Just bought your first Google Home speaker? Planning to pick one up in the near future? Or perhaps you’re an early adopter who’s looking to bolster your existing smart home setup?
Even if you have a Tony Stark-esque interest in new tech, the variety of Google Home-compatible devices can seem a little overwhelming. But pick well and you can look forward to having a legion of gadgets ready to cater to your every whim (plus you’ll look really cool being able to dim the lights or activate your speaker systems with nothing more than the power of your voice).
With that in mind, we’ve put together a selection of our favourite smart home devices that work with your Google Home speaker. And to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, we’ve broken down our choices into the most popular smart home product categories:
- Smart thermostats
- Smart doorbells
- Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Smart security cameras
- Smart lighting systems
- Smart speakers
Smart thermostats are nothing new, with the first mass-market product launching a decade ago, but since then they’ve become a lot, well, smarter.
If you’re just making your first foray into the world of smart home design, thermostats are a great place to start. Not only do they make your life more convenient, but they can also even save you a significant chunk of money on your heating (and, if you have an air conditioner, your cooling) bills.
While some smart thermostats come with basic cooling and heating programmes and scheduling options, more advanced models are capable of a lot more.
One of the best, the Google Nest Thermostat E Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, literally learns from your preferences and adjusts the temperature throughout the day to match. Set your ideal temperature when you first install it, then whenever you make manual adjustments, the thermostat will remember your actions. Make the same change every day and it’ll start doing it for you.
Slightly pricier is the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, which works with 95% of 24-Volt heating and cooling systems. As well as boasting all the functionality of the Thermostat E, it uses OpenTherm Technology to modulate your boiler, driving your energy costs down even further.
There were 424,846 burglaries in the UK in 2018 – at an average of almost 1,200 a day – according to the Office for National Statistics. With that in mind, it’s hardly surprising that security systems are one of the most popular uses of smart home technology.
Smart doorbells are a fantastic safeguard against break-ins and unwanted solicitors. Fitted with a camera that streams live footage to your smartphone, they let you know who’s at your door before you open it – even if you’re not in the house at the time.
With the Google Nest Hello Doorbell, you’ll get HD-quality video with bright, crisp images at any time of day or night. It features motion, sound and person sensors to detect the presence of visitors – wanted or unwanted – and boasts a 160-degree directional field of vision.
But that’s not all. With two-way audio communication incorporating noise and echo cancellation, you can hold a conversation with whoever is at your door. That allows you to scare off intruders, tell delivery drivers where to leave that package you’ve been waiting for, or work out whether or not it’s appropriate to answer the door in your pyjamas on a lazy Sunday!
Smart security cameras (indoor and outdoor)
A smart doorbell is a great first addition to your new smart home security network, but to take it to the next level you’ll want to install some smart cameras – internal, external or both – as well.
“But what’s so smart about a video camera?” we hear you ask. The difference comes from interpreting and understanding the footage it captures, rather than just recording footage.
For instance, the Google Nest Cam IQ – available in indoor and outdoor models – has the ability to spot a person at a distance of up to 50 ft and provide you with a photographic alert. It can even recognise familiar faces. Even if you miss an alert, you can review a three-hour snapshot via the Nest app. Add 24/7 continuous video recording and other features with a separate subscription to Nest Aware.
Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Worryingly, smoke alarms aren’t present in a quarter of all home fires. Hopefully, you’ll never experience a house fire, but it can give you peace of mind to know that if the worst were to happen, your alarm system will be there to give you plenty of warning.
That’s where smart smoke detectors come in. They don’t just tell you that a fire has broken out nearby; they let you know one is happening wherever you are. Even if you’re out of the house, a smart smoke alarm will notify you with an audio alert on your smartphone or tablet. Some go one step further and provide voice instructions about what to do next, rather than just a siren. Many also double as carbon monoxide detectors, making them even more invaluable.
The Google Nest Protect features an industrial-grade smoke sensor and a carbon monoxide alarm. Its Split-Spectrum Sensor uses two waves of light to track down smoke from slow or fast-burning fires, while the humidity sensor – combined with the device’s advanced algorithm – cuts down on false alarms by looking for steam. Best of all, the Nest Protect tests itself automatically so you don’t have to, and lasts for up to ten years.
Smart lighting systems
One of the simplest ways to introduce smart tech to your house is by installing smart lighting. Relatively cheap and easy to set up, these systems allow you to perform a variety of fancy lighting-based actions, such as programming the lights to turn on the moment get home after work.
If you’re looking for a Google Home-compatible smart lighting solution, LIFX is one of our favourites. Although the bulbs themselves are a little pricier than some of the competition, they don’t require a smart lighting hub to connect them into your smart network.
You can use your Google Home speaker to control the whole lighting system, switching lights on and off with a simple command, dimming their intensity, or scheduling them to perform an action at a specific time.
According to YouGov, smart speakers are the UK’s favourite smart home product, with 11% of households owning one.
It’s easy to see why. If you’re looking to soup up your home audio system, why not buy a speaker that sounds fantastic, but also has the ability to link up with your other smart devices? Use it to alter your thermostat, activate your security cameras, change the colour of lights or give you traffic and weather updates, all while listening to the music that you love.
The Google Home Mini can be used to control your audio system, while also doubling as a small but capable speaker.
Looking for something with a little more oomph? Choose the top-of-the-range Google Home Max – a powerful speaker with dual 4.5-inch woofers for deep, balanced bass that’s compatible with all the main streaming services. It uses the power of machine learning to automatically produce the best possible sound quality for any given room, so your music always sounds crystal clear.