6 Smart Home Devices You Actually Want in Your House (and a Few You Don’t)

As you  might have read last week, I’m the proud new owner of a honest to goodness house in Portland, Oregon— a city I love, surrounded by forests, rivers, and mountains. Our house is a classic Northwest-style bungalow, full of character, and plenty of history. And while the ‘patina’ our house has developed over many years, I don’t see any reason why the old can’t co-exist with the new. These days, there are dozens of new gadgets, technologies, and inventions that can bring even the oldest of homes into the modern era. Here are some of the ones I excited about, and a few I think aren’t that interesting. 

Smart Locks

This keyless smart door lock allows you to unlock your deadbolt with the touch of a finger, eliminating the need to fumble for keys. It unlocks by sensing the presence of your smartphone, and it’s totally awesome. And if you don’t have your phone on you, it unlocks like any deadbolt using traditional keys

Last week I installed Kwikset’s second generation Kevo Smartlock, because lots of tenants had been through my house over the years, and I didn’t know how many keys were still floating around out there. Also, I love the idea that I’ll never get locked out of my house again. Seriously; getting locked out is the most annoying thing that can happen to any home owner. And happen it will.

Plus, I can control my smart lock remotely from my phone (say, to let someone in when I’m away) through the Kevo Plus upgrade, or give temporary access to friends or visitors through the Kevo app. It’s great!

We like:


Smart thermostats make a lot of sense; they let you control the temperature settings from anywhere in your home (and beyond!). If you leave for vacation they can automatically sense that you’re gone and lower the temperature to save energy. Then when you’re on the way home from the airport, you can tap mobile app to bring the house back to a cozy setting by the time you step foot in the door.

The Nest even syncs with smart locks, like my Kevo, so it can automatically adjust the temperature based on your comings and goings. Cool!

We like:

Home security

Home security can bring a huge amount of peace of mind, if it’s done right. Likewise, wondering wether or not your home is safe is a great way to get stressed and lose sleep. So I’m definitely in the market for a simple, affordable, reliable smart home security system. Something that’s dead-simple to set up and will let me capture video of my home’s entry points, but doesn’t have any ongoing maintenance fees or yearly contracts.


Smart outlets

I don’t really get the appeal of connect electrical outlets. Sure, they let you control stuff with your phone, but if turning on a lamp remotely was that big of a win, we’d all have “The Clapper” installed throughout our homes (remember those?). Still, I expect connected outlets to become the norm in new construction and new remodels. But I’m not sure a compelling use case exists.


Virtual Assistants and Home Media

Unlike smart outlets, I’m bullish on this category of devices. These things (you’ve probably seen the Amazon Echo commercials) sit in your house, listening for a verbal cue. Once you give it, you can ask the device to do a bunch of things using nothing but your voice. If you have other smart devices in your home, you can control them with voice commands (turn on lights, adjust the thermostat, control your sound system, etc.). And they can help with lots of real-world tasks too, like setting reminders or ordering pizza. Or, just asking who’s that actor in the movie you’re watching that you just can’t seem to place.

Some of these functions may seem silly (like: why wouldn’t I just call and order pizza myself?), but I think that’s just because it’s the early days of this technology. I think we’ll see lots of useful and innovative applications for this stuff coming out over the next few years, and it won’t be long before we wonder how we ever lived without it. And telling your stereo to play your favorite album and have it filling your house within seconds? Pretty cool.


Smart lights

I’m skeptical about this category. These gadgets do all kinds of clever things with your home lighting, like the BeOn Home Lighting System, which claims to learn your lighting patterns/routines, and mimic them when you’re out of town, to deter would-be burglars.

I just don’t get excited about it. Changing the color of my living room lights, or turning on the porch light from my iPhone? Whatever.

One that I do think is pretty cool (if it works as advertised), is the Sengled Pulse wireless sound system. These are LED bulbs (they screw into any standard socket) with Bluetooth-enabled speakers built in. So you can set up a sleek, wireless sound system in any home (new or old), and get your smart lighting fix covered at the same time. Sign me up.


The Rest

And then there are a bunch of ‘smart’ home devices that we just think are solutions in search of a problem.

First up, this app-enabled smart egg tray? We like a breakfast full of eggs as much as anyone, and I guess it’s kinda cool that someone figured out how to make this work. If it actually worked…check the Amazon reviews for its reliability. We don’t need robots in our fridge.

Speaking of which, how about all those refrigerators that have a touch screen built into the front? I don’t even want a water dispenser on my fridge (they just tend to cause maintenance issues), much less a computer. A planter that waters itself? Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I actually like watering my plants. Why add technology into the equation? It’s simple: you feel the soil, you look at the leaves, you give them some water. Finally there’s the HAPI Fork, which I’m sure is well-meaning, but, come on … you don’t need an electronic fork to tell you to slow down and chew your food. Just have your mother over for dinner … she’ll remind you.

What do you think about connected smart home devices? Which ones are you most excited about trying out in your home? Let us know in the comments.

This post is sponsored by Kwikset. All opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that make ManMade possible.


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