Twenty years ago we’d brag to our friends about how smart our children were. Now, we can also brag about how smart our homes are!
Smart home technology sales skyrocketed in recent years. Smart technology is now a staple in our culture and the way we live. American households investing in smart home technology now spend on average $490 alone to upgrade their homes.
From security to temperature control, smart home technology is accessible to all our needs. We feel safe using them, and we enjoy the perks of saving money on our bills.
Smart homes also provide us with control over homes in a convenient way. Most smart home technologies can be controlled from any location with the touch of a button or by the sound of our voice.
So, what smart home upgrades?
As smart home technology ages, it gets even smarter. Tech companies improve their products by enhancing features, design, and compatibilities. Explore the following intelligent home upgrades worth investing in for 2019.
1. Alexa Microwave
AmazonBasics launched an Alexa compatible microwave in 2018. The microwave can be controlled by the sound of your voice using your Echo device.
You can relay to your Echo a variety of microwave commands which it will then send to the microwave. For example, you can say “Alexa, reheat my baked potato” and Alexa will send this command to the microwave after gathering the necessary reheating time needed. Some preheating setting already exists on the microwave as well, but Alexa can also add new preheating settings as required.
Another technology available with the smart AmazonBasics microwave is Amazon’s Dash technology. You can sign-up to automatically reorder popcorn using Amazon’s Dash Technology with this Alexa powered microwave. When you run low, Dash will order you more at a 10% discounted price.
2. Stick Up Camera
The Stick Up Camera by Ring is an upgrade to security cameras. Much like Ring Doorbell technology, Stick Up Camera is motion-activated, allows two-way talking, and is compatible with Alexa. The Stick Up Camera will provide you with high-resolution footage and can record in the dark using night vision technology.
Stick Up Cameras can be placed outside or inside your home. It can also be plugged in and connected to the Wifi, which makes it more versatile than Ring’s Doorbell which requires doorbell wiring. So, if you don’t have a doorbell, but still want a smart security camera, then the Stick Up Camera by Ring will be a worthy investment.
3. Amazon Guard
Amazon Guard is a new feature available to Amazon Echo owners. It’s an upgrade that uses the Echo’s microphone and connected devices to act as a security system. You can tell Alexa when you’re leaving, and Alexa will reply that it’s “on guard.”
If Amazon Guard detects any suspicious or alarming activity in your home, it can alert you right away. It can also integrate with lighting systems to turn lights on and off randomly throughout the day.
To use Amazon Guard, you must have the Amazon Echo Plus Generation 2 model.
4. Smart Plugs
Smart plugs can control lights, appliances, and any other device with a plug. They are Wifi connected, controlled by apps or smart home hubs, and can be scheduled to your liking.
Smart plugs are an excellent upgrade for your smart home because of their versatility. Smart plugs don’t discriminate against older lamps, appliances, or coffee makers. They turn these devices on and off from the plug via the app or intelligent ecosystem.
5. Smart Light Bulbs
Smart light bulbs allow you to control your home’s lighting system by voice using a hub or by using an app.
Smart bulb brands to try out in 2019 are Phillips Hue and Eufy Lumos.
Eufy Lumos light bulbs are entertaining since the bulb can produce a variety of colors. It is both voice-activated and app-controlled. Capable of changing colors instantly, you can also set Eufy Lumos bulbs on a schedule and control them while you’re away from home.
To get the full experience of using Phillips Hue light bulbs, you’ll also need to invest in the Hue Bridge, which connects your smart light bulbs to your Wifi other devices. Phillips Hue, however, can be controlled using hubs such as Amazon Echo Plus, but you miss out on features available to only Hue Bridge owners. Phillips Hue bulbs can either be color-changing or traditional white bulbs.
6. Video Doorbells
Video doorbells are one of the latest smart home crazes. Video doorbells are motion-activated, Wifi connected, and are operated using an app. They can notify you when your plumber arrives or when a package is delivered.
Some are also compatible with other smart home technologies such as the Nest’s Hello video doorbell.
One upgrade to look for in 2019 is the Ring Door View Cam. Similar to classic Ring devices, but installation doesn’t require electrical wiring. Ring’s Door View Cam replaces your door’s peephole and works similarly to other Ring models.
It can also detect when someone knocks on the door, which is unique to this Ring model. The Door View Cam is not yet available for purchase.
7. Smart Thermostats
Smart thermostats improve heating and cooling systems using smart home technology. Some smart thermostats come with sensors that can regulate individual room temperatures based on your preferences. Smart thermostats features vary by model and brand, but most can help you to reduce your energy bills and provide you with more comfort throughout your home.
Models to consider purchasing are the Ecobee 4 and Nest.
The Ecobee 4 comes with remote sensors which regulate temperature and can detect when you are home. When you’re home, the Ecobee 4 will get your home to your preferred room temperature. Ecobee 4 can also integrate with other smart home hubs such as Alexa.
Nest has similar features to the Ecobee 4, but it doesn’t come with remote sensors to control individual room temperature. It is, however, able to integrate with other smart home devices such as smart home lighting. Nest is also motion activated which allows it to regulate temperature and other smart home technologies according to whether you’re home or at work.
Nest and Ecobee 4 are both compatible with Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings.
iRobot’s Roomba i7+ vacuum hit the market in 2018. Roomba smart vacuums can be programmed to clean your home on a schedule and use sensors to navigate around furniture and tough to reach spaces. The latest update to the Roomba is its ability to remember your home’s layout and empty itself.
Roombas are especially helpful for pet owners who deal with pet hair daily. But, beware pet owners! Pets can still find Roombas to be as scary and as playful as regular vacuums, so it’s best to put the pets away when it’s cleaning!
Roombas can also be integrated with smart hubs such as Google and Alexa, allowing users to use voice commands to clean specific rooms in their homes. Roomba comes with an app as well, which you can use to control it.
9. Window Blinds by Ikea
Need some shade? Want to see the sunrise without lifting a finger? Then investing in smart window blinds from Ikea will be a great addition to your smart home.
Ikea’s smart window blinds are projected to hit U.S. stores. Currently, they are already being carried in German stores.
U.S. stores will carry the FYTUR model of smart blackout blinds which are battery-operated and compatible with Google Assistant, Alex, and HomeKit. FYTUR blinds will be rechargeable and also come with a remote so users without a smart hub like Alexa can operate them with the touch of a button.
This price of these smart blinds remain unknown, but they will likely cost anywhere from around $135 to $210 before tax.
Make Your Home Smarter With Smart Home Upgrades
2019 is sure to be a smart year with smart home technologies continuing to advance and improve. When investing in smart home upgrades, always make sure that the devices are compatible with one another. Not all smart devices will be compatible with each other, so it’s important to read the product’s features and compatibility guide thoroughly.
Want to learn more about the best and worst smart home technologies? Check out our blog post to discover which smart home devices to invest in and which to leave on the store shelf.