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You've probably heard about smart homes in commercials from tech giants like Google and Amazon or in a popular Disney movie from the late 90s. However, if you aren't proficient in technology, getting set up can be a daunting task, especially with how the smart home market has exploded over the last few years — particularly the smart home security ecosystem.

Whether you use Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa (or even Apple HomeKit) as your voice assistant, the devices in this list will turn on your lights, lock your docks, set the temperature, and monitor your home without lifting a finger. Best of all, you don't need to jump in and buy everything all at once. You can try one or two products out, see how they do in your home, then come back for more! Here are the best products for easing yourself into the smart home ecosystem.

Best value

8.00 / 10

As a smart home beginner, you may not be looking for new smart devices as much as you're looking to spruce up your current devices, particularly if you're on a budget. That's where smart plugs come in handy, as they'll enable you to control everything from lamps to Christmas lights with your smart home setup. And when it comes to smart plugs, you can't get much better for the price than the TP-Link KASA EP10 Smart Plug. It's small enough that you won't lose outlets when installed, and it provides the reliable functionality you'd expect out of a smart home device.

The only downsides are the somewhat complicated setup process and that it makes a loud clicking noise upon activation. This is a common feature of most smart plugs, so it shouldn't be a deal-breaker. The low price is arguably the most attractive aspect of this smart plug, as it allows you quickly get your smart home setup without too much of an investment.

Specifications
  • Integrations: Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
  • Price: $10
  • Dedicated app required: No
  • Built-in surge protection: None
Pros
  • Easy to use app with pictuers
  • Doesn't block outlets
  • Very responsive to voice commands
Cons
  • Loud click upon activation
  • Circuitous Wi-Fi set up
Buy This Product
TP-Link KASA EP10 Smart Plug
Premium pick

8.00 / 10

If you're setting up a smart home (and not a smart apartment), having a connected doorbell can make it infinitely easier for visitors, delivery people, and everyone in between. The Ring Doorbell 4 is easily your best option here, as the company has become synonymous with the device and has four iterations of its flagship product under its belt. This device records your front step in 1080p HD video, allows for remote communication between you and your potential visitor, and provides motion sensor tech so you always know what's going on in front of your home.

The downside is that it's pretty expensive. However, the upgrade is pretty substantial from a standard doorbell, particularly considering how easy this Ring Doorbell is to install. Rather than wired to the building, as some older iterations were, the newest Ring Doorbell comes with a Quick-Release Battery Pack, so you won't have to hire an electrician to get it installed. Plus, all the security features make it easily worth the cost.

Specifications
  • Video Resolution: 1080p HD
  • Field of View: 160° horizontal, 84° vertical
  • Power Source: Quick-Release Battery Pack (included)
  • Brand: Ring
  • Hub Required: No
  • Integrations: Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Pros
  • Battery-powered for easy installation
  • Seamless integration with Alexa deviecs
  • Quick Reply functionality built-in
Cons
  • Some features limited with Google Home
  • A bit expensive
Buy This Product
Ring Doorbell 4
Editors choice

8.50 / 10

If you're getting started with your smart home, you have to start with smart lights, and there's none better than Philips Hue. These high-quality bulbs are famously reliable, providing bright light consistently when you need them. Their incredibly responsive to voice commands from Google Assistant and Alexa and come with a comprehensive app that allows for simple changes, cool scenes, and helpful automations, so you never need to flip a switch ever again if you don't want to.

The Philips Hue Starter Kit is definitely the way to go if you're just starting out too. It may be a bit expensive, but it comes with four lights, either white or multicolored depending on your preference. It also comes with a hub that connects to your router, which is not entirely necessary but enables a wide range of additional features, like dimming, scene selection, and automations. With all these features, the added cost is definitely worth it. It also makes it easy to add one of the many smart lights available from Philips Hue. Overall, your smart home will not be complete without this helpful addition.

Specifications
  • Integrations: Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple HomeKit
  • Hub Required: Yes, Included
  • Environment: Indoor/Outdoor
  • Wattage: 75W
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Pros
  • All-in-one smart light kit
  • Simple setup with easy-to-use mobile app
  • White and multicolored options
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Hub setup can be complicated
Buy This Product
Philips Hue Starter Kit

9.00 / 10

At first glance, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium is a pretty expensive device if you're just getting into home automation. Indeed, it's nearly twice as costly as the Ecobee Lite, but delving into the details makes it easy to see why it's a good investment. While the Lite is basically just a wireless thermostat with some scheduling and programming abilities, the Premium boasts a wide range of advanced features to help you get the most out of your smart home, especially as you get better at using it. The Premium includes a separate sensor for monitoring another room, radar-based occupancy detection to limit energy waste, an integrated Alexa smart speaker, and support for one- and two-wire HVAC accessories. While a few other smart thermostats are floating around, Ecobee's smart thermostat lineup remains the most full-featured and best for most people.

Specifications
  • Brand: Ecobee
  • Integrations: Alexa, Google, HomeKit, SmartThings
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Weight: 1.19 lbs
  • Dimensions: ‎4.09 x 2.9 x 4.09"
  • C-Wire or adapter required: Yes
Pros
  • Vast feature set
  • Advanced occupancy detection
  • Real-time weather monitoring
Cons
  • Expensive
Buy This Product
Ecobee Premium

8.50 / 10

Not to be confused with the long-discontinued Google Nest Protect security system, this battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide detector is universally considered the best one available. The Google Nest Protect detector senses slow- and fast-burning fires and odorless carbon monoxide, and it's as easy to use as a non-smart detector. It tests itself, it's simple to mute, plus it runs on a battery so you won't have to cut into your ceiling and run electrical wires. Not only does this device offer the convenience of most smart devices, but it also delivers peace of mind and safety to your family and home.

Specifications
  • Batteries: Yes
Pros
  • Integrated mesh wireless connectivity
  • Built-in motion sensor
  • Extremely easy to use
Cons
  • Uses the less versatile Google Nest app
Buy This Product
Google Nest Protect Carbon Monoxide Detector

8.00 / 10

Smart locks aren't the only security measure you'll want to add to your smart home. A good smart camera will give you peace of mind and an insight into what's going on at your house when you aren't around. Plus, you could catch some cute, crazy, or just downright funny moments, which is always a bonus. Our best pick for smart cameras is the Wyze Pan Cam V2 for several reasons.

For one, it rotates 360 degrees, which is vital for any smart camera that isn't nestled in a corner of your home. That feature, combined with advanced AI detection, means that you won't miss a single thing that happens near the camera. Take note, though; this camera is not weatherproof. You're going to want to be sure to keep it inside. You can also download the recorded video directly onto your phone, and the subscription service to do so only costs $2 per device per month, or only $15 per year.

Specifications
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • App Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
  • Night Vision: Yes, color
  • Power Source: Wired
  • Hub Required: No
Pros
  • Powerful AI detection settings
  • Great low light performance
  • MicroSD card slot for local storage
Cons
  • Not weather resistant
  • Only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
Buy This Product
Wyze Cam Pan v2

7.50 / 10

The most common place to find smart locks is on rental properties, mainly because it is easy to let someone in without setting up some key drop-off situation. However, there are plenty of other reasons to invest in a good smart lock, from security to peace of mind, and the August Wi-Fi smart lock is one of the best you can find. The simple setup doesn't require you to get a whole new lock array, so you can just install it on your current door. Plus, it offers a bunch of advanced features like Auto-Lock, which locks your door right when you get home, and DoorSense, which lets you check on the status of your door.

Security is built right into this smart lock as well. The accompanying mobile app employs two-factor authentication and biometric login, so you know your home is secure. Plus, it offers a lost device feature, which will allow you to disable all keys remotely to prevent anyone from accessing your home. The August Smart Lock is notably expensive, and the AA batteries drain pretty fast when connected to Wi-Fi. So, the investment is a bit costly over time, but you can't put a price on protecting your home.

Specifications
  • Brand: August
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Integrations: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit
  • Battery: Two 3V CR123 lithium batteries
  • Keypad: No
  • Hub Required: No
Pros
  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit
  • Simple setup with current deadbolt
Cons
  • Quite expensive
  • Batteries drain fast
Buy This Product
August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

8.50 / 10

Smart lighting is one of the most notable additions to a developing smart home, but the premium lighting ecosystems require quite the buy-in. So instead, consider the relatively straightforward Wyze Bulb Color, available in two- and four-packs at a generally reasonable cost. You can choose from 16 million color gradients in addition to custom-temperature white, and they're both brighter and have more reliable connectivity than most of the competition. Make sure to get the Wi-Fi version, though, as the Bluetooth variant tends to be less dependable.

Specifications
  • Protocol: 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
  • Hub Required: No
  • Multicolor Capable: Yes
  • Voice Compatibility : Alexa, Google Assistant
Buy This Product
WYZE Bulb Color

8.00 / 10

There's a bevy of smart security cameras to choose from, but none offer the combination of convenient installation, high image quality, and dependability like the Eufy SoloCam E40. It's battery-powered, takes just minutes to install, and only needs a recharge every few months. Plus, the 2K resolution is better than most of the competition's, and the IP65 rating against dust and water makes it suitable for the most inclement weather.

The SoloCam E40 doesn't require any kind of hub, the smartphone app is simple and straightforward, and the infrared night vision provides a crisp picture in darkness. It also supports both Alexa and Google Assistant and has 8 GB of storage inside, which should store roughly two months of recordings.

Specifications
  • Resolution: 2K
  • Connectivity: 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
  • Night Vision: Infrared
  • Power Source: Battery
  • Hub Required: No
  • Field of view: 130°
Pros
  • Impressive image quality
  • Dependable human detection
  • No monthly fee required
Cons
  • Lacks 24-hour recording
Buy This Product
eufy Security SoloCam E40

9.00 / 10

A smart home doesn't just mean the inside. There are some pretty great ways to spruce up your home's exterior too! Whether you're looking to remotely turn on your patio lights or just want to illuminate a path, outdoor smart plugs can be very helpful, and the Wyze Plug Outdoor is likely your best bet. This device is a literal deal, as you're getting two plugs on a single device, so you can diversify your outdoor lighting options without sacrificing any smart features. And with a weatherproof rating of IP64, you won't have to worry about that next storm ruining your setup.

As for its features, the Wyze Plug Outdoor is pretty limited compared to other smart lights. It's notably missing the common scene selection option. However, that's not really a feature you need in an outdoor plug. The features it does offer, including energy consumption alerts, are quite convenient and allow you to track how green you're being. Plus, with a 300-foot range with Wi-Fi, you can be sure you won't have to endure connectivity issues for those lights on the edge of the property.

Specifications
  • Brand: Wyze
  • Connectivity: 2.4GHz WiFi
  • Integrations: Google, Alexa, IFTTT
  • Weatherproof Rating: IP64
  • Dimensions: ‎3.93 x 2.68 x 1.42 inches
  • Weight: 8.8 oz
  • Hub Required: No
Pros
  • Two outlets in one device
  • 300-foot range with Wi-Fi
Cons
  • Plug covers are a bit loose
  • No HomeKit functionality
Buy This Product
Wyze Smart Plug

Best starter smart home devices

The simplest and most affordable way to get started on a smart home is to add smart plugs, such as the TP-Link Kasa EP10, to existing appliances for remote control. The Wyze Smart Plug is a good example for outdoor electronics.

Dedicated smart lighting is another great choice for an easy upgrade to your home's ambiance. A budget-friendly option like the Wyze Bulb Color works great for many people, but we highly recommend getting into the Philips Hue ecosystem for the best scene selection and programming abilities. The starter kit we've highlighted here includes everything you need for setup, including the required hub.

Finally, more advanced devices such as the Ring Video Doorbell can cost a decent amount, but greatly improve security and convenience whether you're home or away. In its fourth generation, the Ring is one of the most refined video doorbells out there and receives almost universal praise.

Which smart home ecosystem is right for you?

You don't need all these devices to start your smart home, but every one of these products will seriously improve your overall experience. Whether you're focused on convenience, security, or just downright enjoyment, these locks, cameras, lights, and plugs will turn your plain old house into a smart home before your very eyes. For beginners, your best bet is to start with smart lights and smart plugs. They present an easier introduction from a setup standpoint, making a home feel smart right out of the gate.

Remember, though, these devices will only reach their true smart potential with help from a virtual assistant. So the decision is really between Alexa and Google Assistant, as nearly every smart device on the market is sure to support these two operating systems. As for which is better, Google Assistant is widely considered the better virtual assistant. While searching for the best smart speakers, we found that Google Assistant has more comprehensive social skills and computing power. However, we also found that Alexa is a better option for smart home devices, as it offers more integrations and is more responsive to basic commands like turning on the lights. Truly, you can't go wrong with either voice assistant, but make sure you commit to one or the other. Mixing and matching can get pretty messy for your smart home setup.

If you're considering going the HomeKit route, let us save you the trouble and recommend that you avoid it. Unless you already rely on Siri for your smart home needs, HomeKit isn't compatible with enough smart device brands, like Kasa, to be worth the investment. If you're just starting out, stick with Alexa or Google Assistant to easily convert your home.