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Father's Day: Clever smart home gadgets your dad will actually love

Leave the lights on as a kid? Leave the fridge door open? Make it up to Dad with a Father's Day gift that shows you learned your lesson.

Ry Crist
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Ry Crist
1 of 15 Chris Monroe/CNET

Smart lights for smart dads

If you're like me, then your dad was always on your case as a kid to remember to turn lights off when you left the room. That's why I got mine a Philips Hue White starter kit for Father's Day the other year -- now, he can automate the lights to come on and off whenever he pleases, and if he forgets to turn something off when he heads to bed, he can just turn things off from the Hue app, or by asking a voice assistant.

Usually $70, this two-bulb starter kit currently costs $60 on Amazon, and it includes the Hue Bridge, which you'll need to keep plugged into Dad's router in order for the smarts to work. 

From there, he can add additional bulbs and fixtures to his network as he pleases to expand his setup (or you can keep gifting them to him at future holidays -- sort of like that year when he got me a nice toolbox for my birthday despite the fact that I didn't own any tools yet, then gifted me a new tool to put it in it every year after that.) Smart man, my dad.

Oh, and just as a disclaimer, CNET may get a cut of the revenue for purchases made via the links in this gallery.

2 of 15 Ry Crist/CNET

A smart speaker, maybe?

If you're more interested in those voice controls I mentioned, then maybe Dad would enjoy playing around with a new smart speaker. The Alexa-powered, third-gen Amazon Echo Dot, seen here in your choice of gray, is the most popular option -- you can currently pick one up on Amazon for $50.

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Why not both?

If Dad's been extra-good this year, then why not get him an Echo Dot bundled with that Philips Hue starter kit at a nice discount? It's currently available on Amazon for about $90, which is a steal.

4 of 15 Lutron

Lutron Aurora

Let's say that Dad already uses smart bulbs like those Hue White LEDs, and let's add that he gets extra-cranky whenever one of the kids or grandkids turns the power off at the switch, making it impossible to control the lights with the app or with voice commands. 

Well, Lutron's new Aurora dimmer dial, which simply snaps in place over top of the switch, locking it into the on position and pairing with the bulbs using a wireless radio, is the perfect fix. It isn't out until later in June, but you could preorder one for him today for $40 and tell him that the gift of smart bulb/dumb switch harmony is on its way.

5 of 15 Amazon

Echo bundle

Here's another smart lighting bundle that you might consider: the full-size, bigger-sounding Amazon Echo with a two-bulb Sengled starter kit (basically a less expensive Philips Hue copycat that we like a lot) for $120.

6 of 15 Chris Monroe/CNET

Google Home is great, too

It's not all about Alexa these days -- we're big fans of the Google Home Mini, too. Powered by the Google Assistant, it's a terrific alternative to Amazon's Echo lineup. 

You can get it for $50 at Walmart, and it comes in a couple of color options that aren't gray, too! What a concept!

7 of 15 Walmart

Bundle that bad boy with a Chromecast

You can also find the Google Home Mini bundled with a Chromecast media streamer for $64 at stores like Best Buy. Dad can ask the Home Mini to stream stuff from services like Netflix and YouTube on the TV. He won't even have to lean forward in his La-Z-Boy to grab a remote.

8 of 15 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

C by GE Soft White Life LED

Does Dad already use Google Home speakers? Then grab him some C by GE Bluetooth bulbs -- they're "Made for Google" gadgets that pair easily and directly with those Home speakers, so he'll be able to control them from anywhere without any extra hub hardware plugged into his router.

Best of all, they're on sale right now at Best Buy. You can even grab a four-pack for $30, which is a terrific deal.

9 of 15 Ry Crist/CNET

Smart switches, too

GE's got a new lineup of smart switches that work great with Google, too. Best Buy has a Wi-Fi smart dimmer switch that needs no hub and works with both Google and Alexa on sale for $38, which is another excellent price.

10 of 15 PicoBrew

PicoBrew Pico Model C

Maybe your dad is more of a beer guy -- and maybe he values the craftiness that goes into making things yourself. If that's the case, then he might love the PicoBrew Pico Model C, an automated beer-making system that we called "almost perfect." It's currently $329, so it's a bit of a splurge, but I mean, he'll probably share some of those suds, so...

11 of 15 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Instant Pot

Maybe Dad's more of a foodie than a beer guy -- no worries -- just trust us and grab him an Instant Pot. We've tested enough of these smart, versatile pressure cooking contraptions to know that they belong in just about every kitchen, Dad's included. You can find this Wi-Fi-compatible model for $150 on Amazon, and you've got other models that cost a little less, too.

12 of 15 Chris Monroe/CNET

'Tis the season for smart burgers

Summer is upon us, so if you really want to go big for Dad, then consider this Weber Spirit grill, which we recently dubbed "best for burgers" after hours of grueling tests. It even includes built-in Bluetooth temperature probes so he can keep tabs via his phone on the temperature of whatever he's grilling.

Lowe's has it for $50 off this summer, bringing the asking price down to $350.

13 of 15 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Yeti Tundra 45

While we're talking about outdoor food and drink, maybe the time is right to give your dad the gift of a kickass cooler. (Not a smart home gadget, I know, but hey, we tested them at the CNET Smart Home!) 

The best of the bunch we've tested: the $300 Yeti Tundra 45, which clobbered the eighteen other coolers we tested it against in our ice retention tests.

14 of 15 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Lifetime High Performance Cooler

If you like the idea of getting Dad a cooler, but $300 is way too much, relax. We also like this Lifetime High Performance Cooler, which you can currently nab on sale for less than $100 at Walmart.

15 of 15 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Dad's new best friend

Finally, it's a long shot, I know, but this side-by-side refrigerator, the LG LSXC22436S, is one of the strongest performers I've ever tested. On top of that, it also includes clever smarts that'll ping Dad's phone if someone ever leaves the door open for too long. 

My dad would have killed for a feature like that when I was a kid -- if yours needs a new fridge anyway, you can surprise him with one from Home Depot for about $1,700.

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