Eero Home Wi-Fi System ($399)
The vast majority of smart home devices communicate with each other and
with you via Wi-Fi. This makes your router kind of like the central nervous system of your smart home. Having a strong signal in every corner of the house
is essential for setting up a smart home. Eero is what’s called a mesh router.
Rather than having one central location, Eero comes with a router and two Wi-Fi extenders called beacons that you can plug in anywhere in your home. Eero
uses machine learning to manage which devices in your home are connected
to which beacons. I have plaster walls and have struggled to get coverage in
my home, especially with a 5-gigahertz connection. The Eero allows me to have
excellent coverage throughout my home. It was also absurdly simple to set up.
If $400 sounds too expensive and you have a smaller home or aren’t that concerned with coverage, Eero offers the router without the beacons for $200.
Nest Protect Smoke Detector ($119)
The Nest Protect smart smoke + CO2 detector is probably the
least exciting product on this list but the most likely to save my life.
The smoke detector works with Nest’s app and sends a notification
any time it detects smoke or CO2. I can’t tell you how much peace of
mind that creates, knowing that I’ll be notified of a fire in my home
even if I’m not there. It also allows me to turn off the smoke detector
from the app when it’s a false alarm rather than having to climb a
chair and take out the battery the old-fashioned way. Finally, when
the Protect is running low on batteries, I get a push notification on my
phone rather than an annoying beeping noise at 3 a.m.
Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit ($149)
Philips makes a wide range of excellent smart lights. The
lights come with a companion app and are HomeKit compatible,
allowing you to control the lights from your phone or from Siri.
The app is very intuitive, and installing the lights was
relatively easy. Not only can you turn on and off the lights from
your phone, but you can also adjust the color and brightness. It’s
really nice to be able to have a softer light in the evenings, and
I’ve found that adding a little bit of pink to the light can give the
room a really nice feel. While I’ve enjoyed being able to control
the lights using Siri, the lights only respond to my digital assistant when the switch is turned on, meaning that to make the
lights useful, you have to commit to only controlling them with
your phone or Siri and never using the light switches.