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Building a smart home: 5 of the best smart home devices

Daydreaming of a robot vacuum cleaner to take care of tidying up? How about a voice-controlled speaker to read off recipes while you whip up dinner so you can keep both hands free? Or maybe you'd just like to be able to keep an eye on your home, no matter where you are in the world. Great news: with the amazing smart home devices now available, you can do all of that – and much more.

Transforming your home from dull to smart is easier now than ever, especially if you know where to start. That's where we come in. Asurion Experts have the know-how to help our 300 million customers with all of their tech care needs, including how to set up a smart home. In this article, they're sharing their research on the 5 best smart home devices to get you well on your way to the smart home of your dreams. So, whether you're looking for the best smart thermostat, smart plugs controlled by Alexa™ or smart home security tools – we've got you covered.

What are smart home devices?

Smart home devices, often referred to as home automation devices, are products that connect to your home's internet, allowing you to control them from your smartphone or tablet with a simple push of a button or a voice command.

Today, just about everything in your house can be connected to create a smart home – smart TVs, smart light bulbs, smart security cameras, smart video doorbells – and the list keeps growing, with new innovations being introduced all the time. Starting a smart home: Your guide to smart home products

What is a smart home hub?

A smart home hub is a great device to get your smart home started, but you might be wondering: what is it? A home hub, also often called a smart speaker, is what connects and communicates with all the automated devices in your smart home like your smart cameras, smart thermostat, smart lights, smart plugs, etc. Think of your home hub as the brain that allows you to control everything from one dashboard. There are a lot of smart home hubs to choose from and they come in many different shapes and sizes, from the tiny Echo Dot to the fullscreen Nest Hub Max™. The two most popular options are equipped with the Google Assistant® and Alexa™ to help you carry out commands – check out our guide to everything you need to know about Google Home Hub™ vs. Amazon Echo™ to help you decide which is best for you.

As smart home devices have evolved, we've learned that the best smart devices are the ones that can work together to help make your life easier. For example, check out all the products and brands on the Google Home compatibility list. The list is just as long for Alexa-enabled devices.

Team Asurion member Jamie recently set out on a quest to turn her new house into a Home Smart Home, starting with setting up a smart home hub. Over on Asurion's YouTube channel, she shares why the Google Home ended up being the best solution for her and her home needs, and offers tips and tricks on how to set it up and get the most out of your new devices.

Light up your life with smart bulbs and light switches

When it comes to designing your smart home, smart bulbs and smart light switches are worth the investment. It's not only convenient to control your lighting from an app or a virtual assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, but it's more energy-efficient and also safer. No more walking into a dark house at night after a late shift. Instead, schedule the time you want your lights to turn on. Or feel more confident when you're away, by turning some lights on to make it look like you're at home. Brands like Philips® Hue™ offer different bulbs and switches to choose from and, even better, they can connect to your smart home hub. So yes, you can have Alexa-controlled lights.

Want more info? Check out 3 cool things you can do with smart lights.

Keep an eye on things anytime, anywhere with smart home security cameras

As we mentioned earlier, the best smart home devices are the ones that can work together and smart home security cameras are a great example of that. Internet-connected home security companies like Ring™ and Arlo® offer a variety of smart security devices – from smart locks to smart cameras – that will allow you to keep an eye on your home no matter where you are. Ring's line of video doorbells, for example, not only notify you when someone is at your door and let you check in via video, but they also offer two-way audio. So you can talk to the person on the other side without having to open the door – or actually be in your house, since the cameras connect to your smartphone using the compatible app.

For more info, check out our guide to the best indoor and outdoor security systems.

Save energy with a smart thermostat

How does lowering your utility bill sound? Probably really great. With smart thermostats, you can adjust the temperature in your house through your phone or by simply using a voice command to your smart home speaker. Smart thermostats also have the ability to learn when to heat or cool based on outside temperatures, and when people are at home or away. You'll likely want to start by looking at Ecobee™ vs. Nest™, since these are currently two of the more popular brands of smart thermostats.

Though you'll probably notice that Nest is owned by Google, the answer to the FAQ "does Nest work with Alexa?" is yes. So you will have several thermostat options to choose from that will be compatible with whichever smart home hub you choose.

Make devices smarter with smart plugs

One of the easiest ways to hop on the smart home train is with smart plugs. Through Wi-Fi, smart plugs allow you to control things with on/off switches, like lamps and coffee machines, with a simple voice command or touch of a button on your phone. Just plug the smart plug into an outlet, connect it via compatible app to your Wi-Fi network, and then plug in any of your regularly used appliances to transform them into a smart device. That's it! You can then schedule your coffee to start brewing before you even get out of bed, or turn off the TV you accidentally left on when you walked out the door for work. Check out brands like Kasa Smart™ and SmartThings™ for smart plugs and smart Wi-Fi power strips.

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