The smart home is here to stay, and the best smart home devices are always becoming easier and more affordable. The promise to permanently make our lives substantially more efficient and easier, saving you time, energy, and even cash, is hard to resist. We now live in a world where we can program our lights to turn on when the sun goes down, switch the heating on as we walk in the door, and answer our kids' endless questions with a virtual assistant.
With a smartphone tap or a simple voice command, you can lower your energy consumption, create the ideal indoor climate during the summer and winter months, and check the weather as you leave the house in the morning. The possibilities are almost endless, and plenty of smart home devices are affordable, easy to use, and - above all - amazing.
Gadgets and devices like those listed below often work together to enable routines and automation, like a smart doorbell sending alerts to the best smart displays or smart locks being activated when a security camera notices suspicious activity near your property. Then there are smart lights, plugs, and thermostats working together to save on your energy bills.
With such a wide array of smart home gadgets on the market, it's no surprise if you're unsure what to invest in first. Suppose your budget is tighter, or you're just beginning your smart home journey. In that case, you can perhaps consider the best smart plugs and switches, or for the security-conscious, turn your attention to the best home security cameras.
We have assembled the best of the best in each category below to help make your choice easier, with options for every budget and household.
Best smart home devices of 2022
For years, we gave smart speakers a pass in the audio department because we figured there was just no way for a speaker to both be smart and sound good. That was until we found the Amazon Echo Studio.
In the Echo Studio, Amazon has made its best smart speaker (opens in new tab) yet. It's a bombastic speaker, packed full of not just smart home and assistant tech but smart audio considerations too. At its best, its 3D audio effects breathe new life into your favorite songs, and that's saying nothing of its ability to connect to your Amazon Fire TV devices to offer more immersive sound.
The Echo Studio also doubles up as a ZigBee hub, so it can connect to 1,000s of smart home products right out of the box, making it ideal for a smart home.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Studio (opens in new tab)
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 review: Philips Hue
It's easy to see why Arlo is popular with those who take home security seriously. Sure, the Arlo Pro 4 doesn't have a 4K resolution like the more expensive Arlo Ultra (opens in new tab) and Arlo Ultra 2 (opens in new tab) - but the quality is still a pretty impressive 2K, which will be detailed enough for most.
You can connect the Arlo Pro camera directly to your Wi-Fi, so it doesn't come bundled with a base station, making it more affordable. However, while it boasts Alexa and Google Assistant integration, you will need that base station if you want HomeKit support.
On test, it recorded clear, detailed footage in color both during the day and at night thanks to the built-in spotlight, which also helps deter intruders just like the built-in alarm. There's also automatic zooming and motion tracking, so the source of any activity is not only detected but also followed.
Unfortunately, many of its smart features to reduce unwanted alerts require a monthly subscription, although you get a three-month trial.
Read the full review: Arlo Pro 4 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) or an Apple TV (opens in new tab) in your home, you'll be able to use Thread (opens in new tab) - 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 the smart plug market.
Read the full review: Eve Energy smart plug (opens in new tab)
If you're looking for the best video doorbell (opens in new tab), our pick has to be the Eufy Video Doorbell 2K, which strikes the right balance between price, reliability, and performance.
On test, it captured clear, detailed footage both during the day and at night, with a 4:3 ratio so you can see almost the entire length of someone on your doorstep. The best bit? It can be used subscription-free, as you can store video to the 16GB of memory in the bundled base station. Eufy says this is around two weeks' worth.
The battery-powered doorbell is good if you're renting a place and can't take out the old doorbell that's already installed - it works wirelessly with the help of a hub that connects to your router. You can simply throw it on any outdoor surface and get it to work for up to six months at a time.
However, the battery isn't swappable, so the doorbell will be out of action when it needs recharging, and there's no HomeKit support.
Read the full review here: Eufy Video Doorbell 2K (opens in new tab)
The Google Nest Hub Max is a larger version of the Google Nest Hub (opens in new tab) (initially known as the Google Home Hub (opens in new tab)), a smart speaker with a screen. It also has a front-facing camera and can plug into the Google-owned Nest platform to act as a smart home camera. This part of the Google Nest Hub Max needs a little work, judging by our experience.
You can also use the Google Nest Hub Max to manage and control hundreds of smart home devices, such as smart lights, thermostats, and smart plugs, from various manufacturers, putting an end to having to use several different apps.
It sounds good enough to act as a mini Hi-Fi, Google Assistant feels responsive, and the large screen lets you watch YouTube while you cook.
Although the Google Nest Hub Max had some slight issues at launch, it's still not just a tremendous smart display but a great smart speaker and a way to stay entertained while you wait for your onions to sauté.
Read the full review: Google Next Hub Max Review (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) manufacturer.
Simple to use, the Nest Learning Thermostat looks elegant and, 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 review: Nest Learning Thermostat (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) 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 review: August Smart Lock Pro (opens in new tab)
How we test 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.
How to choose the best smart home devices for you
What to consider when buying smart home devices
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.
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.