using smart home products – 7 innovative ways to make your home safer with smart home security
The Nest cam is a great way to get an affordable home security solution with a smart twist.
The Logitech Pop lets you pre-set up rules and then unite smart home devices and functions behind the simple press of one physical button
So lets imagine you want to watch a movie. Using the Pop you can set up the following sample commands – 1. set your TV to movie mode, 2. dim the Phillips Hue lights, 3. close the smart blinds and many of movie orientated preset options. You then simply press the button, and it tells all the relevant smart home products to ‘get to it and make it happen ASAP!’. We also love its implications for simplifying the lives of the elderly and disabled. Read more in our story here.
Best smart home products for: Easily adding a smart home component to any house in a really simple manner.
The Hozelock makes watering your garden autonomous
Simply attach your outdoor hose and you have the newfound ability to control the watering of your garden form your smart phone. Set watering schedules or do it manually via the app. Simple smart home genius!
Best smart home products for: Maintaining your garden year round
Rachio IRO Smart Wifi Enabled Irrigation Controller – makes watering your garden much smarter
This piece of nifty garden tech uses data such as the local weather (temperature and rainfall) to make watering your garden much smarter. Learn more here on their official website
Best smart home products for: Ensuring your garden survives a heatwave/drought
Belkin WeMo Switch and Motion Detector – lets you easily set up sensors which activate electronics throughout your house
This sensor, which is controlled via an Android and iOS enabled companion app, lets you set up sophisticated rules based on using the smarthome sensor to turn electronics on and off based on the motion detected by the Belkin kit. Essentially, the detection enables you to ensure that you’ll never need to walk into a dark room again, which has substantial potential benefits for the elderly and infirm.
You can expect to pay $73 / £38 for this device, and can learn more about it on the Belkin website here
Best smart home products for: automated lighting – we like to use it to enable our dog to trigger lights when he enters a room, adding a significant security component (considering it looks like lights are constantly going on/off to any observer)
The Hive Motion sensors are the best affordable smart home security system
Hive have a whole range of brilliant chic and well styled smart home devices, including their smart thermostat – pictured above. What we want to talk about here is their newly launched (February 2016) new set of smart door and window sensors, which we covered in this news piece here. Alongside the sensors, they also launched their ‘Active plug’ system too, which has rounded out their family of starter-smart home gear.
The Hive Motion sensors, which you can learn more about on the Hive official site here, are a simple yet elegant home security solution. You simply connect them up to your Hive Hub, and they will alert you if the door or window which they’re attached to opens.
So imagining the use case; you’re sat in work in front of your computer, and your smartphone pings to tell you that your front door has opened. This lets you take action quicker. Is it your partner going home? Could it be your child playing truant from school? or could it be an uninvited guest, allowing you to quickly summon help. This plays ball with smart security camera systems, which we’ll cover further into this gallery, which can help capture the fact of any intruder.
Best smart home products for: Securing your doors and windows
LG Smart Security Hub
This is another example of LG, a major and well known brand name, throwing their name into the smart home space or in this case the DIY smart security space. This overview by CNET explains it well, it is essentially a connected camera with a full 360 degree view. It is in many ways the perfect partner for the Hive smart sensors which we have already covered, as it can capture anything that is untoward immediately, from all angles. A great debut smart home product from the Korean tech powerhouse.
Best smart home products for: Capturing intruders in a home which has multiple potential points of access into one space (e.g. hallway), meaning that you’d need multiple traditional security cameras
Philips 431643 Hue Personal Wireless Lighting
The latest in the rapidly emerging smart lighting space, this Phillips offering enables us to control our lights, complete with some nifty disco settings, from a smartphone or tablet.
Phillips, whose company origin was built around the light bulb, have an entire range of smart lights built around the Hue branding. The idea of the Hue technology is that it constructs a personalised wireless lighting network for you. This smart control enabled tech has a wide range of lighting uses, from away from home control, light scheduling, ambience setting, right the way through to some seriously innovative and unique light syncing capabilities, with both music and movies.
You can learn more about the Phillips Hue starter kit here, on the official MeetTheHue website
Best smart home products for: Mood lighting – the Hue solution is an awesome party piece right the way through to a mood setter for a romantic movie night.
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control – lets you control your houses temperature with a simple voice control
The voice control element differentiates itself from the Nest benchmark, and has a range of other features which set it apart.
Learn more at their official website here
Best smart home products for: Easily managing the temperature – we like it for older folks who may not have the mobility to jump up and down to nudge the thermostat a notch or two.
Chamberlain Whisper Drive Garage Door Opener – this smart home tech lets you control your garage door remotely
Best smart home products for: controlling your garage doors remotely.
The Nest Protect is the best smart smoke alarm, hankering in the next generation of smoke detectors all with a raft of features that you never knew you needed
Smart Smoke alarms are an actual thing now – who would have thought. On the surface they are fairly innate objects but when you think about they’re ripe for a smart upgrade. We covered this extensively here in our piece about why you need a smart smoke alarm. We also compare the three best smart smoke detectors on the market in that piece. However the argument in favour boils down to the changes in the way we build our houses and how we furnish them, as well as some of the limitations on existing smoke detectors.
Consider this fact. A house fire which would have taken a full 30 minutes to level a room in 1970 would take just 4 minutes to do the same damage today. Cheaper iKea style furniture, as well as cheaper ‘new build housing’ all play their role. Also, traditional smoke alarms don’t scream loud enough to alert anybody outside of your house to any problem within it, meaning too much damage is already done by the time that anybody can act, let alone call the fire department.
This is where the Nest protect comes in. It lets you control the device, and alerts, from your Android or iOS smartphone. You can also silence any low battery beeps, you know those frightfully annoying ‘chirps’ that always seem to happen at 2am? The Nest Protect also analyses itself, performing its own health checks meaning it lasts for a decade. At around £80, it really is worth it. Check out our review here.
Best smart home products for: Protecting your home from fire and alerting the family to potential carbon monoxide issues
Phillips Wakeup alarm clock – helps you to wake up more naturally with simulated sunlight rather than a jolting alarm noise
This device is winning rave reviews from tonnes of consumers, most of whom acknowledge its effectiveness in helping them to wake up more naturally.
We all know that waking up in the morning can be a challenge, not least during the colder and darker winter months. This is exactly where devices like the Phillips Wake-up alarm step in.
It helps balance out the shifts in the number of hours of darkness throughout the year, helping you to wake up more naturally, and more refreshed, without having to be jolted awake with a siren like alarm. This is one bit of smart home tech that we really cannot live without here at HomeTechStar.
Best smart home products for: waking up – this is the smartest alarm clock that we have seen yet.
Nest Learning Thermostat – the original Smart home tech, which learns your heating behaviour in order to cleverly auto-set your home thermostat
We love the Nest. Working with both radiant and forced air air-con units, this clever thermostat learns as it goes, constantly getting smarter to help you save money on your home bills without also having to worry about tweaking the temperature on the thermo wall unit. Its controlled by your smartphone, and can also sense when you’re at home, which further helps it set the temperature. So in essence, less heating of an empty home with better regulation once you are in. Expect to pay $250 or £140, and you can learn more at the Nest store here. The Nest Thermostat is now into its third generation, and we produced an extensive review of it here.
Best smart home products for: intelligently heating/cooling your home. Its learning element set its apart from other smart thermostats
Kohler Touchless Toilet Flush Kit – this seamlessly designed smart toilet flusher means you’ll never need to touch that horrible flusher ever again!
Designed to fit the majority of toilets, this clever bit of kit helps prevent you and your family from coming into constant contact with the germs found on toilet flushers. Installable in as little as twenty minutes, with batteries that last for upwards of twelve months, this $48 / £25 gadget is an affordable smart home starter kit.
Best smart home products for: flushing the toilet without having to touch a disgusting flusher. These literally should be on all toilets
Belkin WeMo Light Switch – means you’ll never need to come home to a dark house ever again
In the past, if we wanted to turn our lights on and off when we weren’t at home, we were heavily reliant on the use of timers. The problem with even the smartest of timers is their lack of flexibility – they rely on pre-set conditions which make them fire off consistently. Better than nothing, but certainly not better than the Belkin WeMo.
The WeMo works via a WiFi connection and a companion smartphone application. The iOS and Android enabled apps allow you to remotely turn our lights on and off from anywhere in the world, with full control over numerous light units. At $44 / £20 its an elegant solution, and its flexibility will help save you money in the longer run with less electric wastage.
Best smart home products for: remotely managing the lights
And now some cool home gadgets! This Ben and Jerry’s Euphori-Lock, ensures that nobody will steal you B&J’s ever again
We have all had the situation where we buy our favourite Ben & Jerry’s – obviously cookie dough – pop it in the refrigerator at home, only to find that some pesky little devil has gone and stolen it. Well, not any more, thanks to this in-genius Euphori-lock. You can buy it over at Amazon for $24.99.
Best smart home products for: keeping the kids out of the candy
This door transforms into a ping pong table
Found over at toxel.com, this door looks pretty ordinary, if a little funky when being used as an, err, door. However, the magic happens when you flick it down and turn it into a genius doorway ping pong table. Granted it’s not going to be the widest ping pong table, but when space is limited, some genius smart house technology can rock up and save the day
Best smart home products for: space conscious gaming
Philips Hue Light Bulbs
Phillips Hue Lights are pretty special, allowing you to control the lighting in your house from a simple app on your smartphone. You can learn more about them here on the official Phillips website
These chilled kitchen drawers augment your refrigerator
Ever thought you need more fridge space? yep, us too. Worry not, these amazing cool draws turn your cupboard space into more fridge space. If only all homes came with these?
Best smart home products for: space deprived folks who need more fridge space
MOSAIQQ Digital Backsplash Photo Canvases
This nifty MOSAIQQ solution turns your house walls into smart picture frames, letting you easily and quickly share pictures with friends and family. It also lets you quickly change the pictures that you show. So when family come over, you put up family pictures and hide the raucous ones from your last big night out. You get the picture, getit?
This wine cellar trapdoor is one cool smart house idea
Who would not want this in their house?
Best smart home products for: people who want to show off an awesome piece of home innovation
This August Smart Lock means that keys are so 2015
You can check out this solution here on their company website. After all, we always have our smartphones on us, so why not use them to unlock our doors too?
Belkin iPad Refrigerator Mount
Belkin make a bunch of smart house tech, but this is a great idea – a simple fridge mount for an iPad, making following recipes much easier without having to actually touch the iPad.
This swinging dining table looks perfect for brunch
We’re sold on this one.
Your own private IMAX Cinema
Prima Cinema is an interesting home proposition, and one which could mean your days of going to your local picture house are over. Prima dealers equip your existing home theater with encrypted streaming access to current cinema hits. You can learn more here Prima Cinema website.
This glass encased fireplace adds some modern chic to any living space
Visit block-design.com for more details
This Roomba vacuum cleaner will do the hoovering for you
Roomba may just b the future of keeping your house clean. No cleaner needed. Why? because this clever hoover navigates itself around your home, vacuuming away until it either fills its bag up or runs low on juice – in which case it takes itself back to its base pod and recharges, ready for its next run. iRobot website.
Best smart home products for: people who hate vacuuming
The Kohler Numi Toilet
This high tech toilet adjusts itself as you approach, and via its bluetooth syncing, can even play your favourite tunes whilst you take your comfort break. Learn more from a Registered Kohler Showroom.
Smart home technology is booming
2016 has been billed as the year for the smart home, so today we wanted to open up the year by taking a look at the current – in our opinion at least – best smart home products on the market today. Smart home equipment spans home security, lighting, energy efficiency, motion sensing and appliance usage. We have identified the definitive list of gear that you can affordably buy in order to revolutionise your home this year.
This list is intended to help you to learn more about the whole space, and to introduce some of the funkier home gadgets that we have seen so far. Feel free to bookmark this page and refer back to it, as we’ll be updating through 2016 and beyond.
If you appreciate the list we would appreciate you sharing it with your friends on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or your social network of choice. Finally, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below