Smart Home Devices I Use

I write about a lot of different products on this site, but I don’t ultimately end up using everything.  Some things I try and end up deciding that it’s not worth the money.  Others are a huge hassle to get set up and I just return them.  Most of them, though, end up working out really well.

The following is a list of smart home devices that I use in my own home.  I will maintain this list as I go forward and add more devices.

Smart Home Infographic

Hub – Samsung SmartThings

I started off building my smart home without a hub in mind, but quickly realized that it just makes life easier.  I had Belkin WeMo outlets and GE Z-Wave switches and my wife was using 2 different apps to control them all.

The main reason I started this smart home venture was to make things easier, and this was the opposite of that.

It cost me a little extra money up front, but the cost has been worth it to me.  It connects to my wifi outlets, my thermostat, my Amazon Echo and my light switches.

By routing everything through my SmartThings hub, I’m able to just use 1 app to manage everything.

Read more:  Best Smart Home Hubs for 2017

Home Control – Google Home

This is my primary input on controlling my smart home.  Another bonus is that it can also search the internet for you.  This doesn’t sound very helpful, until you have a 2 year old who is very curious.  It’s awesome not having to pull out my phone to get an answer.

On top of that, it’s easier to talk to.  I don’t have to be robotic with my commands.  Due to Google’s awesome speech recognition, I can talk to it like a regular human and 9 times out of 10 it will understand what I’m asking.

Read More:  Google Home vs Amazon Echo Dot

Home Control – Google Home Mini

Google Home Mini

This just serves as an extension to my Google Home.  I use it the same way I use Google Home, but it lives in my kitchen.  It can also act as another speaker when I’m streaming music.

Read More:  One Week In: Google Home Mini

Streaming Music – Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot

Adding voice control to your SmartHome is just, plain, cool.  It makes it all that much more futuristic.  While I started off using my Amazon Echo Dot to control my smart home, it now just serves as a way for me to play music in my garage.  My Google Home devices have taken over the responsibility of being the voice control extension of my smart home.

Read more: Top 3 Amazon Echo Features

Indoor Outlets – Belkin WeMo Switch Smart Plug

Belkin WeMo Switch Smart Plug

Easy setup and doesn’t need a hub if you don’t want one.  All of these are features that make this smart outlet well worth it.  I did end up hooking mine up to SmartThings, but it’s nice knowing that I don’t need to if I don’t want to.  Their App is very well built and easy to use as well.

Read More:  How to Set Up the Belkin WeMo Switch with Amazon Echo

Indoor Light Switch – Belkin WeMo Light Switch

Belkin WeMo Light Switch

Same positive’s from the Belkin WeMo Switch Smart Plug, but in light switch form.  I actually use these for any lights that are behind a door.  For example, my garage light that I can’t see until I open the door into there, but the light switch is on the other side.  Same for my sunroom.  The reason for using these switches over the GE Z-Wave switches is they have a little light on the front that tells me if they are on or not.

Read More:  How To Set Up the Belkin WeMo Light Switch with Amazon Echo and SmartThings

Indoor Light Switch – GE Z-Wave Light Switch and GE Z-Wave Dimmer Switch

GE Z-Wave Smart Switch

These light switches are pretty simple to install and very easy to set up.  They rely on a hub, but once they’re installed they are solid.  I use these for all my generic light switches and have them connected through my SmartThings hub.

The dimmer is installed in my bedroom.  It controls a bunch of dumb, but dimmable, LED light bulbs.

Read More:  How To Set Up the GE Smart Switch with Samsung SmartThings and Amazon Echo

Thermostat – ecobee3


There are a lot of awesome smart thermostats out there, but the reason I settled on the ecobee3 is it’s external sensors.  My home isn’t very big, but I like being able to put a sensor in my daughter’s room and in the guest room and know that my thermostat is going to take them into account.  I also really like the user interface for this thermostat.  Nest was a close 2nd, but the extra sensors won me over.

Read More:  Ecobee vs Nest – Which one is right for you?

Sprinkler Controller – Skydrop 8

Skydrop 8

Also an area with a lot of great competitors, but what made me decide to go for the Skydrop8 is it’s price and interface.  I liked that I could use this sprinkler controller from my phone or from the sprinkler controller itself.  It has all the same features as the other sprinkler controllers, such as advanced scheduling, weather monitoring and wifi access.  It just does them for less.  Also bonus, it has a pretty cool spin wheel light 🙂

Outdoor Outlet – GE Z-Wave Outdoor Smart Switch

GE Z-Wave Outdoor Smart Switch

This outdoor smart outlet is a no-frills, z-wave enabled smart outlet.  It connects to my SmartThings hub and let’s me control my exterior backyard string of lights.  Make sure to mount this device up high if you’re looking to keep it permanently outdoors.

Read More:  How To Set Up the GE Outdoor Smart Switch with Samsung SmartThings and Amazon Echo

Smart Light Bulb – GoControl

GoControl Z-Wave Smart Light Bulb

What I really liked about this light bulb was its price and it’s no-frills approach.  It has a color temperature of 2700k, which is just right for us.  Setup is super easy.  It uses the Z-Wave protocol, so it integrates with SmartThings very nicely.  It’s also instant-on, so I don’t have to wait when I turn the switch on.

I started off by having them in my bedroom, but have since moved them into my living room.  I can now tell Alexa to dim the living room to 10%.  I’ve also add an automation in SmartThings called Movie Time that will turn off all the front lights and only leave the back 2 on at 10%.

For the price, these are going to be hard to beat.

Read More:  GoControl’s Smart Light Bulb

Garage Door Opener – GoControl

GoControl Z-Wave Garage Door Opener

One of the first reasons I got into Smart Homes.  This device allows me to check the status of my garage door and let me open and close it from my phone.  It’s exactly what I need and setup was super simple.

Read More:  GoControl/Linear Z-Wave Smart Garage Door Opener Review and Install

Smart Smoke Alarm – First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm

First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm

It works just like a regular Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm, but it also has Z-Wave connectivity.  This Smart Smoke Detector is triggered so that it turns all the lights on in my house when it goes off and sends me a text message.

Read More:  First Alert Smart Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Install and Review

Security – Zooz Z-Wave Door and Window Sensor

Zooz Z-Wave Door Sensor

I have these Zooz Z-wave Door and Window Sensors all over my home.  They let me monitor what doors and windows are open.  At night, I get alerts send directly to my phone if something is opened.  It’s nice having the peace of mind.

Read More:  Setting Up Zooz Z-Wave Door and Window Sensor with SmartThings

Misc – Tile


Ok, I admit that this isn’t exactly a smart home device.  That being said, do you frequently misplace your keys?  Maybe you don’t, but does your kid grab your stuff and move it around?  Well, here comes Tile to the rescue.

These little square tiles, for lack of a better term, are in constant contact with your phone.  You can attach them to anything you want.  In our case, we have them on my wife’s keys and in her purse.  Whenever my daughter plays with her keys and misplaces them, we simply take my wife’s phone out and click on the misplaced tile.

After clicking, the tile starts playing a nice little song until we find it.  The other awesome thing is that it works in reverse.  If my wife has misplaced her phone, I can double tap the tile and it will ring her phone even if it is on silent.

With a 1.5 year old at home, we use these tiles very regularly.