My house is working toward a PhD. Little by little, it’s getting smarter.
The transition started a few years ago, out of necessity. After peering beneath my bed to retrieve a fallen item, I was horrified to discover a thick coating of dust on the floor. My old-school corded upright vacuum was too bulky to fit all the way under, so I picked up a robot vacuum to handle the dirty work for me.
Then I got a dog, which led to the purchase of a smart air purifier to help combat allergies and asthma, and a pet camera to keep an eye on my fur baby (and my home) from my phone, 24/7.
Since then, I’ve been reviewing smart home gadgets for PCMag and my little Florida beach bungalow has transformed into a test bed for the latest home tech, growing smarter by the week. Now I walk into the bedroom and tell Google Assistant to turn on the lights. I ask Alexa to reorder protein powder and dog food and it arrives on my doorstep two days later. I adjust my thermostat via an app on my phone from the comfort of my bed. I receive severe weather warnings and recipe ideas on the screen of the smart display in my kitchen. Even my air fryer sends me a notification when it’s done preheating.
These days, there’s a smart version of pretty much every home device you can think of. In general, these products connect to the internet, so you can control them from your phone through a companion app. Most also work with various forms of voice control.
Many smart home companion apps support scheduling, so you can easily program your devices to perform a certain action at a certain time. After having a bike stolen, for instance, PCMag’s Editor-in-Chief Wendy Sheehan Donnell programmed her smart garage door to automatically close every night at a specific time.
With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, you can set up routines for your devices to work together and do multiple things at once, such as adjusting the temperature and lighting when you get home. With Apple HomeKit, you can control your devices with Siri voice commands, or from an Apple Watch, and create scenes to trigger several devices at the same time. Using IFTTT, a service that many of the top smart home brands support, you can link various internet-connected devices and easily program them to respond to real-world events, such as setting your lights to turn on automatically at sunset. And the rollout of Matter, a new smart home interoperability standard, makes it easier than ever to set up and integrate connected gadgets.
What follows is a rundown of the best smart devices we’ve tested for every area of the house. There are so many products that we’ve arranged them by room to help keep things organized, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use most of these gadgets just about anywhere.
And make sure to check back soon, as we’re regularly testing new products and adding them to this guide.