More and more people are turning to smart home devices to simplify their life, increase their comfort and security, and better enjoy their homes. While there's still a long way to go until smart home technology is widespread in everyone's home, we're seeing smart home devices get adopted by broader audiences every day.
Often times, smart home adoption starts with a single smart thermostat, light bulb, or smart speaker – then over time, we begin to realize the value of mindfully growing our smart home so devices can work together.
Unfortunately, many devices don't talk to each other without some help. Check out the Pick a Platform section of our Smart Lighting article for tips on how to avoid common pitfalls and make sure your devices work together!
As you might surmise from the 'incremental adoption' approach mentioned above, some of the most popular smart home devices include:
- Thermostats / Radiators
- Smart Speakers
- Other: Smart TV, Camera, Doorbell
Thermostats from companies like Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell are popular in the US while brands like Netatmo, Tado, Hive, and Drayton fill in the gap in Europe. Some devices provide the ability to 'learn' your schedule and adjust your heating and cooling accordingly – while a common feature is enabling manual adjustment of your thermostat while away or from your voice assistant.
When it comes to lighting, there's a wide variety of choices in a mix of segments from traditional lighting, color temperature controlled, and even color controlled (RGB). Many names from the color market – like Philips Hue, LIFX, and Nanoleaf – may even be familiar to you as it was one of the first broadly marketed consumer lighting product groups. Mainstay brands like GE and Lutron continue to strongly position themselves in the market and less mainstream brands like Sengled, Inovelli, and Zooz are a popular choice in the DIY smart lighting space.
We've also seen the evolution of brands that are more traditionally known in other technology spaces move into the smart home space. For example, Belkin has their Wemo brand which is particularly popular for its smart outlets, and companies like TP-Link which are more commonly known for their networking products have popular lines of smart outlets, bulbs and more.
Looking for insights on smart lighting and smart outlets? Check out our Five Things to Consider with Smart Lighting article.
Early on, the smart lock space was dominated by companies like August which provided locks that communicate directly with your smart phone using Bluetooth. Over time, these devices evolved to a broader range of communication protocols enabling to you control them while away from your home. Traditional brands like Kwikset, Schlage, and Yale remain key players in the smart lock space and provide excellent products. Meanwhile, brands like Wyze, Eufy, and even August are trying to bring smart locks mainstream with competitive prices and features.
Some of the most well-known and widely adopted smart devices are Smart Speakers. For a while there, it felt like every company had their own voice assistant from Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, Samsung's Bixby, Google's Assistant, and Apple's Siri. Many of these voice assistant's evolved from their position as software on your PC or Phone into dedicated smart speaker hardware – with Amazon Echo speakers and Google Assistant powered speakers being some of the most popular and Apple's HomePod gaining traction amongst Apple die-hard fans.
Cameras and doorbells are also a popular category of smart home devices. While brands like Nest, Ring, and Arlo dominate this space, it's still a bit nascent and evolving category where many brands still lock you into their ecosystem. It's probably a whole topic of it's own with companies like Apple doing great things to standardize video access with HomeKit while still not quite hitting the mark and still locking you into their ecosystem. There's still a variety of traditional 'IP Cameras' available on the market that provide video over standards like RTSP and ONVIF, but these standards still haven't caught up to the modern Internet of Things with simple external access to your cameras. Standards like WebRTC and HLS Streaming show promise for alleviating some pain, but that story is yet to be written.
There's also a wide-variety of other smart home devices out there including a variety of sensors (motion, temperature, contact, presence, flood), smart buttons, smart displays and more. Some of these devices use special wireless radios like Zigbee/Z-wave or otherwise operate independently from other devices. As such, it's important to think about the big-picture of what your smart home will look like and pick a platform which supports a wide range of devices. Best of all, SharpTools supports these devices through our partner smart home hubs like SmartThings, Hubitat, and Home Assistant!