From smart light bulbs and self-thinking thermostats to Bluetooth door locks, wireless security cameras, and all sorts of sensors, today's home automation technology can sound very sophisticated and become messy gadget and apps. Putting all of this in your house is only half the battle. Making it work together seamlessly and with a user interface can be something completely different.
This is the essential equipment to get you there, which we divide into two categories: Comprehensive Smart Home Systems, designed to coordinate a wide variety of smart home products and security-focused systems, built around sensors and sirens.
You should also note that some of our picks are starter kits, consisting of a smart home hub and some devices, while others are just hubs. You must add the components you want last, choosing from products that are certified by hub manufacturers.
Updated September 13, 2019 to add our review on our very affordable Smart Security Starter Kit. Only $ 99 buys you a Zigbee hub, a three door / window sensor, a motion sensor and an app to control everything. But cheap doesn't always mean you get good grades.
The best comprehensive system for the smart home
SmartThings is still the easiest path to the DIY smart home, but there's not much to gain, and much pain to bear, when upgrading from the second-generation hub.
For the breadth and depth of compatible smart home products, you won't find a smart home system that handles more than Samsung SmartThings. Essentially, it is a small box that connects to your router (3rd generation Hub offers wireless connectivity options, while Samsung's Connect Home integrates a mesh router with SmartThings Hub) Through the SmartThings mobile app, you can start adding your various devices through its simple but intuitive control system. These can be components sold directly by Samsung, or you can choose from a host of proud third-party products. "Works with SmartThings"Compatibility.
Seems to include all major categories including Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers, various smart lighting products (including Philips and Sylvania equipment), video bells and smart door locks. SmartThings can also be integrated with your Samsung smart device. If there is a gap in SmartThings coverage, it is a lack of support for Nest and August smart home products; if not, it is difficult to find a market that SmartThings does not play. How we like the third generation of Samsung SmartThings HubWe do not recommend updating the second generation centers due to the pain that migration will cause to users.
Second place winner
Wow Hub 2 is a star smart home system that can organize and coordinate your various smart devices.
We still like the second generation Wink smart home system, despite the fact the last owner of the company He doesn't seem to know what to do with it and I've been ignoring our questions for months. On the plus side, Wink's support team is answer technical support issues as recently as March 27.
Like SmartThings, Wink supports a variety of smart home devices and protocols, and even has native support for some devices that Samsung lacks, including Nest products, and it's great fun interacting with the Wink smartphone app.
The best smart home system that focuses on security.
Ring Alarm is a spectacular DIY home security system with the potential to be more, but don't buy it if you're really looking for a smart home solution.
The long overdue Ring Alarm home security system is finally here and, boy, is it worth the wait. For just $ 199, you get a numeric keypad, a base station with sirens, motion sensors, and a door / window sensor. This is one of the best security focused systems on the market today, but it has the potential to become one of the best periods of the smart home system.
This is because the system has all kinds of radios you want in a smart home system: Z-Wave Plus, Zigbee, LTE, and Wi-Fi. It currently works with various third-party products, including Dome's external sirens and First Alert's smart smoke / carbon monoxide detectors, but the presence of Z-Wave and Zigbee radios allows it to support almost all smart home products in the market. And Ring said he intends to go down that path (we're disappointed that we haven't heard anything new before launching in July 2018). The icing on the cake: You get optional professional monitoring for just $ 10 per month, without a long-term contract, and that includes unlimited cloud storage for video doorbell video clips and Ring security cameras.
Second place winner
By integrating a video camera into an already capable hub, Iota Abode makes smart alarm systems more attractive than ever.
Abode continues to impress us with a smart home center that focuses on security. The Abode Iota incorporates a 1080p security camera in a cabinet that is more compact than the original, while still maintaining all the features we love, including compatibility with Zigbee and Z-Wave smart home devices and sensors, cellular backup optional for added security and optional monitoring professionals.
What to look for when buying
As mentioned before, smart home systems have a fascinating arrangement of shapes and sizes, from simple to very complicated. Features vary broadly, so you need to pay more attention than usual when narrowing the field to find the right product for you. These are some of the main decision factors. To see how every system on the market delivers on these promises, check out the review at the end of the buyer's guide.
Device support: Some smart hubs only support a small number of devices made by hub manufacturers. Others offer certification programs for third-party devices and / or offer links to systems developed by third parties: Amazon (Alexa), Nest (thermostats, cameras and smoke / CO detectors) and Google (Google Assistant) are the big ones here, but AppleHomeKit may be important later. It is important to consider all the devices you already have in your home and if the hub will support it. If the center doesn't support them, you may see a massive increase later. Also, you need to think about which devices you want to add to your network.
IFTTT support: Many of the major smart home systems support IFTTT (If This Then That), a simple scripting system that allows you to connect devices that shouldn't be there. For example, you can use IFTTT to turn on all blue lights if your smart hub detects a water leak, even if it cannot communicate directly with the lighting system. Stringify is a similar service, and perhaps more sophisticated, but it has not received as much appeal as IFTTT.
Wired vs. Wireless Hub Connection: Many smart hubs must be connected to your wireless router via an ethernet cable, which limits its location and of course requires a free ethernet port on your router. That could be a problem with a new generation of mesh routers, like chips that only have two ethernet ports (Eero, Google Wifi, TP-Link Deco M5, et al). A small number of hubs are wireless and can be placed anywhere within reach of the router, increasing its flexibility.
Sensor range: If your home is large or extended, you should pay attention to the range supported by the sensor hub. Hub It can support a variety of connection protocols, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and Zigbee, all of which have very different ranges. Like a wireless router, the range of a smart hub can also be affected by interference and device location, and the smart home device itself has different specifications. Take the time to view detailed specifications to make sure third-party sensors and devices really work with your home infrastructure.
Backup battery: If the power goes out, smart lights may not be helpful, but other smart home features, like security sensors, depend on a hub that's always on. Many smart hubs, even those not based on security, have battery backup (either through rechargeable cells or standard AAS). Even a brief power outage can cause significant delays when the hub is reconnected, making the backup battery meaningful in many home environments. If you like everything else about a particular hub that doesn't have a backup battery option, consider investing in an uninterruptible power supply to install it.
Use of a mobile application.: You will probably interact with your hub mainly through your mobile app, so you want an intuitive and powerful system, with all the main features it uses in the front and center. The app store screenshots and of course our reviews can help you understand what you are getting on the app side.
General complexity: This is a complementary consideration for mobile applications, especially those related to audiences for which smart home systems are developed. Is the system aimed at everyday users with limited adjustment needs? Or is it built with extreme flexibility in mind, to the point that configuration decisions can overwhelm novice users? Again, your full attention to our reviews can help you assess how comfortable you can feel with any system.
In addition to the above, the following considerations are primarily directed at systems with a security approach.
Sensor bracket: Supplemental Considerations for Previous Device Support Issues, If you're looking for a security-centric smart hub, you'll want one that has support for all the sensors you need. Most security hubs only work with sensors made by the same manufacturer, so you can't mix and match as well as commonly used smart hubs. Some security systems only offer a very limited range of sensor types, while others have a wide variety to choose from.
Cellular radio backup: If you could break the broadband connection to beat the security system, it wouldn't be much better, right? Every good security system will include a 3G cellular backup that can be used if your broadband connection goes down. You should also carefully consider the above battery backup considerations, which are important in overcoming power outages and are a standard feature in most security centers.
Professional monitoring: If you don't want to control your own security system 24/7, at least you want the option of getting involved with a professional security company that can monitor you when you go for a walk. This is always an additional cost, leading to our final consideration …
Service package rates: Service package costs vary greatly from system to system, and many providers offer a variety of packages to choose from. Some systems will work without a service plan, allowing you to monitor yourself. Some need a plan to work at all. Also note that lower level service packages may not include professional monitoring (Ring Alarm has one of the cheapest packages: $ 10 per month with no long term commitments). Carefully determine the price of the service pack before pulling the trigger.