Smart technology - in a nutshell - is a connected network of sensors. When placed in the home, these sensors are revolutionising the way we live. We’ve seen the smart home grace our screens for decades. In Black Mirror’s White Christmas episode Cookie, the smart egg timer, controls everything in the home from raising the blinds to cooking the toast. In Her, Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his AI operating system Samantha; she runs his work, home, and eventually love life. As far back as 1972 we find imaginings of the smart home with novels like Demon Seed; in the book a computer program called Alfred controls the home’s temperature, security and cooking.
In the fictional world, smart home technology takes the role of a societal menace. However, in the real world, smart technology has made giant improvements to our everyday lives (and no one gets hurt in the process). Thanks to the central importance of the home, smart home tech has progressed faster than in other industries like auto and commercial property. The home is an excellent space for exercising and mapping consumer demand, and smart devices record huge volumes of data that enable us to better understand human behaviour.
In 2019, technology giants like Google, Amazon, and Apple showcased never before seen smart capabilities at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) with smart assistant interpretation, talking toilets, roll-up TVs and augmented reality ovens.
To help you navigate this fascinating smart new world, we’ve listed our top four smart devices to turn your home into an energy saving, eco-friendly, productive haven. Find out below about our favourite smart thermostats, lights, security, and sleeping-aids.
The smart thermostat is a must-have item for the penny-pinchers among us. With winter closing in our heating bills are set to increase. We’ve been taught that turning our heaters off is the biggest energy saver, but significant amounts of energy are also wasted when trying to heat the house up after it’s been off all day. Smart thermostats mitigate the inefficiency of normal heating systems by learning from our behaviours. They can detect temperature levels in individual rooms and adjust accordingly, saving money and the environment.
Nest Learning Thermostat - £169
The Nest Learning Thermostat is compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and other retailers. It links to your phone or tablet for easy tracking and the built-in intelligence means the device can auto regulate; turning itself off and on, and adapting to your family’s preferred heating schedule. This is a stainless steel design with colour options in blue and black.
Honeywell Wi-Fi 9000 Color - £206.94
With its bright blue touch screen the Honeywell thermostat comes out on top for ease of use; you won’t need to be a tech genius to work this one out. Download the app and follow everything about your home from the current temperature, the status of the HVAC system and use voice commands to set your thermostat.
Hive Active Heating and Hot Water - £134.25
Amazon deal - £109.99
Designed by Swiss designer, Yves Béhar, the Hive Active Heating system is one of the sleekest designs out there and wins for affordability too. This thermostat controls your heating and hot water remotely and can be used in conjunction with the Hive smart home system which includes security cameras and smart lights. Compatible with Amazon Alexa.
This is where we have some fun with a disco light show! Smart lights now come in a variety of styles: classic white, colour, dimmable, flashing, beams, strobe, cables, and globes. They can be scheduled to turn on and off at preset times, giving the illusion that you are or aren’t at home, and also double up as an alarm, easing you into the day. Energy-efficient LED bulbs are used in the majority of smart lights, so they produce less heat and subsequently save your money and our planet.
In the smart light world Philips Hue is King. The starter kit is a solid foundation for your smart light set up, and the pack comes with three bulbs, a dimmer switch and bridge. The bulbs are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Homekit. In the long run these bulbs will make massive savings with a lifespan more than your lifetime. And, there are 16 million shades in the hue app to choose from; matching the light to your mood. Valentines day pink hues at the ready, Halloween it’s all about the red!
LIFX WiFi LED Smart bulb - £39.99
The one trillion colour bulb. In the reviews LIFX come out trumps for their customisation functionality and brightness; you can literally choose from one trillion colours, and adjust the warmth and intensity for extra mood setting. These smart bulbs don’t require a hub (they connect directly to your WiFi for integration) and are compatible with all major assistants. For the Facebook fanatics, set these bulbs so they flash different blue light combinations when you receive a notification, status update, or photo tag.
Hive Active Light Starter Kit (Bayonette) - £120
Hive Active Light Starter Kit (Screw bulb) - 99.98
The Hive Active Light Starter Kit is perfect for those of us trying to build a Hive smart home and make our make future smart home integration easier. A Hive hub is required, but once set up these bulbs will work in tandem with Hive heating, security, plugs, speakers etc. Hive encourage energy saving by giving you full control of your light system, alerting you when lights are wastefully left on. There are some cool colour options available, and you won’t need a dimmer switch; everything is controlled from the app on your phone or tablet.
We all take our home security seriously and now with smart tech it’s easier than ever to monitor the goings on of our property with a range of smart, intuitive and compact security devices to choose from. Setting up a home security system no longer has to break the bank either. We can start one camera at a time for as little as £24.99 per camera (see later). With a wide range of cameras to choose from our security system can be as intrusive or discreet as we like with options ranging from outdoor, indoor, hidden and doorbell.
Arlo Pro 2 - £454.95
Arlo is a pretty elite brand for smart cameras, they are known for excellent multiple camera functionality and high-quality video resolution. The Arlo Pro 2 is compatible with Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa. If you really value your home security then we would suggest the newer Arlo Pro 3 priced at £749.99, but with integrated spotlight, colour night vision, 2K HDR and a 160 degree camera angle it’s a great long term purchase. A base station is required for Arlo products so new users will need the starter kit.
A smart doorbell is not only a great addition to your smart security system, but it’s also a super fun accessory for the nosy among us. Nest Hello works with Google Assistant and gives homeowners prime viewing of their front door’s action. Day and night, receive bright and clear HD video of the delivery man, friends, neighbours, even the local wildlife! Pay for additional features like Nest Aware, a cloud storage service that alerts you to potential risks with facial recognition technology.
Neos SmartCam - £19.99
Neos is a pretty unknown brand for smart tech but we had to include an affordable indoor camera that still functions like its high-end peers. The camera has HD video quality in light and darkness thanks to the night vision feature, noise and motion detectors, a live feed that can be viewed from the app, multiple camera support and there is a wall mount for easy placement around the home. The Neos is a perfect introduction to the smart cam world.
For decades Henry Hoover was the most exciting thing to happen to the trusty vacuum. But with the firm arrival of smart technology cleaning our floors will never been the same again.
It’s good to point out smart vacuums are pricier than most ‘normal’ models and haven’t quite found the sweet spot for power and suction. However, their benefits greatly make up for it. With sensors and built-in cameras, smart vacuums navigate your home with ease. If you’re willing to part with your cash you can enjoy features such as laser mapping of your property’s floor plan, remote control and scheduling, and floor texture detection for a carpet that’s just as clean as your laminate flooring.
Eufy Robot Vacuum Cleaner - £169.99
The Eufy Robot Vacuum Cleaner is compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa and can be controlled from your phone or comes with a remote control. As far as vacuums go this model is fairly noise friendly and has a high power capability with 1,500Pa suction power. Set boundaries, clean multi-texture floors, and reach under the lowest furniture with this slim design. For a mid-range smart vacuum the Eufy is a safe bet.
Ecovacs Deebot N79S - £149.98
The Ecovacs is one of the cheapest smart vacuums around and not at all lacking in functionality. A three-stage cleaning process makes sure all mess is cleared up with a double power feature for extra dirty floors. The Ecovacs Home App can be used to check the status of your floors, setting schedules and activating auto-clean and charge. There is a quiet mode set at 55 decibels, just 10 decibels above sleeping requirement. This model can be used with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Neato Botvac D5 Connected - £452.14
The Neato Botvac D5 is for those of us taking our vacuuming very seriously. It’s a big jump compared to our other choices on the list, but this vacuum is a tech geek’s dream. LaserSmart technology scans and maps your property, storing up to three floor plans. No-Go lines can be set to avoid objects like precious antiques and pet bowls. Turbo mode increases the suction power and brush speed, perfect for every floor type. Plus, control your vacuum robot from any device that links to Amazon Echo or Google Home.
As our requirements as tenants evolve and constantly push the smart boundaries, we as a prop-tech are super excited for future technological advances in the smart home space. For more information about the tech we use to mould the Home Made customer journey, click here and speak to one of our team today.