You can make your home a little more livable—and a lot more automated—by adding appliances and devices you can control from anywhere. We’ve tested hundreds of smart home products in more than 20 categories to help determine which ones are best for every room in (and out of) the house.
My house is working toward a PhD. Little by little, it’s getting smarter.
The transition started a couple of years ago, out of necessity. After peering beneath my bed skirt to retrieve a fallen item, I was horrified to discover a thick coating of dust on the floor. My old-school corded upright vacuum was too bulky to fit all the way under, so I picked up a robot vacuum to handle the dirty work for me.
Since then I’ve been reviewing smart home gadgets for PCMag, and my little Florida beach bungalow has transformed into a test bed for the latest home tech, growing smarter by the week. Now I walk into the bedroom and tell Google Assistant to turn on the lights. I ask Alexa to reorder protein powder and dog food and it arrives on my doorstep two days later. I adjust my thermostat through an app on my phone, from the comfort of bed before I get out of it in the morning. I receive severe weather warnings and recipe ideas on the screen of the smart display in my kitchen. Even my air fryer sends me a notification when it’s done preheating.
These days, there’s a smart version of pretty much every home device you can think of. In general, these products connect to the internet, so you can control them from your phone via a companion app. Most also work with various forms of voice control.
Many smart home companion apps support scheduling, so you can easily program your devices to perform a certain action at a certain time. After having a bike stolen, for instance, PCMag’s editor Wendy Sheehan Donnell programmed her smart garage door to automatically close every night at a specific time.
With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, you can set up routines to program your devices to work together and do multiple things at once, like adjust the temperature and lighting when you get home. With Apple HomeKit, you can control your devices with Siri voice commands, or from an Apple Watch, and create scenes to trigger several devices at the same time. Using IFTTT, a service supported by many of the top smart home brands, you can link various internet-connected devices and easily program them to respond to real-world events, such as setting your lights to turn on automatically at sunset.
What follows is a rundown of the best smart devices we’ve tested for every room of the house. There are so many products that we’ve arranged them by room to help keep things organized, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use most of these gadgets just about anywhere.
And make sure to check back soon, as we’re regularly testing new products and adding them to this guide.
FRONT YARD: CREATING A WELL-LIT AND SECURE ENTRANCE
Credit: Bob Al-Green
At the ultimate smart home, you’re met with technology before you even step through the front door. Some of the most useful connected home gadgets reside in the front yard.
To illuminate your abode, you’ll want some outdoor-friendly smart lights. The Ring Smart Lighting System is an excellent option; it lets you create a network of motion-based security lights for the outside of your home. You can add components as needed, including floodlights, pathway lights, spotlights, and step lights.
Most of Ring’s smart lighting components are powered by battery, so they’re simple to install. Each works independently as a motion-activated light, but to make them smart you have to connect them to a Ring Bridge. Once connected, you can control the lights with Alexa voice commands or from your phone via the Ring app, create groups so all the lights turn on when one detects motion, and link them with Ring security cameras like the Stickup Cam Battery. Once linked, you can have the camera record video when a light detects motion.
Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera (Credit: Arlo)
Speaking of outdoor security cameras, our top pick overall for keeping tabs on your home from your phone is the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera. This high-resolution, weather-resistant security camera not only captures motion-triggered video, but casts a bright light on whatever is moving around on your property. It’s wireless and installs in minutes, delivers detailed 2K video with color night vision, provides accurate and intelligent motion detection, and offers plenty of integration options.
For those times you want to check whether it’s a delivery person or an unwanted solicitor knocking on your door, a video doorbell will let you see who’s there without getting up from the couch. Beyond this convenience, video doorbells can serve as a first line of defense against property theft, home invasion, and porch pirates. They not only let you see and speak with the person outside, but they also record footage of visitors that approach your door while you’re away or unable to answer. Our favorite budget-friendly model, the Ezviz DB1C Wi-Fi, delivers sharp HD video with a wide viewing angle, offers local and cloud video storage, and supports IFTTT as well as Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands.
Another piece of technology you’ll want on your front door is a smart lock. Arguably the most important part of a truly connected home, these devices offer both security and flexibility, letting you come and go as you please, and monitor who is entering and leaving your home while you’re away. Our current favorite is the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, which is easy to install and stands out for its automatic locking and unlocking abilities, robust third-party integrations, and stylish design.
For the highest level of protection, consider a professionally monitored smart home security system. One of our top picks, ADT Command, is a hefty investment, but it offers virtually everything you need for maximum protection. Compared with Vivint, another Editors’ Choice winner, ADT is a bit pricier but offers superior customer service.
SimpliSafe Home Security System (Credit: Zlata Ivelva)
For a more affordable alternative, do-it-yourself smart home security systems are ideal for homeowners who want to save money by monitoring their homes themselves. The SimpliSafe Home Security System, our favorite DIY option, lets you secure and monitor your home from afar without spending a bundle or signing a long-term contract. Just keep in mind that DIY systems leave it up to you to take action when an alarm is triggered.
LIVING ROOM: COZY CONVENIENCES FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND RELAXATION
Credit: Bob Al-Green
When it comes to living room technology, televisions and soundbars are the obvious stars of the show. But in the ultimate smart home, myriad other gadgets work together to elevate the ambience, convenience, and security of your main living space.
For starters, a smart speaker is a must for the living room. Beyond playing music, our favorite models serve as a sort of central command center, letting you control pretty much any other connected home gadget by voice. The first step in choosing one is deciding which voice assistance platform is the right fit for your home: Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. All three support most major smart home device brands.
If Alexa is your voice assistant of choice, we suggest the Echo Studio, which offers truly impressive audio quality for its price, or the fourth-generation Amazon Echo as a more affordable alternative. Google Assistant fans can go with the Nest Audio. The Sonos One gives you the flexibility to use both Alexa and Google Assistant.
As a third option, you can use Siri to control your smart home. In this case, you’ll want a HomePod mini in your living room. When going this route, just make sure any other smart home devices you buy are compatible with Apple HomeKit.
As an alternative or in addition to a smart speaker, you might want a smart display. They offer the same hands-free voice assistant features as a smart speaker, but with a useful touch screen on which you can view live feeds from your smart doorbell or security camera, make video calls (virtual game night, anyone?), and control your connected gadgets with a few taps. When not in use, your living room smart display can serve as a digital photo frame to display your personal snaps or curated art. The Alexa-powered Amazon Echo Show 10 and Google Assistant-powered Google Nest Hub Max are our favorites for the living room, while smaller options are better suited for the kitchen and bedroom.
Google Nest Hub Max (Credit: Zlata Ivelva)
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to upgrade your living room is to swap out your standard incandescents for smart light bulbs that support app and voice control. After upgrading, you’ll never have to get up off the couch to flip the light switch again. Beyond offering greater convenience than traditional bulbs, smart lights use less energy and last longer, so they can save you money in the long run.
The Wyze Bulb Color is the most value-rich smart color bulb we’ve tested. Featuring Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for hub-free app control, and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support so you can turn it on and off with your voice, it’s a lot smarter than your average light bulb, but affordable enough to put in every fixture in the house. It can produce virtually any color, plus a range of warm to cool white tones, and shine bright or dim low, offering plenty of options to set the mood for your next movie night.
Another smart living room gadget that can add serious convenience to your life, and potentially save you money on energy, is a connected thermostat. Our favorite models let you monitor and control your home’s heating and cooling system by phone or voice, set temperature schedules, and offer energy-saving features that can help lower your bill. Our top pick, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium, comes with a remote sensor you can put in different rooms to ensure a consistent temperature throughout the house.
The third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat stands out for its ability to program itself. During your first week of use, it learns your heating and cooling preferences throughout the day and night, then automatically sets up a personalized schedule. As a more budget-friendly option, we highly recommend the Nest Thermostat, which requires manual scheduling, but is arguably the most stylish model on the market.
Nest Thermostat (Credit: Google)
With a smart plug, you can turn anything that plugs into the wall—be it a lamp, space heater, humidifier, or even a Christmas tree—into a connected device that you can control from your phone. The ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2 is one of the pricier options in this category, but it’s also one of the best. It lets you independently control two outlets, tells you how much power each one is drawing, and has a handy USB charging port.
The TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300 is a smart surge protector with six outlets you can independently control via your phone or voice. It also supports IFTTT, so you can program it to automatically turn certain outlets on or off when another event, such as a camera motion trigger, takes place. If you have fewer devices you want to make smart, the Wyze Plug is our favorite affordable option.
With so many smart gadgets in your living room, it’s a good idea to invest in a Wi-Fi-connected indoor home security camera. One of our favorites, the Eufy Indoor Cam 2K Pan & Tilt, delivers vivid high-resolution video and is packed with features typically found on pricier models, including local and cloud storage, automatic motion tracking, and support for all the major voice assistance platforms.
Finally, if you have a cat or dog, your smart living room wouldn’t be complete without a pet camera that lets you monitor and interact with your fur babies 24/7, from wherever you are. The Furbo Dog Camera is as functional as it is fun, offering barking notifications and a remote treat-tossing feature you—and your pooch—will love.
KITCHEN: MUST-HAVE CONNECTED COOKING AND CLEANING TOOLS
Credit: Bob Al-Green
Whether you’re a master chef or an Uber Eats power user, the best smart kitchen gadgets can bring serious convenience to the heart of your home.
Can’t decide what’s for dinner? Need to quickly convert fluid ounces to cups? Searching for a cilantro substitute? Sounds like you need a smart display on your countertop. With Alexa or Google Assistant in your kitchen, you can also quickly set timers, add items to your grocery list, and play your favorite cooking music, all with just the sound of your voice. Amazon’s second-generation Echo Show 8 is our favorite kitchen companion; it’s sized just right for counters, and features Food Network Kitchen for recipe inspiration.
Once you settle on a recipe, the top smart kitchen appliances can help you with every step of the cooking process. The Anova Precision Oven lets you bake, roast, slow cook, sous vide, and steam food to perfection, making it one the smartest countertop ovens you can buy. Its companion app allows you to control and monitor the oven from your phone, load cooking presets onto the machine with a tap, and offers step-by-step cooking instructions for chef-level results.
Anova Precision Oven (Credit: Anova)
If you’re in the market for a new microwave, meanwhile, the Sharp Smart Countertop Microwave Oven responds to Alexa voice commands and offers lots of one-touch controls.
Ultimately, there’s a smart version of just about every other kitchen appliance you can think of: from full-size ovens and refrigerators to smaller gadgets like air fryers and the Instant Pot Pro Plus. We haven’t tested it, but the GE Profile Smart Built-In Convection Double Wall Oven(Opens in a new window) features Wi-Fi and a built-in camera so you can watch a live stream of your food cooking on your phone. The LG Signature InstaView Door-in-Door Refrigerator(Opens in a new window), another product we haven’t tested, can open itself when you have your hands full. When you’re coming in with bags of groceries, you can simply say, “Hi LG, open the refrigerator door.”
And of course, no kitchen would be complete without a coffee maker. In the ultimate smart home, even your bean-brewing machine is connected. Smart coffee makers allow for app and voice control, so the only thing standing between you and a java jolt is a couple of taps on your phone or the phrase, “Alexa, turn on my coffee maker.” One such option, the Hamilton Beach Smart Coffee Maker, lets you use voice commands to turn it on and off and set the brew strength, and it supports Alexa routines so you can program it to automatically brew your coffee at a specific time each day.
Hamilton Beach Smart Coffee Maker (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
When it’s time to clean up after dinner, a good robot vacuum can take care of the floors for you. One of our favorite models, the Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty XL R101AE, works quickly and efficiently, rarely gets stuck, and has a large dustbin in its base station that only needs to be emptied about once a month.
For homes with pets, we highly recommend the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI, which uses artificial intelligence to avoid obstacles like dog toys, and has a built-in camera that lets you check on your house and your furry friend from your phone wherever you are.
Most traditional robot vacuums need to be emptied after every cleaning run. If you’re tired of emptying your ‘bot’s bursting dustbin on the daily, consider a self-emptying model. The iRobot Roomba j7+ automatically transfers the contents of its dustbin into an allergy-sealed bag, which holds around 60 days’ worth of debris, depending on how often you vacuum and the cleanliness of your home.
To scrub away streaks, you’ll need a good robot mop. The Bissell SpinWave Wet and Dry features two spinning microfiber pads and supports several different cleaning solutions to keep your floors looking as good as new. The iRobot Braava Jet m6 is another excellent option, which sweeps and mops your floors until they shine.
And finally, germaphobes might be interested in a smart trash can that can open its own lid. The Simplehuman Dual-Compartment Rectangular Sensor Can(Opens in a new window), which we haven’t tested, features side-by-side bins for trash and recycling and responds to voice commands such as, “open can,” “stay open,” and “close can.”
BEDROOM: TECH FOR A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP
Credit: Bob Al-Green
If your bed is too uncomfortable, your room is too hot, or you’re experiencing breathing difficulties due to allergies and asthma, the best bedroom tech can offer some relief.
For the ultimate in nighttime comfort, Sleep Number’s 360 i8 Smart Bed is a hefty investment, but it lets you dial the firmness of each side independently, so if you like sleeping on a cloud and your partner prefers a brick, you can both have it your way. It also tracks your sleep trends in its companion app, and offers personalized insights to help you snooze better.
The temperature of your room can also affect your sleep quality. A too-hot or too-cold room can make it difficult to drift off and to stay asleep throughout the night. According to the CDC(Opens in a new window), around 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal sleeping temperature for most people.
If you don’t have central air, you might want to consider a smart air conditioner. They typically allow for app and voice control, and support scheduling, which can help cut down on your energy costs. The Midea 8,000BTU U-shaped Air Conditioner is easy to install and did a great job of cooling in our tests. It’s also one of the quietest window units we’ve encountered.
Midea 8,000BTU U-shaped Air Conditioner (Credit: Midea)
A smart air purifier can help you keep a close eye on your indoor air quality and breathe a little easier, especially if you suffer from allergies and asthma. The Dyson Purifier Cool TP07, our all-around favorite model, is both a capable HEPA air purifier as well as an oscillating fan, with a small footprint and Wi-Fi connectivity for phone and voice control.
For relaxing smart lighting to help you drift off to sleep, the Govee Lyra(Opens in a new window) is a floor lamp that supports up to 16 million colors, more than 25 preset scenes, and 6 music modes that dynamically react to whatever you’re listening to. You can schedule it to turn off after you fall asleep, or simply tell it that you’re ready to go to bed with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.
A smart speaker can make for an excellent bedside companion. Our favorite models for the bedroom are the Amazon Echo Dot With Clock and the Google Nest Mini. They won’t crowd your nightstand, and let you set alarms, play music, check the weather, and control other compatible smart home devices, all with the sound of your voice.
Similarly, a smart display offers all the benefits of a smart speaker, and organizes your smart home controls on a single screen, conveniently located on your bedside table. The second-generation Nest Hub is small enough for nightstands and features sensors that allow it to track your sleep, overnight respiration rate, coughing, and snoring, as well as any light and temperature changes in your room, all without a camera or requiring you to wear a separate device to bed. It then offers useful insights to help improve your shut eye. If you prefer Alexa, our favorite smart display for the bedroom is the second-generation Echo Show 5. It won’t track your sleep, but it features a camera (which you can disable if you prefer) for video calls and remote home monitoring.
Nanit Pro Complete Monitoring System (Credit: Nanit)
Finally, if you have little ones, a smart baby monitor will let you watch, entertain, and soothe your child in their crib. The Nanit Pro Complete Monitoring System requires deep pockets, but it’s among the best smart baby monitors we’ve tested, especially for first-time and/or nervous parents. It records your baby’s sleep and wake times down to the minute, which can help you narrow down a bedtime for your little cherub. It can also alert you if your baby stops breathing to preempt the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome.
BATHROOM: GROOMING GADGETS FOR STRESS-FREE MORNINGS
Credit: Bob Al-Green
Water and tech don’t usually mix, but that hasn’t stopped a swell of connected bathroom gadgets, from high-tech toilets that can clean themselves to smart scales that can measure a lot more than just how much you weigh.
If you’re building a new house, or renovating one, consider a smart toilet for your bathroom. We haven’t reviewed any yet, but the Kohler Veil(Opens in a new window) looks to be a promising option that, among other nifty features, offers a hands-free opening and closing system that should eliminate squabbles over whether the toilet seat should be left up or down. It also features a night-light, a heated seat, a warm-air drying system, an automatic deodorizer, a self-cleaning function that uses UV light to sanitize the bowl, and an emergency mode that lets you flush up to 100 times during a power outage.
In the ultimate smart bathroom, you can even fill the tub with your phone or voice. With the Kohler PerfectFill smart drain and bath filler, all you need to do is utter the words “Alexa, start my bath.” With a simple voice command or a few taps in the Kohler Konnect app, the PerfectFill can automatically draw the bath to your preferred temperature and depth, with support for up to 10 users profiles.
Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Hi-Fi (Credit: Zlata Ivelva)
Upgrade your vanity with the Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Hi-Fi, which features a variety of customizable light settings for flawless makeup application and a built-in speaker so you can listen to your favorite music or podcasts while getting ready. It lights automatically when it detects your face, and it supports Alexa voice control, features that come in handy when you have powder in one hand and a brush in the other.
A smart bathroom scale is useful if you’re looking to lose a few pounds or just want to keep a closer eye on your waistline. It can help you track your weight, body fat, bone density, water percentage, heart rate, and more. The QardioBase 2 makes it easy to track changes in your body composition, and offers all the bells and whistles you could want from a smart scale. It automatically detects up to eight users, syncs your data to Apple Health and other popular fitness apps, and features a rechargeable battery. As a more affordable alternative, the Wyze Scale is hard to beat. It tracks 12 metrics, including your BMI, body fat percentage, body water percentage, heart rate, muscle mass, protein level, and weight up to 400 pounds.
Wyze Scale (Credit: Wyze)
Our favorite connected bathroom tech can even help you earn an A+ at your next dentist visit. The Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected costs as much as a cleaning, but it’s the best smart toothbrush you can buy, offering a useful app with guided brushing and a built-in timer.
Instilling good oral hygiene habits in kids can sometimes feel like pulling teeth, but the Colgate Magik can help with that. Designed for children five to 10 years old, the Magik is a manual toothbrush that works with an augmented reality smartphone app that turns a twice-daily chore into a fun game. As they brush, children work to scrub away Cavity Monsters and earn diamonds that can be used to unlock fun, Snapchat-like AR face masks and new worlds.
HOME GYM: INTERACTIVE EXERCISE MACHINES TO CRUSH YOUR GOALS
Credit: Bob Al-Green
Whether you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated workout room or just an empty corner with enough space for a yoga mat, the smart home gym equipment market offers no shortage of options to help you work on your fitness in your own abode.
Smart fitness devices like the Peloton Bike+ allow for a level of interactivity far beyond their more affordable, non-connected counterparts. The Bike+ and many others offer large libraries of guided classes with knowledgeable instructors and/or customized workouts and programs based on your goals and current fitness level. It’s like having a personal trainer in the comfort, safety, and privacy of your own home.
Indoor cycling can help you burn calories, boost your cardiovascular endurance, and elevate your mood. You might assume the Peloton is the best smart stationary bike because it’s the most popular, but in reality, the best option is the one that’s going to motivate you to hop back on day after day. Peloton motivates you through metrics and competition, while the SoulCycle At-Home Bike, another Editors’ Choice winner in this category, offers a more meditative, dance-focused experience. The MYX II, a more affordable alternative, emphasizes personalized heart rate zone training.
SoulCycle At-Home Bike (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
For a full-body, low-impact workout that puts minimal stress on your knees and other joints, consider a smart rowing machine. The NordicTrack RW900 is an excellent choice for beginner, intermediate, and advanced rowers alike. It features a 22-inch touch screen on which you can browse and stream outdoor iFit workouts filmed in picturesque locations all around the world, from Inniscarra Lake in Ireland to the Kafue River in Zambia. During outdoor workouts, the machine automatically adjusts your resistance to match the wind and water conditions, so you feel what the trainer feels. Trainers often point out the sights along the way, so you’re getting a workout and a tour. The Hydrow is more expensive, but it’s one of the most luxurious smart rowing machines you can buy, combining top-of-the-line equipment with live streaming workouts.
While rowing machines can feel intimidating to newbies, and cycling bike seats can be a literal pain in the butt, treadmills are more user-friendly, accessible, and comfortable, since walking is an activity most of us do on a daily basis anyway. The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 is hefty in size and price, but it’s one of the most sophisticated treadmills on the market, with a vast iFit streaming workout library and the ability to automatically adjust your incline and speed. As a more affordable and compact option, we recommend the Echelon Stride, which connects with your own smartphone or tablet to let you stream live and on-demand running and walking classes with competitive leaderboards, and folds up when not in use.
To build muscle, consider a smart strength training machine. Our favorite is the Tempo Studio, which has an easel-like design with a 42-inch touch screen on which you can stream a variety of trainer-led workouts, including live classes. Below the screen is a cabinet that neatly stores four sets of weights, so they’re out of sight when not in use. On the back, you can hang the included dumbbells and barbell. The machine keeps track of how much weight you should be lifting, counts your reps, and offers feedback about your form to help you strength train safely. The Tonal, another excellent option in this category, uses a combination of electricity and magnets to digitize weights, offering up to 200 pounds of resistance in a sleek wall-mounted machine. Meanwhile, the Peloton Guide camera offers strength training help for much less. It requires only a TV and a bit of free space.
Tempo Studio (Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
Short on space? Try the Mirror. It can be mounted to your wall, so it takes up zero floor space, and looks like a regular mirror when not in use. It offers a wide range of live and on-demand classes, including boxing, cardio, pilates, strength, stretching, yoga, and more. Most of the classes can be done without any equipment, but some require weights, which you need to buy if you want to participate. The Forme Studio is a more premium take on this concept with a full touchscreen and exceptional 1:1 health coaching features.
GARAGE: DESIGN AN AUTOMATED AND ORGANIZED MULTI-PURPOSE SPACE
Credit: Bob Al-Green
Whether your garage serves as a storage area, a workshop, a party zone, or a place where you actually keep your car, there’s plenty of tech available to make it smarter.
If your old garage door opener struggles to fully raise and lower the door, and makes a racket doing so, it might be time for an upgrade. Belt-driven smart garage door openers are typically pin-drop quiet compared with the chain-driven models of yore. More importantly, they let you view the state of the door (closed or open, and for how long), and control it from your phone so you don’t have to trudge outside in your PJs when you’re already comfy in bed.
The reasonably priced Genie SilentMax Connect Garage Door Opener is one of the quietest models we’ve tested thanks to its DC motor and a steel-reinforced belt drive system. It connects to your home Wi-Fi network, allowing you to control it using a phone or tablet, create users and access schedules, and set up time-based opening and closing rules. It supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, but it doesn’t work with IFTTT and it lacks a battery backup.
Garage door openers that work with the MyQ app(Opens in a new window) are compatible with Amazon’s in-garage delivery service, Key, which can give you peace of mind if you’re worried about porch pirates stealing packages from your front door. To set it up, just head over to the Works With section of the MyQ app and enable Key In-Garage Delivery. The service is free for Amazon Prime members; once you set it up, just select “Key Delivery” at checkout when shopping on Amazon to have your packages delivered inside your garage.
Don’t have the money to spring for a new smart garage door opener? No worries: The affordable MyQ Smart Garage Hub(Opens in a new window) lets you add connectivity to your existing setup. It’s compatible with all major garage door openers manufactured after 1993.
Rachio 3 (Credit: Rachio)
In addition to your high-tech car and e-bike, the garage is probably where you store many of your outdoor smart home devices. One of our favorites, the Rachio 3 smart sprinkler controller, can help you keep your beloved lawn looking green and lush while saving money on water. It installs in minutes, letting you control your in-ground sprinkler system from anywhere using your phone. It can also automatically reschedule watering cycles when significant rainfall is in the forecast, a standout feature that performed well in our tests.
BACK YARD: HIGH-TECH AMENITIES FOR AN OPEN-AIR SANCTUARY
Credit: Bob Al-Green
Our tour of the ultimate smart home wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the backyard. The best outdoor smart home devices can help you keep your yard green, your pool blue, and your property safe. They also make it easy to create a warm and inviting ambience for backyard get-togethers.
To set the mood for your next barbecue or pool party, you’ll need a good outdoor-friendly smart speaker that can withstand splashes and rain. We like the Sonos Move, which offers powerful audio with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control in a battery-powered, outdoor-friendly design. Its IP56 rating means it can handle limited dust exposure, as well as water projected from any direction, though it shouldn’t be submerged. It’s also built to withstand intense sun and even drops. As a more affordable, portable, and rugged alternative, we recommend the stylish, Alexa-compatible Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1.
Thanks to outdoor-friendly smart lights, the party doesn’t need to stop when the sun goes down. The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lily Outdoor Spot Light Kit is one of our favorite smart lighting options for the backyard. Specifically designed for gardens and patios, these outdoor lights let you bathe your yard in 16 million colors and create lighting scenes for every occasion. They’re easy to install, built to withstand the elements, and work with multiple voice command platforms. With IFTTT, you can even program them to shine your favorite sports team’s colors when they score.
Wyze Plug Outdoor (Credit: Wyze)
Looking to automate your string lights or a decorative water feature? An outdoor-friendly smart plug can help. The weatherproof Wyze Plug Outdoor is one of the least expensive, and most versatile, options we’ve tested. It works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, supports IFTTT, and will even tell you how much power you’re using. It also features a built-in light sensor, so it can automatically turn your lights on when the sun goes down.
When everyone at the party starts getting hungry, it’s time to start thinking about our favorite grilling and BBQ gadgets. If you really want to impress your friends at your next barbecue, the Traeger Timberline 1300 does the trick. It features Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can adjust the grill temperature and monitor your food as it cooks from your phone. It’s big and expensive, but if you take your grilling seriously, it doesn’t get much better. As a more affordable alternative, the smaller Traeger Ironwood 650 also lets you barbecue, roast, and smoke like a professional pitmaster. The Spark Grill is another excellent option that relies on convenient compressed charcoal panel.
If you don’t have the money for a smart grill, the Weber iGrill Mini connected thermometer lets you monitor the temperature of your food from your smartphone, so you can kick back and spend your time with friends and family instead of hovering over the grill the whole time.
Husqvarna Automower 315X (Credit: Husqvarna)
Finally, for the nicest, best-maintained lawn on the block, consider a robot lawn mower as well. The Husqvarna Automower 315X stands out for its excellent cutting and edging performance, user-friendly programming options, and quiet operation. It works with a well-designed mobile app that lets you use your phone to start and stop the mower, monitor its progress, create schedules, and see where it’s been on a map of your property.