Smart home gadgets can let you turn your lights on from your smartphone, stream music to a speaker using Alexa, lock your doors remotely, clean your house, and much more. But the best smart home devices are about more than just convenience. They can also help you save on heating and energy costs, create routines or notify you when there's an emergency.
The number of smart home brands—from Amazon to August—is constantly growing. We've tested dozens of smart home devices, from the best home security cameras to the best smart lights to the best smart thermostats —even the best robot vacuums —to find the best of each for building your new smart home. Here are some of our favorites.
Now in its third generation, Amazon's flagship smart speaker delivers outstanding sound in an attractive package for less than $100.
Size: 4.8 x 3.9 inches (dia) | Speakers: 3-inch woofer, 0.8-inch tweeter | Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4 & 5GHz), Bluetooth
The third-generation Echo looks nothing like past iterations. Rather, it adopts the modern, fabric-swathed look of the Echo Plus. The new Echo takes advantage of everything Alexa does: control smart home gadgets, connect to other smart home hubs, read you audiobooks, check the weather, and even let you purchase things online just by using your voice. And, as a speaker, it sounds pretty excellent. Especially for the price.
Read our full review of the Amazon Echo (3nd Gen).
Excellent video coupled with a generous free storage plan, and lots of features.
Size: 6 x 4.9 x 4.5 inches | Resolution: 1080p | Field of View: 130 degrees | Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT | Cloud storage: 7 days free; longer plans start at $10/month.
The Arlo Q's 1080p camera boasts excellent quality video, both day and night, has great motion detection, and a flexible scheduling feature. Best of all, though, is that you get a week's worth of video storage for free.
Read our full Arlo Q security camera review.
Our favorite smart thermostat has Alexa built in, but its real power lies in its remote sensors.
Size: 4.3 x 4.3 x 1 inch | Wireless: 802.11 Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth | Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, SmartThings, IFTTT
The Fifth-generation Ecobee smart thermostat has everything we liked about its predecessor, the Ecobee4, such as Alexa built in, a slick touchscreen interface and a remote sensor that helps ensure all the rooms of your house are getting heated or cooled properly. But the newest version has a better speaker so you can actually use it to play music, all of Alexa's features (including Drop-In and messaging), and Spotify integration. The remote sensor has a longer battery life and better range, too.
Read our full Ecobee (5th Gen) Smart Thermostat review.
These lights work with just about every other smart home system out there.
Bulb type: A19 | Wireless: Zigbee | Works with: Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, SmartThings, Google Home, Nest
Philips Hue White starter kit includes two bulbs and a hub to connect them to other smart home devices. While you can't change these bulbs' colors, you can adjust their brightness (up to 800 lumens), and add up to 50 to a single hub. Philips' bulbs also work with a wide range of smart home systems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Google Home, and Nest.
Philips also has an app, Philips Hue Sync, which lets users synchronize their smart bulbs with multimedia content on their Mac or Windows PC. For example, you can set your lights to flash and change color in time with music, video and movies being played on your computer. Users can also modify the color schemes and themes to suit their tastes.
Read our full Philips Hue White Starter Kit review.
Excellent video quality and facial recognition make this our favorite video doorbell.
Video Resolution: 1600 x 1200 | Field of View: 160 degrees | Works with: Google Assistant | Size: 4.6 x 1.7 x 1 inch | Wired/Battery: wired | Starting Storage Fee: $50/year for 5 days video
Nest's device has the best video we've yet seen from a video doorbell cam; its microphone and speaker were excellent, too. Nest's camera can recognize faces, and even announce them when they come to your door. While it needs a hardwired connection, it continuously records video, so you'll never miss an event. You can also set up specific zones, so you'll only be notified when a person or object appears in that area of the frame. While you'll need to subscribe to the Nest Aware service (starting at $5/month) to get all of its features, they're worth it.
Read our full Nest Hello video doorbell review.
This smart plug is simple to use and works with all of the major smart assistants.
Size: 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches | Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, IFTTT | Electrical rating: 120V~/15A/60Hz/1800W
Belkin's WeMo Mini smart plug is our favorite smart plug. It's wide, but thin enough so that you can fit two of them per outlet. While it doesn't have energy monitoring, the Mini does work with HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant. A simple on/off switch also lets you control any appliance connected to it, no smartphone needed. It even has a clever Away mode, which lends the appearance that you're home.
Read our full WeMo Mini review.
MORE: Best Smart Plugs
This smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector lets you know where the danger is, and can turn on your lights to help you get out.
Size: : 5.3 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches | Detects: Smoke, carbon monoxide | Works with: Nest, Google Home, Philips Hue, IFTTT, Alexa, Wink, Lutron | Hardwired/battery: Yes/Yes
Not only does the Nest Protect detect smoke and carbon monoxide, but its sensors are designed to pick up both slow- and fast-burning fires. Plus, the Protect will tell you in which room the fire is located, and can be linked to other smart home devices, so that it can automatically turn on your Philips Hue lights in the event of an emergency.
Read our full Nest Protect review.
Works with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant, and seamlessly integrates with security systems
Lock type: Deadbolt | Size: 2.5 inches x 3.4 inches (dia.) | Works with: HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant, Z-Wave, Nest, IFTTT | Wireless: Wi-Fi via August Bridge
We like August's Smart Lock Pro for its ease of installation, features that let you know if your door is ajar, and deep integration with other smart home devices, from Alexa to HomeKit to Google Home, not to mention August's DoorBell Cam.
Read our full August Smart Lock Pro review.
MORE: Best Smart Locks
Makes connecting and automating smart home devices very easy.
Size: 5.5 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches | Wireless: Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi
If you have a wide variety of smart home gadgets, you'll need a central system to integrate and control them all. While it has its imperfections, we found the Samsung SmartThings hub to be the best of the lot. It works with a wide range of devices and now has Wi-Fi built in, so you don't need to plug it into your router; this makes it easier to place in your house for the best connection to all your smart home devices.
Read our full Samsung SmartThings Hub review.
MORE: Best Smart Home Hub
An easy interface makes this a low-stress garage door opener.
Works With: Nest, SmartThings, Xfinity Home, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT | Wireless: 802.11 Wi-Fi
Searching or reaching for that elusive garage door opener remote while trying to navigate a dark suburban street, toppled garbage cans or your kids' toys – or your kids – often proves awkward and dangerous. Chamberlain's garage door opener lets you tap your device's screen to open or close your garage from anywhere. Soon, the company also plans to add geofencing capabilities so it can sense when you're near your driveway to automatically open and, when your car is safely ensconced inside, close your existing garage door. MyQ can control nearly every garage door opener from all the major brands manufactured after 1993.
Read our full Chamberlain MyQ review.
Best Robot Vacuum
Cleaning Performance: 94% | Pet Hair Score (Out of 100): 88 | Avg. Cleaning Time (H:M:S): 1:01:57 | Loudness (Decibels): 59.2 | Bin Size: 625 ml | Smart Home Connectivity: Alexa, Google Assistant | Size: 12.8 x 12.5 x 3.4 inches | Weight: 5.1 pounds
It's not easy keeping a house clean, but the Shark Ion R85 can certainly help. In our tests, this vacuum proved excellent at picking up pet hair and other debris around our home with a minimum of fuss. We also like its notifications, smartphone control and easy-to-clean dustbin.
Read our full Shark Ion R85 robot vacuum review.
MORE: Best Robot Vacuums
Amazon Alexa vs. Google Home vs. Apple HomeKit: What should you get?
If you're looking to control your smart home devices by voice command, you have three main choices: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant/Home, and Apple HomeKit/Siri. (Yes, there's also Microsoft Cortana, but it lags so far behind the other three, we don't recommend it for your smart home at this time.) We compared Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, both on their own and in conjunction with the best-sounding smart speaker with each of the assistants.
In short, Alexa generally came out on top, as it works with the most smart home devices, and has the most third-party skills. However, Google Assistant can do some things that Alexa can't—such as control Chromecast TVs—and it's rapidly being built into a number of third-party devices.
While you can control far fewer things using HomeKit, Apple tends to have stricter privacy controls and security measures when it comes to third-party smart home devices.