If you want to build a smart home, you’ll need to add some smart devices. There are smart controls and devices to do everything from keeping you safe to washing your socks – but which ones do you really need, and which systems work the best?

You can use the Smart Devices menu to skip straight to the devices you’re thinking of, but this page gives you a quick background on what’s available.

First up, let’s quickly recap on what smart devices are. Typically, they’re gadgets, controllers, sensors or appliances that have been enhanced with more intelligence. This is usually provided via an internet link to a service that does their ‘thinking’ for them.

As an example, a standard washing machine is self-contained, and just gets on with washing clothes when you tell it to. A smart washing machine can work exactly like that, but it offers more clever features. It might let you start it while you’re out, for example, or maybe it can send you a message when you’re running low on fabric conditioner.

Smart devices often belong to a smart system or ‘ecosystem’, a collection of devices that are all designed to work together under the control of one app. Often a smart system is limited to a single manufacturer’s products. For example, you can only use Philips Hue bulbs with the Philips Hue internet bridge and app.

On the other hand, some systems support multiple manufacturers, meaning that you don’t need to commit to a single brand or supplier. The most notable example is Home Connect. This links smart home appliances from manufacturers like Bosch, Neff and Siemens, all under a single app and ecosystem.

What smart devices can I buy?

You can already buy such a wide range of smart devices that we can’t list them all here! The most common types include:

  • Smart heating
  • Smart lighting
  • Smart cameras
  • Smart doorbells
  • Smart plugs
  • Smart appliances
  • Smart assistants

Your energy supplier might also have installed a smart meter in your home. While these are a great way to keep an eye on the energy you’re using – and what you’re paying for it – they don’t give you any control. You also can’t choose the one you get, so we don’t include them in our smart home reviews.