The best smart home devices in 2024

Cut down on your chores and use automation to make your home work for you.

Best security system

A white SimpliSafe 10-piece smart home security system on a blue and white background.

SimpliSafe 10-Piece Wireless Home Security System

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Best robot vacuum

A eufy x10 Pro Omni robot vacuum and mop on a plain background.

eufy X10 Pro Omni Robot Vacuum and Mop

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Best speaker

Bowers and Wilkins speaker with down-firing LED light

Bowers u0026 Wilkins Zeppelin

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Smart home devices are finally beginning to make good on the promises made to us by TV shows like The Jetsons, which depicted mainstream video conferencing and remote work (in addition to flying cars) way back in 1962. Broadband internet and Wi-Fi have enabled companies to develop a whole host of gadgets that can be wirelessly controlled and monitored from a smartphone, tablet, computer, or smart home speaker. A new smart home standard called Matter, developed by a consortium featuring some of the biggest tech companies on Earth, will make it possible for gadgets to connect to one another easily. The best smart home devices will simplify your life without requiring you and the people you live with to completely re-learn how to use common aspects of your place.

How we chose the best smart home devices

The world of smart home devices is gigantic and growing daily, so keeping up with it is difficult. This guide compiles our top recommendations from stories dedicated to a single product category. We’ve also linked to these individual guides so you can see even more of our recommendations in this area. The criteria we’ve used to evaluate these products are based on a mix of research and hands-on testing. As we continue to test and update these individual guides, we’ll return and update this one. We feel this virtuous circle will give you, the reader, the most up-to-date information on various smart home devices written by subject matter experts that combine personal use, peer recommendations, critical reviews, and real-world impressions to come up with selections in each specific area. Our smart home device coverage is continuing to evolve, and we’ll also update this story as we explore entirely new categories, too.

The best smart home devices: Reviews & Recommendations

The smart home devices in this guide come from well-known and trusted companies. Our team has paid particular attention to making sure these devices work with as many smart home platforms as possible, may be updated to support Matter through a software update, and are designed to be supported for many, many years.

Best Wi-Fi router: eero Pro 6E

Eero Pro 6E

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Why it made the cut: Eero’s latest Wi-Fi router is its most powerful model yet, but it’s still easy to set up and use.

Specs

  • Speed: 2.3Gbps
  • Range: 6000 square feet
  • Wi-Fi version: 6E
  • Mesh: Yes

Pros

  • Ultra-fast speeds
  • Supports the latest Wi-Fi version
  • Excellent coverage
  • Easy to set up and manage

Cons

  • Expensive

Eero has made the best Wi-Fi routers since its hardware debuted over six years ago, and the 6E Pro only extends that lead.

Our tests, which included downloading large files while simultaneously streaming 4K video and downloading Nintendo Switch games, went well. We didn’t detect any performance drops even when pushing the routers to their limits. Our tests were conducted in a three-floor condo using a two-pack of Eero 6E Pro routers and a gigabit fiber optic Internet connection from Verizon Fios. Your experience will vary based on the speeds provided by your Internet service provider’s (ISP) Internet package.

In most cases, we only needed a single router to cover the entire area, more than we could say for most of the Wi-Fi routers we’ve tested. We added a second for our network to reach a single out-of-the-way room on the basement floor. Internet performance on the second floor was solid with a single router. If you live in a single or two-story home, it’s entirely possible to get by with just one of Eero’s 6E Pro routers.

One of our favorite aspects of using eero’s networking gear is its straightforward setup process. Its app (iOS and Android) has a clean design that’s friendly to newcomers with advanced settings for power users. Getting the 6E Pro routers up and running consisted of connecting them to power, waiting for their LED to blink blue, then setting up my network name and password. One eero router needs to be connected to your cable modem using an Ethernet cable, but the others only need power to operate.

Once a router is installed, the app will prompt you to update its software if a newer version is available. Going forward, software updates can be downloaded and installed at the pre-set time you choose—likely when you’re asleep—to avoid interrupting your day. You also have the option to update routers manually if you’d prefer.

Eero’s hardware is pricy, but in our experience, the brand’s ease of use and performance justifies the cost. Eero has supported its routers for roughly five years so far and offers a 25% discount if you trade in old hardware for a new model, which is more eco-friendly than keeping it lying around. For more recommendations, check out our full guide to Wi-Fi routers.

Best security system: SimpliSafe 10-Piece Wireless Home Security System

Best overall

Simple and safe

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Why it made the cut: The SimpliSafe 10-Piece system has the right mix of sensors, cameras, and other security tools to help keep your home safe in a single box.

Specs

  • Installation difficulty: Easy
  • Sensors: 4 door/window sensors, 2 motion sensors, 1 indoor camera, 1 outdoor camera
  • 24/7 professional monitoring: $28/mo. (Optional)
  • Smart protocols: N/A, but Alexa- and Nest-compatible

Pros

  • Outdoor cam so your security starts before an intruder enters your home
  • Comes with one free month of 24/7 professional monitoring service
  • The variety of parts gives you a more complete sense of security
  • Optics and branding

Cons

  • Must learn to set up each part correctly

SimpliSafe’s 10-Piece Wireless Home Security System includes all the equipment you’ll need to protect your home fully.

In the box, you’ll receive four window or door sensors, two motion sensors, two HD cameras, a keypad, and a base station. Once you set up the system using SimpliSafe’s app (iOS and Android), you can monitor, arm, and disarm it from your phone. Your smartphone will also receive a notification each time the system is tripped. If you’re home, you have the option of arming and disarming your system using a keypad, too. One of this system’s best features is the 95db (decibel) siren built into the base station. This alarm will alert would-be thieves and neighbors that a security system is installed and has been tripped.

Both cameras included in SimpliSafe’s 10-Piece Wireless Home Security System have the same basic specs: A 1080p sensor, night vision, motion detection, and a 140-degree field of view. The only difference is that the outdoor camera runs on a battery so that it can be installed anywhere. The indoor camera is wired, so you’ll need to keep it plugged into an outlet at all times. You can monitor a timeline of video clips from the past seven days for free or pay for unlimited video storage at the cost of $27.99 per month by subscribing to SimpliSafe’s Interactive Monitoring Plan. The paid plan also includes professional monitoring and is required to unlock the system’s Alexa and Google Home integrations.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one smart security system covering most basic needs, SimpliSafe’s 10-Piece Wireless Home Security System has everything you need to get started. If you have a bigger home or want more protection, you can always add more components over time. For more recommendations, check out our full guide to the best smart home security systems.

Best scale: WYZE Smart Scale X

Best overall

Metrics On Lock

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Why it made the cut: Calculate weight, BMI, muscle percentage, body fat percentage, and so much more with a scale that easily syncs with the WYZE app on your smartphone; we think that’s pretty powerful stuff.

Specs

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Individual profiles: 8
  • Weight capacity: 400 pounds
  • Metrics: 13

Pros

  • Measures lots of different health metrics
  • Attractive tempered glass design
  • Easily syncs with some smartphone apps

Cons

  • Somewhat invasive software wants to track your location
  • Doesn’t actually pair with all 3rd party apps

A smart scale isn’t going to help you lose weight on its own, but WYZE’s Smart Scale X can help you keep track of a handful of health metrics to help you chart your progress over time. This data can help determine whether your diet or exercise routine produces any results. The scale can track your weight, muscle mass, body fat percentage, BMI, heart rate, and water percentage. This data can be synced to the WYZE app (iOS and Android) on your phone, or a general app like Apple’s Health, Fitbit, and Google Fit.

Aesthetically, the Smart Scale X looks like the normal “dumb” models most of us are used to. Its temperated glass top, black or white colorway, and LCD display are all pretty standard. The scale will be able to take your weight very quickly, but it may take a few extra seconds for it to read your other metrics. You’ll know whether your weigh-in was successful when you see new data appear on your app of choice. Our only qualm with the Smart Scale X is that is constantly asks for your location—providing this information is entirely optional, and declining will not impact the scale’s performance—but it’s annoying. The health data collected by the scale can benefit you, giving away your location information may not. For more recommendations, check out our full guide to smart scales.

Best robot vacuum: eufy X10 Pro Omni Robot Vacuum and Mop

Great value

Your Virtual Assistant's Assistant

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Why it made the cut: Eufy’s RoboVac X10 can vacuum and mop your floors, and uses AI to avoid common obstacles to clean efficiently.

Specs

  • Surfaces: Hard floor, carpet
  • Bin size: 2.5 L
  • Run time: Not listed

Pros

  • Dual cleaning functionality
  • 8,000Pa suction
  • Advanced mapping technology

Cons

  • Price

Eufy’s RoboVac X10 Pro Omni builds on the company’s strong foundation and adds welcome features that weren’t available on most of its previous models.

The RoboVac X10 includes eufy’s 2.0 software, which allows the vacuum to intelligently avoid chairs, stairs, and other obstructions while creating a detailed map of your room. Knowing the borders of your rooms makes it easier for the vacuum to optimize its cleaning path for maximum efficiency during its run. Eufy tuned its sensors to operate in low light, too, to clean your home at night without any issues. The company’s robot vacuums have always done a very good job cleaning; the X10 can pick up more pet hair than before, thanks to a 8,000Pa suction and an auto-detangling brush roll. The dustbag only needs to be replaced every two months, according to eufy.

Robot vacuums have traditionally been good at picking up solid dirt—hair, crumbs, dust bunnies—but couldn’t deep-clean your floor. The RoboVac X10 has a built-in mop connected to a 3L water tank, allowing it to clean these surfaces more effectively. This vacuum cleaner will mop and vacuum simultaneously to avoid leaving water streaks on your floor. The Eufy app (iOS and Android) allows you to schedule cleanings, view the vacuum’s map, and tell it where to clean. You can also start or stop cleaning hands-free by using Amazon’s Alexa if you have a compatible smart speaker in your home.

Smart home devices are designed to make your life easier, but Eufy’s RoboVac X10 can cross a tedious chore off your list. If you want more recommendations, check our choices for the best robot vacuums.

Best speaker: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin

Beauty and the Beastly Bass

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Why it made the cut: The Zeppelin’s eye-catching aesthetics are matched by its excellent sound and surprisingly robust smart home integration.

Specs 

  • Assistant: Alexa
  • Drivers: 5
  • Dimensions: 28 x 12 x 11.6 inches
  • Frequency response: 35 Hz to 24 kHz

Pros

  • Audiophile-grade speaker array
  • Elegant, minimalist design elevates any decor
  • Alexa and AirPlay 2 support

Cons

  • No Google Assistant support

Most smart home speaker makers have spent resources trying to make hardware less expensive and more portable, often by sacrificing audio quality. Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin is the antithesis of this trend.

The large, heavy, expensive smart home speaker has been meticulously engineered to sound as good as possible, and it’s well worth its $800 price if you fancy yourself an audiophile. The Zeppelin’s greatest strength is that Bowers & Wilkins refused to compromise on audio quality. It outfitted this speaker with a five-driver array comprised of two 1-inch double dome tweeters, two 3.5-inch midrange drivers, and a single 6-inch subwoofer. The tweeters and midrange drivers are built into the left and right ends of the Zeppelin, which provides a surprisingly wide soundstage for a single speaker. The center-oriented subwoofer provides ample bass while never tipping itself over the edge. You’ll certainly hear the low end loudly and clearly, but mids and highs won’t sound drowned out or weak.

We put the Zeppelin through its paces in our review, listening to music from multiple genres at different bitrates and volume levels. There’s no such thing as a perfect-sounding speaker—everyone’s ears and preferences are different after all—but the level of detail was stunning. If you’re the type of person who has a library of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MSFL) SACDs ripped in FLAC on your computer, or exclusively stream high-resolution audio from different services, your fastidiousness will be rewarded here. Lossy audio also sounds excellent, but your source will help bring out Zeppelin’s full potential.

Regarding smart home functionality, the Zeppelin has Amazon’s Alexa built-in and support for Apple’s AirPlay 2. The lack of Google Assistant support is unfortunate, given this speaker’s price, but it isn’t a dealbreaker. If you’ve built a smart home and want an audio system to be a part of it, Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin is in a class of its own. For more recommendations, check out our full guide to the best smart speakers.

Best lock: Schlage Encode Deadbolt Smart Lock

Best WiFi

Wireless Wonder

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Why it made the cut: This smart deadbolt lock can be installed and used without smart features, but the ones it supports enhance its abilities.

Specs

  • Wi-Fi Connectivity: Yes
  • Dimensions: 3 x 5 inches
  • Battery: 4 AA batteries

Pros

  • Does not require a smart hub
  • Numerous programming options via a dedicated app
  • Many finish options

Cons

  • Not compatible with some popular smart home systems

Schlage’s Encode solved one of the biggest problems many people have with smart locks: Its wireless features are entirely optional. Yes, this deadbolt will replace the one on your door, but you can still get into your home using a key. this fallback method is helpful if the lock’s battery dies, your Wi-Fi goes out, or someone in your house doesn’t like or want to use smart features to get in and out of the house. This model also comes with a keypad, which needs to be set up using Schlage’s app (iOS and Android), but can be used by anybody once a code is set.

Setting up the Encode’s smart home features requires you to scan a QR code on the lock’s battery compartment, sending you to a digital setup process on its app. Once you’ve added the lock to your Wi-Fi network, you can lock or unlock it remotely. This feature will be useful when you or someone you live with forgets their key. Wireless locking is also useful if you can’t remember whether you locked the door on your way out. If you’re home, you can lock or unlock the Encode using Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, which is helpful if you’d like to let somebody in but have your hands full.

You can configure Schlage’s Encode to send your phone a notification each time your lock is locked or unlocked, and set it to engage its alarm if somebody tries to get inside your home while it’s locked. These security features are optional, but we recommend setting them up for added security, at least when you’re away from your home for an extended period of time. For more recommendations, check out our full guide to the best keypad door locks.

Best smoke detector: Google Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide

Best smart

Smart Monitoring

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Why it made the cut: The Nest Protect from Google can alert you of two dangerous gasses whether you’re home or away.

Specs

  • Type: Battery-powered or wired
  • Battery backup: Yes; battery-powered (AA x 6), Yes; wired (AA x 3)
  • Dimensions: 5.3 inches H x 5.3 inches W x 1.5 inches D

Pros

  • Mobile alerts
  • Easy to silence from your phone
  • Powerful interconnectivity features

Cons

  • Expensive

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a legal requirement in new homes—for good reason—but getting woken up by one can be very disorienting. Google’s Nest Protect can detect both threats and will play a voice recording telling you why it was triggered. If the source of the issue isn’t apparent—this is more common for carbon monoxide—you can relay your information to the fire department or another authority. In the case of a false alarm, like burning popcorn triggering the smoke detector, you can silence the Nest Protect using an app rather than struggling to push a button.

The Nest Protect’s best feature is its ability to send your phone notifications when triggered. This information can be invaluable if you’re not home and justifies the Nest Protect’s cost. The best-case scenario is that it’s a false positive, but knowing about a house fire or CO2 leak before it spreads is incredibly helpful. Google offers the Nest Protect in battery-powered and wired configurations so that you can install them everywhere. You’ll receive a notification when its batteries are low rather than hearing an annoying chirping sound. The Nest Protect only has two functions, but they’re incredibly important and can literally save your life or home. For more recommendations, check out our full guide to the best carbon monoxide detectors.

Best doorbell: Google Nest Doorbell Wired (2nd Generation)

All-In-One

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Why it made the cut: The second-generation Nest Doorbell is a sleek-looking doorbell with high-quality video.

Specs

  • Video resolution: 1280 x 960
  • Wired/Battery-powered: Battery
  • Field of view: 145 degrees
  • Integration: Google Assistant 
  • Storage type: Cloud

Pros

  • High-quality video
  • Chime included
  • Head-to-toe view
  • Notifications don’t require a subscription

Cons

  • Expensive subscription plan
  • Requires doorbell wire

A smart video doorbell can keep an eye on the most vulnerable part of your home: your front yard or street. Google’s second-generation Nest Doorbell is a wired model that can record HD video during the day or night. The lens’ 145-degree field of view can capture goings on over a wide area, so would-be criminals won’t be able to sneak by it easily. You’ll receive a notification each time the doorbell’s motion sensor is triggered, so you can immediately assess whether the person approaching your door is a friend or a stranger. These security features are the main reason to get a video doorbell, but Google made the Nest friendly, too. You can record away messages to alert people when you’re not home.

On the technical side, this video doorbell requires existing wiring to work. If you’re replacing an existing doorbell, this won’t be a problem. You may need to call an electrician if your home doesn’t already have one. The benefit of installing a wired doorbell is you never have to worry about it running out of batteries, which can be inconvenient if it happens while you’re on vacation. The set-it-and-forget-it nature of the Nest Doorbell is part of its overall appeal, as is its support for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

This video doorbell can store up to three hours of video—the maximum length for each clip is five minutes—in the cloud for free. If you’d like more storage, you’ll have to pay for an optional Nest Aware plan, which costs $6 per month and offers 60 days of event history. We’d like it if Google allows you to store video clips locally, but this isn’t the case, unfortunately. Still, if you’d like a sleek-looking wired video doorbell, this is the one to pick up. For more recommendations, check out our full guide to the best doorbell cameras.

Best smart plug: Wyze Plug

Best smart plug for Alexa or Google Nest

Smart Plugs for Wyze Shopper

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Why it made the cut: Wyze plugs are powerful tools, and especially inexpensive if you buy a multi-pack.

Specs

  • Energy consumption: 15 amps; 110 volts
  • Size: 2.75 x 4.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Smart home platforms: Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Mobile support: Controllable remotely through the Wyze app (iOS and Android)
  • Wide ecosystem support: Wyze app allows for multiple plugs to be controlled as a single system

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Reasonable price
  • Good companion app
  • Alexa and Google Assistant compatible

Cons

  • Not HomeKit compatible

Smart plugs are the unsung heroes of the smart device world. They allow you to control the devices they’re connected to remotely, even if the appliance or other powered gadget was made in the pre-Internet age. Wyze’s smart plugs cost $11 each or $40 in a four-pack and work just as well as models that cost a lot more. A smart plug is remarkably simple once you’ve set it up in Wyze’s iOS or Android app. Once the plug is connected to your Wi-Fi network, you can turn it on and off using an app. The plug can be connected to any outlet and is small enough not to interfere with the one below it in a multi-outlet receptacle.

The functionality of a smart plug is limited to turning an electronic on or off, but that can be a very powerful feature. For example, using this smart plug with a lamp will allow you to turn it into a smart light. Using a smart plug in conjunction with an air purifier will allow you to set it on a schedule. Smart plugs are little problem solvers, so we recommend picking up a multi-pack. It won’t be very hard to find places for them in your home, and it’s more cost-effective than picking them up one at a time.

Amazon owns Wyze, but the smart plugs can be controlled by both Alexa or Google Assistant, which is a nice touch. These plugs aren’t compatible with HomeKit, which may be problematic if you’re part of Apple’s smart home ecosystem. If that isn’t an issue, we can recommend Wyze’s smart plugs without reservation.

Best TV: Hisense 65U8K

Best overall

The Best Balance

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Why it made the cut: Hisense’s U8K features an impressive 4K panel, multiple HDMI 2.1 ports, and support for faster frame rates.

Specs

  • Sizes: 55”, 65”, 75”, 85″, 100″
  • Display: QLED
  • Refresh rate: 144 Hz
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0 x2, HDMI 2.1 x2 USB 2.0, Ethernet, Bluetooth

Pros

  • Sharp, vibrant picture
  • 144Hz panel
  • Multiple HDMI 2.1 port

Cons

  • So-so speakers

Smart TVs have become a commodity, but Hisense’s U8K has stayed above the fray thanks to its 144Hz refresh rate panel, support for the latest video standards, and a snappy processor that makes navigating Google TV snappy. These features make it an excellent choice for casual Netflix watchers, sports fanatics, and gamers alike.

In our tests, the U8K’s bright screen and vivid colors (both courtesy of its QLED panel) make the biggest difference when watching and playing. Its support of Dolby Vision and 144Hz refresh rate make playing cutting-edge titles on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X a pleasure, as the 4K TV can keep up with fast-paced action in first-person shooter titles or action games. Even Nintendo Switch games, which top out at 1080p with no HDR support, benefit from the panel. Ultra-colorful games like Super Mario Wonder and Stardew Valley really pop on the U8K. Similarly, its high refresh rate came in handy when watching sports matches, as players moved smoothly across the screen with no lost detail.

The TV held its own when watching shows and movies from various streaming services. Older HD content looked fine, but newer programming in 4K and HDR looks stunning. The TV’s Full Array Local Dimming allows you to control its contrast with pinpoint precision, so darker and lighter parts of a scene look distinct. This is especially apparent when viewing scenes that take place at night. Cinephiles who invest in the best-looking prints of their movies from boutique companies like Criterion and Arrow will be rewarded by seeing their favorite films in their full fidelity. Sure, you can spend more on an OLED or 8K, and you’ll see a difference, but this set really delivers for its price.

While the U8K dazzles on the visual front, its speakers are only okay, which is true of just about any flat-panel TV. There’s still some depth, but we recommend hooking this setup to a soundbar or home theater system for its sound to match its picture quality.

Best smart lightbulb: Philips Hue White and Color Starter Kit 

Best Smart Bulb Kit for Your Home

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Why it made the cut: Even with increased competition Philips’ Hue Starter Kit is still the best smart lighting bundle to get.

Specs

  • Brightness: 800 lumens
  • Power usage: 9.5 Watts 
  • Color temperature: 16 million colors, including 6500K
  • Lifetime: 25,000 hours 

Pros

  • Voice activation
  • Smart Button for additional control 
  • Expandability
  • Schedule custom lighting presets

Cons

  • Expensive 
  • Smart Button does not dim 

Philips virtually invented smart lighting, and its starter kit is still the package we recommend to people beginning their smart home journey. The bundle has three smart lightbulbs, a hub connecting them to the internet, and an on-and-off button. Setting up Hue’s bulbs is very easy, thanks to Phillips’ well-designed iOS and Android app. Adding bulbs to your system only takes a couple of minutes and requires you to either scan a QR code at the base of the bulb or entering in a unique alphanumerical code printed underneath it. In our experience, jotting down the alphanumerical code before installing the lightbulbs is the easiest way to get things going. You’ll also need to connect the included Philips Hue hub to your cable modem with an Ethernet cable. This is slightly annoying, but it’s what allows these lightbulbs to be compatible with Apple’s HomeKit, and makes them more stable overall.

Once they’re connected, you can control the lightbulbs in several ways. Many people will use the Philips Hue app, which allows you to set each bulb’s brightness and color individually. You can also select from an image that will use multiple bulbs to recreate a particular lighting condition—a sunset or sunrise, for example. For those living in a home with someone slightly less enthusiastic about smart home gear, you can sync the LED bulbs to the included wireless power switch. We wish the switch offered dimming controls, but this is a minor inconvenience. One of the most overlooked features of Philips Hue bulbs is the ability to put them on a timer. Knowing your lights will automatically turn on at sunset or slowly get brighter in the morning to wake you up can be both cool and useful. You also have the option to turn the lights on and off remotely, so they can turn on just before you return home after work or a night out.

The smart lighting world has exploded in popularity over the past couple of years, and while these options have brought prices down, none of the bulbs we’ve tried can match the performance of Philips Hue’s. Including other accessories that make them more user-friendly for non-techie folks is icing on the cake. For more recommendations, check out our full guide to the best smart light bulbs.

What to consider when buying the best smart home devices

Every smart home device requires you to consider a different set of factors, but there are some universal ones you should think about regardless of category. Our main focus was to choose products that support a wide range of platforms, so those whose alliances with Google or Amazon’s smart home speakers won’t be left in the dark if they switch from one to another. Apple has lagged in the smart home device space, despite Siri being 12 years old, because it decided to create its own smart home accessory standard, but that’s beginning to change.

Smart home platform

If you’ve searched for smart home devices in the past, you’ve likely run into badges denoting whether they work with Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. You may also have noticed a badge touting support for Apple’s HomeKit. These markings will likely go away once Matter takes over—more on that later—but they’re important to consider now. All smart home devices have allowed you to control them through an app on your iPhone or Android device, but only some were designed to work with a specific smart speaker. If you’ve spent hundreds of dollars outfitting your home with Echo or Nest Audio speakers, be sure that the devices you get support them, or you’ll be relegated to opening up a smartphone app to control them.

Matter support

It’s taken a long time to get here, but the Matter protocol—a new smart home standard developed and agreed upon by companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, and smart home device manufacturers—is set to change how we use these gadgets completely. Smart home devices that support Matter will be interoperable with every major platform, so homes with an Echo, Nest Audio, and HomePod speaker can control them seamlessly without a whole bunch of reconfiguration. Some existing smart home devices can receive Matter support via a software update, but each one has to be certified by a consortium for that to happen. Going forward, Matter will become the industry standard, but we’re not there quite yet.

How to set up a Wi-Fi network for your smart home

A strong Wi-Fi network is the foundation of your smart home. Without Wi-Fi, your smart home devices will not be able to connect to the internet. Your ISP has likely given you a cable modem with a router built into it. If your Wi-Fi speeds are sufficient, and it creates a network that covers your entire home, you’re all set. If your network strength is weak, or you’re having trouble connecting in every corner of your home, it may be time to upgrade to a stronger router. You may also want to look into a mesh Wi-Fi system, which is comprised of multiple routers that connect to one another to create a larger network.

Whether you use a single-point or mesh Wi-Fi router system, we recommend setting up your networking gear in a central location because it’ll give you the best chance of reaching every part of your home. You can check the strength of your Wi-Fi network by walking around different parts of your home and using the Speedtest.net’s free tool. The site allows you to check the speed of your Wi-Fi, which you can check against the speeds you’re paying for from your ISP.

How to add smart home devices to your Wi-Fi network

Every smart home device has a slightly different setup process, but they’re mostly the same. You’ll begin by downloading the app associated with your device and setting up an account. You can save time by setting up an account before your smart home device arrives if you’ve ordered it online. From there, the app will use Bluetooth to scan for your new smart home device and eventually ask you to connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi network. The app will ask for your Wi-Fi password to connect, so be sure to have it handy.

The work these smart home apps do behind the scenes is pretty sophisticated, but the setup process for most devices is pretty simple. If you already have their associated app downloaded, you should be able to set up a new device in five minutes or so. Just be mindful that some devices may download a software update the first time they’re booted, which can extend the setup time by a few minutes. Software updates can be set to download and install in the background to avoid interrupting your service.

Once the smart home device has been set up, you may have the opportunity to name it, so it’s easier to find. This is particularly important when setting up smart lightbulbs and smart plugs since it’s likely you’ll have several of them in your home at once. You may also have the option to add them to a centralized smart home app like Apple’s HomeKit or Google Home, where you can manage devices from different companies in one place. These centralized apps allow you to create virtual rooms so that you can manage all of the devices inside that area of your home.

FAQs

Q: What’s the best way to connect smart devices at home?

You’ll need to use a smartphone app to set up your smart devices, and that’s still the easiest and best way to connect to them. It’s also how you’ll troubleshoot issues if they arise.

Q: Can I save money by using smart home devices?

This depends on the smart home device. A smart thermostat may be able to reduce your energy bill by controlling your HVAC system more efficiently, but a smart home speaker will not.

Q: Which companies make the best smart home devices?

All hardware manufacturers featured in this guide—such as Philips Hue, TCL, and Bowers & Wilkins—make top-notch smart home devices.

Q: Do I need the internet for my smart home devices to work?

You’ll need an internet connection for a smart home device’s smart functionality, like the ability to control it remotely. More basic functionality, like turning a smart lightbulb on by flipping a switch, will work if the internet is down.

Q: Are smart home devices worth it?

Yes. Most devices released today are smart, and the ability to control them using a smartphone or speaker can make them easier to operate and manage.

Q: How much do smart home devices cost?

This depends on the category of smart home device you’re searching for. A smart TV can cost hundreds of dollars, while smart lightbulbs can cost under $100.

Final thoughts on the best smart home devices

Getting your first smart home device can be a very exciting experience. It can make an appreciable difference in how easy it is to control parts of your place that are annoying to access physically. They can save you time and help you optimize the space you have to work with, too. Smartphone apps and smart home speakers have become more sophisticated, too, so setting up and using a smart home device has become easier than ever. If you’ve put off setting up a smart home until now, you’re entering a mature part of the tech world whose biggest kinks have been largely worked out.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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Brandt Ranj

Staff Writer, Commerce

Brandt Ranj is a commerce reporter at Popular Science. He writes about the latest and greatest gadgets, from headphones and TVs to chargers and cables. He splits his time between New York City, Long Island, and Croatia, carting test gear around the U.S. and the globe.