The affordable Belkin WeMo Switch promises to add remote control and automation capabilities to anything with a plug coming out of it. That makes it a great entry point for home automation, but you can take things to the next level by pairing it with the Automatic smart driving assistant. Plug it into your vehicle’s data port, and you’ll be able to trigger your switches automatically whenever your car comes and goes, thanks to a little help from the free online automation service IFTTT. Want to know more? Here’s a handy video showing you how it’s done.
Armchair meteorologists might enjoy the Netatmo Weather Station’s ability to keep an eye on the skies, but to give the system even more functionality, they’ll want to be sure to spend 30 seconds activating its free IFTTT channel. Aside from crafting color-coded smart lighting weather alerts, they’ll be able to use a smart outlet like the Quirky Pivot Power Genius to automatically turn fans, heaters, and humidifiers on and off in perfect sync with the minute-by-minute forecast.
Recent Samsung acquisition SmartThings is a likable, well-reviewed platform for the connected home, and its open compatibility with a wide variety of third-party devices gives you plenty of room to build your smart home as you see fit. For a simple start, consider skipping the starter kits and just picking up the $99 SmartThings Hub, then pairing it with the Connected by TCP Wireless LED Lighting Kit. With the ability to track your phone as it comes and goes, the SmartThings Hub will be able to turn your lights on and off as you come and go, and thanks to the SmartThings IFTTT channel, you’ll be able to connect those LEDs with a huge number of gadgets and Web services.
Of the current crop of plant sensors, we probably wouldn’t call the Parrot Flower Power our favorite -- but it does offer one key advantage that the competition lacks, and that’s IFTTT integration (sensing a pattern here?) Use a Parrot to monitor the light levels of your indoor garden, and you’ll be able to set up IFTTT to automatically turn on your Philips Hue lighting whenever things get too dim. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, consider the soon-to-be-released Philips Hue Lux LEDs, which offer all of the IFTTT-friendly smarts without the color-changing novelty factor.
The iDevices iGrill Mini is a Bluetooth-powered, app-enabled meat thermometer capable of keeping a close eye on whatever it is you’re serving up for your Labor Day barbecue. Add in the ultra-affordable Quirky Refuel, which lets you monitor your grill’s propane levels on your smart phone, and you’ll be the most connected grill master in the neighborhood.
For smarter cooking in the kitchen, you’ve got a growing number of options, both large and small. We say pass on spending thousands of dollars on a smart oven, and go instead with the one two punch of an iDevices Kitchen Thermometer and a Crock-Pot WeMo Slow Cooker. Between the two of them, you’ll be able to monitor the cooking progress of an entire holiday feast right from your phone.
SimpliSafe won our Editor’s Choice distinction for its outstanding DIY security offerings, but the lack of cameras gives it a bit of a blind spot. Why not fix that by installing a camera of your own to help cover the bases? You’ve got plenty of options to choose from, but we’d recommend Dropcam Pro, which offers excellent image quality, two-way talk, and no service fee for basic live viewing.
Piper is an attractive little all-in-one security gadget packed with smart sensors and a camera to help you keep tabs on the goings-on at home. One of its more subtle features, though, is the fact that it uses Z-Wave to act as a control device for third party gizmos. Since you’re already interested in security, why not pair it with the Z-Wave-ready Yale Real Living Touchscreen Deadbolt, or the less expensive but equally smart push button models?
Ever since Google spent $3.2 billion to acquire Nest earlier this year, the popular “learning thermostat” has worked hard to position itself squarely at the center of the smart home. That means playing nice with other smart home gadgets, like the LIFX color-changing smart bulb. Pair it with the Nest, and your bulbs will simulate occupancy whenever the thermostat detects you’re away. You can even set them to turn bright red whenever the Nest Protect smoke detector goes off.