Smarter Home Life Holiday Gift Guide 2016
We're excited to bring you our first annual Holiday Gift Guide! Filled with the latest products from home automation to LED lighting and a little bit of everything in between, they will help you create a smarter home (or help those on your shopping list build their smarter homes!)
All of the links featured in our gift guide are part of affiliate programs which help Smarter Home Life continue to thrive and grow into 2017, so please shop with us this holiday season, thanks!
Home Automation Gifts
Voice-Activated Speakers / "Assistants"
Light-up, voice-controlled gizmos that talk back and help control your connected devices are ridiculously popular this holiday season. Echo Dot is the least expensive at just $39.99, and the new Google Home gives you access to the knowledge of Google starting at $129.99. [Watch our reviews of Echo and Home]
Security and Cameras
It's easier than ever to keep track of who's coming and going from your home, and even to grant access to visitors and others via smart locks. Below are some great choices for keeping tabs on the security and activity inside and outside your home.
Light and Appliance Control
Looking for a simple solution for screw-in or plug-in lights and/or appliances? The iDevices Socket turns any existing light into a smart light, and the iHome Smart Plug will let you control most any light or appliance. Both are compatible with multiple smart home platforms, including HomeKit.
HomeKit Sensors and Controllers
HomeKit is Apple's popular smart home platform built into its iOS mobile operating system, and no company has quite dedicated itself to creating a line of products for HomeKit than Elgato. The longtime-maker of exclusively-Apple products now makes the Eve line of excellent HomeKit devices, from sensors to switches.
Home Theatre Control and Wi-Fi Speakers
Logitech's popular line of Harmony universal remotes now include home automation options, too. And, their smart home hubs include IR blasters to control TVs, streaming media devices, sound systems and more.
Sonos is widely considered the gold standard in whole-house wireless audio, and its users rave about it and love their systems. Sonos will gain official integration with the Amazon Echo in early 2017, a longtime-awaited feature.
Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Speaker as low as $169.99.
Smart Thermostats and Smoke Detector Upgrades
While the Nest Learning Thermostat was the first one to "bring sexy back" to boring old thermostats, others have created compelling products that compete against Nest with innovative features. The ecobee3 thermostat, for example, can work with remote temperature sensors to better balance temperatures across a home. And, Roost introduced an intelligent 9 volt battery that makes "dumb" smoke detectors smart, allowing remote monitoring of alarms and more.
Home Automation Starter Kits
While you can always purchase home automation devices and accessories separately and put them together yourself, sometimes it's nice to get things started with a professionally-selected starter kit. Both of the following choices, Insteon and SmartThings, are excellent ways to get started. Insteon makes all of their own products, with their own communication system that was invented in 2005. SmartThings launched its first product, a smart hub in, in 2013, based on existing communication systems and has slowly launched additional complementary products. SmartThings currently tends to work with more of the "latest" smart home systems than Insteon, but Insteon has an oustanding, beautiful product range with robust, mature features across the Insteon system.
Insteon Kit $199.99, SmartThings KIt $228.98. [Watch our SmartThings review]
Use coupon code EWRAP5 for 5% discount on Insteon and more at smarthome.com
Smart Lighting Gifts
Smart light bulbs landed on the home automation scene nearly five years ago, with Philips Hue being the earliest and most memorable. LIFX arrived shortly thereafter, with the promise of Wi-Fi smart lighting without the need for a home automation hub. Hue has a wider product range, and is backed by a much older company, but LIFX is quickly catching up with new and innovative products. And finally, Sengled makes Pulse, a smart light bulb and Bluetooth speaker all-in-one device. [Watch our LIFX, Hue reviews]
Certain LIFX products on-sale up to 25% off.
LED Lighting Gifts
What!? LED light bulbs as gifts? Of course! They’ll save energy and beautify the home of who receives them! And, of course, the planet will thank you.
In general, we are big fans of Cree, Philips and TCP for LED lighting. Even though, of course, you may find other brands at your local retailers. Each brand offers similar but unique products, with TCP being the very best at dimming for focused-beam lamps. And one more brand that we introduced Smarter Home Life viewers to earlier this year, ULUXUS. The company with the hard-to-pronounce name created the first "look-alike" LED bulb that looks nearly identical to a traditional incandescent light bulb, and we think it's pretty cool!
Use these links to shop some of our favorite LED bulbs: A selection of the latest Cree LED lamps. Philips A19 Standard Shape, Globe-Shaped, MR16 (track lighting). TCP focused-beam LED lamps: PAR 20, PAR 30, PAR 38, new Allusion line of warm-glow lamps. ULUXUS soft white, daylight white A19 LED lamps.