Happy holidays! Have a fast look at these excellent gift ideas!
Smart home gear makes an excellent gift, so I thought it would be useful put together a Smart Home Holiday Gift Guide. This is our 2020 Edition.
I’ve organized the guide in “kits”, but, obviously, these items can be purchased individually. There are 3 different packages, starting with the most basic for those who are just starting out. I also included a bonus item at the end – my latest addition to the arsenal being the Ecobee Alex enabled Smart Thermostat. Let’s get to it!
BASIC SMART HOME INSTALLATION KIT
This is the perfect setup for new Smart Home users or for those looking for a straightforward, versatile system. This first kit includes smart outlets, smart lightbulb sockets, and an Echo Plus to tie it all together. For this kit, there is no separate hub that needs to be purchased as the Echo Plus has everything you need!
Meet the Echo Plus
Most of you already are familiar with Alexa Echo devices and probably own one if you’re reading this article. If not, this will be your first purchase as an absolute necessity in creating your Alexa Home System.
Like having your very own robot assistant, this device will be at the core of your smart home system. It is fully equipped with a built-in smart home hub that connects to all your devices and consolidates them into one streamlined interface.
The setup is painless. All you need to do is plug it into the wall, connect to the Alexa app, and you’re ready to ask Alexa to set alarms or reminders, play music, make phone calls, or reorder your household essentials when they’re running low. No more forgetting the milk! Alexa’s got your back.
The Echo Dot makes setting up your other smart devices a breeze– simply ask Alexa to discover your devices for a seamless, instant setup. You can click here to find the Echo Plus’s latest pricing on Amazon.
Smart Mini Wifi Outlets from Gosund
Control your appliances from anywhere around the globe with this set of wirelessly-controlled wall outlets. Easily compatible with the Echo Plus device, these wall outlets operate seamlessly and can be controlled straight from the app or can be voice-activated through Alexa. Set timers or customize a schedule for routine use!
You can find a four-pack of these pretty cheap on Amazon. Check them out here.
LoraTap Smart Wifi Bulb Socket
This third purchase will complete your Basic Smart Home Installation Kit. Simply screw it into where you normally would place your lightbulb and then place the lightbulb in the smart socket for easy utilization.
I use the smart plugs above for lamps mostly, but for my ceiling lights, I use the LoraTap Smart Wifi Bulb Sockets. They allow me to transform any light around the home into a smart light with regular light bulbs.
You can set timers for individual lights or group sets of lights into categories for functionality across multiple light sources using one simple key command. You can also share control with the whole family, as the sockets are compatible with multiple smart devices at a time.
Alexa Home System – Smart Entrance Package
For next-generation home security, this package is the easiest to set up and start using right away. It features a smart video doorbell and a touchscreen code-enabled deadbolt with a built-in alarm. This will take your Alexa Home System to the next level.
Ring Video Doorbell 2
Ring’s motto is, “smart security stars at the front door“, and we could not agree more. That’s why the Ring Video Doorbell is genius– it blows basic peepholes out of the water. Now with new and improved features, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the first step to a smart, secure home.
The Ring Doorbell detects when someone is at the door, either through automatic alerts when the doorbell is pressed or by detecting motion, and it sends these alerts immediately to your Echo devices. You can communicate with visitors through the app before answering the door. With the Echo Show or Echo Spot, you can also monitor and communicate with visitors on your property safely and with peace of mind.
You can check in on your home at any time via the Ring app; this device steams in 1080HD live video and is equipped with infrared night vision so you never miss a thing. Subscribe to their Ring Protect services in order to access stored videos on your device anytime.
There are two ways to install your Ring device: you can either utilize the built-in rechargeable battery or install it to your actual doorbell wiring for a constant, reliable charge. I personally don’t hardwire mine and I take it off to charge every few months. The best part is each device includes a lifetime warranty so in the event it is stolen, Ring will send you a new one for free!
The new and improved Ring doorbell now features interchangeable faceplates for stylish security and a quick-release battery pack for painless maintenance.
Check out my article on How To Install and Operate Your Ring Video Doorbell or check out the latest Amazon pricing by clicking here.
Schlage Z-Wave Deadbolt
Say goodbye to your keys and hello to the Schlage Z-Wave Deadbolt – your smart alternative. Outfitted with a fingerprint-resistant touchpad, now you can lock and unlock your door with a simple four-digit code. The Z-Wave Deadbolt is complete with an alarm and can be set to sound your phone when it detects vibration. This device is also compatible with Alexa devices to enable voice control features.
The Schlage Z-Wave is easy to install and all you need is a screwdriver. It mounts any standard deadbolt for on-the-spot security.
You’re able to set three alarm modes for motion detection. The first will alert you when there is activity detected at your door, the next will send an alert when the device detects tampering, and the third alerts you to forced entry.
One of the coolest features is that this device enables you to set temporary codes so you are able to give temporary access to your friends in town or petsitters when you are away. With its smart home connectivity features, you can also set notifications for when people come and go for that extra barrier of security. It’s also available in 5 colors.
Alexa Home System – Security Package
This package is the most advanced system for keeping you and your loved ones safe, whether you are home or away. Easily monitor inside and outside your home with Ring’s Five-Piece Home Security System, Ring Floodlight Camera, and Ring Stick Up Camera.
Since installing this equipment I’ve established a much better piece of mind while I’m away. Although I have to admit, I spend too much time checking in on my dog some days. LOL. After adding the following items to your Smart Home Installation Kit, you will have basically surpassed the Jetsons.
Ring Home Security Five-Piece System
This five-component setup includes the following:
- Base Station
- Contact Sensor
- Motion Detector
- Range Extender
All of these items are connected to the Ring app and can be controlled from anywhere.
The base station is the portal that connects all included devices with each other and to your mobile devices. The signal can be extended using the included Range Extender to ensure all your alarm components can communicate with each other, even if they are far apart.
This system also includes contact sensors that easily fit any door or window and sends an alert when it detects that they are open. Similarly, the motion detectors monitor rooms inside your home and alert the system when motion is detected.
Much like other alarm systems, there are three different modes for arming your system: Away, Home, and Disarmed, so you can customize your security to fit your needs. ‘Away’ monitors all security points in and around your home while you are not there and is the most secure setting.
The ‘Home’ setting will monitor the sensors outside your home but ignores the sensors inside so you can freely move around. The ‘Disarmed’ setting ignores all sensors, so you can easily come and go as you please without setting off alarms as you enter and exit your home.
It’s easy to switch between these settings from the Alexa app or the keypad included in the kit. The keypad included has the same functionality as the app, allowing you to choose between different security levels by entering your four-digit pin while you are home.
By using the app, you can alter your security settings and monitor your home from afar. The app integrates these settings and more, allowing you to grant access to others with their own personalized codes.
Perhaps the most important option is the 24/7 professional monitoring subscription available for only $10/month. There aren’t any contracts or cancellation fees.
Whether you are home or away, this service alerts live professionals when an alarm goes off in your home and they immediately reach out to you to check-in. With this service, you’ll have to create a verbal password. If the call center isn’t able to get ahold of you or are given an incorrect password, they will dispatch local authorities to check the property.
As advanced as this system is, it’s easy to set up yourself and there isn’t any wiring involved. Each device can be mounted painlessly with the included double-sided tape or screws. If you have any problems setting it up, I’d call in my 12-year-old nephew before I’d call a professional.
Ring Stick Up Cam
On the inside of my house, I use The Ring Stick Up Cam. These are weatherproof, so you can use them outside as well though. This device provides 1080p HD quality video monitoring which is conveniently viewed on the same Ring app we use for our other devices.
Stick up cams can be placed on a bookshelf, window sill, mounted on the wall or ceiling. You have the option to power them with a wall plug or they can even be powered by an ethernet cable. If you choose the wall plug option, you can connect over WiFi to your network.
You can view your live feed and verbally communicate with people on the other end using your phone, tablet, PC or even your Echo Show by saying something like “Alexa, show me Camera 1”.
The motion alert features are pretty advanced. I was able to adjust it to only alert me when there was a motion in a certain area of the screen. And of course, you can turn alerts completely off if you’d like.
I don’t subscribe to the DVR storage for my inside cameras, but again it’s only $3/ month if you decide to for yourself.
As with everything I try to recommend, this is a breeze to install and only takes a few minutes to set up.
Ring Floodlight Cam
Now, I use the Ring Doorbell as my front-facing camera, but in the backyard, I use the Ring Floodlight Cam. Outfitted with two floodlights that mean business and 1080HD video streaming, this Ring motion-activated exterior camera will definitely deter an intruder.
This device sends motion alerts the same way the Doorbell and Stick Up Cam do. Again, keeping it consistent with Ring equipment, all you do is pop open the app and you can monitor your home’s perimeter clearly and easily with HD and infrared night vision. (Imagine saying that 20 years ago)
The camera is equipped with both a siren alarm and two-way audio capabilities so you can communicate with anyone who enters your property. Tell intruders to scram or let visitors and delivery persons know you are on your way to the door.
These cameras plug straight into standard power outlets as well and are easily mounted. Basically, all the Ring Cam monitoring, alert settings, and DVR storage options remain true on all the camera device. I absolutely recommend subscribing to the DVR storage for your outdoor camera(s) and Ring Video Doorbell.
SMART HOME THERMOSTAT
So, I recently added this to my home and I figured I’d include it now as a fantastic option. I’m absolutely in love with it.
The Ecobee Smart Thermostat (found here on Amazon) has Alexa services built-in for voice-activated control and comes complete with room sensors to keep a balanced temperature throughout the entire home.
When I say Alexa services are built-in, I don’t just mean it’s Alexa compatible. There is actually a built-in Alexa in the thermostat.
Not only can you adjust the temperature from the app or by using Alexa voice services, but you can also check the weather, play music, set a timer, and more.
As far as the sensor goes, my thermostat is in the living room on the 1st floor. On the 2nd floor is our bedroom where it tends to be a little hotter. At night time when I’m sleeping, I have it use the bedroom sensor to adjust the heat and air conditioning. You can do this manually or have the sensors switch at a certain time of day.
Ecobee users save up to 23% on their home heating and cooling costs annually, meaning this device practically pays for itself. I can say that I’ve certainly seen a difference on my electric bill.
You can also check out our Alexa Thermostat Review where we compared the Ecobee4 with The Nest Smart Thermostat.
All the equipment mentioned above is, in my opinion, the best currently available. Most importantly, they would make awesome gifts this holiday season.