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Once upon a time, smart homes were nearly far-off futuristic ideas illustrated in movies like the Disney Channel classic, Smart House. Back in 1999, when the movie was released, the concept of a smart house was thought to be convenient but ended up being rather unnerving. Thankfully, some 20 years later, and we’re living in a technologically advanced society where homes filled with smart accessories are the norm. Of course, that’s not to say that everyone’s hopped on the bandwagon just yet.
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With that in mind, we rounded up 12 of the best smart home accessories to expand your current collection of gadgets, or to inspire you to dip your toe into the tech at last. Who knows, by the end of this story you might just have a full cart and soon-to-be smart home.
1. The Amazon Echo Show 8
Forget about Smart House’s AI assistant Pat (played by Katey Sagal)—nowadays, it’s all about Alexa. If you’re looking for a way to streamline your life at home, adding a smart display to your space will prove incredibly beneficial. When we tested the best smart displays of 2022, we found the Amazon Echo Show 8 to be the overall winner thanks to its security camera (which you can turned on and off if you don’t want to feel watched by your device), the ability to make video calls on it and the many, many entertainment options it offers, from streaming services to more recipes than you can count.
With the Amazon Echo Show 8, users can not only read recipes, record notes, show calendars and listen to music, they can also set alarms and routines, too. As a devoted Echo Show owner, I especially love the ability to set alerts and follow-up responses for when my dog, Cash, barks. As soon as my Echo Show detects a bark, it automatically plays Disney lullabies for little man and alerts me, and gives the option to drop-in to help soothe him in the moment.
That said, if you’re most drawn to the calendar aspect of a smart display, you may want to check out the newer Amazon Echo Show 15, which is the largest Amazon display unit so far. Designed to be placed on a stand or mounted on the wall, the expansive screen is designed specifically for family organization. (That said, when we reviewed it, we found the size to be a bit impractical—but different strokes for different folks.)
2. The Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor
Now more than ever, folks everywhere are more attuned to the quality of their air. Did you know that you can actually monitor it, though? With a smart air quality monitor, you can test your air for particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and more. While there are a series of different air quality monitors on the market, we can’t get enough of the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor.
The reason? “The Amazon Alexa app, where you’ll set up and manage the monitor, provides a dashboard of details about your home’s air quality broken up into the five main categories the device is tracking for, as well as a general overview of the indoor air quality. Insights are provided on an hourly, daily and weekly basis, allowing you to drill down into the data for a better understanding (and tips for creating cleaner air at home),” our reviewer reveals.
3. The Google Nest Indoor/Outdoor Cam
There’s something so satisfying about feeling secure and your home. Something that can help boost that sense of safety is installing a security camera (or a few) in your space. When it comes to outdoor monitoring, you’ll want to use a weather-proof camera that can be mounted on your home or in a tree. We’re big fans of the battery-operated Google Nest Indoor/Outdoor Cam, as it can be installed multiple ways, it touts fantastic video and audio quality, and it comes with free smart alerts (many other cameras make you pay for those).
4. The Google Nest Protect
If you don’t feel compelled to get an air quality monitor but want to keep tabs on smoke readouts to enhance your safety, adding a smart smoke detector to your home is a great idea. When researching and testing the most popular smart home detectors of 2022, we found the Google Nest Protect reigned supreme thanks to the variety of models (which let you use batteries or hardwire the device), its ability to pair with both Android and iOS devices, and its simple, quick set-up. As for cons, we couldn’t find any.
5. The Ring Video Wired Doorbell
Another way to keep your home secure is to add a smart video doorbell to your front door. Of all the smart doorbells on the market, we’re particularly fond of the battery-operated Ring Video Doorbell, which can be installed multiple ways, has a clear picture and comes with free smart alerts. The only downsides of the doorbell are that it doesn’t pair with the Nest app, nor does it work with Siri or Alexa. Still, we found it to be the best overall smart video doorbell of 2022.
6. The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
Tired of having to toggle your sprinklers (and getting soaked in the process) to keep your lawn looking its best? With a smart sprinkler, you’ll be able to operate your sprinkler without even stepping outside. The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller is particularly convenient because it gives users the ability to create specific watering schedules, as well as the option to control the device through Google and Alexa smart commands. That said, it’s more expensive than many of the other options on the market—but we still found it to be worth it.
7. The Wyze Plug Outdoor
Whether you’re looking to install twinkle lights in your backyard or spot lights in your front yard, it helps to have weatherproof plugs fit for the job. Why stop there, though? Instead of getting plain plugs, opting for outdoor smart plugs gives you the option to turn your lights on and off from your phone. Cool and convenient, no? Before buying the first smartplug you come across, though, consider checking out the Wyze Plug Outdoor—our overall top pick for the best outdoor smart plugs of 2022. In addition to being notably more affordable than other smart plugs, the Wyze Plug Outdoor is Google and Alexa compatible, as well as fully functional from the app. What’s more, it gives users the ability to individually control the two outlets within it so that you won’t have to turn everything on and off at the same time—you can choose.
8. The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera
As helpful as monitoring the outside of your home can be, keeping an eye on what’s happening inside is a good idea, too. Since indoor security cameras can often lead to a sense of feeling watched while at home, the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera is a particularly great option, because it comes with a security toggle that can prevent that from happening. What’s more, the camera has a 130-degree view and the ability to distinguish between people and animals. It can be streamed from Amazon and Google devices, though it can’t be connected with the Apple HomeKit. It’s also worth mentioning that, when testing the device, we found that it works best mounted, as its lightweight frame makes it easy to tip over otherwise.
9. Google Nest Learning Thermostat
If old school thermostats never quite seem to cut it for you, it’s time to upgrade to a smart thermostat like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat. What sets this device apart from the other smart thermostats on the market is the fact that it’s easy to install, it can be controlled from anywhere thanks to the compatible app, and it can even be adjusted with Google and Alexa voice commands. In addition to keeping your home feeling just right at all times, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat can help save you money by adjusting the temperature when you’re not home. Pretty neat, don’t you think?
10. The Ring Stick Up Cam
Love the idea of a surveillance camera that you can use at home and while traveling? The Ring Stick Up Cam is battery operated, comes in solar and plug-in options and can be used indoors or outdoors. It’s easy to set up, compatible with Alexa and provides stellar video and audio input. Best of all, we couldn’t find a single flaw with it.
11. The myQ Chamberlain Smart Garage Control
With a smart garage control, you can ensure your garage is shut without having to turn back around, as well. The myQ Chamberlain Smart Garage Control is our top pick because it’s incredibly easy to install and works just about instantaneously. The one downfall is that it’s not Alexa compatible, however, you can control it from the coordinating phone app, so it’s still a great value.
12. The Bose Home Speaker 500
One of the most common smart gadgets among just about all homes are smart speakers. After all, who doesn’t love the ability to stream their favorite tunes without having to press a single button? As popular as Amazon Alexa speakers are, when we tested all the trendiest smart speakers on the market, the Bose Home Speaker 300 reigned supreme for its Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, physical preset buttons and Bluetooth pairing. Since then, however, the 500 version came out, and is the only one available on Amazon. The biggest difference between the 300 and 500 is that the 500 has a screen which displays the cover art of the music playing—a nice touch if you ask us.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.