If you’ve been thinking of giving a friend or family member a gift from the Smart Home realm this holiday season, there are a number of ways you could go. For instance, you might choose something to enhance their personal security; you could select a gift that’s designed primarily for their convenience; or you may wish to give them a nice big bundle of home energy savings.
Of course, you’ll also want to find something that’s appropriate to their home and living situation (i.e., do they own their own detached home or rent an apartment?), something that’s easy for them to adopt into their lifestyle, and something that doesn’t require them to spend money on a professional installation (unless you intend to install whatever it is yourself as part of the gift).
As you can see, there’s a whole lot to consider when attempting to give the gift of a smart home, which is exactly why I’m here to help break it all down for you today so you can make a good decision. Let’s take it one category at a time and begin with personal security.
The Gift of Smart Home Security
The gift of smart home security is probably one of the greatest things you can give to someone; and it doesn’t have to be complicated. For instance, something like smart Security Cameras provide a tremendous amount of security (as well as great peace of mind) without being difficult to set up and install. They’re not quite as easy as simple plug-and-play, but they’re pretty close to it.
Your main considerations when giving smart cameras as a gift are whether you expect them to be used indoors or out (some smart cameras are designed to be either/or, though many are specific to one environment or the other), how many cameras will be enough (i.e., do they have a large piece of property to protect, or just a small apartment; also, smart security cameras come in sets of 1, 2, 4, and sometimes even 8), and does the person you’re buying for have home Wi-Fi Internet (because smart security cameras typically require Wi-Fi Internet access, and some folks are not yet connected at all).
If outdoor cameras are something you’re considering as a gift (or even just for yourself), Shelly just did a fantastic article right here on the blog exploring Which Smart Cameras are Best for Winter?
There’s also the consideration of whether or not the smart cameras you buy will require a hub to work (which would most likely be included anyway, but does add an extra layer of expense and complexity to the overall system).
Other smart home security products you might consider include Smart Locks & Doorbells (installation is required, though typically hiring a professional is not necessary) and Smart Security Alarms & Motion Sensors (most of these are also easy to set up, and certain smart sensors have the potential to save your—or your gift recipient’s, life!).
The Gift of Smart Convenience
Convenience comes in many forms. In the realm of the smart home, the greatest of these is the voice based assistant that comes built into today’s Smart Speakers & Displays. Never before has controlling virtually anything in one’s home been so easy, or has the vast collection of human knowledge been so close at hand. If you want to give someone the gift of smart home convenience, a smart speaker or display is how you do it—though I’m personally going to suggest going with a smart display, as even more convenience is packed into these amazing devices.Smart speakers and displays typically come with either the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa smart voice assistants built in. These intelligent voices can obey your commands, answer your questions, and provide unlimited information on virtually any subject without you (or your gift recipient) ever having to surf the web or crack a book.
The great thing about giving a smart speaker or smart display as a gift is that there’s no installation required and virtually no setup either. It’s pretty much just as easy as plugging the device in and connecting it to your home Wi-Fi network. Once again, if your recipient is one of the few people left on this planet without home Internet, they won’t be able to use a smart speaker or display. However, if your recipient is not only an Internet user but also an existing smart home enthusiast that just hasn’t adopted voice based control yet, then one of these devices will make an ideal gift.
Other gifts of convenience within the smart home realm include Smart Lighting (which is not only convenient, but can also be beautiful and enhance home security) and Smart Locks & Smart Video Doorbells. Smart lights come in many different types and styles (including both indoor and outdoor lights) and are incredibly easy to set up and use. Smart locks and video doorbells tend to be a bit more work, but in most (if not all) cases, your recipient can easily get them installed and up and running themselves.
As you can see, some smart home products can easily cross over into multiple categories (from convenience to security and vice versa). In fact, some products (such as smart lighting) inhabit all three areas—as smart lights also provide big energy savings!
Smart Plugs and Switches are also great. Though switches require wiring in (an important consideration when giving them as a gift), smart plugs are one of the easiest devices to install and use—and most convenient smart home products you can get, or give! They are small and unobtrusive, provide full app-based control over whatever is plugged into them via an Android or iOS smart phone, and they’re generally quite stylish and attractive as well, easily fitting into any modern decor.
The Gift of Energy Savings
When it comes to giving the gift of great energy savings, a number of smart home products can certainly chip in and help. For instance, Smart Plugs and Switches allow for easy regulation of one’s power usage via mechanisms such as remote control of your electronic devices and scheduling of appropriate times for certain devices to be on or off (which allows you to avoid energy waste by not having things on when they needn’t be). Moreover, many smart plug and smart switch apps have built in features for monitoring and tracking every consumption, as well as helping you to plan for more efficient usage.
Similarly, Smart Lighting uses low energy LED lightbulbs that can burn for hours on end without causing one’s power meter to spin wildly out of control. Unfortunately, some smart lights require a separate hub device to control everything, which adds extra expense and hassle to an otherwise very efficient system of lighting one’s home. Thus, if you’re thinking of getting someone some Philips Hue lights as a gift (and it’s going to be their first set of smart lights), it’s a good idea to get them something like the Philips Hue A19 Smart Bulb Starter Kit, which comes with the Hue Bridge included. If you don’t get a kit that has the bridge included, you (or they) will have to buy it separately.
Smart lights, plugs, and switches aside, I would have to argue that the very best energy saving smart home gift you can give someone comes from the category of Smart Thermostats. Indeed, the product I have in mind is the Google Nest Wi-Fi Smart Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation, and it’s got amazing energy saving potential. For example, this thermostat employs Nest’s smart learning technology to collect usage data and ultimately learn one’s heating and cooling preferences over time, thus allowing it to adjust itself in such a way that it uses the least amount of energy possible.
This thermostat can turn itself down when nobody is at home (or at night when the household is asleep), and it even has a feature called weather aware where it monitors local weather conditions to determine how the temperatures outside are affecting one’s home inside.
Through these and other mechanisms, Nest claims to be able to reduce home energy bills by up to 20%. Of course, there’s a whole lot more to this thermostat than I’m mentioning here, so a quick visit to its Best Buy product page is certainly in order if you want to learn more. The only drawback I can find with it at all is that some people may shy away from having to wire it in themselves—though you can always hire a professional to do it for your gift recipient.
And that’s the end of the story! I certainly could have discussed many other devices within the Smart Home realm, but I think the ones mentioned here are some of the best products currently on the market, and I hope I have given you some sense of how smart home products can make fantastic gifts for family and friends if you put some thought into what your recipients can effectively use, what might best suit their lifestyle needs, and what amount of installation and setup they might find reasonable. Of course, you can always perform the installation yourself as part of the gift. Good luck and happy holidays!