Google and Amazon are fighting for control of your home and that’s a good thing. With two of the largest tech makers in the world investing billions into smart products, it’s going to make our life at home a heck of alot easier.
You may have grabbed an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Google Home in the past few weeks and are finally learning its powers. For those of you who don’t own a smart speaker yet, let me tell you they are not a gimmick. They won’t be going away because they are truly helpful. I have three Google Homes spread out through my home, next to three Amazon Echo Dots with one Amazon Echo. I know it’s a bit of overkill, but it’s my job to figure out what’s the best for you and me.
Both speakers are very smart. The Amazon Echo has a leg up on the Google Home right now because it has been out for almost two years. Amazon has already been working with companies like Philips, Samsung, Honeywell and wemo to integrate smart home products with the Echo. Google has a ton of potential with its database and unmatched search, but it’s just not quite as developed as the Echo is. Personally I would take the Echo over the Home because Google has a long history of trying products and getting out leaving early adopters with a great concept. I’m not getting paid by Amazon to say that either. I love Google and Android, I’m just not a huge fan of Google’s side projects.
Regardless of which one you choose, I just hope you’re happy with it. The smart speakers are so powerful with what they can do with simple voice commands. There’s no doubt all of us will have one in our homes in the next five years.
For those of you who already have a smart speaker, check out these nine great products for making your home smarter. Keep in mind, not all of these products will be compatible with Google Home yet, but they probably will soon. However all of the items listed are compatible with the Echo and Dot family.
Philips Hue LED Starter Kit with 2 Bulbs & Hue Bridge Hub – $69.99 at Amazon
This is easily my favorite home upgrade of the year. Two bulbs are definitely a start, but with this starter kit, you’re mostly paying for the hub which costs $60 on its own. Purchased separately, the two pack of LED bulbs are $30. Once you connect the hub to your router, you can connect multiple smart LED lights to your home and creates zones for programming or voice commands. My living room lights are programmed to turn on at 4:30 pm every night so my dog doesn’t sit in the dark. I can then walk throughout my place and say “Alexa, turn on the office and bedroom lights” and it responds in an instant. I also dim the lights in my bedroom to 50% before I fall asleep to help my eyes relax.
- Additional white lights – 2-pack $29.99 at Amazon
- Philips Hue Ambience starter kit (for those who want colors in their lights) – $139.89 at Amazon
- Philips Hue Ambience light bulb single pack – $44.99 at Amazon (is compatible with the stock hub)
- Amazon Echo Dot and Philips Hue Start Kit – $99.99 at Amazon (save $20)
Ecobee3 Thermostat with Sensor, Wi-Fi, 2nd Generation – $248 at Amazon
One of the smartest upgrades you can do for your home is to change out your thermostat. The ecobee3 is a favorite amongst users, including myself for the ability to use external sensors. While one thermostat is great, it only sits in one part of your house. This one can adjust to your location by knowing which room you are in and change the temperature accordingly. I usually get cold at night and forget to turn the AC off – there’s nothing better than telling Alexa to turn off the AC without having to get out of bed or look at an app on my smartphone.
- Additional ecobee3 room sensor 2 pack at Amazon.com for $53.04
TP-LINK Smart Plug – $29.99 at Amazon
The TP-Link allows you to control the power to any device with a standard US plug. Maybe you don’t want to invest in smart lights but just want a smart lamp. This simple plug doesn’t need a hub and can be controlled with your voice or anywhere in the world with the included app. It’s one of the best ways to make your home smarter and safer.
Logitech Harmony Home Hub for Smartphone Control of 8 Home Entertainment and Automation Devices – $89.99 at Amazon
Tired of always losing your remote control? Connect the Logitech Harmony Home Hub to not only control your entire home entertainment system with your smartphone, but also your voice. “Alexa, turn on the TV to channel 8.” It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit – $149.99 at Amazon
Are you ready to take home security to the next level? Samsung’s SmartThings is a great way to monitor your home no matter where you are. It can connect to compatible appliances, lights, speakers, locks, cameras, sensors and more. It can even notify you if someone enters your home. It’s also compatible with the Echo, Echo Dot and Google Home.
It’s even a $100 off right now making this one great deal.
- Samsung SmartThings Hub – $49.99 at Amazon
- Samsung SmartThings Hub and Osram Light Bulb – $78.98 at Amazon
Staying on the topic of security, now is the time to upgrade it with outdoor security cams. EZVIZ is one of the leaders in home monitoring systems and has a great sale on its 4 camera and DVR kit. If you want to connect it to your Google Home or Amazon Echo, simply connect it through the powerful IFTTT app. You can view your home from anywhere in the world, or even indoors with the EZVIZ app. I have one at my front door to keep track of who is visiting me, and to keep an eye in the sky on my packages. I also use one indoors to monitor my dog throughout the day.
- 8 channel + 8 camera setup – $442.99 at Amazon (save $257)
Canary All-in-One Home Security Device – $186.95 at Amazon
How about keeping tracking of what’s going on inside your home too? The Canary can see and hear what’s going on with its massive 147 degree wide-angle camera and multiple microphones. You can stream live video and audio direct to your phone or tablet to ensure your home is safe and secure. It even monitors the health of your home: air quality, temperature and humidity are all measured throughout the day.
Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation – $248.99 at Amazon
Want to save on your power bill? One of the best things you can do is to install a Nest Learning Thermostat. It knows when you’re home and knows when you’re gone and will adjust the temperature accordingly. The Nest has proven to save its users $100s on their utility bills and is also compatible with the Google Home and Echo family. Check with your utility company as many even offer rebates on your electricity bill when you purchase the Nest.
Alexa Voice Remote for Amazon Echo and Echo Dot – $29.99 at Amazon
Do you only have one Echo or Echo Dot in your home? This remote connects to your Echo or Dot and has a built-in microphone so you can send them commands no matter where you are in the home. Hopefully Google will come out with a standalone remote like this too for the Google Home. It’s perfect when you’re too far away from your smart speaker to send commands. Or if you’re listening to music, you can control the volume from this little guy too.
If you don’t have any smart speakers yet, I highly recommend you try one out. They’re not a gimmick and if you know anyone with one, ask them what they think. I bet they’ll tell you they love it.
- Get the Amazon Echo for $179.99 in White or Black here.
- Get the Amazon Dot for $49.99 here, or $129.99 with discount code DOT3PACK at checkout
- You can also get a Dot case to change the look of your smart device starting at $14.99 at Amazon
- Get the Google Home at the Google Store or Best Buy for $129.99