The Best Smart Home Devices for Your New Abode — Part 2

This is part two of our series on the smart home devices you need to get your hands on this year! Make sure to check out part one here.

Lifx Color 1000 ($59.99)

Lifx bulbs are energy-efficient, color-changing light bulbs. An easy-to-use app allows you to select the exact color you like, as well as select between themes, such as “tranquil”, “cheerful” and “exciting”. You can schedule bulbs to turn off/on at set times, and select how long you want the bulbs to take to do so. You can have your bulbs slowly turn on over the course of 15 minutes, simulating a sunrise to ease you out of bed in the morning. You can even sync the bulbs to pulse in beat with music! Lifx bulbs also sync with the Amazon Echo, allowing you to execute commands like “Hey Alexa, dim the Lifx bulb by 20% and switch the color to blue.”

Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit ($39.99)

Think of this as a starter kit for smart home light bulbs. There’s no app or integration with third party devices like the Echo — this is simply a light bulb you can dim remotely with a small remote. Just screw in the bulb, pull the plastic from the remote to activate the battery, and you’ll be dimming in seconds! The dimmer remote can control up to 10 of these bulbs at once, and can dim them all the way down to less than 1% of the bulb’s full brightness.

August Smart Lock ($199)

Retrofit this device to your existing deadbolt (compatible with most Baldwin, Kwikset, Schlage models) and you will have added a smart lock to you home! This device connects to your phone via Bluetooth, letting you lock/unlock your door remotely, when in Bluetooth range. Auto-lock and -unlock features are also available. Just leave the house and the August smart lock will lock up behind you! You can also send your friends/family virtual “keys”, letting them connect to the lock via Bluetooth when in range, so they can enter your home without you needing to come home and give them a key.

SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell ($199)

This is truly the doorbell of the future! This doorbell features 1080p HD video, available to view livestream. You can set it up to record when its motion sensor is triggered (i.e. when someone walks up to the door) or when the doorbell is rung. It can also send you push notifications in both of these cases. Video recordings and snapshots can be saved and downloaded to your phone easy-peasy. The SkyBell integrates with Amazon’s Echo, IFTTT and Nest Cam.

iSmartAlarm ($149.99)

iSmartAlarm finally brings us a smart, affordable DIY home security system that competes with the big-name brands. A basic package includes a motion detector, two contact sensors (for detecting opened doors/windows), two remote tags for your keychain (allowing you to remotely arm/disarm the system) and the CubeOne, the system’s brain. You can add as many sensors, sirens, cameras and remotes as you like.

All of these devices are controlled via the iSmartAlarm app, available on iOS and soon on Android. In the app, you can arm/disarm the system, activate the panic siren, and go into “home mode” which disables the motion sensors but leaves the contact sensors on. When a sensor is triggered, the panic alarm will go off and you’ll receive a text alert telling you what’s happening.

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The Best Smart Home Devices for Your New Abode — Part 1

The future is upon us — finally, we’re starting to see the gadgets of our favorite sci-fi movies come to life! Moving is a perfect time to upgrade your home-living experience to the next level. Here are four smart home devices that will help you do just that:

Amazon Echo ($179.99)

The Echo serves as the all-around centerpiece of smart home devices. It can basically control your whole house! The Echo is a high-quality speaker, housed in a water-bottle sized black cylinder. It works like this: you say its “wake” word (“Alexa”, “Amazon”, or “Echo”), and then tell it what to do. It can do quite a lot, and the list is growing. It can play music for you, or podcasts or audiobooks, read you the news, give you weather/traffic reports, give you facts, do calculations, set timers, hail a ride from Uber, stream music from Spotify or order pizza from Domino’s.

Depending on what “skills” Alexa has (basically apps synced with the device), “she” can also walk you through cocktail recipes, tune your guitar, or help you with Minecraft. Echo also syncs and integrates with other smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, garage-door openers, security systems, etc.

Amazon Echo Dot ($90)

The Echo Dot is half the price of the full-sized Echo, and much smaller: about the size of a hockey puck. It does everything the Echo does, with smaller speakers. You can sync it with your own sound system however, making this possibly the best smart home device deal on the market right now.

Belkin WeMo Switch ($49) + Motion (+ $30)

This device is small and simple. Plug it into any electrical socket, then whatever you plug into it you’ll be able to control from your smartphone, with the free WeMo app. Using the app, you can turn devices off and on remotely, schedule them to turn off/on at certain times, or program them to turn off/on when the motion sensor is triggered.

The WeMo switch also features full IFTTT integration. IFTTT (If This, Then That) is free online tool that allows you to link apps, Web services and smart devices together. The sky’s the limit here. Using IFTTT integration, you could set it up so that you get a text alert every time someone walks by the motion sensor, or when the kids turn on the Xbox.

Nest Learning Thermostat ($249)

At its most basic, the Nest is a smart thermostat that syncs to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to control the temperature remotely. You can set maximum and minimum temperature ranges while you’re out of the house and program temperature changes at specific times of the day. Nest helps you save energy and money by monitoring your daily energy usage, air humidity, and informing you (with a small green leaf in its beautifully designed display) when you’re in a temperature range that will save you money. The Nest will also learn your habits over time, eventually making temperature changes for you.

For more of the best smart home devices, make sure to check out part 2 of this series!

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How to Move Awkward Things: Electronics and Expensive Clothes

Here’s another post in our “How to Move Awkward Things” series!


  1. Back up your computers! Beyond being an expensive hassle, a damaged computer can also mean lost documents, photos, music and movies. Invest in an external hard-drive or some online cloud storage (or both).

  2. Remove batteries, CDs, DVDs, ink cartridges, etc.

  3. Before disconnecting wires, use color-coded stickers to mark which wires go where, or take photos, for easy reinstallation in your new home.

  4. Pack multi-part stereo systems and the like together, and keep wires, remotes, etc. with the things they go to.

  5. The best way to pack electronics is to use the original boxes and padded foam inserts. Make sure to wrap the electronics in plastic bags first, or wrap in clean linens or packing paper, to keep out dust. If you have the manuals, check them for any specific instructions they have regarding moving the device.

  6. You can sometimes buy replacement packaging from the manufacturer, including the foam inserts.

  7. You can also find most manuals online these days.

  8. If you don’t have the original boxes, follow the same dust-avoidance step as above, and then wrap each piece in bubble wrap, blankets or moving pads for extra protection. Don’t be afraid to go overboard here — the more protection the better!

  9. Consider packing each piece of electronics in two boxes for extra protection. Pack the device in one box, using peanuts or padding to ensure a snug and secure fit, then put that box into a bigger box, with more padding or peanuts.

  10. Pack speakers and screens standing right-side up.

  11. Large flat-screen TVs may require special wooden crating. Be careful and don’t injure yourself while moving!

  12. Write FRAGILE, and THIS WAY UP on at least two opposite sides of each box.

  13. Electronics are extremely heat-sensitive, and should be kept in climate-controlled areas when moving. As the back of a moving truck is not climate-controlled, this means keeping electronics with you in your car whenever possible.

  14. Finally, consider purchasing extra insurance coverage for all your electronics. As explained in our guide to moving insurance, most moving companies’ basic insurance coverage will not fully cover the cost of valuable items like electronics.

Expensive Clothes

  • First time movers may not know that there is such a thing as a wardrobe box! These helpful boxes come with a built in metal rod for you to hang clothes from. This is your best bet when you are moving expensive, designer clothes.

  • If you haven’t already, now is the time to ditch the wire-hangers and invest in some quality, wooden or padded hangers.

  • Fill shoes with balled up socks to help them keep their shape, and wrap them in tissue paper and bubble wrap or paper to avoid scratches.

  • If you know your clothes will be in long-term storage, you might want to use mothballs or natural alternatives such as sachets of lavender, cloves or cedar chips. Also, avoid plastic containers as clothes cannot breathe in them well and could end up damaged.

For help moving other awkward things, check out our guides on Art and Aquariums and China and Couches.

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