There are hundreds of smart home devices available today, but some of them are more popular than others. In fact, there’s a select group of smart gadgets that have near cult followings—we’re talking thousands of users who swear by these devices.
Looking for the low-down on these über-popular smart home essentials? Here’s why people are obsessed with them and whether they’re worth the investment.
1. The second-generation Amazon Echo
It should come as no surprise that the Amazon Echo makes this list. These smart speakers from Amazon are incredibly popular, as they allow you to control other smart gadgets throughout your home, play music, ask questions, and even play games.
This particular Echo model took home our award for Best Overall Echo Speaker thanks to its impressive sound quality, far-field voice recognition, and interchangeable shells. Bottom line? If you’re in the market for an Echo (and you don't want to pay $50 more for the new Echo Plus's smart hub, temperature sensor, and louder speaker), this is the way to go.
2. The original Ring Video Doorbell
If you’ve ever been targeted by porch pirates or just prefer to see who’s at the door before you open it, you’ll love the popular Ring Video Doorbell. While there are a few updated versions of this product, many people still prefer the first-generation model, which has all the necessary features—motion alerts, two-way talk, HD video, etc.—and costs half as much.
3. The latest Nest thermostat
While there are a variety of smart thermostats available today, the Nest Learning Thermostat is arguably the most well known. This third-generation model of the smart home gadget has close to 14,000 reviews on Amazon alone, and people love that it learns your daily habits and automatically adjusts the temperature in your home to save you money. It also looks sleek and futuristic on your wall—always a plus.
4. An affordable smart plug
Smart plugs are somewhat of a smart home hack, as they let you control almost any device from your phone and are much more affordable than smart appliances themselves. While there are many options in the smart plug category, one of the most popular is the Kasa Plug by TP-Link. All you have to do is connect your electronic devices to this plug, and you’ll be able to turn them off and on via your smartphone. Plus, there’s no hub required, and it works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana, as well.
While it’s not our top pick for the best smart plug, we can’t deny that the Kasa Smart Plug is reliable and budget-friendly. The only annoying aspect is that its oversized design will block the top outlet if you plug it into the bottom one.
5. An outdoor security camera
Here’s another smart product from Nest that has a significant fan base. The Nest Cam Outdoor is quite pricey, but it also delivers big on functionality, video quality, and user-friendliness. In fact, it’s our top pick for the best smart outdoor security cameras.
The caveat is that you also need to purchase the Nest Aware cloud storage option to reap the full benefits. It adds a lot of useful features, including the ability to share video clips and customize alerts, but it will cost you between $50 and $100 a year.
6. An internet-enabled Roomba
Robot vacuums are pretty cool by themselves, and they only get cooler when you add smart functionality into the features list. The iRobot Room 690 includes a WiFi connection that allows you to control it from your smartphone—you can start the vacuum, set custom cleaning schedules, view reports and more. Plus, this robotic vacuum has a lot of other valuable features, such as three-stage cleaning, and dirt- and cliff-detection sensors.
As connected robot vacuums go, the Roomba 690 is one of the more affordable ones. Though it didn't score top marks in our testing of the best affordable robotic vacuum because it bumps into furniture harder than some others, it's a solid little vacuum and people seem pretty happy with its performance. If you’re looking for a self-driven cleaning machine that you can control for your phone, this Roomba is a strong contender.
7. A smart sprinkler controller
Lawn care can be a tricky chore, which is why people absolutely love the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller. This smart gadget hooks up to your existing sprinkler system (this particular model supports up to eight zones), and it lets you set schedules and input details like plant type and sun exposure. Rachio will then take the hassle out of lawn care by optimizing watering—it even adjusts its schedule based on the local forecast.
We agree that this product is the best smart sprinkler controller out there, as it boasts the most features and is incredibly user-friendly. This is one product that’s undoubtedly worth it.
8. A budget-friendly smart scale
Smart fitness trackers are an easy way to monitor your progress toward your health goals. Name-brand smart scales, however, can get pretty expensive—we’re talking upwards of $100. As such, it’s really no surprise that this affordable version is so popular. It costs less than $25, and it has all the features you’d expect, including integration with popular fitness apps like Apple Health and Fitbit.
I actually have this scale myself, and I’m pretty happy with it overall. The app isn’t the most beautiful, but it works well, and I’ve never had any connectivity problems. Definitely worth the price, if you ask me.
9. A far-reaching WiFi router
Smart WiFi routers are a bit confusing to me because smart devices connect to WiFi—so does that mean it’s connecting to itself? Don’t overthink it like I do. What it comes down to is that you can control the TP-Link AC1750 Smart Router from your smartphone or via Alexa. There’s an app that allows you to set up and manage the device, which saves you from having to connect it to your computer via an ethernet cable.
In our testing of the [best WiFi routers[(https://www.reviewed.com/laptops/best-right-now/the-best-wifi-routers), this TP-Link was a little slower than our winners, but it can't be beat on affordability. Plus, this powerful router can cover homes up to 2,500 sq. ft. and can handle 50-plus devices, making it the ideal purchase for families.
10. The cute, circular Echo with a screen
The regular Amazon Echo doesn’t have a screen, and while that works fine for a lot of people, you may be interested in the Echo Spot if you have any smart cameras in your home. This cute little Echo is one of our Editor's Choice winners and one of the best Amazon Echo smart speakers. We love that it has a small screen where you can check in on connected video feeds and even Skype with friends and family. Plus, it delivers impressive sound quality for such a small device.
It’s not too much more expensive than the standard Echo, and if this extra functionality appeals to you, the Echo Spot is the way to go.
11. A connected smoke alarm
Regular old smoke alarms have a few downsides—namely, you won’t know if they go off when you’re out of the house, and they always manage to start chirping at 2 a.m. when the battery is low. That’s why so many people prefer smart smoke detectors, such as the popular Nest Protect. This connected gadget sends you smartphone notifications whenever it goes off, even if you’re not home. Plus, it lets you know when the battery is low, so you can head off any annoying beeping.
The Nest Protect left the others in the dust in our testing of the best smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and it has some pretty cool features, like an app-based silence button, automatic self-testing, and a built-in nightlight. It’s one of the top-rated smart smoke alarms out there, and it’s surprisingly affordable, to boot.
12. Amazon’s own smart plug
At first, Amazon focused predominantly on its line of Echo devices, but the company has been delving further into the smart home space in recent years. While the verdict is still out on their smart microwave, one product that’s been a hit with users is the Amazon Smart Plug. This little device has a simple, compact design, and it lets you control electronics through the Alexa app or with voice commands via your Echo.
Many reviewers say this is a great product to pair with your Amazon Echo, but it is a tad more expensive than some of the best smart plugs.
13. A hub-free light bulb
Always forget to turn the lights off before you leave for work? Then a smart light bulb like this one from TP-Link may be just the product for you. This smart light bulb can be controlled via your smartphone, and unlike other smart bulbs, it doesn’t require a hub. You can even put it on an automatic schedule so it will turn off after you leave the house and turn back on before you get home.
The Kasa Smart Light Bulb performed well in our best smart bulb testing, and because it’s so affordable, it’s a great way to test out the technology without making a huge commitment.
14. A powerful, yet compact speaker
With a smart speaker like the Sonos Play:1, you can fill your whole home with music. This popular smart speaker can stream music from Pandora, Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify; and you can control it through any Alexa-enabled device.
Some of the reasons people love this speaker is its compact form and powerful sound. Plus, you can add additional speakers to it over time, creating a lovely interconnected system throughout your home.
15. Amazon’s popular streaming device
As more people cut the cord and get rid of cable, it’s not really shocking that the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K has so many fans. This streaming device lets you watch all your favorite shows from Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and more, and it streams in 4K ultra HD.
Additionally, the Fire TV remote includes Alexa voice control, which lets you simply ask to put on a certain program instead of scrolling forever trying to find it. Not to mention it’s incredibly affordable and easy to use. It's definitely a worthwhile purchase if you’re getting rid of cable or just want more flexibility with your streaming.
16. An Alexa-enabled light switch
If replacing all your regular light bulbs with smart ones seems too expensive, consider a smart light switch. One of the most popular products is the Wemo Light Switch, which works with Alexa and Google Assistant. You can use the app to set schedules for your lights, and you can even sync it with your Nest Thermostat to turn the lights off when you’re not home.
In our tests for the best smart light switches, the Wemo model performed quite well. The only downsides are that the Android version of the app is a little buggy, and it doesn’t offer three-way switch compatibility. However, it’s still a great product.