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If you're looking to create a truly smart home, this guide is for you! To help you set up a Smart Home that actually works, we've sorted through a huge range of gear to make sure that you're not just getting something that's been over-hyped on KickStarter or Indiegogo, or only been reviewed in an office cubicle in New York City, but something that will actually make your real home smarter! We know these products not only work, but work well and work consistently. And that's a challenge in the Smart Home space, as a lot of start-ups have arrived with great new ideas, but their first-gen products don't always pass with flying colors in real-world testing.

For Spring 2019, we think the Smart Home market has finally settled down enough to pick some winners for a high-end "Power User" Smart Home setup. We go with the latest incarnation of the Samsung SmartThings Hub for universal communications, along with the Amazon Echo Show and Dot for voice control. With this as your starting point, there's almost nothing you can't achieve in a Smart Home. For security cameras, Ring is a clear winner, for lighting, you want Lutron switches and Sylvania bulbs, and for locks, there's only one worth buying: the Schlage Connect. It's that simple. Everything else is a waste of money.

Note that unlike with wireless routers, there are actually multiple communications standards used by Smart Home devices: Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth LE, Lutron Clear Connect, and WiFi for higher-powered devices. And any Power User simply must have a universal hub, and today that means Samsung SmartThings. While we've recommended the Wink Hub in the past, we believe Wink is on the verge of shutting down, and can no longer recommend it. By the way, in addition to a reliable Hub, you actually will want a robust wireless home network to ensure that your Smart Home doesn't get "disconnected", so if your router is more than a few years old, you should probably check out our Wireless Networking Buyer's Guide for potential upgrade options!

Prices shown in this guide use real-time pricing engines, so they are always up-to-date. If you decide to purchase one of the cards we profile, please use the links we provide, which helps support continued development of this guide.

The Power User's Smart Home System - Spring 2019

    Smart Hub:

    Samsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation

    A power user's Smart Home setup all starts with an unassuming little white box. And if you'd like to step into next-generation Smart Home control, go with the new 3rd-generation SmartThings Hub from Samsung. Smaller, sleeker, and more powerful than previous versions, it has built-iin Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth LE, and of course WiFi radios, and it can interface with virtually any Smart Home product on the market, allowing for limitless possibilities. Trigger lights and switches with cameras or motion sensors, unlock doors from the other side of the world, lower shades when you turn on the lights... the list goes on!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The fact that this product is backed by Samsung should not be taken lightly - its archrival Wink, which makes a similar hub, is on the verge of going out of business, which does not bode well for the many users who depend on its cloud services for their Smart Home setups.

    The Bargain Voice Controller:

    Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

    Frankly, every home should have an Echo of some sort, and with the Echo Dot, it's really affordable. It's the perfect low-cost voice controller for a Smart Home system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While we recommend using an Echo Show below as the main controller in a voice-based Smart Home system, deploying the Echo Dot in rooms throughout a home allows you to extend voice control everywhere.

    The Ultimate Voice Assistant:

    Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen) Charcoal

    Like the Echo Dot, the Echo Show can function as a voice controller for your Smart Home system, but it does so much more. With its large touchscreen, it can really start to feel like a personal assistant. Call up video news reports, movies, and TV shows using just your voice, see song lyrics as you sing along to Amazon Music's 2 million free songs, view security cam live feeds, and of course control all your smart devices! One of the coolest features of the Show is the ability to make video calls just using your voice, either to another Show device, or to any Android or Apple smartphone.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The Echo Show can easily pull up a video feed from many Smart Home cameras, including the one we recommend in this guide!

    Smart Thermostat:

    ecobee SmartThermostat

    There are a lot of contenders for "best" smart thermostat, but we think the ecobee4 takes the prize for being a truly smart thermostat, going beyond just giving you a digital display and remote monitoring and control. In addition to being the only thermostat with Alexa built in, it uses innovative stand-alone sensors to monitor temperature all around your home, not just in the room where you mount it on the wall! It also has truly "smart" motion detection to save energy when you're not home, and to turn back on when you return.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The ecobee4 comes with one remote sensor in the box, but you can buy extra sensor 2-packs for around $80.

    Smart Lock:

    Schlage Connect Smart Zigbee Deadbolt

    While plenty of companies are peddling smart locks nowadays, there's one company out there that's been in the business of making really good locks for a long, long time. And no matter how good the connected features of a lock are, if it doesn't properly secure your door, you're out of luck. That's why we believe the Schlage Connect lock is the only one to go with. This new model uses Zigbee communications, allowing it to pair with either the SmartThings Hub or the Amazon Echo Plus. It also has a nifty touchpad to allow for locking and unlocking without a key. You'll never need to fumble for a key (or a smartphone) to get into your home again!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've tested most of the biggest names in smart locks, including Kwikset and August, but Schlage is without a doubt head and shoulders above them all!

    Outdoor Security Camera:

    Ring Video Doorbell Pro

    There are lots of options for home security out there, and just about all of them are half-baked. There's just one system that we think is truly worth considering for a serious Smart Home system: Ring's wide array of WiFi-connected cameras. And the first one to add to any home is the Video Doorbell Pro. Thanks to its use of an doorbell's existing power source, it requires no external wiring, nor a battery. And it's very easy to install.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Read our full review right here!

    Hub and Switch Bundle:

    Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Starter Kit

    To integrate Lutron's Caseta system with the SmartThings Hub, you'll need to start, appropriately enough, with the Starter Kit. That's because Lutron has its own proprietary "Lutron Connect" wireless standard, and SmartThings therefore depends on Lutron's Hub for control of switches. But Lutron's switches are so superior to everything else on the market that it's worth the extra effort.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This package also includes a Pico remote, as well a bracket, which can be used to install the remote as a wireless wall switch in a "three-way" configuration.

    The Deluxe In-Wall Dimmer:

    Lutron Caseta Dimmer with Pico Remote

    Lutron's been in the lighting business longer than most smart-tech companies have been in existence, and these switches are the very best in-wall models on the market. Once you get the Starter Kit above, we're pretty sure you'll want a whole lot more Caseta dimmers in your homes. By the way, if you're looking for excellent dimmable "dumb" bulbs for use with Lutron's dimming switches, we suggest Philip's latest BR30 models.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To use the included remote in a three-way application, pick up an extra Pico wall plate adapter.

    The Tunable Zigbee A19 Smart Bulb:

    Sylvania Smart+ A19 Bulb

    There are lots of connected bulb manufacturers out there, and even more peddling the "latest and greatest" LED bulbs. Among all the players, we think Sylvania is doing the best job making quality smart bulbs at a great price. They use of the Zigbee wireless standard, are effortless to connect, and provides a full range of color temperatures.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've also tested Cree's A19 bulbs, but we like the look and performance of Sylvania's more.

    The Tunable Zigbee BR30 Smart Bulb:

    Sylvania Smart+ BR30

    If you need a smart BR30 bulb for use in track or recessed lighting, this is the best pick around. We set it up on the first try, and it took all of 30 seconds. That is most definitely not par for the course in this market. Better yet, it responds instantly to commands. And like the A19 model above, this one allows you to select a full range of color temperatures.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Again, this is a Zigbee-equipped bulb, allowing it to communicate with either the SmartThings hub with ease.

    The Appliance Switch:

    Leviton Decora Plug-in Appliance Module

    This switch allows you to remotely control small appliances. It's perfect for turning on and off a humidifier, air purifier, bug zapper, or coffee machine remotely or on a schedule! It uses the Z-Wave Plus standard for communication.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This will also let you control floor-standing and desk lamps that are equipped with non-standard bulbs. Just note that if a lamp can take a standard A19 (60W-equivalent) bulb, we recommend you use a Smart Bulb instead, as it's cheaper and just as functional.