February 17, 2021

It’s the little things in life that matter the most. Whether you want to adjust the tint of your lighting or the temperature of your bedroom, smart homes make these minor details easier than ever to control.     

Home automation means harmonizing the devices in your home, from locks to doorbells to cameras. Connecting your home through one interface, such as a smartphone, brings simplicity and elegance to everyday life. 

Smart homes are more than just convenient and stylish. Maximize your home security and increase your energy efficiency through automation. While switching a lamp on and off with a clap is fairly simple and inexpensive to implement, other aspects of a full-fledged smart home, like 24/7 surveillance systems, may be pricier. 

Individually cataloging the sea of smart devices on the market is next to impossible. We know what you’re asking: Which products offer me all the benefits of a modern home without breaking the bank? 

We’ve done the work for you and have compiled a list of must-haves to turn your home into a smart home. We’ve included both budget-friendly and premium options for you to decide based on your individual needs.   

1. Smart Locks

We’ve all experienced the hassle of arriving home with our hands full—having to set our groceries down and fish around in our purses and pockets for house keys. On the other hand, in times where we’ve left the house in a rush, we forget—did we lock the front door? When we’re away, friends and in-laws who plan on stopping by have no choice but to wait for us to come home and open the door for them.  

Smart locks have permanently altered each of these familiar scenarios. 

Smart locks sense when you’re approaching and unlock automatically—making them perfect for when your hands are occupied and your keys are buried at the bottom of your bag. 

Lock and unlock your door no matter where you are. Your door locks automatically behind you when you rush out of the house at the last minute.  

But smart locks have other benefits, especially when it comes to security. These locks have an excellent memory—so you can know who enters and exits your home and when. Not to mention, eliminating the spare keys you have floating around will keep your home all the more secure. 

As an added benefit, when inviting friends over, a door with a smart lock makes for a stylish first impression. 

For our budget-friendly option, we recommend the Wyze Lock. At a price of $100, you receive all the hallmark features of a smart lock, including auto-lock, auto-unlock, lock history, and remote access using the Wyze app, while remaining affordable. 

The only drawback to the Wyze Lock is that it doesn’t integrate with third-party smart devices.

Our premium option is the August Smart Lock Pro, with a price tag of $230. This lock has all the features of the Wyze Lock while pairing with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, enabling voice commands and adding that final layer of sophistication. It also has guest access features (one-time or recurring) for the babysitter or extended family. An activity feed feature notifies you when your kids arrive home from school. 

It’s important to remember that while smart locks step up your security, you still need to keep apps updated, passwords secure, and voice assistants locked to reap the best benefits from your smart lock. 

2. Smart Doorbells 

Who goes there? Eliminate the age-old mystery of who’s at the door by installing a video doorbell, which uses WiFi to stream a live video of your porch directly to your smartphone. 

Smart doorbells let you do more than ignore unwanted solicitors. Communicate with visitors using two-way talk. Let your mailman know that leaving your package on the steps is perfectly fine. 

When you’re on vacation, keeping an eye on your entryway may ease any anxieties you have regarding the state of your home. In the rare event of porch pirates or intruders, you have a recording—in HD, no less—of who they are and what they did, which law enforcement will appreciate. 

With a smart doorbell, you’ll be alerted to the presence of a visitor, even if you’re upstairs or down in the basement. Plus, you’ll be able to respond the moment you step out of the shower. Never miss a package again.  

Our budget-friendly option is the RemoBell S. At $100, you can enjoy the premium features of a smart doorbell, such as HD video, push notifications, and two-way talk, on top of infrared night vision. Plus, the RemoBell S works with Alexa and Google Assistant to enable the voice commands you love.

Keep in mind that the RemoBell does require wiring and that video is recorded in fisheye mode only. 

The premium option we recommend is the Eufy Security Video Doorbell. For $160, the Eufy Doorbell integrates AI technology to learn to recognize body shapes and faces—and alerts you with what Eufy calls facial snapshot notifications. You have features including two-way talk with the option of pre-recorded responses, 2K resolution video, and, most importantly, memory to store 30 days’ worth of video (the RemoBell only stores up to 3 days for free).  

3. Smart Home Surveillance Cameras 

A high-tech surveillance system brings you peace of mind. Gone are the days where installing surveillance cameras on your property was an hours-long ordeal involving a complicated and expensive cable arrangement. With wireless video cameras, a top-notch security system has never been easier to install—and intruders who cut your power supply won’t game your system. 

While on the more expensive side, the Arlo Pro 3 is one of the best options for indoor or outdoor security cameras available on the market. A pack of two cameras is $650—which is definitely on the pricier side—but its performance, design, and features add up to a powerful home security system that’s difficult to beat. We’re talking 2K live streaming, a built-in siren (triggers remotely or automatically), smart alerts that distinguish between different types of motion—the whole nine yards. 

That’s on top of weather-resistance, a magnetic mount that enables as simple a setup as possible, a 160-degree viewing angle, two-way communication capabilities, and, of course, compatibility with Apple Watch, Google Home, and Alexa. 

On the flip side, our budget-friendly option is an indoor-only cam. If burglars manage to penetrate your home, indoor cams can tell you what they’ve stolen and catch their faces from different angles. For most days, however, indoor cams are perfect for spying on your dog or checking on your children. 

The $20 Wyze Cam gives you access to features like 1080p HD live streaming, motion alerts, and night vision features, which other companies charge a pretty penny for. 

It even has two-way audio and works with Alexa and Google Assistant to enable voice commands. So, if you’d like to check on your kids while you’re in another part of the house, you’d simply say, “Okay Google, show me the kids’ room.”

Experience the Full Spectrum of Home Automation 

We’ve given you a glimpse into the world of smart devices. An endless number of devices exist on the market, some outperforming the rest in their category. 

To connect locks, doorbells, and cameras, among other gadgets, we recommend smart hubs and controllers, particularly the Samsung SmartThings WiFi Smart Plug ($18) and Amazon Echo ($100), both of which enable you to control your appliances with your phone or voice. 

Smart homes streamline the devices in your home, empowering everyday modern life. To learn more about how you can turn your home into a smart home, get in touch with the team at Better1. We do all the research on the latest tech products, making it easy for you to make an informed decision.

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