Give Your Loved Ones the Gift of Smart Home Automation!
The holidays have arrived, and with it, shopper’s anxiety. What do you get for the person who has it all? Or the dad who, despite your best efforts, remains the most difficult to shop for? Have no fear, Smarter Home Automation is here to provide some great gift ideas for that special person in your life. The guide features smart products for the home that make life easier, such as personal assistants, smart lighting, video doorbells, and more.
The great thing about all these products is that you can get them without breaking the bank, with most costing less than $100, or around that price point. Get your loved ones the gift of home automation this year, so they can stop living in the dark ages, manually switching on lights. With voice-activated smart lights, video monitoring from your phone, and a host of other cool applications, converting to a smart home has never been so much fun, and there are lots of benefits too, like saving money on utilities.
What's In The Guide?
This year’s holiday guide has some great smart products from big names like Sylvania, Lutron, Skybell, and more. Here’s what to expect:
- Lightify Flex RGBW Smart Strip Lights
- Sylvania Lightify Gardenspot Mini RGB
- LIFX Smart Light Collection
- Lutron Caseta Starter Kit
- Wink Hub 2
- Smart Video Doorbells – Skybell, Ring, and August
- Our Feature Piece: Alexa, Siri, and Hey Google – The Three New Magi of The Holidays
- Schlage Sense and Schlage Connect
- Top 5 Picks for Smart Products
Lightify Flex RGBW Smart Strip Lights
The Lightify Flex RGBW by Sylvania are quite a cool addition to the home. Art did the review for this product, and he has a pretty sweet setup with these smart strip lights. He used them for down lighting on his kitchen cabinets and as accents for the interior of the cupboards and the on top, and it looks great. These can run up to 20 feet long, and can be cut to fit your space perfectly. Got a big area to light? No problem – you can control up to 50 devices from a single gateway and the app.
With the full color spectrum to play with, you can use the app to pick the perfect color to complement your walls and décor. If you’re not feeling so colorful, no worries – there’s tunable white, which allows you to change the color temperature of white lighting for a cool vibe or a warm glow. Lightify has an exceedingly capable app that also allows you to schedule your lights to turn on and off, choose Scenes and Effects, as well as create your own color pallets. The app is available for both iOS and Android.
The Lightify Flex RGBW can also be controlled by other devices and hubs. These include Wink and Wink 2, SmartThings, Almond 3, Belkin WeMo, Iris, Logitech, and more. It works with the Nest ecosystem as well, and takes advantage of HomeAway. If you’ve got Alexa, you can use her to control your lights, as seen in this demo video below, which shows the app and voice control with an Amazon Echo Dot.
Currently, you can get the Sylvania Flex RGB Strip Lights (formerly called Lightify) for $79.99, list (including 3 two foot strips and $29.99 for the matching hub that plugs into an outlet and connects to your WiFi). The lights are rated for 20,000 hours, which means they will last quite a while. Check out the full review of these smart strip lights, or watch the video demo of the lights in action. Everyone seems to discount these great lights.
Sylvania Lightify Gardenspot Mini RGB - Smart Outdoor Lights
The Lightify Gardenspot Mini RGB lights are colored LED lights for landscaping. Since they’re outdoor lights, they’re waterproof and come with stakes to secure them in the ground. A kit comes with nine lights, and they cast a pleasant, bright glow of color. Each light can pivot individually so that it points in a different direction than the next. For example, you can have one light pointed at your walkway, and the next at your wall, then alternate to create a brilliant lighting design. With a 270-degree pivot, you can really get creative.
The string of lights itself is 14 feet, allowing for longer installations as well as short ones. The Lightify Gardenspot RGB is controlled by WiFi. This means you will want to make sure your WiFi signal reaches the lights, and if not, buy a WiFi extender. Those are inexpensive and can be found online or in stores like Best Buy. The Gardenspot uses the same app as the Lightify Flex RGBW, which you just got a demo of in the previous section.
Art has these installed outside his entryway, and says they’re a big hit at parties and make great outdoor lighting in general. When the guests leave at night, they see those lights illuminating the way, and come back to talk about them. Consider these as the topper to your next holiday or Super Bowl party, to leave an impression on friends and family that will last until next season.
The Lightify Gardenspot Mini RGB outdoor lights are going for $72.50 on Amazon, which is the lowest price. You’ll also need the Lightify Hub for these to work ($29). Check out the review of these landscaping smart lights for the full scoop.
The LIFX Collection - Smart Indoor Flood Lights, Bulbs, and Strip Lights
LIFX has an extensive line of smart bulbs ranging from colored bulbs and strip lights to white ones. They seem to be getting more into the RGBW realm, meaning they’re sticking to colored smart lights that have the ability to illuminate white light as well. That’s good for when you just need to see. Jokes aside, these are great gifts for any millennial, young adult, or even Dad.
LIFX smart bulbs boast a 22-year lifespan. That’s quite a long while considering you could have raised your light bulb and seen it graduate college with a BA in Illuminative Studies in that time period. These smart lights can be controlled via a capable app for iOS, Android and Windows 10. The bulbs and their corresponding app have all the bells and whistles – scheduling, themes, effects, and the full color spectrum to choose from.
But will these LIFX smart lights and LED strips work with your current home automation system? They work with Nest – Protect and Thermostat – Amazon Echo and Dot, Samsung SmartThings, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant. These companies are always adding and refining, so you can expect some improvements throughout the life of your bulb. Their newest, most notable addition to this list is Apple HomeKit, which requires more security measures to be met in order for the bulbs to comply with Apple’s parameters.
If you’re into strip lighting, they’ve got the LIFX Z Starter Kit for $89.99. There are two versions of this kit, one of which does not support Apple HomeKit. If you’ve got yourself a LIFX Z that doesn’t have support for Siri, then they do have an add-on controller you can purchase to “upgrade” your current strip lights. All current lighting products on their website work with HomeKit, except for the original LIFX Z Starter Kit. Just click on the product you’re considering, scroll down on the page, and it’ll tell you which assistants the lights are compatible with. An easy way to tell? All the smart light bulbs in their new, cylindrical packaging is HomeKit compatible.
We have reviewed their Color BR30 flood, and tested the A19 White bulb (currently being written up), so check out our review of the LIFX Color 1000 BR30 Flood Light. You can get LIFX Color 1000 BR30 Flood and LIFX White 800 BR30 Flood online for around $60, as well as their A19 counterparts – the LIFX Color 1000 A19 is $60 on the LIFX website (found it for just of $50) and the LIFX White 800 A19 is just below the $50 mark. Alternatively, you can get their LIFX Mini White for $24.99, and the LIFX Mini (color) for $35.99, making them some of the most affordable smart light bulb options out there. Those little smart lights make for great stocking stuffers!
Now, on to Part 2 of our Holiday Guide, where we’ve got some smart products from Lutron, Wink, and three video doorbells! These gadgets are perfect as one of “the big gifts.”