The 7 best smart home devices and systems of 2020

Gizmos that make your home a little smart(er). 

person using smart phone

© Stanisic Vladimir | 123rf

Welcome to 2020. Where flying cars don’t exist, but sofas that can tell you words of affirmation do (and if they don’t, why not, scientists??) Technology has not turned out the way we imagined it to, but it has evolved in ways that make our lives a lot more seamless. And while not everyone is sold on the idea of owning devices that can outsmart us in our own homes, there are a few touches that just make sense. I mean come on, guys it’s 2020! If your dining table can’t also play the piano, are you even living?

1. Smart Plug

Closeup on smartphone with smart home app and plug in hand

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If you’re always looking for ways to reduce your energy consumption, a smart plug is a surprisingly illuminating device to have in the house. It can help you track your appliances’ energy consumption, giving you the insight you need to adjust your habits accordingly. Devices like the Belkin WeMo and Samsung SmartThings also let you control appliances remotely using your voice or smartphone. 

2. Smart Doorbell

With one of these, you’ll never have to wonder again about whether you should answer the door. A smart doorbell lets you see who’s on the other side and carry a conversation without having to let anyone in. They even work when you’re not home. Spend a little more for devices like the Nest Hello or Ring Video Doorbell Pro for additional features like motion detection and facial recognition. 

3. Surveillance Cameras 

mobile phone with security feature

© Kittipong Jirasukhanont | 123rf

Perhaps the biggest contributor to the rise of smart home technology is the need for home security. With nothing but a few wireless security cameras, you could rig up your entire home. Look for features like remote pan and tilt, two-way audio, motion tracking, and a system that lets you store past footage to maximise your camera’s usage. 

4. Smart Bulbs

Is there anything cooler than being able to switch off all the lights by saying “switch off the lights”? We don’t think so. It’s not just the cool factor either. Switching out your regular bulbs for smart ones offer you greater control over your home’s ambience, allowing you to adjust the intensity, dispersion, even the colour it emanates. Changing out your regular bulbs for smart ones may feel costly for what seems like movie magic, but it is much more than that. It fits almost intuitively into our behaviour, which makes walking to the switch seem soooo 2000s.   

5. Smart Fridge

Man uses his smartphone to set up the fridge

© baloon111 | 123rf

The refrigerator is one of those often forgotten yet absolutely central appliance to the home, so it makes a lot of sense that smart fridges have seen a bit of fanfare in recent years. Some of its more functional features are the cameras installed inside the fridge, so you can keep tabs of what’s inside while you’re out buying groceries. It can even help you keep an eye on the expiration date of products and create shopping lists on its display interface, acting as a tracker for everything and anything that sits within the fridge. Never again will you wonder whether you should get milk just because you don’t remember if you have it in your fridge ever again. The fridge will do the remembering for you. 

6. Smart Locks

smart lock

© cheskyw | 123rf

You’re walking up to your home, both hands laden with groceries when you find yourself face-to-face with… the lock. Normally, you’d have to put everything down, empty your bag in an attempt to find the keys, then fumble with the key to finally open the door, and then bend over to pick up the groceries all over again. Kids who grow up with smart locks may never know the pain of this, and it’s honestly all for the better. Depending on the model, you can unlock the door with your smartphone, assign special privileges to people you trust, or use voice commands to activate the device. Most smart locks come with auto-lock feature, so you won’t have to worry about locking up once you’re out the door.  

7. Smart Home Hub

Digital home control

© goodluz | 123rf

All those smart appliances giving you app clutter on your phone? A smart home hub is what you need to look for next, which brings together all the different smart devices you have at home into one. Look for products that have a wide range of compatibility with other brands, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo, so that none of your other gizmos would feel left out. You don’t want to stir the rise of the AI. 

Adding smart home features to your house seems like a major, not to mention costly, overhaul. But all it takes is to employ a bit of smart when going about it. Identify which features make the most sense for you, your family, and your home. With just a few clever touches, you’ll feel like you’re finally living in the future. 

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