Best Smart Home Automation Systems of 2019

Best Smart Home Automation Systems of 2019

ecobee4 smart thermostat

Among the best smart home automation hubs available on the market, ecobee4 consistently remains in the top list as it does everything a little bit better, making your home more energy efficient and delivering significant cost savings.

The touchscreen of the ecobee4 is very pleasant, it shows indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity, temperature slider, a menu to control the system, and a blue LED light on top that flashes when you speak. To read the temperature the ecobee4 relies on a remote sensor – unlike predictive algorithms used by other brands – that can also detect room occupancy, which means it knows when you’re home or away. So it will automatically set your favorite temperature when you’re home and switch to saving mode when you’re away or on vacation. With statistics in hand, this saves homeowners up to 23% of annual heating and cooling costs.

You can buy additional sensors and place them in multiple rooms, ensuring the best level of comfort everywhere in your home. They can also be used to monitor cold or hot spots in particular rooms, a useful feature if you want to track the temperature of a cellar or a storage room. And when it’s connected to the internet, it will automatically monitor the outside temperature in real time via your local weather service.

The ecobee4 comes with a built-in Alexa speaker. Having Alexa integrated with your smart home automation system opens up a whole world of exciting features. First, this means that now you own an Amazon Echo AND a thermostat! You can use your voice to tell Alexa to turn lights on and off, play your favorite album, shop at Amazon’s and literally thousands of other tasks. Alternatively, ecobee4 can also seamlessly integrate with other smart home partners such as Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT and SamsungThings.

The ecobee4 allows you to adjust your smart home automation settings via web, app or touchscreen, and program a “home”, “away”, and “sleep” mode, or switch the thermostat on and off at specific times. You can also receive alerts when the temperature goes above or below your settings. The ecobee4 mobile app works on Android and iOS devices, including Apple Watch.

 

Pros
  • Great touchscreen display
  • Built-in Amazon Alexa speaker
  • Individual remote sensors for temperature, humidity, proximity and ambient light
  • Wide range of smart integrations
  • Controllable via web, app and touchscreen
  • Far-field voice recognition
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Integration with Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT, SamsungThings
Cons
  • A bit pricey
  • Installation is difficult without the C-wire

 

Amazon Echo 2nd generation

Amazon launched its second generation Echo as a more attractive and less expensive version of the original speaker, to adapt to the increasing demand for smart home automation devices in general and smart speakers in particular.

A huge part of Amazon Echo’s success revolves around Alexa, arguably the best AI voice assistant technology on the market, and as with any smart gadget using the Alexa ecosystem Echo is packed with thousands of features to control your home and make your life much better. Tell Alexa to order a Starbucks, play ambient sound, control your home cameras, garage doors, sprinklers, or ask the cooking temperature of your beef while using a smart thermometer, all without lifting a finger. Also, by using Echo’s Routines feature, you can perform multiple tasks together with just one command, for example turn on the coffee maker in the morning and stream your favorite music just by saying “Alexa, fire up the coffee machine!”

The Echo is quite good at understanding exactly what you’re asking. Thanks to its far-field voice recognition microphone you can use your voice commands with no problem at 40 feet, and even with music playing at 60% volume you are still being heard at 25 feet.

To get started with Alexa, you first have to download the Alexa app on your smartphone and configure the settings for the Echo. Alexa will also sync with your Amazon music library, where you can add your own songs and connect with Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. Using the multi-room music feature, you can play music in different rooms of your house that have any Echo device, such as Dot and Plus.

Alexa’s cloud-based service relies on a smorgasbord of apps, or “skills”, to fulfill your voice requests – 40,000 as of now, with new ones being added every day. And in case they were not enough, you can create your own custom skills for your Echo by using templates available with the new Alexa Blueprints feature.

Compared to its main competitor, Google Home, the Echo performs better in almost every area. You can, for example, add a new device to your smart home automation network in a snap, while with Google Home you first have to uninstall and then reinstall the previous one.

As a smart device Amazon Echo is first and foremost a speaker. As such, is equipped with a pair of Dolby-powered 2.5” downward-firing woofer and 0.6” tweeter that can fill your home with 360° omnidirectional audio. But if sound quality is very important to you, you can always output audio to a larger speaker or hi-fi system via Bluetooth or an auxiliary cable.

 

Pros
  • Less expensive than the original
  • Alexa voice assistant is superlative
  • 360-degree woofer and tweeter
  • Better assortment of colors and finishes
  • Exchangeable outer shell
  • Impressive far-field microphone performance
Cons
  • Audio quality not exceptional
  • Smart features can improve
  • Shells are expensive

 

August Smart Lock Pro 3rd generation

Smart home automation technology has become an expectation for nearly every new homebuyer today, particularly in the security area. The August smart lock Pro will bring your home security into the 21st century with an impressive array of features, seamlessly integrating with all your other smart gadgets and assistants.

The installation takes about 10 minutes, and you can keep your existing lock hardware and keys, unlike the majority of the other smart lock models. Since it’s installed on the inside of the door, you can still use your keys to enter your home, if you prefer. Once installed, you can control your device via a Bluetooth connection by downloading the August app, which is available for Android devices that have Bluetooth 4.0 and Apple devices running iOS 7 and later.

Using a Connect wi-fi accessory you can integrate your lock with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant and speak to open and lock your door. And of course you can remotely control and monitor the access of your house from your smartphone, with no need to buy a smart home automation hub for that. But keep in mind that you will have to fork out a little extra for the Connect smart feature.

You can add additional family members and friends to the lock and give them separate passcodes, and each of them will pop up in the notification page whenever they unlock the door. An Activity page will show you a complete history of the activity at your doorstep, tracking who was coming and going and at which times, everything from the comfort of your phone and wherever you are.

The lock detects your arrival and automatically unlocks the door as you approach, which is very useful when you come home carrying grocery bags or big packages and you’re struggling to find your keys. The Auto-Unlock feature works with your phone’s GPS to identify your location, so when you cross a 0.6 miles perimeter it will sense your proximity and auto-unlocks when you get closer. It will also automatically lock the door behind you, a handy feature if you have to leave in a hurry.

 

Pros
  • Allow keyless access to anyone from your smartphone
  • DoorSense sensor detects if the door is open or locked
  • 24/7 Activity Feed monitors door activity from your phone
  • Automatically locks the door behind you and unlocks when it detects your arrival
  • Apple HomeKit enabled
  • Voice control via Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Short battery life

 

           

 

Smart DevicePriceCategory
ecobee4 210 USDThermostat
Amazon Echo 2nd Gen100 USDHome hub
August Smart Lock Pro 3rd Gen200 USDLock
iSmartAlarm130 USDSecurity
Samsung SmartThings Hub87 USDHome hub
Philips Hue Color Ambience170 USDLights

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