If you’re like a lot of people, you probably have a fairly busy life. While it doesn’t always work, one of the goals of most technology should be to make our lives easier. That’s why home automation can be such a nice thing.
A system than can take care of many of the minor details in your home helps you focus on what’s important. That said, not everybody is looking for the same thing in home automation. That’s why we rounded up a few of the best options.
1. Amazon Alexa
Amazon is perhaps the best-known name in home automation these days, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see it on this list. Not only are the company’s Echo devices known for being solid performers, but it seems most companies add Alexa support to their devices. This means that you probably have a few Alexa-compatible devices already, whether you know it or not.
2. Google Home
A few years ago Google made its focus on using A.I. to improve your life clear when it unveiled the new Assistant. Now Assistant isn’t limited to just your phone but can be part of any room in your home thanks to Google’s Home devices.
Like Amazon’s devices, these come in many shapes and sizes. The Home Hub has a screen but doesn’t include all the streaming entertainment functionality. Even so, the Google Home plus the Home Mini and Home Max double as speakers. The sizes let you decide just home much of the room you want to fill with sound, but all give you access to Google Assistant and the various devices in your home it can control.
Some of the options on this list might be too restrictive for you. Sure, they make setting up and adding new devices easy, but they also limit what you can do. If you want more control over your home automation, Z-Wave is the system for you.
Some companies sell complete Z-Wave kits or base their own products on the technology. Others just sell hardware. Using software like Domoticz, you can set up basic scenes for various aspects of your smart home. You can even use scripting to automate things in ways that the other systems on this list would have trouble doing.
4. Apple HomeKit
Like many of Apple’s products, HomeKit will likely appeal to you more if you already have one or more other Apple devices. The HomePod smart speaker is just part of HomeKit, with your Apple TV also able to function as a HomeKit Hub. This puts it closer to Amazon’s Fire TV Cube in terms of functionality.
Many devices you’ll find on the market that support Amazon Alexa and Google Home also support HomeKit, but not all of them. Still, if you prefer to stay within Apple’s ecosystem, the HomeKit can cover all of your bases. You just need to keep an eye on which accessories you buy to make sure they’re compatible.
5. Samsung SmartThings
Samsung’s foray into the smart home hasn’t been quite as successful as Google’s. That isn’t to say that its SmartThings platform is lacking, it’s just different. Instead of the ease of use most of these systems focus on, SmartThings packs more sheer functionality with IFTTT integration.
You’ll find SmartThings-branded devices, but they’re not all that work with the platform. Many Z-Wave products work with SmartThings as well, meaning you have a decent amount of hardware options available.
This doesn’t cover every single option. There are some great smart devices out there that work with more than one home automation system. Others are hub-less, so they don’t even need a hub in order to do what they do. These often communicate directly with your phone or other devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
If you’re just looking for a hub to tie a few of your favorite smart devices together, you may not need a whole system. Instead, take a look at our list of the best smart home hubs.