The best smart home devices 2024: top smart devices for your home

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best smart home devices
(Image credit: Future)

Transform your dumb home to an interactive one with the best smart home devices. Maybe you want easier accessibility due to an injury or out of convenience. Maybe you want to save energy. Or, maybe you’re just a fan of technology like us and enjoy turning your living room blue while watching the latest Avatar movie.

You’ll want a smart hub to start, with many people turning to the best smart displays and best smart speakers to help control all the other devices situated around the home. These devices typically feature a voice assistant like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri or Google's Google Assistant that interact with you as you make commands to adjust a device or get an update on the weather.

Using one of these hubs then, you can minimize the energy consumption of your smart lights by having them turn off automatically at certain times of day (or turn blue for ambiance). You can upgrade your safety with the best home security cameras or smart locks. And, you can even turn some of your not-so-smart devices into smart ones by plugging them into the best smart plugs and smart switches.

As we’re constantly testing and reviewing smart home devices, we keep a close eye on the best available, taking into account their pricing, feature set and specs to help you find the right ones to install in your space.

The best smart home devices 2024

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The best smart speaker

Amazon Echo (2020)

(Image credit: Future)
The best smart speaker for most people

Specifications

Voice assistant: Alexa
Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 4.7 inch / 14.4 x 14.4 x 13.3 cm
Speaker: 1 x 3 inch woofer, 2 x 0.8 inch tweeter
Physical controls: Volume up/down, play/pause, microphone mute
Power: Mains

Reasons to buy

+
Futuristic look
+
Improved sound over previous version
+
Zigbee hub integration

Reasons to avoid

-
Max volume level isn’t loud enough

Every smart home needs a smart speaker so you can interface with your devices, and the Amazon Echo (4th gen) is the best for most people in performance and price. This powerful smart speaker comes with improved sound quality, a built-in Zigbee smart home hub, and a new AZ1 neural edge processor that makes Alexa faster when responding to your commands.

We found its audio to be less powerful than larger rivals such as the Apple HomePod and Google Home Max, but it’s more than enough to supply your audio, whether you’re just relaxing at home listening to music and podcasts or throwing a party for friends. And to be fair, it is a lot more affordable than those other two so it’s not quite a fair comparison, which makes it the most 

Alexa, of course, responds quickly to our requests, whether we’re controlling our smart home devices or asking to play our favorite tunes. And we quite like its new design, which gives it a modern look that easily blends in with the rest of your appliances at home. 

Read our full Amazon Echo (2020) review 

The best smart lights

Philips Hue

Image Credit: Philips Hue (Image credit: Philips)
The best smart lights

Specifications

Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit
Installation: DIY
Hub required: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to install
+
Wide range of bulbs, lamps and exterior lights
+
Integration with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires hub for control away from home
-
Most expensive smart bulb on the market

The best smart light bulbs are the easiest way to start your smart home journey, and there's no better out there than the Philips Hue. Simple to install - just swap your existing bulbs with smart Hue bulbs - or opt for any of Hue's array of LED table and floor lamps, wall lights both for inside and outdoors, ceiling pendants, light strips, and even light bars. They're responsive and have plenty of choice in colors and effects.

On test, we found a range of customizable scheduling options, too. For example, we were able to set outdoor lights to come on at sunset but go off at 2am rather than waiting for sunrise.  

You will need to get the Philips Bridge, which is kind of like a hub for your lights. If you want to control them when you're away from home - they have Bluetooth built-in, so you can control them when you're close by. However, this also adds HomeKit support to Alexa and Google Assistant integration. They're also the most expensive smart bulb on the market, but we think they're worth every penny.

Read the full Philips Hue review

The best indoor security camera

Ring's Indoor Cam 2nd Gen on wall

(Image credit: Ring)
The best indoor security camera

Specifications

Resolution: 1080p HD with color night vision
Footage recording: 180 days with subscription
Audio: Two-way audio with noise cancellation

Reasons to buy

+
Privacy cover cuts audio and visual feed
+
Improved mount
+
Compact design
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Features and storage gated behind paywall
-
No way to automate privacy without Ring Protect
-
Mains powered

There are a lot of smart security cameras on the market, but Ring’s flagship is still the best. It’s a stellar camera to keep tabs on your home or office. It delivers 1080p resolution, which might not be the highest resolution but is more than good enough for most people and to give you clear footage of the goings-on in your space.

If you need to cut the footage whenever you’re home, it comes with a nifty privacy cover that cuts both video AND audio. Speaking of audio, you can not just hear what’s going on but also communicate from the other side so you can talk to delivery people and visitors.

The price is also right for this compact indoor camera. We’re just a little disappointed that storage and some of the features are sitting behind a paywall as that adds to the cost. Despite its shortcomings, the Ring Indoor Cam (2nd Gen) is still among the best options out there as it’s also easy to mount and orient, not to mention it integrates well with other Ring products.

Read our full Ring Indoor Cam (2nd Gen) review 

The best smart plug

Eve Energy smart plug

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best smart plug

Specifications

Voice assistant: Siri via HomeKit
Installation: DIY
Hub required: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
 Excellent energy monitoring
+
Apple HomeKit compatible
+
Thread support 

Reasons to avoid

-
No Alexa or Google Assistant support
-
Expensive compared to rest of the market 

Every smart home needs a smart plug - it's one of the simplest ways to automate your home. However, the Eve Energy smart plug is more than just a way to control devices plugged into it. It's also a way to monitor your energy usage and estimate how much powering certain devices in your home will cost. This is great if you're trying to save money and be more energy conscious. 

The smart plug uses Bluetooth, although if you have a HomePod Mini or an Apple TV in your home, you'll be able to use Thread - a wireless technology that's also built into the plug. More stable than Wi-Fi, Thread helps end smart home devices failing to respond. However, unfortunately, the smart plug only supports HomeKit - it won't work with Alexa or Google Assistant.

On test, it was responsive and offered plenty of handy features such as the ability to set schedules, making it our pick of  - a wireless technology that's also built into the plug. More stable than Wi-Fi, Thread helps end smart home devices failing to respond. However, unfortunately, the smart plug only supports HomeKit it won't work with Alexa or Google Assistant.

Read the full Eve Energy smart plug review  

The best video doorbell

video doorbell

(Image credit: Arlo)
The best video doorbell

Specifications

Resolution: 1536 x 1536
Footage recording: Unlimited video for up to 30 days with subscription
Audio: two-way
Power: Mains

Reasons to buy

+
Good video quality 
+
Slim and stylish design
+
Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit integration

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited features without subscription
-
Mains-powered only

The best video doorbell on the market right now, the Arlo Video Doorbell is slim, stylish, and more affordable than its competitors. But it’s more than just looks – it has a fantastic design that offers a 180-degree field of view in 1:1 aspect ratio and super-detailed footage that we found to be on par with its pricier competitors, allowing you to view the entire length of the person at your door, the packages on the ground, and everything else.

The downside here is that it's a mains-powered unit, so unless you’re experienced in wiring, we'd recommend asking for professional help. That or go with the battery-powered version called Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free, if you don’t mind replacing the battery every few months, a process that can be tedious. 

As with most doorbells, you will need to subscribe to the Arlo Secure service to get advanced features such as going back and viewing who was at the door if you missed a call and giving callers the chance to leave a message. Without the subscription, however, we found that it already satisfies most people’s home security needs.

Read our full Arlo Video Doorbell review 

The best smart display

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
The best smart display overall

Specifications

Screen size: 8-inch
Resolution: 1280 x 800
Speakers: 2x 2-inch neodymium stereo speakers with passive bass radiator
Camera: 13MP centered camera with built-in shutter
Voice Assistant: Alexa
Hub functionality: Yes (Zigbee + Matter + Thread Border Router)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent audio, bright display
+
Fast performance
+
Added Thread and Zigbee support

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly more expensive than predecessor
-
Display bezels are still thick
-
Same camera, same display resolution

Amazon dominates the smart display market at the moment, but out of its lineup, the new Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) is the best one for most people, straddling that sweet spot between price and performance. Having a bigger display than the Echo Show 5, for example, makes it more pleasurable to use not just for watching shows but also interfacing with the display. And, it’s more affordable than the Echo Show 10.

This new generation comes with a slew of updates too, mostly in its performance and new features but a little in the design as well. Because it comes with Amazon’s new SoC, it’s a lot more responsive to our requests, which is a nice upgrade from our aging display. And the new features like Adaptive Content and Visual ID are a nice bonus. It also functions as a display hub for smart home devices and now come with Thread and Zigbee support.

That’s not all; while the speaker hardware inside has been inherited from the previous generation, Amazon did improve its audio performance so that you’re getting more bass and clarify. And we found that to be a nice upgrade, as audio from it sound fantastic.

Bear in mind though that you’re paying more for all those upgrades as this is just a little pricier than its predecessor. But if you ask us, this display is worth every cent.

Read our full Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) review

The best smart thermostat

Nest Learning Thermostat

(Image credit: Future)
The best smart thermostat

Specifications

Voice assistant: Google Assistant
Installation: Professional
Hub required:: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Elegant design
+
Easy to use
+
Intelligently adjusts schedule
+

Reasons to avoid

-
No zonal control
-
Doesn't work with Apple HomeKit

Nest was among the first companies to inject machine learning into heating and cooling your home, and since then has been hailed as the best smart thermostat manufacturer.

Simple to use, the Nest Learning Thermostat looks elegant. On test, intelligently adjusted our heating schedule based on how long it took our home to heat up and cool down, such energy and money in the process.

The Neat Learning Thermostat works with Google Assistant, but there's no HomeKit support. Also, unlike many other smart thermostats, it doesn't offer zonal control to adjust the temperature of each room individually, but for most people, this will be everything they need.

Read the full Nest Learning Thermostat review

The best smart lock

August Smart Lock Pro

Image Credit: August (Image credit: Future)
The best smart lock

Specifications

Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit
Installation: DIY
Hub required: No

Reasons to buy

+
Simple installation
+
Responsive and strong
+
Integration with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky
-
Expensive compared to other smart home devices on the market

The August Smart Lock Pro is one of the most straightforward smart locks to fit, but it's loaded with features making it the best smart lock you can buy right now. 

It fits onto your existing deadbolt and allows you to keep using your old key when you (or your landlord) want to while still adding the benefits of a smarter lock. On test, we found it responsive, and it was strong, too, we couldn't bypass it in any way. Adding support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit, just reinforces why this is our pick.  

It is bulky and expensive compared to most other smart home products, but for those looking to beef up their smart security, it's worth investing in. 

Read the full August Smart Lock Pro review

How to choose the best smart home devices for you

Building your smart home from scratch is a big process, and there are a few things to consider before diving in. 

First, decide which voice assistant would suit you and your household the best. Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple's HomeKit each have their pros and cons, and you should be aware that not all smart devices integrate with all assistants. So, if you already have a preference or own some smart home devices already, that will ultimately feed into your choice.

For example, if you already own a Ring doorbell, then you might get the most out of an Alexa-led smart home. Similarly, a Nest security camera will always work most seamlessly with a Google Assistant. This can be in the form of a smart speaker or display. Again, our guide on what to consider when designing your smart home should be able to help you identify the ideal smart home system for you. 

Also, think about installation, and if you can install them yourself, such as smart light bulbs, or whether they need a professional to visit your home, such as smart thermostats, or if you’re considering smart electrical sockets, for example.  

Finally, check whether you need to invest in a smart home hub to make the devices work together or whether any smart speakers or smart displays you already have in your home can do this job for you. Alternatively, online services such as IFTTT can make some compatible devices work together to perform particular automation without the need for a hub at all. 

FAQs about smart home devices

Are smart homes worth it?

Even after reading this article, you may wonder whether assembling a smart home is worth the effort. Creating an automated home takes plenty of time, patience, and, in some cases, money, but it will also make like much easier and more efficient once it is up and running.

If you're still unsure, perhaps consider dipping your toe in the water with something more affordable and simple to install (and uninstall). Smart plugs are perfect for this, as they simply connect to your existing electrical outlets and automate everything from lighting to appliances. You can use your smartphone to control these devices -  once you've turned the lights off without leaving the sofa, you'll never return to a dumb house again. 

When you're ready to take the next step, throw a smart speaker or smart display into the mix to use your voice to control your smart home gadgets and create some basic home automation. 

If you're the forgetful type, being able to switch off the coffee maker, hair straighteners, or even the light that you accidentally left on without having to return home makes your life easier. It ensures you're not wasting energy and money at the same time. 

How we tested these smart home devices

To assess the best smart home devices, we evaluate how simple they are to install and control. In addition, we rate how responsive they are to commands from smartphones and voice assistants, both when we're at home and away from our property. 

We also look at how well they integrate with other smart home devices when creating home automation and the extra kit required to fulfill the smart functions we'd expect them to offer. We also evaluate the style and if they blend into your home or stick out like a sore thumb.