The Best Alexa-Friendly Smart Home Devices of 2018By Daniel Wroclawski
It's safe to say that Amazon's Alexa is no longer just a novelty voice coming out of a smart speaker. The Echo, the Spot, the Show and the Dot have become more than just personal assistants to direct all your smart things, like lights, fans, locks, thermostats, plugs, switches, or even your pet camera.
With so many options, it can be difficult to know which products work the best. That's why we're constantly reviewing new smart home devices to see what's best for each category of device, as well as each platform.
Here you'll find the best Alexa-compatible devices for each major smart home category we've covered. Check back as we review more smart home devices to see new top picks. And if you want more Alexa-compatible gadgets, read our guide to everything that works with the Amazon Echo and Alexa.
Updated December 11, 2018
iDevices SwitchBest Smart Plug for Alexa
Despite its name, the iDevices Switch is a smart plug, not a light switch. Our tests found it to be the best smart plug on the market. It offers a reliable app, an unusual multicolor "night light" LED strip, scheduling, energy monitoring, and remote control.
Of course, it works with Alexa to control any product you plug into it—from lamps to coffee makers. This plug can be found for around $45 at most retailers, making it also quite affordable. There are cheaper smart plugs that also work with Alexa, but if you want the best, the iDevices Switch is the plug to get.
For more, check out our roundup of the best smart plugs.
Meross MSS620 Smart Outdoor Plug
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy
Meross MSS620 Smart Outdoor PlugBest Outdoor Plug for Alexa
The Meross outdoor smart plug is what an outdoor smart plug needs to be. It's rugged, easy to use/control, and it has status lights that are easy to see and understand from a distance. It has two separate plugs that can be controlled independently. Since our outdoor outlet has two sockets, we could plug more than one thing at a time.
While this isn't the only dual outlet smart plug that we tested, it's the only one that allows us to control each plug independently via the app and via voice assistant. This plug is very responsive, easy to use during set up and testing, and we love that we could see at a glance whether both outlets are turned on thanks to prominent indicator lights. The one thing that this plug does not offer, however, is reporting of energy consumption.
The app makes it easy to create scenes. For example, you can set the smart plug to turn off when you are away from home or turn on when you get up in the morning. These scenes are triggered by using their associated phrase with a voice assistant. (“Alexa, good morning” will trigger your morning scene.)
It’s also very easy to set up routines for your Meross smart plug. Routines will either power the plug on or off according to a schedule or turn your plug off after a specified amount of time. The app’s settings tab contains helpful guides to walk users through setting up the plug with Amazon Alexa. From looks to function to the app, this plug is just pleasant to work with.
If you're looking for an outdoor smart plug that'll give you information about how much power you're using and how much it's costing you, then we'd recommend the iDevices Smart Outdoor Plug. This plug gives excellent data on energy consumption and real-time energy use. But if you just want a good outdoor smart plug that's a pleasure to operate and can accommodate more than one item being plugged in at a time, the Meross won't disappoint.
For more, check out our roundup of the best smart outdoor plugs.
Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Thermostat
Where To Buy$149.00 Amazon Buy Click for price Walmart Buy $149.00 Home Depot Buy $149.99 Best Buy Buy
Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Thermostatbest smart thermostat for alexa
Want to be able to check or change the temperature in your house while you're away from home? Think about buying a smart thermostat. Installing a smart thermostat is a daunting process, but our top pick, the Emerson Sensi Touch Smart Thermostat, made the process less scary.
The Sensi Touch had the most straightforward installation, the best user experience, a touchscreen, and full integration with all of the major voice assistants, including Amazon Alexa. If you want the same functionality as the Sensi Touch thermostat, but with a cheaper price tag, check out our value pick, the Emerson Sensi Wi-fi Thermostat.
Caveat: almost all smart thermostats require a C-wire; be sure your heating/cooling system is compatible before buying a smart thermostat.
For more, check out our roundup of the best smart thermostats.
Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Starter Kit
Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Starter KitBest Smart Dimmer for Alexa
The best smart dimmer switch on the market happens to also be the best for every major smart home platform, including Alexa. The Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Starter Kit offers a near perfect experience with buttery-smooth dimming and a very polished, responsive app.
The system has a higher initial cost than its competitors, but additional Lutron dimmers cost about $55, while Lutron switches cost about $65. And despite the cost, Lutron offers the only smart dimmers and smart switches that don't require a neutral power line. Neutral power lines aren't common in older homes, and adding a neutral line to your home's electrical system can be very expensive. As a result, we highly recommend purchasing these switches over adding a neutral line—it's just not worth the cost.
For more, check out our roundup of the best smart in-wall dimmer switches.
Leviton Decora Smart Switch (Wi-Fi)
Leviton Decora Smart Switch (Wi-Fi)Best Smart Switch for Alexa
If you want to control hardwired lighting and other appliances with Alexa, we recommend using smart switches. Our tests found the best model to be the Leviton Decora Smart WiFi Switch. As smart switches go, this Leviton is relatively affordable at $45 per switch. And since it uses WiFi, you don't need to buy a hub to use it or control it remotely.
The Leviton app works very well, although it's not as intuitive as some of the others on the market. However, when it comes to app and voice control, the switch is very responsive.
The only issue is that this switch requires a neutral wire to work. As we noted above, older homes don't usually have neutral electrical lines, and installing them can be very expensive. If your home doesn't have a neutral line, we recommend purchasing the Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Starter Kit and its additional $65 Lutron switches. Lutron offers a great starter kit, and none of its switches need a pesky neutral line.
For more, check out our roundup of the best smart in-wall switches.
Logitech Circle 2
Logitech Circle 2Best Indoor Camera for Alexa
The first-generation Logitech Logi Circle was our favorite indoor security camera for its easy setup, wire-free convenience, free 24-hour cloud storage, and well-designed app with its clever Daily Brief feature that creates a montage of the day’s events. The new Circle 2 keeps all of that, although we tested the wired version this time, which has to stay plugged in. There is also a wireless version of the Circle 2 (available on Amazon), which we haven't yet tested.
The Circle 2’s night vision is much improved from the first version, which required total darkness to switch into night vision. The camera also supports Apple HomeKit, which is rare for a security camera, as well as Alexa, Google Assistant, and the clever Logitech Pop buttons. HomeKit setup was a little frustrating since it required unplugging the camera and removing its cover to find a very tiny 8-digit code I had to type into the Home app, then plug the camera back in very quickly to make sure the Home app could find it. Most HomeKit gadgets have an easily scannable code somewhere much more accessible.
Overall, the app is incredibly easy to use. It’s always in landscape mode, which took a little getting used to, but it opens quickly to the live view and places color-coded circles on the right side that represent motion-triggered recordings. Blue circles are likely to have a person in them, and you can create a highlight reel called the Daily Brief that stitches the day’s most interesting footage into a montage.
It’s easy to save clips and photos to your device’s camera roll for sharing, too, and we love how push notifications come with preview images so you can see at a glance if you need to open the app and view the whole clip. The Circle 2 includes free 24-hour storage, and you can upgrade to a Basic plan that includes 14-day storage starting at $3.99/month or Premium, which offers 31-day storage and a handful of other advanced features starting at $9.99/month.
Logitech's Circle 2 is no bargain compared to low-cost options like Yi Dome Cam or the Wyze Cam (you could install nine Wyze Cams for the cost of one Circle 2, and never pay storage fees), but if you want an easy-to-use app and/or you’re a HomeKit household, this camera is your best bet.
For more, check out our roundup of the best smart outdoor security cameras.
Nest Cam Outdoor
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy $199.00 Walmart Buy $199.99 Target Buy $199.00 Home Depot Buy
Nest Cam OutdoorBest Outdoor Camera for Alexa
Our favorite outdoor security camera, the Nest Cam Outdoor, also works with Alexa and the new Amazon Echo Show. And while the camera itself is good, we really love this camera due to the Nest Aware subscription service.
In the words of our reviewer, "Nest Aware totally makes this camera." The service is pricey at $100 to $300 per year, but it offers a 24/7 video backup (backing up the entirety of the footage, not just clips), notifications for people and pets, and customizable activity zones to block out areas with frequent, unimportant motion.
Unfortunately, you also need the service to save and download clips, something some other cameras let you do for free. But given the quality of the camera, we think the Nest Aware service is well worth the money.
For more, check out our roundup of the best smart outdoor security cameras.