A smart home shouldn’t just be easy to control, it should genuinely make life easier. With the smart home constantly evolving, there’s a wider range of products available, covering far more categories. Where possible,we’ve listed devices that make it easy to communicate with other devices.
Smart thermostats are one of the most popular choices for homes. They use clever techniques to shut down your heating earlier, saving money. According to statistics from Tado, customers save around 19% on energy bills, which could work out to around £110 a year. Nest quotes between 8.4% and 16.5% savings. If you buy a system that connects using OpenTherm, you can save even more money, as this system lets the smart thermostat modulate the boiler’s heat output to the most efficient level to heat your home, often pumping water at lower temperatures through your radiators for longer periods.
There are two main types of smart heating systems. Smart thermostats control your entire home and replace your old dumb thermostat, while zoned heating lets you control rooms individually, typically through smart radiator thermostats.
WATER LEAK SENSORS
Water leak sensors are designed to warn you when there’s water in your home. They’re designed to sit flat on the floor and tell you when there’s standing water, so you should place them in areas you’re most likely to get a problem: under a boiler, the kitchen sink, washing machine or other plumbed-in appliance. Most also have temperature sensors to warn you if your pipes are at risk of freezing. Samsung SmartThings has a Water Leak Sensor(£24) and the Honeywell LyricW1 (£60) is a good standalone alternative
Smart fire alarms not only tell you when there’s a problem by sounding a loud siren, but they also send you an alert, so you’re warned if you’re out and about. The downside with most of these products is that you can’t install them in kitchens unless you place them more than 3m from cooking appliances. All smoke detectors have to be replaced every 10 years. The Nest Protect (£90) is a powerful smart smoke and CO alarm. It’s intelligent, talking to you to say what the problem is, and an alert can trigger an emergency recording on any Nest cameras that you have. A good alternative is the Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm (£90). This model gives you similar features to the Nest product, but it’s also compatible with Apple HomeKit, so you can also use it to start the automation, such as turning on lights in an emergency
The range and quality of smart alarms have improved massively. These products work like traditional alarms, but they also send you a smart alert, so you know if someone has broken into your house while you’re away. If you also have security cameras and can verify that someone is in your home, you can call the police to deal with the situation. Smart alarms can be monitored or unmonitored. Monitored alarms have a call center that will bring you if your alarm goes off, and they can dispatch the police if they can view a camera feed, but they can dispatch private security teams for a charge otherwise. Typically, monitored alarms are better when your home is unoccupied forlong stretches or you have valuables for which you want the highest protection levels.
Security cameras are a great way to monitor your home, so you can see what’s going on. We marginally prefer outdoor cameras, as these can spot problems before people break into your house, and we recommend that you buy models with at least a 1080p resolution so you get detailed footage. There are plenty of good options out there, but we have some favorites. If you have a Ring Alarm System, it makes sense to pair it with Ring products: the Ring Stick Up Cam (£89) is a good indoor/outdoor model, and the Ring Floodlight Cam (£249) combines a camera with a security light. It’s also worth buying the RingVideo Doorbell Pro (wired, £229) or RingVideo Doorbell 2 (battery-powered,£179) to protect your front door.