Really useful tech for your smart home

Smart Thermostat Heating
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you are thinking of taking advantage of the array of smart home devices, but do not want to break the bank and spend thousands of dollars, you could start to upgrade your home bit by bit with these neat smart devices to suit your lifestyle.

You might want to start small with some smart lighting, or a doorbell, or you might want to completely replace your current sound system. Whatever you choose, these gadgets will certainly enhance your smart home.

Useful smart home tech

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet


Wuuk doorbell for $79

The Wuuk doorbell works over Wi-Fi eliminating the need for wires. It can be mounted to the door with tape and will detect motion near the door to alert you that someone is there. Its HDR camera delivers 1536×1536 resolution over 162 degrees, minimizing blind spots. The system uses two methods of collecting video footage.

The data can be stored locally using SD card storage, or it can capture, record, and store 48 hours of footage in cloud storage, which are then overwritten. It has facial recognition so you can configure who are regular family and friends who visit.

Usefully it does not have any hidden fees for data storage or subscription charges. The company also offers an optional cloud storage service for $3/month per camera, which enables you to save seven days rolling footage.

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet


Novostella 20W Smart RGB Floodlights for $90

At first glance, these look like ordinary floodlights but pair them with the app and your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, and they become multi-color, multi-hued, bright, and warm dimmable lights with an array of programs to select the ambiance outside. You can tune the light intensity from warm white to daylight white and any other color you can imagine.

They are your Outdoor ambiance lights for your garden or decking area. You can set the lights through the app to turn off after a pre-determined time, or create a schedule to turn them on.

You can even set different groupings of lights for different lighting intensities.You can also control the lights using Google Assistant or Alexa – which is a neat feature.

My only criticism of these fabulous lights is that the power lead is too short for most places I want to mount the floodlights — a small problem which is worth solving if you want fabulous lighting outside the house.

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet


Nest thermostatic control and app for $245

There is nothing nicer than knowing the heating ramps down and makes energy savings when you are out. The Nest thermostatic control is connected to your app, which allows you to turn the hot water on 40 minutes before you get home to enjoy that nice steaming bath on a cold day.

The Nest app allows you to change the room temperature from your smartphone. Its programmable thermostat lets you efficiently control your heating. You can control up to 20 thermostats in your home.

It will adjust itself to your preferred temperatures, considering how well your home is insulated, and it will factor in the weather outside. It uses the location of your phone to make sure that it is not heating an empty house.

It is easy to install and is compatible with most domestic heating systems and will work with Alexa so you can control the temperature using your voice when you are in the house.

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet


VELUX Active Control for $185

If you have solar-powered or electric Velux blinds and skylights, you can use this active control panel with pre-set programs to act as a climate control function for your house. The control panel will control a group of skylights with the same settings. Very useful for climate control when the sun is out.

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet


Sonos System for $597

With a Sonos Connect, a speaker, and a boost Wi-Fi system, you can create a dedicated Wi-Fi system for your listening. You can add speakers wherever you want to for stereo sounds and surround sounds in every room.

The speakers are easy to pair with the Sonos app and airplay too. If you love stereo sounds, you will need to have two speakers in every room. There is a whole range of Sonos devices, so you can carry on buying them until you have the entire range of sounds in your house.

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet


Ring doorbell for $589

The Ring doorbell is so useful. If visitors approach your door, you will get a notification when movement is detected.  Your mobile phone will receive an alert so you can see and talk to the person at the doorstep and hear what they say. You can also use Ring on your tablet or PC.

The doorbell is battery powered and needs to be recharged every three months or so.  If you prefer, you can use the doorbell in wired mode to ensure you have permanent power. You can review previous visitors to the door — even when you do not catch the doorbell alert.

If you have the really useful Ring Protect service, video recording can be activated on your doorbell. You can also use Alexa to get the Ring to record 1080p HD video with infrared night vision. It is also useful to check if your pets have been fed when you are away.

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet

Really useful tech for your smart home zdnet

Hue lights for $130

Hue lights let you create an ambiance for any room. You can connect up to 3 Hue play lights to one power supply unit.  The lights — which last up to 25,000 hours can be controlled using voice through Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant.

Hue also pairs with existing Nest products and Samsung systems. You do need to buy a Hue hub to get full features from your system. This is a fantastic way to create mood lighting for every room in your house, and you can change the lights at will.

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