The 4 Smart Home Accessories You NEED (and 2 You Can Probably Live Without)

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In case you haven’t noticed, our homes are literally becoming smarter than we are. So how do we make the most of the many space age house accessories out there? Check these out.

#1 NEED: Amazon Echo

If you don’t already have an Echo/Alexa, or the Google equivalent, I’m thinking you must have spent the last few years under a rock? Maybe in a cave?

Unless you are Gollum from Lord of the Rings, I don’t think there’s any excuse at this point for not having one of these brilliant gadgets in your life. With a simple phrase, you can play music, set an alarm or timer, find out the weather forecast, and give many other fun little orders. It will make you realize how much time it took (comparatively speaking, at least) to go onto your phone to do all those things manually.

Yes, we are unbelievably spoiled.

And yes, you should always be polite to your robot, because one day it WILL have the power to destroy you.

#2 NEED: Smart Doorbell

I would say about one-third of my neighborhood has a Ring doorbell by their front door, and I finally jumped on the bandwagon myself fairly recently. To be honest, I’m not always notified as quickly as I’d hope to be when someone comes up to my door, but I DO like having a record of any visitors.

Particularly if you are considering selling your home, I would definitely recommend one of these so that you can be notified when buyers arrive for showings, open houses, etc., and when they leave.

Footage from a front-door camera aided local police in arresting a man who attacked a realtor in Encino just last week,  so they can definitely come in handy security-wise!

#3 NEED: Simplisafe Security System

If you’re looking into affordable and easy-to-set-up security systems, Simplisafe is one to check out. I use it personally, and it couldn’t have been easier to install. They have several different packages for purchase depending on the size of your home and the amount of sensors, cameras, etc. you might want, OR you can build your own custom package.

Oh, and — OF COURSE — they have an app. It is very user-friendly, but there is an additional charge in order for you to be allowed to arm/disarm your system remotely (from the app). That said, it’s still pretty cool!

#4 NEED: Smart Light Bulbs

Just as important as Alexa are the devices you can use Alexa to control.

Smart bulbs are honestly my favorite gadget on the planet right now. I can schedule various lights to go on and off on a schedule (or at will), at whatever color/brightness I want.

I wake up before sunrise to go to the gym, and a number of people have asked me how I manage to get out of bed when it is still pitch black outside. My answer: smart bulbs.

My bedside light is programmed to go on (nice and dim, so it doesn’t blind me) at 4:30am. This seems to simulate actual sunlight juuuuust enough to help my system wake up despite the dark sky outside.

I also have my front porch light programmed to go on when it gets dark, so I don’t have to turn on my phone flashlight to find the right key when I come home after dark.

All in all, these things are awesome.

#1 MIGHT NOT NEED: Robot Vacuum

Let me be clear — I love my robo vacuum (which is a knock-off Roomba that happened to be on sale last Cyber Monday). I have laminate wood flooring and a tiny doggy that tracks in bits of plants and dirt (and once even a live snail) every time he goes outside, and the robot vacuum DOES help to keep my floors tidy between mopping sessions.

However, I am also a big fan of fluffy, fuzzy, shaggy area rugs, and they are my vacuum’s natural enemy. The poor bot gets stuck on the rugs, and even ends up getting his (yes, it’s a him, and his name is Carson the Butler of Downton Abbey) little sweepy mechanisms tied up in the shag. Which means I have to constantly supervise him, and that’s almost as much of a pain as just manually vacuuming myself.

So, if you only have hard surface flooring, or very short carpet, I’d say — go for it! But if you have rugs with longer fibers, it may be more trouble than its worth.

#2 MIGHT NOT NEED: Pet Camera

If you want to catch your pet in the act of doing… whatever they do when you’re gone, you may have considered investing in a pet camera, or — as humans with actual human offspring would call it — a “baby monitor.”

My aforementioned tiny pooch is also quite elderly, and I bought the camera because I liked the idea of being able to check in on him whenever I’m away from the house for more than an hour or so.

The problem was, the camera sent me notifications almost constantly when my little guy moved around in his playpen, and to be honest, it just got to be too much.

I shut off the notifications, and I do still sometimes use the camera and its associated smartphone app to look in on my elderly piglet now and then, but not nearly as often as I expected I would. The camera I bought occasionally disconnects from my wireless network and has to be reconfigured, which is a bit of a pain for how infrequently I really utilize it.

So, ultimately… not as useful as I’d hoped it would be, and I’ve heard the same from other pet-owners.

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