Our Top Picks
Best Smart Home Hub: Echo Plus at Amazon
"Standard and advanced smart home hub capabilities for different tasks."
Best Doorbell: Ring Pro at Amazon
"Video doorbell will let you see and speak with anyone that approaches."
"Can accept up to 30 unique codes for access."
Best Garage Door Opener: Ryobi Garage Door Opener at Home Depot
"The app can indicate whether your garage door is open or shut."
Best Thermostat: Nest E at Walmart
"Allows you to monitor your home’s energy use while you’re away."
Best Fridge: Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerator at Home Depot
"Touchscreen technology and cameras for a quick glimpse of refrigerator contents."
Best Vacuum: iRobot Roomba i7+ at Best Buy
"A great choice if you’re looking for a robot vacuum for your smart home."
Best Water Leak Detector: Flo Smart System at Home Depot
"Once installed it can monitor your entire house’s plumbing."
01 of 08
Best Smart Home Hub: Echo Plus
At the center of every smart home is a hub that ties together your devices and operates multiple functions via an app or voice control. The ubiquitous smart home assistant is paired with a more advanced smart home hub in the Echo Plus. This hub uses ZigBee technology to connect and control compatible devices. While some other smart home hubs are compatible with multiple technologies, the Echo Plus is more limited. The good news, though, is that there’s no shortage of Amazon Echo-compatible devices and ZigBee technology is well supported by the makers of smart light bulbs, door locks, and more. The simpler platform is also more user-friendly if you’re new to smart home hubs and don’t want to invest a lot of time and energy into investigating compatibility and tweaking set-up.
As for what this smart home hub can do for your dwelling, it covers all the expected Amazon Alexa features like playing music, calling friends and family, or getting an instant weather report. But Echo Plus offers smart home hub capabilities like being able to turn the lights off or lock the door (compatible devices required). The 2nd-generation Echo Plus can also activate a sequence of automated tasks if the room reaches a pre-set temperature.
One significant weak point in smart home hubs has been their dependence on Wi-Fi connectivity—if the power goes out, the hub is rendered useless. However, the new Echo Plus is equipped with ‘local voice controls’ that will allow you to continue controlling certain devices even if the Wi-Fi connection is lost. Note that the list of compatible devices is limited at this time but will expand as Amazon adds more local voice control capabilities through future software updates— something the company has done well at in the past.
02 of 08
Best Doorbell: Ring Pro
Protect the entrance to your smart home with a smart doorbell, like the Ring Pro. This video doorbell will let you see and speak with anyone that approaches the entryway, without the need to open the door.
The Ring Pro has the essential features that you’d expect in a doorbell for smart homes, like customized motion zones, 1080p HD video, and night vision. To use this model, though, you’ll need to hardwire it into your home’s electrical system. This shouldn’t be much of an issue if you have an existing hardwired doorbell.
Once installed, the Ring Pro will send you alerts when someone enters the motion detection zones or pushes the doorbell. You can then see who is at your front door and choose to respond to the doorbell or ignore it. This smart doorbell also lets you take a live peek at your home’s entryway any time you would like via the Ring app. If you want cloud storage of the surveillance footage captured by Ring, you’ll need to pay a small monthly fee (or a discounted annual fee).
By choosing a video doorbell for your smart home, you can have more peace of mind when someone stops by whether you are home or away. You’ll be able to see who is on the other side of the door before deciding to open it or telling them to be on their way. People love the Ring for its user-friendly interface, but a few people have had trouble getting the Ring Pro to integrate properly with their Wi-Fi or electrical system. It’s important to follow the installation and set-up instructions properly for the best results—or seek professional help if you’re not sure how to proceed.
03 of 08
Best Lock: Schlage Century Connect Smart Lock with Alarm
Keep your smart home under lock and key in the most digitally advanced way with the Schlage Century Connect Smart Lock. This lock for smart homes is sleek and sophisticated enough to make a bold statement at your door while offering you secure but easy access to your home.
The Schlage Century Connect has a standard key lock in case the battery power fails or you need to manually open the door, but its glowing keypad is ready to accept up to 30 unique codes for access. This smart lock works with some of the most popular smart home systems, like Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and Z-Wave. The functions and capabilities vary depending on the smart home system you connect to, and how the lock is configured. Examples include the ability to unlock the door remotely, add or delete access codes, or monitor battery life. It’s also equipped with an audible alarm that will alert you to activity or tampering.
People appreciate the solid feel of this lock set, as well as the fact that the keypad shows no wear patterns and is designed to resist fingerprints. Some users have had issues with poor battery life, but this has often been linked to a deadbolt that can’t easily slide into place in the locked position. The Century Connect has a high and low mode and if it can’t lock the door in low mode, it will switch to high mode—which consumes more battery life. So during installation, make sure that the deadbolt is able to smoothly slide into place to avoid excessive battery use.
04 of 08
Best Garage Door Opener: Ryobi GD201 Garage Door Opener
If you’ve ever sat at your desk and wondered if you closed the garage door when you left for work, you need a smart garage door opener. The Ryobi GD201 Garage Door Opener is a popular pick for its easy installation and user-friendly interface.
This wireless-enabled garage door opener for smart homes can give you an instant indication of whether your garage door is open or shut. This can translate to major peace of mind when you’re away at work, on vacation, or anywhere else. Avoid potential theft of your valuables or granting unwanted access to your home by making sure that the door is closed with the Ryobi Garage Door Opener App.
Another plus that makes this our top choice for a smart home garage door opener is the fact that it runs on the commonly used Ryobi ONE+ battery. If you experience a power failure, simply connect a ONE+ battery and you’ll be back up and running in no time—with up to 100 opens on a 4.0Ah Lithium-Ion battery. You can also turn your parking experience into a smart home exercise by purchasing additional accessories such as laser guides for perfect parking or playing music.
Some people complain that the app doesn’t accurately indicate whether the garage door is open or closed. It’s important to realize that the Ryobi GD201 requires an included Relay Hub. For the garage door opener to integrate properly with the app, the instructions for installing this hub must be followed. With proper installation and set up of this wireless Ryobi garage door opener, your smart home will also have a smart spot to park your car!Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Best Thermostat: Nest E
Near the top of every smart home equipment list is a thermostat that is intelligent enough to conserve energy, provide energy insights, and allow you to remotely turn the temperature setting up or down in your home. From the growing selection of smart thermostats, our top pick is the Nest E.
This thermostat for smart homes is at a more budget-friendly price point than some of the other Nest thermostats, but it still includes all the essentials features. The Nest E integrates well in a variety of smart home systems, including: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Lutron, Wink, ADT Pulse, and more. Additionally, the Nest app makes it easy to monitor your home’s energy use while you’re away or turn the temperature up or down from anywhere (even your couch).
The Nest E has a white shell and a frosted display that is intended to blend into your home’s décor rather than stand out like the vivid blue display of other models of the Nest thermostat. While some people comment that the different materials and lack of a metal ring around the face of the Nest make it feel slightly inferior, the consensus is that the Nest E is still well-made and very functional while being more understated. That could be a plus or a minus for this model, depending on your décor and tastes.
What is a major plus is the fact that this smart thermostat earns almost a perfect 5-star rating from almost 1,500 real-life users. People love how easy it is to use this thermostat in their smart home and the energy insights and savings it provides. Make your home’s HVAC system smarter and more efficient by installing the Nest E, which can be purchased for less than $200.
06 of 08
Best Fridge: Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerator
For a sleek and smart addition to your kitchen, consider the cutting-edge Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerator. Pushing the boundaries between kitchen appliance and family command center, this refrigerator is our pick for smart homes that want the latest and greatest in appliances.
The most striking feature about the Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerator is the 21.5” touchscreen built into the door. This touchscreen is essentially a tablet that can display everything from your favorite photos to news headlines and family calendars. You can also use it to stream music or mirror your television (though certain technical specifications must be met for tv mirroring). Most of the smart fridge’s commands can be summoned by using Samsung Voice technology and the Bixby voice-activated assistant.
Inside the fridge, a set of cameras will give you a quick glimpse of refrigerator contents on your smartphone. This can be useful information whether you’re at the grocery store or in the living room thinking about a snack. It should be noted, though, that people find the cameras don’t display every angle and omit areas like drawers and the freezer. So you’ll get a general idea of what’s inside, but not a comprehensive inventory.
People that have added this refrigerator to their smart homes have had a mix of reactions, with some people feeling that the tech features didn’t bring enough value to their routine to justify the high price tag. Other people that love integrating digital insights into their daily life appreciate the fridge’s calendar display, the music streaming, or the voice controls. One thing that everyone seems to agree on is that the fridge is well laid-out and designed, with the 24.2 cubic feet of space being plenty of room for fresh and frozen foods. If a standard fridge just won’t do for your smart home, invest in a high-tech fridge like the Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerator and you’ll instantly elevate the cool factor of your kitchen.
07 of 08
Best Vacuum: iRobot Roomba i7+
Robotic vacuums have come a long way in making hands-off cleaning a reality, but inevitably they still need their dustbins emptied and sometimes they wander off course without being able to find their home base to recharge. The new Roomba i7+ solves these problems and more and is a great choice if you’re looking for a robot vacuum for your smart home.
The Roomba i7+ has the latest in robotic vacuum technology, with advanced mapping that allows the robot to learn your home’s floorplan and optimize its cleaning path to match. While some other robotic vacuums map rooms as they go, this data is typically deleted after each run—so the vacuum essentially has amnesia and has to re-orient itself every time it cleans. The relatively new Roomba i7+ promises more efficient cleaning and thorough results and early reviewers indicate that it does in fact seem to clean in a more consistent manner than even the Roomba 980.
The best part about this robot vacuum for smart homes is the fact that it just about fully automates the vacuuming process. While other robotic vacuums need their relatively small dustbins emptied frequently (sometimes even every day), the Roomba i7+ comes with a docking station that has a vacuum port to deal with the dirt your vacuum bot sucked up. When the i7+ docks itself, it empties its dustbin into the Clean Base where it’s stored in a disposable bag with a capacity 30 times that of the i7+’s dustbin. So every month or so, you’ll need to dispose of the bag and that’s it!
The biggest complaint surrounding the Roomba i7+ is the cost. The very best vacuum for your smart home doesn’t come cheap at just under $1,000—plus the cost of replacing bags every few months. However, the Roomba i7+ is the way to go if you want a robotic vacuum that needs very little interaction and you’ve been dreaming of a smart home that can also clean the floors automatically.
08 of 08
Best Water Leak Detector: Flo Smart Home Water Monitoring and Leak Protection System
The best smart home products aren’t just nifty gadgets—they serve a valuable purpose in warning you of trouble and protecting your home. The Flo Smart Home Water Monitoring and Leak Protection System is a great example of a device that can do both.
This water leak detector for your smart home can detect a leak as small as a single drop of water per minute—and in the event of a much larger leak, the Flo can turn off your water supply automatically and avoid catastrophic damage to your home. Impressively, this small device installed in a single location on a water pipe can monitor your entire house’s plumbing—meaning you won’t need any extra sensors or multiple devices.
What you will need for the Flo to operate properly and keep you updated on water usage is a Wi-Fi connection and a standard AC/DC power source. This water leak detector can integrate with popular smart home systems, including Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT but it also offers easy-to-understand information to smartphone or tablet via its proprietary app. Real-life users describe the app as elegant and simple to navigate. From the app you can see your current water usage, turn off or on your home’s water supply and more. For an additional $5 per month, you can also access FloProtect which will allow you to see water usage by fixture and offer additional perks—ike $2,500 to cover water damages should your system spring a leak.
This water leak detector for smart homes isn’t cheap—one unit will cost about $500. But compared to the cost of water damage and home insurance deductibles, many people feel it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind. It can be handy too; one user used it to locate a pressure regulator with low water pressure and was able to increase water pressure to an under-performing showerhead by 10 gallons per minute.