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Welcome to Hacks@Home: CNET's guide to the easiest smart home upgrades

Level up your house with these simple, impactful smart home projects.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The sheer number of smart home products out there today makes it difficult to know how to get started. We're here to narrow it down. This is Hacks@Home, our handy guide to the smart home. Think of it as "smart home 101" -- a list of the best product categories (and specific products) to consider if you're interested in connected devices but don't know where to start.

We're also posting related videos below, showing you how to set up our favorite devices from each category, as well as providing info about their key features and how those features can add convenience to your daily life. 

We're starting out with two simple and affordable product categories: smart plugs and smart light bulbs. But we'll be updating this article regularly with new categories -- and new videos -- all to help you delve into the smart home armed with the knowledge you need to make the best possible buying decision. Welcome to Hacks@Home.

Smart plugs 

The $30 TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini is our favorite smart plug. It's affordable, simple to configure and even easier to use. Connect a lamp, desk fan, coffee maker or other small gadget to the plug. Then you can control it remotely from the Kasa app, or with an Alexa or Google Assistant voice command. The Kasa plug also has scheduling capabilities, sunrise/sunset settings and even scenes that group together multiple Kasa-connected devices.

Read more: Best smart plugs of 2020

Smart light bulbs

Turning your lights on and off with a voice command never gets old. Smart light bulbs are an easy way to take advantage of the magic of the smart home and Wyze Bulbs get all of the basics right for an affordable $8 per bulb. Put the bulb in a hard-to-reach lamp and it'll connect directly to your Wi-Fi network so you can control it remotely with an app. They also work with both Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, so if you have a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo Dot ($55 at Walmart), you can turn on your bulb with a voice command.

Read more: Best smart lights of 2020

Remember, this is just the beginning of Hacks@Home. Check back for updates, new product categories -- and new videos.