Having a smart home means whole home control is as easy as picking up your phone. With different smart home devices you can answer your door, turn on the lights, or turn down the heat from anywhere you are. From smart displays that keep track of your day or give you tips for cooking to smart cameras and other unique smart home devices, having a smart home makes every day easier.
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What is a smart home?
A smart home is when internet-connected devices control various elements in your house via apps, your computer, or your voice assistant. There are thousands of smart home devices available right now, but the main types are smart displays, smart security systems, smart lights, smart thermostats, smart cameras, smart doorbells and smart locks.
Most smart home devices have compatible apps you can use for control, but many of the latest smart devices also work with Google Assistant, Alexa, or Apple HomeKit. Because of that you’ll find smart displays and smart speakers are one of the simplest ways to control all of the devices in your smart home
Types of smart home devices
1. Smart displays and speakers
Smart displays and smart speakers work as the Hub or centre of your smart home, connecting all devices on one central screen or speaker.
Smart displays let you streamline your life while staying in touch with family and friends. They act as a sophisticated digital assistant, keeping you on track with your and your family’s schedules and calendars, tracking your to-do list and shopping lists, and giving you a reminder when you need one. If you want to hang out with friends and family, you can set up a virtual gathering on your smart display for up to 100 people. You can stream your favourite playlists to your smart display too, and some models have 30W speakers with a subwoofer for high-quality audio. For additional peace of mind, you can even set up motion detection and remote viewing via your built-in camera.
Smart speakers are small speakers that stream music or let you control other smart home devices via voice commands. They stream audio, but they also have touch screen displays you can use to watch video or tap to control your smart home from a hub right on the screen. You can find out more about smart speaker and smart displays on the smart display buying guide.
2. Smart thermostats make home heat control easy
A smart thermostat is a thermostat that connects to your Wi-Fi network and lets you turn your heat off, on, or set your heat to work on a schedule. Smart thermostats are available for heating systems including forced air or heat pump, electric baseboard, or radiant heating.
Most models of smart thermostats have an LCD screen you can use to control your heat. You’ll find smart thermostats can learn your heating patterns over days, weeks, and months, adjusting your heat for you so you can save on energy costs. Some types will also adjust your heating or make recommendations based on the weather outside, and you can see your energy use over a period of time so you can adjust your usage to be more energy and cost efficient.
You’ll find smart thermostats from brands like Google Nest, Ecobee, Mysa, and Honeywell.
3. Smart cameras keep an eye on your home or yard
Smart cameras are indoor and outdoor security cameras. They connect to an app via your Wi-Fi network and stream video to that app in 1080p, 2K, or 4K. Many styles of smart cameras have voice control via Google Assistant, Alexa, or Apple HomeKit, and they can record video and audio or allow two-way talk.
There are several different types of smart cameras, and the model you choose will depend on whether you’d like a wireless camera, semi-wireless camera, or wired camera.
Wireless smart cameras can be placed anywhere
Wireless smart cameras are completely wire-free cameras. They run on battery or solar power so there are no cords or cables to plug in. You can mount wireless smart cameras anywhere in your home or yard and they will stream video as they have a solid connection to your Wi-Fi network.
Depending on which brand of wireless smart camera you choose you’ll be able to receive video clips when motion is triggered, turn on a siren if you want to alert someone in your yard, and watch a live stream of your home or yard whenever you log into the app.
You can find wireless smart cameras from Arlo, Ring, eufy, TP-Link, Blink, and more.
Semi-wired smart cameras require a power outlet
A semi-wired smart camera is a smart camera that plugs in for power, but this camera is able to stream video via your Wi-Fi network. You can connect this type of camera inside or outside as long as you are near a power outlet, and many outdoor models are packaged with an extra-long power cord to give you placement versatility outside. One of the best parts of semi-wireless smart cameras is how the addition of a power cable means you don’t have to worry about charging the battery.
Wired smart cameras are great for indoors and outdoors
Wired smart cameras have both a power cable and a video cable. This type of camera is packaged individually or as a smart camera security system with several cameras and a DVR to store video. You can place your camera inside or outside and it connects to the DVR via a single cable that provides power and video. Some wired cameras are also able to stream video to a compatible app.
4. Smart doorbell cameras and locks
You can secure your home’s door or ‘answer’ the door from anywhere you are with smart doorbell cameras and smart locks.
Smart doorbells and video doorbells
A smart doorbell camera is a camera that’s connected to your doorbell. When you push the button on the smart doorbell or when your doorbell camera picks up motion, you’ll receive a notification and can log into an app to ‘answer’ the door from anywhere you are. You’ll see a live video feed of whomever is there or you can watch saved video clips.
Some models require you to have a doorbell chime already installed, while others are battery free and don’t require a chime to function. There are also some models that use a battery you’ll need to charge occasionally while others are hardwired in place of your home’s existing doorbell.
You’ll find smart doorbells from brands like Ring, Arlo, Google Nest, and others.
A smart lock is a Wi-Fi connected or Bluetooth deadbolt that fits in place of your existing door lock. This type of lock eliminates the need for keys as it has a keypad or touchpad you can use to enter a code or use your fingerprint to unlock the door. You can also use an app to unlock the door.
One of the best parts of smart locks is how, even if you’re far from home, if you want to check and see if your door is locked all you’ll have to do is open the app. If you’d like to let someone into your house, the app will let you unlock the door too, which can be extremely convenient.
You can find smart locks from brands like Yale, Nest, eufy, Alfred, and Lockly.
5. Smart lights
Smart bulbs are the #1 smart home purchase and the most common smart home device people will buy. Smart lights or smart bulbs are also the most common device that will start someone off on their smart home journey. They have multiple uses and can be installed as part of your home decor lighting, entertainment lighting, seasonal lighting, or as a part of your overall home security.
Smart lights are a must when setting up reactive lighting in your home theatre or gaming room. They transform your room into a space that’s so immersive it will be like your surroundings have come to life. From status cues to a flickering dungeon lamp, smart lights transform your entertainment with lighting effects that will react dynamically to every action and event.
When using smart bulbs for décor lighting, you’ll be able to liven up your home in whatever theme and colour story you choose. From wood-finished panels to light tubes that bend into a multitude of shapes and words – when you have smart lights as part of your decor, you’re only limited by your own creativity.
How smart lights work
You’ll find many types of smart lights that connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network, but there are also smart lights that connect via other platforms like Bluetooth and Zigbee. Some smart lights require a compatible smart hub to operate, and you can control 2, 5, or more smart lights at one time using an app or voice control. You can set a schedule so your lights turn off or on at the same time every day, or you can use your smart lights to wake up to a ‘sunrise’ every morning.
Smart lights are available in white or multi-colour lights. Depending on the type of smart lights you choose you can access millions of different colour combinations or use scenes to set a mood or a tone. You’ll find smart lights are available in different styles too—some are indoor light bulbs or light strips, and you can also choose light panels or lamps and fixtures. From single smart bulbs to light panels and light tubes and smart lighting solutions available both within and outside the home.
There are also hardwired smart lights for use as outdoor lights or landscape smart lighting to light up your backyard or a pathway.
6. Smart switches and plugs
When you want to control your lights without using smart light bulbs or you want to connect a non-smart device and control it via an app, all you need are smart switches and plugs.
Smart switches are light switches that connect to your Wi-Fi network. Once installed, you’ll be able to control your lights via an app or voice control. Most types of smart switches require you to hardwire the switch. Some are very easy to swap out for your existing switch, but you may need to hire an electrician or know how to safely install a light switch.
With a smart switch you can turn the lights off and on or dim them via an app or voice control. You can find smart switches from brands like TP-Link, Philips Hue, Lutron, and more.
With a smart plug, every device or appliance in your home can instantly be smart too. A smart plug will plug into any standard outlet. To use it, you’ll plug your device or appliance into the smart plug and it will connect that device to your Wi-Fi network. You can plug in any device and use the smart plug to turn it off, set routines, or schedule a time for it to turn on or off. Having that control can save you on your power bill and also be less expensive than purchasing multiple types of smart home devices.
Smart plugs are also great for peace of mind. If you’re worried you didn’t unplug your flat iron before you left the house or you want to make sure you turned off the coffee maker, all you have to do is look at the compatible app and you’ll know.
Other useful smart home devices
There are so many different types of smart home devices, with new ones being released all the time. Some can completely take over daily tasks while others are designed to make everyday life easier. Here are some you might consider for your home.
Smart alarm systems
A smart alarm system can be added to your doors and windows to alert you if someone were to break in. Some smart alarms can be connected to a monitoring company for extra peace of mind, but there are many types that are stand alone so you don’t need a subscription.
Smart pet feeders and cameras
Smart pet wearables and tech let you peek in on your pets when you’re not home or give you a way to automatically add food or water to your pet’s bowl. One of the most popular smart pet devices are pet GPS wearables. You can simply place a collar on your dog or cat and use an app to find out where they are.
Smart furniture and decor
You can also find smart furniture and décor to customize your home. Smart coffee tables have charge ports and refrigerated drawers. You can store your favourite beverages in the cooling drawer so you always have something to drink while watching TV, and they have LED backlights to cast a cozy glow in your living room.
When you want to add a few photos to your living room or display your child’s latest portrait, you can use smart digital frames. They come in various sizes and with different frame types so they fit every type of decor, and you switch up popular artwork depending on your mood.
Smart blinds are a great option if you like to wake up with sunshine and go to sleep in the dark without any outside light. You can use the remote control to open them in the morning without getting out of bed, or you can set them on a schedule or use voice commands.
You can even choose a smart garbage can. A smart trash will keep your hands free for holding trash as it will open without you having to touch it. Some models will respond to voice commands so it will open when you ask it to or it will have a sensor that lets you wave your hand over it to open.
Smart appliances and smart robot vacuums
There are a number of smart small appliances and smart major appliances you can choose to add to your smart home. Some smart appliances connect to other smart devices so they can work together too.
You can find smart major appliances like smart refrigerators or smart dishwashers. Smart refrigerators have touchscreen displays built into the door of the fridge. It will let you add to your grocery list, display family photos, coordinate your family schedule, and even has cameras to let you see inside your fridge to check what’s on each shelf. Smart dishwashers offer Wi-Fi connectivity so you can use an app to turn your dishwasher off and on or find out when your cycle is complete.
Smart small appliances include smart air fryers and smart coffee mugs. When you have a smart air fryer you can use an app to control your air fryer or use voice commands to tell it to turn on, off, and more. Smart coffee mugs keep your coffee or tea at the perfect temperature. You can set it to the exact temperature you’d like and it will retain heat all day.
Smart robot vacuums will map out your entire home so it knows which furniture to avoid or where your stairs begin. It can clean your home efficiently on a schedule and works via an app or voice commands. Some models of smart robot vacuum will dock themselves when they need charging and empty out their own dust bin too.
Set up your home network for smart devices
One of the last considerations when setting up a smart home is whether or not your home network is fast enough to handle your day-to-day Internet use, video streaming, gaming, and all of your smart home devices.
There are a lot of different options for routers to add speed or increase range for your home network. Range extenders will increase your signal strength to areas of your home where Wi-Fi won’t reach or you can add a new router to your home to boost your signal over a larger area. A mesh router is a good choice for a smart home as it uses pods or access points throughout your house to boost your signal in different locations.
Take the next step
Now that you know all about smart home devices, it will be easy to pick and choose the ones that meet your needs. Start customizing your home today by exploring smart home devices on bestbuy.ca.