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Bright Ideas · 9 Smart Devices That Will Upgrade Your Home

9 Smart Devices That Will Upgrade Your Home

Check out 9 self-install smart home devices that can help make your life easier.

Technology is getting smarter and smarter, and for the most part that’s good news. Smart devices offer a world of options that you can control remotely or even automate, saving you time, mental energy, and even money in certain cases.

And as smart devices become more common, they get cheaper and easier to use too. You don’t need to be a tech wizard in order to install most smart devices, so anyone can take advantage of the benefits they offer.

Today I’ll be sharing 7 different smart devices that you can install as a DIY home upgrade. Add one or add them all to make your home as exactly as “smart” as you want it to be. 🙂

Note: Underneath each item, you’ll find a “difficulty rating,” which refers to the complexity of installation and setup for each item on a scale from 1-3; 1 being the easiest to install, and 3 requiring the most time and effort. I’ve also included information about applicable monthly fees for each item.

9 Smart Devices That Will Upgrade Your Home

1. Speakers

A smart speaker can do much more than just play your favorite songs, podcasts, and audiobooks—it also gives you access to a “digital assistant.” Whether you prefer Alexa or Siri or Google Assistant, any of these helpers can set reminders, maintain your shopping list, and even control other smart devices you have around the house.

I have the Amazon Echo Show ($55-250) in my own kitchen and use it all the time! Learn more about what you can do with an Echo smart speaker in this post.

Difficulty: 2. Not complicated, but requires a lot of logging in to get things up and running.
Monthly Fee: None.

2. Lights

Smart light bulbs are easy to install in your existing light fixtures. And once you get them up and running, you can control them from your phone or even program to your own specifications.

For instance, if you want your lights to turn on when it gets dark, you can program them to turn on at whatever time the sun sets (and they’ll adjust automatically over time too!) You can also pick different colors and temperatures for your lighting according to your personal preferences.

One of the most popular smart light products is the Philips Hue Starter Kit ($99), which comes with 3 smart bulbs, a WiFi control hub, and a smart button.

Difficulty: 2. The light bulbs take seconds to install, but the hub and app require some extra setup.
Monthly Fee: None.

3. Thermostat

Having a smart thermostat is not only convenient, but it can help you make smarter choices about your energy use at home. It’s easy to program the temperature so your house is warm or cool when you’re usually home, and conserves energy when you’re at work.

If you already have a digital thermostat, it should be relatively straightforward to upgrade to a smart thermostat like the ecobee4 ($226) or the Nest Learning Thermostat ($200). If you don’t have a digital thermostat, you may want to contact a local HVAC company about their installation services.

Difficulty: 3. To swap out your current digital thermostat, you’ll need a few tools and some basic knowledge of wiring.
Monthly Fee: None.

4. Doorbell

Smart doorbells typically include motion detection and a camera, so you can see who’s at your front door before they’ve even knocked. Most even allow you to speak through the doorbell via a smartphone app, so you can talk to visitors waiting at the door.

The Ring video doorbell ($60) is a popular option and includes all the necessary tools for installation.

Difficulty: 3. Like the smart thermostat above, this project requires a bit of time, effort, and some wiring.
Monthly Fee: There is a free option, but some features are only available with a monthly subscription plan. Learn more here.

5. Door Lock

With a smart lock on your front door, you never have to worry about finding a clever hiding spot for your spare key. If you need to let someone in, you can send them an electronic key from your smart lock app that will give them access to the door for a specific period of time.

The August smart lock ($100) works with most single-cylinder deadbolts, so you can keep your existing lock and keys. However, you do need to buy a separate WiFi bridge ($70) to connect the lock to the internet.

Difficulty: 2. As long as the deadbolt is compatible with your current lock, installation should be fairly straightforward!
Monthly Fee: This August model is free to use, but other models have cameras with a $5 monthly fee for cloud storage. Learn more here.

6. Plugs

Smart plugs offer a simple and inexpensive way to control electronic items around your home! Plug your Christmas tree into a smart plug to turn the lights on from your smartphone, or plug your coffee pot into one to program it to turn on when you wake up in the morning.

The Alexa smart plug ($25) and the Gosund mini smart plug ($17 for 2) are two of the more popular options on Amazon, but there are dozens of different options to choose from. Many are compatible with your favorite digital assistant, making it easy to connect to your existing system.

Difficulty: 1. Couldn’t be easier! Just plug it in and control it with a smartphone app.
Monthly Fee: None.

7. Security Cameras

Indoor cameras can come in handy whether in you’re at home yourself or out and about. Use an indoor camera to monitor what’s going on in your living room from your desk at work, or while you relax in the bath.

The Ring indoor camera ($60) is reasonably affordable, especially considering that it offers HD video, a microphone, and a speaker for two-way communication.

Difficulty: 1. Just plug it in and set it up in the app!
Monthly Fee: There is a free option, but some features are only available with a monthly subscription plan. Learn more here.

8. Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Having smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home is an important part of keeping everyone in the house safe. Smart detectors with WiFi capabilities can go a step further not just by making sounds to alert you to smoke or carbon monoxide, but by also sending notifications to your phone that could alert you of an emergency when you’re out of the house.

Nest Protect ($120) is a popular option that combines smoke detecting and carbon monoxide detecting capabilities, and you can choose from a battery-powered or wired model. The app has great features too, like the ability to silence an alarm if it gets triggered by minor smoke while you’re cooking.

Difficulty: 2-3. The battery-powered model is fairly straightforward, while the wired model requires some switching of wires and so on.
Monthly Fee: None.

9. Egg Tray

I admit I’m mainly adding this one because it made me laugh, but it could be useful to someone out there! The Quirky Egg Minder ($10) syncs with your smartphone via the Wink app and informs you when you’re running low on eggs.

It also keeps track of how old the eggs in the tray are, so you can know when it’s time to use up your eggs before they go bad. Apparently just about anything you can think of can be a smart device these days! 😉

Difficulty: 1. Turn it on and sync with the Wink app.
Monthly Fees: Wink costs $5 per month to use, but it can control smart devices from several different brands, so it may be worth it if you have a lot of other smart devices and could benefit from having a central hub to control them all. Learn more here.

If you’ve been thinking about incorporating some smart devices into your life, any of the items I listed above would be a great option. And with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for great deals on these and other smart devices for your home!

Do you use any smart devices at home?

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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