This year’s lineup of smart home gifts offers something for everyone. Use this gift guide to learn about the kinds of high-tech gifts that add security, comfort, fun and convenience to everyday life.
Best Smart Home Gifts for 2019
Google Nest Hub Max, $229
The Google Nest Hub Max is like a tablet, speaker, smart home hub, security camera and digital photo frame in one – and it should be user-friendly enough for anyone that’s familiar with Google products. It can place video calls, manage smart home products, stream YouTube videos, accept voice commands, and much more. It also makes a great kitchen companion for following online recipes.
Kasa Smart Wifi Plug Mini by TP-Link, $19.99
Smart plugs turn ordinary outlets into ones that you can control with your smartphone. Since these compact little devices don’t require a separate smart home hub, they could be a fun and useful gift to experiment with home automation. This outlet will work with just about any appliance with a mechanical on/off switch. Just plug it in, and once you download the accompanying Kasa app (free), you’ll be able to turn that appliance on and off remotely or automate it to a schedule.
August Smart Lock Pro + Connect, $192.99
Smart locks could make a great gift for big households with people constantly coming and going. The August Smart Lock works in conjunction with its mobile app to lock or unlock the door, check the lock’s status and grant keyless entry to visitors. There’s no need to worry about making copies of keys or whether or not someone accidentally left the door open – all you need is your phone. Plus, this kit installs over pre-existing single cylinder deadbolts using only a Phillips head screwdriver.
Amazon Echo Plus (2nd. Generation), $149.99
The Amazon Echo Plus would make a great gift for someone who wants to bring the Alexa voice assistant into their homes for the first time. The premium sound makes it a more-than-capable speaker for listening to music and podcasts. And since it doubles as a smart home hub, the giftee can choose to add a full spectrum of Echo devices and home automation tools later on. Even if they only ever use it as a voice-controlled speaker, the compact 4” x 6” cylindrical size will still justify its shelf space.
Flux Bluetooth Smart Color-Changing LED Light Bulb, $32.97
For a smart light that puts fun first, try this affordable offering from Flux. This color-changing bulb is controlled via the (free) Flux app. It can change colors, sync to music, automate to a schedule, or dim down during an evening routine. Choose from 20 pre-programmed modes or create and save custom settings. It could be a great addition to kids’ rooms, rented apartments, or any space that could use a quick and easy change of ambiance.
Amazon Echo Show 5, $79.99
Many people use their phones as alarm clocks, only to be distracted by them. The Amazon Echo Show 5 (not to be confused with any other device in Amazon’s extensive Echo lineup) is a compact smart display that makes a great alarm clock. It plays music and streams Prime video using voice commands from the comfort of your bed. The Echo Show 5 is not a smart home hub, but it doesn’t require one, and it still works with many Alexa-compatible devices within range.
Smart Wifi-Enabled Instant Pot, $120.88
Instant Pots have been popular gifts for years now. These powerhouse cooking appliances use electric pressure cooking to dramatically reduce cooking times.They also boast sauté, slow cook and several other functions. As a bonus, this model also has a wifi connection that empowers home cooks to check on their meals and adjust cooking settings using a mobile app. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to come home to a hot, perfectly cooked meal even when they haven’t been home all day.
Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation), $219.95
Smart thermostats automatically adjust based on your schedule, habits and the season. They help to save money and energy by heating and cooling your home more intentionally. Plus, this one is attractive, with a color touchscreen, and it’s fun to use thanks to its mobile app and support for Amazon Alexa. For best results in large homes, consider adding on a Nest temperature sensor or two, because they help the smart thermostat keep close track of specific areas.
Philips Hue White Ambiance LED Smart Bulb 2-Pack, $44.99+
Philips Hue smart bulbs would make a good gift for tech-savvy people that are serious about getting started with smart lights. These ones can be controlled via mobile app, voice commands or automated routines. While it’s easy to get up and running with these bulbs on a basic Bluetooth connection, the user will need a Philips Hue Hub or another Zigbee-controlled smart home hub to access these bulbs’ full potential.
Tile Essentials Kit, $69.99
If you know someone who’s always fumbling for their phone, losing their keys or forgetting their wallet, the Tile Essentials Kit is a practical gift that might get some real mileage. Tile is a Bluetooth tracking system that helps people locate lost items with a smartphone. Place or stick a Tile on the object you want to track, and if it gets misplaced, then you can use a mobile app to make your Tile sound an alert.
Ring Doorbell 2, $199
Ring helped turn video doorbells into a common household item. The latest model optimizes the ways you can see and hear what’s happening at your front door. It can be used to help keep porch pirates at bay, to scout out any suspicious activity, to give instructions to visitors, or simply to see what’s going on when you’re not home. A smart hub is not required; all you need is a smartphone and a wifi connection. Installation requires tools and light wiring.
Wyze Cam Pan, $36.59
This camera offers competitive security features at a stocking stuffer price. Its well-rounded features will grant your giftee the ability to view a live camera feed from their mobile device. It even has pan, tilt and zoom functions to provide a better look. Keep an eye on the kids, monitor for break-ins, see what the pets are doing – the options are limitless.
Uzone Smart Cooking Thermometer, $39.99
Here’s an idea for the grillmaster or anyone who appreciates a dialed-in approach to cooking. This kit includes a smart cooking thermometer and four wireless temperature probes that communicate with your smartphone via Bluetooth. Using the mobile app, you can keep a close eye at cooking temperature and food doneness without opening the grill or oven. Plus, this kit is a fraction of the price and more favorably reviewed than similar offerings from brand-name suppliers.
My Smart Blinds Kit, $159+
Big windows and skylights bring lots of attractive light into a home, but they also present some difficulty when it’s time to open and close the blinds. The My Smart Blinds Kit offers a quick way to get started controlling the blinds from a smartphone, or to set daily and weekly schedules. Automating the blinds isn’t a necessity, but the luxury of this function is what helps to make it a great gift. A separate MySmartBlinds Bridge hub is recommended for advanced home automation integration and features.
SimpliSafe Home Security System, $259.95+
In days gone by, a home security system would not have been a giftable item due to the need for professional installation and long-term contracts. That’s not the case with SimpliSafe, a leading provider for self-installed systems with month-to-month monitoring plans that don’t require a landline. Gift your loved ones the essential equipment and they’ll be well on their way to a safer, more secure home. They can choose whether or not to opt into the monitoring service, which starts at only $14.99/mo. (Note: SimpliSafe doesn’t offer gift cards, but there’s a gift option at the end of the checkout process.)
What to Consider When Choosing Smart Home Gifts
To help ensure that your gift puts a smile on the recipient’s face, here are a few important caveats that you should consider when choosing smart home gifts.
- Level of Tech-Savviness
Is your giftee comfortable with new technology? If they are, ask them for their wish list, since you don’t want to pick a device that they already own, or one that’s incompatible with what they already have. If they’re extremely tech-adverse, a smart home gift might not be the best choice.
- Preferred Voice Assistant
The top voice assistants are Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Before you invest in any gifts with high price tags, find out if your giftee has a preference toward one or another. In general, multiple smart home devices work together better when they all support the same voice assistant.
- Smart Hub Ownership
Some smart home devices require a separate device called a smart home hub in order to function properly. Smart home hubs unite devices from different manufacturers and help them work together to automate tasks around the home. To ensure that your gift gets used, don’t buy a hub-dependent product unless they have the hub to support it.
- Smartphone Ownership
Note that many smart home products are configured through their accompanying smartphone apps. If your giftee isn’t a smartphone user, they probably won’t be able to fully enjoy many smart home products. This can be important to keep in mind if you’re shopping for seniors or other folks who are used to being less connected.