Smart home automation devices or smart home gadgets have the power to change your life for better. We guide you for an easy smart home setup and review the best Smart gadgets for home in India.
What are the Best Smart Home Devices?
- Best smart doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell Pro
- Best smart speaker: Amazon Echo Studio
- Best smart display: Echo Show 10 with Inbuilt Hub
- Best smart lighting: Philips Hue
- Best smart thermostat: Nest Learning Thermostat 3
- Best smart security camera: Google Nest Cam
- Best smart plug: TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug
- Best smart lock: August Smart Lock Pro
- Best smart smoke detector: Qubo Smart Smoke Detector
- Best smart gas sensor: Qubo Smart Gas Sensor
- Best smart indoor camera: Qubo Smart Indoor Camera
The basic steps that you need to take are pretty simple.
Smart Home Setup
Step #1 Setting up your Internet Connection
Step #2 Choosing the hub
Step #3 Choosing the core Smart Device platform
Step #4 Controlling the Smart Home devices through voice or touch
Step #5 Select your devices from different categories
What is a Smart Home?
A smart home is essentially a home that lets you manage daily mundane tasks more conveniently and efficiently in comparison to the existing system. The smart home leverages technology for easy setup and lets you control all your Smart Devices through touch or voice command.
So a smart home is basically a transition from your standard home to being actually ‘Smart’. The smart home provides convenience to you by managing and performing some of the most mundane tasks in your standard home.
These devices have the power to change your lifestyle, as well as they, provide you convenience by way of a touch or voice commands.
In this guide, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to automate some of the most mundane aspects of your life.
Have you ever imagined to turn off the lights in every room of your house with your voice or moving through your house playing the same music on multiple speakers in multiple rooms, turn your thermostat up or lock your doors!
Or if you need to adjust the temperature in your home through automation, or to wash your laundry, or to ask your smart assistant to activate the robot vacuum cleaner to clean the home automatically?
The capabilities are just endless.
Have you ever imagined if all the devices in your life could connect to the Internet?
Today not just computers and smartphones, but everything connects to the Internet; be it clocks, switches, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, appliances, everything.
And what if all these devices take your commands and all could communicate and send you information?
Well, it’s not science fiction; it’s the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s a key component of home automation and smart homes.
What is Smart Home Automation?
The Smart Home automation is automating the ability to control items around the house. You can control from a simple voice call to reading your messages over a voice command or other activities like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your command, that is pretty convenient, simple and relatively inexpensive.
Other devices, such as the advanced surveillance cameras, may require a more serious investment of time and money.
If you are curious about turning your home into a smart home, however, everything seems so overwhelming at the first instance and don’t know where to begin.
There are so many smart home product categories to choose from, everything from window blinds to lights and temperature to locks and security to music and automated cleaning in your home.
They also make fantastic gifts & presents, certainly if you like to impress your friends or relatives.
I’m going to take you through some of the best smart home devices available in the market as per own my personal experiences.
How can you turn your Normal home to a Smart Home?
Turning your home into a smart home, you could either do it yourself (DIY), where you buy all the different Smart home devices that you want and set them up yourself. Then you connect them all through a similar platform, typically either the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
These are companies that their customized home automation platforms and have regional installers that will come out and install an integrated solution for you.
Choosing any of these routes depend on:
- What is your budget, and how much are you willing to spend?
- How comfortable are you in setting up all of this stuff yourself?
- How many devices of your home are you planning to automate?
The experiences with customized home automation platforms can vary widely depending on their user interfaces and compatibility with third-party platforms.
Here’s a rundown of the best smart home products you need for setting up your Smart Home.
How to Setup a Smart Home?
Step #1 Setting up your Internet Connection
Step #2 Choosing the hub
Step #3 Choosing the core Smart Device platform
Step #4 Controlling the Smart Home devices through voice or touch
Step #5 Select your devices from different categories
The first part of setting up your system is the dedicated internet connection and choosing the core platform so that all of your smart devices can talk to and act as a central point of control for your smart home.
If you’re trying to use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot to power your smart home devices, you’re going to have a terrible experience as you require a dedicated Internet connection for making all your smart devices online at all times.
Yet, I would select Amazon or Google because of their availability and dominance of their voice-assisted platforms.
Apple is eventually going to gain because of a new alliance last year between Amazon, Apple, Google, and ZigBee, called Connected Home Over IP.
Now next let’s discuss how to control these devices.
Google Home devices first.
I need to mention here that you do not even need a Google Home device to get started in building your smart home.
The Google Home just allows for instant voice access at any time.
So if you have an Android or an iOS smartphone device, all you need to do is download the Google Home application and you are good to go.
Google Home devices do not have an in-built hub.
That means you would need to buy products that are compatible with Google assistant that would connect through a Wi-Fi or maybe another hub.
Whenever you’re looking for a new smart home product, make sure it is Google Assistant labeled, so that it is compatible with your Google Home.
You need to have a Mesh Wi-Fi system like TP-Link Deco M4 Home Mesh Wi-Fi Router before you set up the smart home.
This system consists of two or more routers that are connected and work together to cover your complete house with the Wi-Fi signal.
Mesh Wi-Fi is different from traditional Wi-Fi. Traditional Wi-Fi connects only with the primary router, whereas, Mesh Wi-Fi can communicate with any network, to provide the best network coverage in your house.
Generally, it covers an area of approx 2000 Sq Ft, which is fair enough for a medium to a large house or an apartment.
With traditional Wi-Fi routers, the reach of their signals is limited especially in larger spaces.
Mesh routers on the other hand help eliminate dead zones. Netgear Orbi mesh Wi-Fi routers are excellent if you multi-storeyed house.
For a 3000 Sq Ft house, you need two and for a 4,500 Sq Ft house, you need to have three of them for excellent coverage. Using the Orbi app, you can remotely control our Wi-Fi system from anywhere.
For the people on a budget, you can also use a Wi-Fi Range Extenders to increase the range but I personally recommend a Mesh Wi-Fi system.
Another big company in this space is Amazon. So you’ve probably seen many devices that say work with Amazon Alexa. Alexa is compatible with more than 85,000 smart home devices and more than 100,000 Alexa skills.
Alexa is Amazon’s handy voice assistant and it works with a number of smart home devices directly. Amazon Echo smart speakers are Bluetooth speakers powered by Alexa.
But for complete smart home automation, you need to train Alexa initially.
Once you get a hang of it, the powerful Alexa can help you to control most of the gadgets in your house through your voice.
You could also connect your favourite speaker with the Echo Dot and add Alexa functionality.
The all-new Amazon Echo Dot 4th generation is the new entrant in the Echo Dot space. The new variant comes in a refreshed compact design that fits perfectly into any room. The device will be available in two different variants.
The simple 4th generation Echo Dot is available in three different colors. The clock variant will have only two colour options.
The new device delivers loud, crisp sound with powerful bass that you can enjoy anywhere in your home. The new device has a powerful bass and has access to various Indian languages. You’ll be able to play songs in almost all popular Indian languages.
For the touch screen buffs, the Echo Show series facilitates you to see the search results and make video calls, which is a very handy feature.
Now the Amazon Echo devices are set up very similar to the Google Home.
If you are a serious music aficionado, go for the Echo over the Echo Dot.
Amazon Echo Show 8 connects to Alexa to give you vivid visuals on a 8” HD screen with rich stereo sound.
This device has an exquisite design that fits in any room in your home.
You can just ask Alexa to show your favourite TV shows, watch movies, play music with lyrics, show you weather updates, watch news bulletins, or control your smart home using your voice.
It comes with a built-in camera, so just ask Alexa to make video calls to friends & family or monitor your kid’s room while doing your daily chores.
Amazon Echo Show
Right now, you can actually go download the Amazon Alexa application and you can begin building your smart home as well now if you do have an Amazon Echo Plus or an Echo Show – they actually have some hub capabilities built-in called ZigBee.
You can buy ZigBee compatible devices and connect them directly to the Echo without needing another hub.
There are hundreds and thousands of devices that currently will work with the Amazon products and they can work with the ZigBee or you can use other hubs as well as just Wi-Fi connected devices.
Amazon Echo Show with 10.1″ HD screen has an inbuilt hub without needing an additional hub.
Now you can setup and control your smart-home using just your voice.
Echo Show which has an in-built smart home hub so you can set up the smart bulbs and smart plugs without needing a separate hub.
Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa are the front runners as any of the assistants.
Once you decide the core platform to run your smart home, you need to select the devices that make your home a smart home.
What are the Smart Devices Categories?
Typically, you can divide the types of devices into several categories:
- Energy efficiency for your appliances/accessories
First, through a voice assistant, you have various options here.
Amazon, Google, and Apple all make their own speakers – Echo Studio, Google Home, Apple HomePod, respectively, that natively play music from diverse music streaming services.
Google Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max, and Amazon Echo Show have an added benefit of having a screen on them as well, which makes controlling your media as well as your other smart home devices even more comfortable.
There are also third-party speakers and systems you can buy from companies like Sonos, Yamaha, and Bose, that can work with all three companies platforms and some of them can allow you to have Alexa and the Google Assistant directly on their speakers.
Bose Speakers with Alexa Built In
Bose range has a lot of devices with Alexa built-in.
Some of the options that you can choose from :
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II,
- Noise Cancelling Headphones 700,
- Home Speaker 300,
- Home Speaker 500,
- Soundbar 500 &
- Soundbar 700
You could control your media rooms within your smart home by controlling your TV, and associated speakers in your media rooms.
Amazon and Google sell devices that can control your TV, turn it on and off with an assistant, and deliver content from all of the major streaming services.
They’re affordable and readily available in online stores.
Both Google and Amazon allow you to use your voice to control the media hardware as well as tell either Alexa or the Google Assistant which media you want to play on a specific screen.
Google’s Chromecast and Fire TV Stick are very powerful with their casting feature.
You can cast media from your Android or an iPhone, which makes it easy to cast a media from phone to your TV and then pause and cast it to your bedroom TV.
Google Chromecast does not have a dedicated remote, but you can control all functions using your smartphone.
Amazon’s Fire TV stick has a dedicated remote with built-in Alexa support
You can use your voice and activate Alexa for streaming your favourite channels. Fire TV stick has two different variants – Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick.
Pro Tip – Buy Fire TV Stick 4K only if you have a 4K TV or are planning to buy one in the near future.
Apple TV 4K, however, can not be controlled to turn on and off your TV using Siri. Apple TV 4K supports 4k and HDR.
However, it has a dedicated remote which the Google Chromecast doesn’t have, and it also has a casting app called Airplay, where you can stream media from any Apple device with a screen to your TV.
Smart home security systems have been here for quite long now.
Many of these home security solutions by Honeywell, Qubo by the Hero Group, Godrej, TP-Link Smart Cam, EZVIZ by Hikvision, allow placing sensors, base stations, cameras, and other equipment anywhere in your home.
On a personal front, I am pretty impressed by the offerings made by a new entrant to the market Qubo by the Hero group.
They are not only world-class but very affordable as well.
Qubo by the Hero group has these world class offerings
- Smart Home Security Camera,
- Smart Indoor Camera
- Smart Plug
- Smart Door/Window Sensor
- Smart Smoke Sensor
- Smart Gas Sensor
Some of the services offered by the smart devices are lifesaving as in
They’re not just keeping your home safe from burglars but also safe from other issues that can affect homeowners.
Smart Doorbells are easy to set up and their live video feed that can be viewed on any device from any corner of the world.
Smart Doorbells allow you to view the visitor at your door at night time through their inbuilt night vision Infrared LEDs.
This is very helpful by surprising and preventing intruders and theft during night time.
They allow you to be notified of the visitors through their inbuilt motion sensors and talk to that person through two-way audio, even when you are not at home even and even when they do not ring the bell.
Indoor chimes are also included with the doorbell with different sounds and volume levels, which makes it even more unique.
This is in contrast to the other video door phones that needed wiring and you could see the video feed on the LCD screen only.
Smart Locks by August Pro + Connect is from the stable of August Home.
These smart locks are compatible with all the three major platforms – works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Home Kit, and add a few new features, including August’s DoorSense technology, Z-Wave compatibility, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
It locks automatically behind you and unlocks as you approach.
The Auto-unlocking feature through geofencing is the coolest feature of this smart lock. It works seamlessly with all three major platforms.
You can control and monitor your door from anywhere as well as lock and unlock your door, control key-less access, and keep track of who comes and goes, all from your phone.
Track activity at your doorstep with a 24 x 7 activity feed.
DoorSense technology is the USP of this smart lock. Only August has DoorSense technology to tell you if your door is securely closed and locked.
You can keep your existing lock and keys. Easily attaches to your existing deadbolt; and you can use your existing keys at any time.
Using a smart lighting system, you can connect LED bulbs to your Wi-Fi network.
There are many features on the smart lighting system like weather-resistant bulbs, remote controls, dimmer switches, motion sensors, and smartphone applications that will allow you to get a great experience out of your lighting system.
Neither Amazon, Apple, nor Google, produce their own smart lights.
Unlike with the Interactive home and Media device categories, there are generally two approaches to doing smart lighting in your home.
You can also use a combination of these two approaches because some light fixtures do not have a smart bulb equivalent to the ball that the light fixture takes.
These smart light manufacturers make LED bulbs that can typically be categorized into three groups:
- Plain white,
- Bulbs that go from daylight to warm white,
- Multi-colored bulbs.
These types of bulbs either connect through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and some may require a hub that you will need to connect to your Wi-Fi router.
Smart lights save you a lot of time and steps throughout your house. You can turn all of your lights off at night with just your voice, and you can make sure you turn them all off while you’re away from home through the smartphone app.
Typically you can create routines with them, so you wake up with your lights dimming up with sunrise colors, and you can usually set geofencing with your lights, so they automatically turn on when you arrive home and turn off when you leave.
There are also other accessories you can get with your smart lights like wireless dimmer switches that you can assign to control a variety of lights in your home.
Smart Plug and Switches
These switches connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network and replace the switch you have in your existing wall, allowing you to either control the lights with the switch, a phone app, or with a smart assistant.
Some of Smart Extensions come with Smart Plugs and USB ports and they work both with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
These smart extensions can be used as smart outlets that provide surge protection and charge a couple of USB devices. You can wirelessly control your devices from anywhere using the mobile app.
You can voice control devices connected with the smart extension via Google Alexa or Google Assistant.
You can also set schedules for each outlet individually or collectively to turn on or off at set times throughout the day, helping you to cut your monthly electricity bills.
Some of these extensions work with a secured W-Fi connection without needing a separate hub.
These are a great option if you’re doing a home re-modelling or building a new home where you already need light switches anyways or if you just don’t want to or can’t put smart bulbs into a fixture.
Most smart thermostats work with the big three smart assistant platforms, and their installation is pretty straightforward.
Smart Climate control devices are Wi-Fi connected and lets you control the climate using the Smart thermostats via your smart assistants.
Google has a sizeable stake in Nest and is one of the most advanced smart thermostats out there. Nest learns your usage pattern and use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict the temperature to be set. It removes all of your hassles to set the temperature time and again.
Most of the thermostats can be programmed like the traditional thermostats with weekly schedules.
Some of them now allow you to stick sensors in different rooms around your house to aggregate the temperature data in your home to give you an accurate home temperature.
Smart Appliances & Accessories
Smart Alarm Clock
Echo Spot – Smart Alarm Clock with Alexa
Smart Alarm Clock with Alexa, like Echo Spot, is an excellent option for a smart home.
The touch screen is very responsive, has loads of features. It is a full entertainment unit in itself and sits beautifully on your office or home desk.
The device has an on-screen clock and helps you set alarms. You can also watch prime videos and other trailers through the little screen. It can also play News and can also track your Amazon orders. You know you can also place your orders through this amazing smart clock. The sound is good enough for a medium-size room.
Smart Air Purifiers
Pollution affects the quality of life in mysterious ways which cannot be seen by the naked eye. You might not be able to see the natural gases and the pollutants present in the air. Pollutants are messing up the air and increasing the levels of carbon dioxide, which is very dangerous for humans.
Smart Air Purifiers are the solution to keep your room free of any harmful particles especially people with breathing problems.
Smart Air Purifiers are not only easy to install yourself, but they are also very easy to operate via remote or the company linked app.
It comes with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) and Carbon filters which is best in purifying the air.
It shows you all the particles PM2.5, PM10, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), NO2 pollutants in your house. This also shows you indoor and outdoor Air Quality Index (AQI).
These air purifiers have a blade less fan system which produces air and circulates across the room. It has an oscillation feature which is unique where it rotates up to 350 degrees and purifies the air.
Smart Washing Machines
Who would have thought that you can wash your laundry from anywhere ? Hold on, I am not joking. It is true!
Gone are the days when you put your clothes in the washing machine and forget to turn the washing machine ON. Does it sound so familiar?
Taking laundry convenience to the next level, now you can turn the washing machine ON, select the wash cycle and monitor wash progress through your mobile phone.
Amazon Alexa and Google Home enabled fully automatic washing machines provide you the comfort of controlling them from anywhere through voice-control or remote touch from your mobile phone.
You can get wash status alerts, optimized wash settings and automatically raise complaints all thanks to the smart Wi-Fi features built into these new age washing machines.
Hold on, if you thought only the washing machines, you need not worry about your cooling as the Smart Air conditioners give you a sigh of relief in the sweltering heat.
You know what I mean !
Extending enhanced comfort, the air conditioners leverage smart assistant technology to offer seamless and hands-free operations and control devices with voice commands.
Smart Kitchen Appliances
Smart kitchen appliances let you cook restaurant-quality results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method. Food is cooked evenly edge to edge and you need not worry of overcooking.
These are so easy to use. You need to just attach the cooker to any pot, add water, drop in your ingredients in a sealed bag or glass jar, then press start.
This smart appliance heats and circulates water in the pot. Cooks the food evenly to a precise temperature to the desired results every time. You can use it to cook everything from meats, fish and vegetables to soups, and desserts.
Using the Bluetooth connectivity, it enables you to start, stop and monitor your cook from your mobile device. You will not feel tied to your kitchen when you’re cooking.
Smart devices typically your home appliances such as your Refrigerators, Washing machines, and home accessories that can connect to your smart home platform like Smart blinds, Robotic vacuum cleaners, Smart Weighing Scales, Smart plugs and switches, etc.
Have you ever imagined that you could open your blinds every morning without even leaving your bed? Well, yes you can.
Motorized smart blinds save you time and help you secure your home when you’re away. It’s also a sustainable way to boost energy efficiency and save you money in the process. We set our smart blinds to align with the movement of the Sun to maximize natural light usage.
Another way to save energy is by utilizing smart fans to regulate the temperature of your home. You can reduce your air conditioning usage and can easily change the direction of your fans to either cool the rooms in the summer or redistribute warm air during the winter.
How do you secure a Smart Home?
Smart Home Devices add a lot of convenience to your ecosystem, but at the same time, they are quite vulnerable from the hackers as they are connected over the Internet. Anything on the Internet requires a defence mechanism, otherwise, it may cause unprecedented monetary, personal repute, or any other kind of loss to you.
These smart gadgets are vulnerable as they save all your sensitive information. But at the same time, you can easily strengthen it by taking the following steps.
First and foremost, ensure that you set two-factor authentication for the Smart devices during the initial setup.
All the smart devices are connected to each other through a mesh network over the Internet. Therefore, most important in securing your Smart Home is by strengthening your Home WiFi Network.
Change the name of your Router from any default company provided name.
Use a strong encryption method. Make the SSID invisible/hidden.
Second, MAC bind your smart devices to the router.
Make a super strong long alphanumeric password or better, a string.
Ensure that you change the default passwords of your smart device.
Check features that you do not require and disable those features.
Ensure to update the software regularly of your Smart Devices as the latest software issued by the companies prevents any zero-hour attack.
Starting a Smart Home is an excellent idea. With the kind of products available now in the market, you can plan to have any of these smart devices in your home. Here we have researched and put the best smart home devices available in the market.
In case you feel we have missed any of the smart devices on which are interested, please leave a comment below, we’ll definitely add it in our list of smart devices.
If you really wish to dive deep into building your smart home, start with smart plugs and switches. Be comfortable operating your smart home platforms as described and build it gradually to lights, security, cameras, protection, and other smart devices given here.
I hope you find this step by step instructions helpful. Do let me know your experience in building your smart home in the comments section.
Happy to help you guys. All the best.