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Smart home tech has gone from niche innovation to industry standard in the space of just a few years, and many new appliances and devices now come with some level of built-in connectivity as standard. However, making full use of any smart home ecosystem's potential is harder to do — after all, it's easy for even the most dedicated enthusiasts to overlook a recently launched device or accessory.
There are plenty of smaller, more affordable smart home devices out there that promise to be just as useful as big-ticket items, whether that's through connecting existing devices to a smart network or adding extra functionality of their own. We've rounded up some underrated accessories that are designed to blend into existing ecosystems, all of which offer useful features or solve a common problem with current smart home tech. Whether you're an enthusiast knee-deep in IoT gadgets or a newcomer looking to make the most out of your smart speaker, these eight top picks are all well worth trying out.
Wyze smart plug
Even the most dedicated smart home enthusiast will likely have a few appliances that don't come with connectivity features built in, but the Wyze smart plug is an affordable way to connect those appliances to a smart home setup. The plug fits into a wall outlet and then the appliance can be connected to the plug, allowing it to be turned on and off through a wi-fi connection. We reviewed the Wyze plug back in 2019 and found it to work exactly as intended, with each plug controllable through the Wyze app as well as through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Each plug can be named on the app and grouped together so, for example, every lamp on the floor of a house can be turned on with a single tap. A timer and a vacation mode are also available, the latter of which turns lighting on and off in a randomized pattern to make it look like there's always someone home. A twin pack of the plugs is available on Amazon for less than $20.
Netatmo smart indoor siren
While security tech is one of the most popular smart home segments, a smart indoor siren is one of the more overlooked accessories — in fact, some people may never have heard of it. Smart sirens, like the one available as part of Netatmo's alarm system, adds an extra level of deterrence against would-be burglars by blaring a 110-decibel alarm whenever it detects an unknown person gaining entry to a home. It uses the facial recognition system available with Netatmo's indoor security camera to work out who's supposed to be there and who isn't, and will send an alert to the homeowner's phone as soon as an unknown person is detected.
As well as alerting users to break-ins, the siren can also play everyday noises to give the impression of someone being home. These include the sound of dogs barking or children crying, and aim to help prevent opportunistic thieves from attempting to gain entry in the first place. The siren can be picked up on Amazon for $74.99.
IKEA Symfonisk picture frame smart speaker
A smart speaker unlike any other, the IKEA Symfonisk Picture Frame is one of the oddest products to emerge from the Swedish furniture brand's collaboration with Sonos. It is, at first glance, just a framed picture, albeit one with a limited choice of art thanks to IKEA's small selection of stock choices and the lack of available third-party options. However, it hides a speaker that, while not quite on par with the best dedicated smart speakers in its price bracket, produces better sound quality than many people would assume.
Our reviewer found a single unit more than good enough for listening in an average sized room, although they did note that audiophiles looking to pair the speaker with others will be disappointed, as it can only be paired with other Symfonisk Picture Frames. Even so, the speaker was as easy to use as Sonos' other products, being controlled through the brand's app. It's certainly a unique piece of smart home tech, and its sound quality raises it above being simply a novelty item. It's not cheap, however, with a retail price of $259.99 on Ikea's website.
Flic 2 smart button
Smart home devices, ultimately, should always be about convenience — there's little point to a connected device that's so complicated to use that it's easier to just get up and press a button instead. Smart buttons like the one launched by Flic aim to make executing complex smart home routines quite literally as simple as pressing a button, as they can be attached throughout a home and moved whenever necessary thanks to the adhesive back. That makes them a must-have device for anyone looking for the ultimate smart home, although it's worth noting that Flic's button isn't the only option — several rival brands also make similar products with equivalent functionality.
The routine that the button triggers can be set up and controlled through the Flic app, and then reconfigured at any time. In order to function, the button requires a Flic smart hub, which adds to the initial setup cost. Further buttons, however, can be added for less than $30 apiece, and boast three years of battery life.
eufy S330 video smart lock
Combining the surveillance capabilities of a video doorbell with the usefulness of a smart lock, the eufy S330 is a solid addition to any home security system. Our reviewer found the S330 mostly hassle-free to install and use, with decent video quality and an intuitive app. Features like the loitering detection were also much appreciated, as was the ability to create temporary passcodes so guests could access the house for a limited time.
The eufy also doesn't require a subscription for cloud storage, unlike some of the most popular doorbells, instead relying on internal video storage. Our biggest gripe was that the automatic deadbolt calibration, which is required for the lock to confirm when it's open or shut, was needlessly fussy, and there was no way to override the error messages it subsequently threw up. Nonetheless, there are many reasons to add a smart lock to your home, and by also featuring a video feed, the S330 offers an all-in-one solution for users who might not want the hassle of setting up a separate smart lock and doorbell.
IKEA Vindstyrka smart air quality sensor
A number of high-profile wildfires in recent years has drawn renewed attention to the importance of outdoor air quality, but ensuring the air inside a home is just as clean is equally important. Household air pollution can take many forms, from dust to particulates generated by wood burners, and one affordable way to keep track of those pollution levels is to use IKEA's Vindstyrka smart air quality sensor.
Not only does it track the level of pollution in the air, but it also offers information on room temperature and humidity. When paired with a good home air purifier, it's a great way to keep track of pollution levels in different parts of the house and move the purifier to the rooms where it's most needed. If you don't already have an air purifier, the Vindstyrka is an affordable way to monitor air quality levels and see if buying a purifier is worth the investment. It can be picked up on Ikea's website for $49.99.
Lutron Aurora smart bulb dimmer
Smart lightbulbs are one of the most common aspects of smart home tech, but they're not without their flaws. The Lutron Aurora fixes one of the most common flaws: turning a physical switch off in the house, inadvertently or otherwise, stops the smart bulb from functioning. The Aurora covers the switch without the need to swap out the wall fitting, making it suitable for renters or anyone who doesn't want to make permanent alterations to their home.
It also functions as a dimmer, meaning members of a household who prefer physical controls still get access to its added functionality. It's designed to work primarily with Philips Hue lightbulbs, but is also compatible with other bulbs that use the Zigbee standard. The dimmer's lack of wiring means it relies on a coin battery for power, but Lutron claims a battery life of up to three years depending upon usage. The Aurora can be found on Amazon for $39.95.
Wyze smart sprinkler controller
The Wyze smart sprinkler controller promises to not only provide optimum watering levels to lawns and plants, but also save users money over time. The panel can accommodate up to eight different garden zones, which can then be named in the Wyze app for easy reference. Each zone can then be set up with a different schedule, so parts of the garden that might need more water can be kept healthy without the need to over-water other zones.
The subscription-only Sprinkler Plus feature also uses weather forecast data to take into account things like expected rainfall, temperature, and wind levels, and will automatically adjust the sprinklers' schedules in line with the forecast. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the Wyze system, though, is that it's significantly cheaper than most of its rivals, without compromising on features. With its simple control panel and affordable upfront price, even those not already sold on the benefits of a smart home might be swayed by its capabilities. Not to mention, it should help save money on water bills in the long run, and it's affordable to buy too, costing less than $50 on Amazon.