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  • Erin Hudgins

The Best Smart Home Devices Right Now

We are constantly seeking connectivity and convenience at work or the coffee shop, why not at home too? These gadgets can turn your home into a smart hub, capable of turning your thermostat up on a cold morning, unlocking your doors when family arrives, and playing your music with a simple voice command or touch of a button. Setting up your smart home can be as basic as putting a smart speaker in your living room, or as complex as an intricate network of connected devices. To what extent you want to invest in your smart home is up to you and you can personalize it to your desired level of comfort. Over the last few years, these products have become increasingly cost-effective, easier to install, and most importantly- they work. Here are some of our favorites:

Smart Plugs: A smart plug can transform any appliance or light fixture into a “smart” device. Smart plugs are simply adapters that connect to the existing outlet and allow the appliance or light to access your home's Wi-Fi. Then with a simple app on your phone or tablet you can access the plug to automate lighting, remotely turn devices on and off, and monitor their energy use. Forgot to turn off the lights when you left for work? No problem! Energy

savings are just a tap away.

Smart Thermostat: A smart thermostat can do so much more than just control your home's temperature for maximum comfort. Most smart thermostats can help a household save up to 18% annually on their heating and cooling costs, and some (like the Nest Smart Thermostat pictured below) can even learn your family's habits and regulate your home's temperature based on your schedule. They are easy to use and install, and look great in your home.

Smart Speaker: One of the best entry-level devices for any smart home is the smart speaker. Most consumers are introduced to the smart speaker as a sort-of digital assistant: capable of playing music, news and weather reports from basic voice commands, or reciting recipes as you cook dinner. Many newer models, however, have the power to fully automate your home, controlling everything from your smart devices (like your Philips Hue bulbs or your smart locks), to the bedroom lights or fridge. These speakers are unbelievably handy and totally hands-free: you can use your voice to change the channel or the thermostat, turn your garden security lights on, or

even pull up a live-feed of your outside cameras!

Smart Lock: This nifty technology makes it simple for anyone to replace their deadbolt and

digitally hand out keys to trusted neighbors, family or guests. Set-up takes roughly 30-minutes and after downloading the app, you simply send out a text message to invite anyone who you'd like to access your home. Total control allows you to lock and unlock your door, grant keyless access and keep track of who comes and goes. Gone are the days of making key copies or hiring a company to change the locks- in two minutes you can update the code!

A Smart Home Energy Monitor: With this device you can monitor energy usage in real-time and depending on your smart plug setup, even check to see which appliances are draining significant

energy and adding costs to your electric bill. These devices generate comprehensive reports that will give you valuable insight into wasteful behaviors and power-hungry items that need to be replaced. Additionally, for those who are interested in investing in residential solar, many energy monitors now have the ability to track your solar array's energy production. Installing a home energy monitor does require connection to the home circuit breaker or meter, so consulting a licensed electrician like Bell Electric is recommended.

One of the most important things to remember with smart devices is that they work by connecting with other smart devices and your phone or tablet. Make sure that the products you buy are compatible with your existing smart home system for seamless connectivity. We are glad to offer product recommendations or answer any questions you might have about smart devices. Don't hesitate to give us a call at 540.552.5397.

If you want to add a device to make your life more convenient or completely upgrade your home to a smart hub, contact Bell Electric. Our experts are available to install your devices quickly and safely. Schedule a service appointment with Bell Electric today.

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