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8 Top Smart Home Gadgets for Plants: Never Forget the Light Again

A watering can and a cactus, which would be easier to grow with Smart Home Gadgets for Plants

The past year showed us how much we all love plants. We spend our time searching for the wish-list plants and being surprised when we unexpectedly find a beautiful plant. Now it is time to sort out the most efficient way to care for and manage your plants’ needs with smart home gadgets for plants.

Caring for your garden is even easier than you ever imagined with the help of some cool smart home gadgets for plants that link your smart home and smartphone to the routine of your plant-caring life.

How Much Care Do Plants Need?

A plant, in a black pot, sitting on a brown table.

Typically, not all plants are a challenge for which to care.

However, plants all have unique needs.

For instance, plants need light for photosynthesis. Also, indoor light needs can change throughout the year. You have to contend with weaker light in the winter, and some plants go dormant in the winter.

Many plant owners use indoor lights either part or all year, depending on indoor light conditions. Having a light set-up that takes the guesswork out of how to leave the lights on is helpful.

Furthermore, plants are sometimes fussy about water.  Plants often need weekly watering.

However, the watering cycle that is good for some plants is terrible for others. You usually have one plant that faints dramatically the second they are thirsty and another that will drown if you even bring a watering can nearby.

Plants need humidity to stay healthy and depending on where you live, that can be a challenge sometimes during the year. Plants prefer humidity around 40 to 60 percent. When the furnace or fireplace is going in the winter, the air inside can get dry.

Why Do I Need My Home Connected?

Three succulents in square pots

Technology has a way of sneaking into our lives. In some cases, it is intrusive. However, in many ways, technology helps our lives run smoother.

Connecting the smart features of your home allows us to be more efficient. For instance, shutting off forgotten lights through an app on a smartphone makes sense.

Monitoring the security of your home or even pulling down the shades remotely is a tremendous convenience.

Lastly, there is a significant peace of mind knowing you can check your doors, ensure the forgotten hair straightener is shut off, and even water your house plants.

Therefore, finding smart home gadgets for plants is a natural progression of what is already becoming second nature.

Therefore, you can use the same technology you use to manage daily routines to help you care for your plants.

1. WANFEI Plant Monitor

WANFEI Plant Monitor Soil Test Kit Flower Care Soil Tester Smart Plant...
Buy on Amazon

The WANFEI Plant Monitor is your go-to for monitoring your soil.

When you monitor your soil, you need to know more than watering needs.

The WANFEI plant monitor monitors the light conditions, temperature, humidity, and soil’s nutrient level with its sensors. Moreover, the sensors are sensitive and accurate.

Also, the device connects to an app, and the app does more than show you the display. There is a database of thousands of plants so that you can look up all your different plants’ unique needs.

Furthermore, this fantastic option of smart home gadgets for plants records the data and saves all the information about different plants.

The plant monitor is just over five inches tall, including the part that goes into the plant’s soil. Also, it is just barely less than an inch wide. The part that sticks up from the soil is white, and it is relatively low profile and attractive.

When you order the device, it will come with a small, round lithium battery. Once you get it ready, push the plant monitor into the soil and get the app ready. The monitor with flash a couple of times to let you know it is connected to your app, and it will begin transferring information.

2. Relassy Self Watering Plant Pot

Self Watering Plant Pot, Relassy 7” Planter for Indoor Plants,,...
Buy on Amazon

Forgetting to water your plants is a common issue, as is overwatering. However, the Relassy self-watering plant pot takes the guesswork out of this task.

This innovation is one of many unique smart home gadgets for plants because it is clever enough to give your plant the right moisture amount.

The planter has a sensor, and it absorbs moisture from the air. This moisture is then stored at the bottom of the pot until needed by your plant.

All you have to do with this pot is plug it in. You do not need to add moisture in the beginning.

The sensor checks for humidity and moisture, and the cotton core on the inside wicks the moisture to the plant’s roots.

When you plug this pot in, the light turns blue, which means it is doing its intelligent smart-pot thing.

Also, the power cord is USB, so the cord is not bulky.

Furthermore, there are breathing holes near the bottom of this gadget to help keep oxygen at the roots, which is healthy for plants.

The pot is white and is just over six inches in diameter. The height of this pot is seven inches tall.

3. Govee Smart Hygrometer

Govee Bluetooth Hygrometer Thermometer, Humidity Temperature Gauge...
Buy on Amazon

The Govee Smart Hydrometer is also a thermometer, and it measures humidity. Since plants like stable humidity, a hydrometer takes the guessing out of what your plant needs.

This option for smart home gadgets for plants connects to an app on your phone. Moreover, the app stores data for up to 20 days, so you can track trends.

Through the app, you can keep an eye on the indoor temperature and humidity. Also, you can set alerts when the temperature or humidity gets too low or too high, which is helpful if you are traveling.

If you have a thermostat as one of your smart-home gadgets, you can make temperature adjustments even if you are not home.

Recommended Read: ecobee vs. Nest: What You Need to Know About These Smart Thermostats

Also, the Govee Smart Hydrometer is very accurate. The sensor is Swiss-made and very precise.

The meter also has a large display that is very user-friendly. It is a three-inch display and connects to Bluetooth up to around 260 feet.

Lastly, this hydrometer is portable, so you can move it from room to room to suit your needs.

4. Quantum PAR Meter

Quantum PAR Meter - High Precision, Grow Light meter, Indoor Plants...
Buy on Amazon

Growing conditions are essential for plants, which includes how much light a specific plant need. Therefore, the Quantum PAR Meter is vital to ensure your plants get exactly the right amount of light to thrive.

The Quantum handheld light meter might not be a fancy smart home gadget for plants, but it does a necessary job and lets you get on with caring for your plants.

The meter measures the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), which is the amount of light you have where the plant is located that it can use for photosynthesis.

Furthermore, this light meter is accurate and easy to use.

5. Gosund Mini Wi-Fi Outlet

No products found.
No products found.

Part of having a smart-connected home is the ability to control what you have plugged into your outlets. The Gosund wi-fi outlets allow you to manage your plant lights with ease.

These smart plugs work with your Google Home or Alexa. As an alternative, you can connect via an app for your smartphone.

For plant parents, these plugs are fantastic to use for your grow lights or other devices you have for your plants that are not already “smart.” While smart grow lights are excellent, if you already have manual lights, you can use these plugs and set a schedule or timer from anywhere.

All you have to do is plug these in and download the app. The plugs connect to the app automatically.

6. AeroGarden Harvest Hydroponic Garden

AeroGarden Black Harvest Indoor Hydroponic Garden
Buy on Amazon

If you want to try your hand at growing plants hydroponically, but do not have the patience for the set-up, consider the AeroGarden Harvest Hydroponic Garden.

Setting up a hydroponic garden on your own isn’t exactly challenging if you have the time. However, with the AeroGarden harvest garden having several smart home gadgets for plants in one, it makes sense to consider.

This hydroponic harden is perfect for your table or countertop. The base is 6 inches by just over 10 inches. Also, the total height of the garden is just over 17 inches.

If you want to tuck this under the counter, measure the counter’s distance to the bottom of the cabinets. The arm that holds the light is adjustable, but you want room for your plants to grow.

This garden grows six plants at a time and uses only water.

To use, simply add water when the garden tells you it is low and turn the LED grow lights on.

There is a very simple to use panel, and the lights turn on and off automatically. The panel tells you when to add water and plant food.

This does not connect to an app or other smart device, but it is so simple that a little effort results in large yields for growing green leafy vegetables and herbs.

7. Smartmi Evaporative Humidifier

Smartmi Cool No Mist Humidifiers for Bedroom Home, Evaporative Air...
Buy on Amazon

The Smartmi Evaporative Humidifier helps manage the humidity levels in your home.

We already know plants like humidity, but there are times during the year the humidity is not naturally present. Therefore, we must add humidity.

The Smartmi humidifier is a cool-mist humidifier with a large tank that holds four liters of water. When you use the humidifier on low, you have 24 hours before adding more water.

You fill the tank from the top or the bottom and set it going.

Also, the humidifier has a water level indicator and a power button on it. However, you can download the app and set your humidifier to work even if you are not nearby.

The humidifier is super quiet, and it is easy to clean, which you should do weekly.

Lastly, this option for smart home gadgets for plants is just shy of t10 inches square and is 14 inches tall.

8. The myLumii Smart LED Grow Light

myLumii Smart WiFi LED Grow Light, Sunlike Full Spectrum with Samsung...
Buy on Amazon

The myLumii Smart LED Grow Light is on the list of smart home gadgets for plants because, well, plants need light.

As mentioned, plants have light needs, and as the seasons change, it gets harder to get the right amount of light for your plants.

The myLumii grow light has impressive LEDs that cover a full spectrum of light. The range includes a red light that helps with flowers and new plant buds.

There is an app for this grow light, and you can control all aspects of your grow light via the app.

For example, you can set your plant light on a timer schedule and turn it on and off as you wish.

Also, the app lets you know the temperature and humidity levels in the space.

Moreover, as the temperature and humidity levels fluctuate, you can set up “if-then what” scenarios to accommodate your plants’ needs based on room conditions.

If apps are not your style, this grow light connects via Amazon so that you can talk to your Alexa to turn the lights on and off.

The myLumii grow light is just over 12 inches long and just over 8 inches wide. Also, it weighs five pounds and comes with a hanging chain.

We Need All the Smart Home Gadgets for Plants

Succulents and cacti in pots, sitting in a window.

Plants, especially over this past year, have cropped up in houses all over the country. Some plant hobbyists are new as the pandemic drove them towards a new hobby. Other plant-parents have been in the game for years.

Whenever your journey began, smart home gadgets for plants make caring for plants easy.

Figuring out the right amount of humidity, water, or light is no longer guesswork because there is an app for that. As the chores related to plants ease, we all have more time to sit and enjoy our plants’ company.

If plants are not your thing, consider the plant-parents in your life because smart home gadgets for plants make great gifts.

Recomended Read: The Top Smart Gadgets for Christmas You Should Buy This Year

What smart home gadgets for plants are your favorites? Answer in the comments.


A teacher by trade, Victoria Caine splits her free time between freelance writing, her camping blog, and (frantically) guiding her teenagers into becoming functional adults.

Power Up Your Home With This Guide to Flexible Solar Panel

phone plugged into a flexible solar panels

The demand for solar power is at an all-time high in the United States. And one of the exciting waves of the future is all about flexible solar panels.

Between the years of 2010 and 2014, installed solar energy in this country increased by a whopping 418 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In just four short years, we increased more than 9,000 megawatts of solar energy.

That's a ton!

There is no doubt that solar technology is very popular and growing. And one of the reasons for that is technological advancements like flexible solar panels.

So are flexible solar panels right for you? How do they compare with traditional solar panels?

Well, let's see if we can answer those questions today.

And stick with me until the end because I'm going to talk about what the future looks like in the flexible solar panel industry.

Spoiler alert:

It's amazing!

What Are Flexible Solar Panels?

Fun Fact:

The most abundant energy resource on the planet is solar power. According to the Scientific American journal, solar energy “dwarfs all the other renewable energy resources combined — including wind, hydropower and geothermal."

MIT says, “More solar energy strikes the surface of the earth in one hour than is provided by all of the fossil energy consumed globally in a year.”

Wow!

In fact, at any given moment there are 173,000 terawatts of solar energy continuously hitting the planet. To put that into some perspective, that's more than 10,000 times the total energy usage of the entire world.

One of the best sources of clean, renewable energy currently available is solar panels. But traditional solar panels don't work for everyone.

Some of the complaints about solar panels are that they are expensive and big and bulky. They're also quite heavy.

Are there other options?

There sure are!

Flexible solar panels

Flexible solar panels, also called thin-film solar cells, have been gaining in popularity because they work much better for many people than rigid solar panels.

For some comparison, traditional solar panels are either monocrystalline or polycrystalline.

Both of them feature silicon wafers that are typically around 200 micrometers thick. That's just slightly thicker than a human hair.

Flexible solar panels, on the other hand, slice down those silicon wafer cells to just a few micrometers wide. By using those super thin cells, it allows the panel to become flexible. That means that you can use it for far more applications.

The flexible panels are also much cheaper to produce and install.

Check out the video below:

When they make flexible solar panels, they apply the solar cells to a super thin, flexible substrate, usually made of plastic or aluminum.

Then they apply a photovoltaic material like silicon to the substrate.

After that, a conductive transparent layer covers the whole thing. The final step is to protect the entire module from moisture by applying a laminate like Teflon over it.

Different Types of Solar Panels

Now let's take a closer look at the different types of solar panels.

a farm house shed installed with solar panels on its roof

Monocrystalline

close-up photo of a solar panel

Monocrystalline solar panels contain solar cells made from the purest form of silicon. They are very efficient and long-lasting, especially when compared to the polycrystalline panels.

The downside is that they are quite a bit more expensive.

You can tell that a solar panel is monocrystalline if it has rounded angles with a monochromatic, darker appearance.

Polycrystalline

graphics of a polycrystalline silicon solar cell

They make polycrystalline solar panels by melting raw silicon. This process is much faster and cheaper than the way they make the monocrystalline panels.

That means that they are less expensive than monocrystalline panels.

The downside of the polycrystalline solar panels is that they are less powerful and less space efficient.

You can spot the polycrystalline panels by their square cut and speckled blue color.

Thin film

These are the cheapest solar panels on the market today. One of the reasons for that is that they require far fewer materials to make.

That makes them cheaper to produce.

The great thing about them is that they are super flexible.

Thin film panels are way more versatile, and they are even more resistant to very high temperatures. They're also much lighter and portable.

The downside of them is that they take up a lot of space. They also have shorter life spans and come with shorter warranties. But if you have a lot of space, they are an excellent alternative to monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels.

Believe it or not:

Thin film solar panels have been around for over three decades. They first showed up in solar calculators. Remember those?

These days we are using them in much larger systems. You can find them on buildings, solar farms, and even some vehicles.

The Best Uses for Flexible Solar Panels

a circular boat powered by solar panel

An on-the-go portable power source for things like RVs, boats, and cars

two set of solar panels for a light post

You can use them to charge solar batteries

solar panels installed on the roof of a residential house

Off-grid PV systems for cabins and homes

a calculator, pen and a graph notebook

They are very common in many new solar energy consumer products

android phone recharging using a portable solar panel for hiking and trail running

Image via Back on Trail on Youtube

Great for use when hiking, cycling, kayaking, and camping

The Efficiency Difference Between Flexible Solar Panels and Traditional Solar Panels

22%

Efficiency Rating

"THE MOST EFFICIENT SOLAR PANELS ON THE MARKET TODAY HAVE EFFICIENCY RATINGS AS HIGH AS 22.2%, WHEREAS THE MAJORITY OF PANELS RANGE FROM 15% TO 17% EFFICIENCY RATING.

SUNPOWER PANELS ARE KNOWN FOR BEING THE MOST EFFICIENT SOLAR PANEL BRAND AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET."

One of the differences shows up in their energy efficiency.

As we just discussed, flexible solar panels are less efficient than rigid panels.

On average, monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels get between 15 to 20 percent efficiency ratings. Flexible panels, on the other hand, only get around 11 to 13 percent efficiency ratings.

20%

Efficiency Rating

Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Panels

13%

Efficiency Rating

Flexible Solar Panels

Because of that lower efficiency, you will need more of the flexible panels to produce the same amount of energy. If you have limited roof space, that can be a problem.

When you are trying to decide between rigid and flexible solar panels, you should consider how you want to use them.

The best uses for flexible panels are for small projects on surfaces like RVs, boats, and cars that don't require a ton of energy. They're also ideal for things like camping or hiking when you need a lightweight, portable energy source.

How Much Do Flexible Solar Panels Weigh?

The weight of solar panels depends on a few things.

First, are they traditional solar panels or flexible solar panels?

That will make a big difference. Other factors include the individual manufacturer and the energy output.

Generally speaking, flexible solar panels weigh about 75 percent less than rigid panels.

For example, when we take a look at the flexible Windynation 100-watt panel, it weighs just over four pounds. For some comparison, a 100-watt rigid panel from Renogy weighs over 16 pounds.

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Solar Panels

Fun Fact

Modern day solar panels actually made their debut in space!

The first commercial use of solar energy happened in 1958 when NASA used solar panels on the satellite "Vanguard 1."

digital illustration of a satellite

Following Vanguard 1, NASA launched several more satellites using solar technology. Those early panels lasted around seven years. At the time, that was huge. By comparison, the regular batteries that they were using at the time on satellites lasted only 20 hours.

The Vanguard 1 is still orbiting the Earth today.

PROS

CONS

  • The cells are less likely to tear or scratch

  • Rigid solar panels cost less per watt of energy that they put out

  • They are more efficient than flexible panels

  • They are very heavy and bulky

  • They cost more than flexible solar panels

  • You can't move them once you install them

  • They are more expensive to install

  • They are more fragile than flexible panels

"THIRD GENERATION PREFERS ADVANCED THIN-FILM CELLS. COMPARED TO OTHER SOLAR TECHNOLOGIES, THEY PRODUCE RELATIVELY HIGH-EFFICIENCY CONVERSION FOR LOW COST. THEY CAN BE RIGID OR FLEXIBLE. FLEXIBLE FILMS ARE PORTABLE AND LIGHTER THAN RIGID FILMS, AND RESISTANT TO BREAKAGE THAN ORDINARY CRYSTALLINE ONES."

The Pros and Cons of Flexible Solar Panels

PROS

CONS

  • They weigh less

  • The flexible panels are much thinner

  • They can bend to fit any surface -- some of them can bend up to 30 degrees

  • You can easily transport them

  • They are cheaper

  • It's also less expensive to install them

  • You can use them on a car, RV, or boat

  • They can be used to charge a battery

  • You can use them on roofs that can't support the weight of rigid solar panels

  • Ideal for temporary or short term use

  • They take up a lot of space

  • They are less efficient than traditional solar panels

  • Shorter warranties

  • Shorter life spans

Check out the following video:

So How Much Do Flexible Solar Panels Cost?

With traditional solar panels, about a third of their production cost comes from the photovoltaic material.

The rest of the price comes from the bulky glass structure.

By printing the flexible solar panels on more accessible materials, which are cheaper, the overall price goes down significantly.

Here's a tool that you can use to get an idea of how much it would cost you to go solar.

Top 6 Producers of Flexible Solar Panels

First Solar - First Solar produces some of the highest efficiency rates. And they make some of the most durable and cheapest thin-film panels on the market for commercial buyers.

SoloPower - The SoloPower flexible solar panels are perfect for mounting on all sides of a building, rather than on top. They're excellent for integrating into the building's structure

 Sharp - This Japanese company has been around for a long time. They were one of the original pioneers with modern solar power way back in the 1950s. They continue to innovate flexible solar panels technology today.

Solar Frontier - Solar Frontier is another top manufacturer of flexible solar panels. They are currently working on a thin-film panel with 30 percent efficiency. That's by far the most efficient in the industry to date.

JinkoSolar - This company is a worldwide leader in solar technology. They claim the most efficient and sustainable solar solutions on the market.

SunTech - SunTech has been around since 2001. And they are aiming to optimize solar technology and provide it across the globe.

9 Things You Need to Know Before Switching to Solar Panels

Fun Fact

Now I'm going to blow your mind. Take a guess when solar technology first showed up in the world.

Did you guess the 1900s? The 1800s?

Nope! Not even close.

Believe it or not, solar technology was first utilized way back in 7 BC! Yes, really!

Back then people used mirrors and glass to harness the energy of the sun to make fire.

Modern solar systems showed up in 1839. A French scientist named Edmond Becquerel defined the photovoltaic effect which was a pivotal development in solar technology.

1. Your utility company's rates

Make sure that you understand how your utility company calculates your rate.

In many places, utility rates use different "tiers."

Homes that consume more energy are bumped up to a higher tier. That means that they will pay a higher rate.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about here:

In the San Francisco Bay area, an average monthly bill from PG&E costs around $90. However, if your bill goes above $237, then you are bumped up to Tier 5, where the rates are higher.

Ready for some good news?

If a San Francisco PG&E customer switches to solar power, they completely remove the top tiers.

The bottom line is that the more you are currently spending on your electric bill, the bigger your return on investment will be when you go solar.

2. What about solar batteries?

Unless you are trying to create a self-contained home or compound, you really don't have to worry too much about batteries.

If you live in a populated area and you are staying on the grid, then you will continue to get some of your power, especially at night, from your local utility company, just like you do now. You just won't be using as much.

One important thing that you need to know is:

Most of the rebate incentives tied to going solar won't trigger unless your system is on the grid.

3. How much energy does your home consume each month?

Here's what you should know:

Different families are going to have different needs when it comes to energy.

Some will use more than others.

The best thing that you can do is to get a solar installer to calculate your projected electricity demands, rather than your current energy usage.

Another thing that you can do is to make energy-saving changes and upgrades throughout your home to lower your cost. Changing to LED bulbs is one example of that.

4. Do the solar panels have to be on a south-facing roof area?

Ideally, you want your solar panels to be on the southwest-facing part of your roof. That is true.

But does that mean that you can't use solar panels if you can't get them facing southwest?

I'm going to tell you something that most solar salesmen won't tell you.

The direction that your solar panels face is not critical.

In fact, if your panels face south, they will work. If they face west, they will work.

Now I'm going to blow your mind.

Even if they face southeast, east, or north-northwest, they will still work.

Fun Facts

The top three solar countries in the world are:

By 2016, China was boasting that they had installed an impressive 43.5 gigawatts of solar energy.

Japan comes in at a close second with 43 gigawatts of solar energy. And Germany is not far behind with 39.5 gigawatts.

The U.S. has some catching up to do!

5. Will solar panels make my property tax go up?

This is important:

And it is a very common question when people are considering going solar.

The answer is....

Switching to solar power will not trigger a reassessment of your property.

Generally speaking, reassessments of property taxes happen because of increasing the square footage of your structure. That would be for things like room additions or other construction, not for using solar power.

In most states, even if there were a property assessment triggered, the addition of solar panels are exempt from property taxes.

6. Protect your investment

Okay, this is a big one:

It is critical that you protect your new solar system from fire or other damages. As soon as you install your solar panels, you need to call your homeowner's insurance company. They will amend your policy to include the solar system.

You will have a slight increase in your property insurance.

When I say slight, I'm talking about less than $10 a month.

7. What about warranties?

Typically there are two different types of warranties offered with solar systems.

The first type is a manufacturer's warranty covering the panel and inverter. Usually, these warranties will cover your panel and inverter for around 25 years.

The next type of warranty comes from the installer. This warranty will cover the quality of their work. It will generally protect you for 2 to 10 years, assuring that the installation won't leave holes in your roof that could lead to leaks.

One thing that you need to know though is that neither of those warranties will cover you from theft, fire, or other damages. Remember what I said a minute ago about covering your solar panels with your homeowner's insurance? I was serious about that.

8. How long do flexible solar panels last?

Traditional solar panels will last longer than flexible solar panels.

Flexible solar panels will generally last from 5 to 10 years.

Rigid panels, on the other hand, will last for around 30 years, sometimes even longer.

The rigid panels will also lose about 1/2 a percent of conversion efficiency each year.

One thing that you can do to assure that your solar panels work correctly is to hose them off a few times during the summer months. It's also a good idea to keep the leaves off of them in the fall. That's basically all the maintenance they need.

Not too bad, right?

9. Your roof type can affect the cost of installation

Your roof type will not be too important when it comes to installing flexible solar panels. You can easily add them to just about any surface.

Unfortunately, that is not the case for traditional solar panels.

If you are installing rigid panels, then your roof type will matter. In fact, it could make a huge difference in the cost of your installation.

If you have Spanish tiles or shake on your roof, it will cost you a lot more for installation than it would if you had plain old asphalt shingles.

The reason for that is tile and shake are far more brittle than asphalt. So it takes extra care and time to attach the panels to them. The extra time will increase your installation cost by 10 to 25 percent.

The Exciting Future of Flexible Solar Panels

Flexible solar panels right now are one thing. But the flexible solar panels that are coming in the near future are something way more exciting.

Imagine having solar panels on all windows and walls and cell phones and laptops and so much more.

New technology is coming, my friends.

The new flexible panels will be transparent, and they can be attached to just about anything.

MIT has developed a new transparent solar cell that will very likely be the wave of the future.

MIT's new technology combines low-cost organic material with graphene electrodes. Graphene is a transparent, flexible material made from carbon sources, which are both abundant and inexpensive.

According to MIT,

"THIS ADVANCE IN SOLAR TECHNOLOGY WAS ENABLED BY A NOVEL METHOD OF DEPOSITING A ONE-ATOM-THICK LAYER OF GRAPHENE ONTO THE SOLAR CELL — WITHOUT DAMAGING NEARBY SENSITIVE ORGANIC MATERIALS.

UNTIL NOW, DEVELOPERS OF TRANSPARENT SOLAR CELLS HAVE TYPICALLY RELIED ON EXPENSIVE, BRITTLE ELECTRODES THAT TEND TO CRACK WHEN THE DEVICE IS FLEXED.

THE ABILITY TO USE GRAPHENE INSTEAD IS MAKING POSSIBLE TRULY FLEXIBLE, LOW-COST, TRANSPARENT SOLAR CELLS THAT CAN TURN VIRTUALLY ANY SURFACE INTO A SOURCE OF ELECTRIC POWER."

Advantages

The advantages of these new transparent flexible solar panels are that they will be cheaper and easier to manufacture. That will make the cost come way down. They will also be lightweight and extremely portable, even in remote areas with no central power grid.

That's not all:

Organic solar cells can mount on any and all surfaces around you. And they will be able to harvest energy without us even noticing them.

Researchers are currently trying to improve the efficiency of graphene-based organic solar cells without losing any of the transparency.

The idea is that these new flexible solar panels can be placed everywhere to generate clean power while remaining virtually invisible to the human eye.

Solar powered contact lenses??

Sounds crazy, right?

But it's true, and it's the future!

In 2015 Google filed a patent for contact lenses that are solar powered. The possibilities for this new technology are amazing!

Google says that these new contact lenses could:

  • Scan prices and barcodes

  • Tell you when you have entered a high allergy area

  • Produce power

  • Talk to your other smart device

  • Monitor things like your blood glucose levels

  • Serve as your biometric password

  • Monitor blood alcohol levels

How cool is that?

Google is placing a tiny computer chip onto a photovoltaic contact lens. And more new inventions like this are on the horizon!

Cool Deal! Anything Else?

digital illustration of a solar panel and the sun

Image by Darius Dan via Flaticon

There are definitely exciting times ahead for solar technology, especially for flexible solar panels.

But for the time being, there are still some improvements that need to occur. It's true that flexible solar panels are cheaper than traditional rigid panels, but the price still needs to come down to make them more competitive in the market.

Now that doesn't mean that you should totally avoid flexible solar panels right now. I'm not saying that at all. There are many uses for them already.

For one thing, if you're looking for a short-term temporary energy source that you can just roll up and transport anywhere, then they are perfect.

Flexible solar panels are excellent for camping, for example. And they work great on boats, RVs, and cars. They're also ideal for anyone that has a roof that cannot support the heavy weight of rigid solar panels.

But just know that technology is only going to get better from here.

The fact is:

The solar industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the United States. In 2015 the solar industry employed 175,000 Americans.

And that's not all.

The solar industry contributes more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy every year. With over 6,000 solar companies in the country, they are currently supplying over 17,500 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity. That's enough to give power to more than 3.5 million American homes!

Now we'd love to hear from you guys! Share with our readers your experience or tips with solar energy or flexible solar panels in the comments section below.

The Top Smart Gadgets for Christmas You Should Buy This Year

smart gadget for christmas

Smart gadgets for Christmas may sound like an expensive exercise. However, the technology is worth the investment and may help you save money in the long run. Plus, the thought of controlling your home by talking to your devices feels like too good an opportunity to miss.

Alexa devices maintain a 70 percent market share in America, and these days it’s pretty hard to find products that don’t use the Alexa system. North America leads on the sales front with smart home technology, and the trend may increase as more of us invest in the technology. With that in mind, we have created a list of smart gadgets to suit everyone’s budget.

Recommended Read: Best Automatic Pet Feeder To Make Your Life Easier

Smart Gadgets for Christmas

Our comprehensive list of smart gadgets for Christmas covers a variety of budgets and devices. The Smart Light Bulb from Gosund is a great starting point to explore voice-controlled lights. And the Caseta Smart Start Kit from Lutron remains an excellent starter kit to whet your smart home appetite.

From sophisticated robots to automated door locks, delve into our smart world and immerse yourself in a comprehensive list of smart gadgets for Christmas.

Stay smart

All of our products come with excellent customer reviews. The end-user remains an essential source of information because they have the experience of using the products.

Our List of Smart Gadgets for Christmas

christmas present

We have selected some special gadgets from robots to speakers to fill your homes with wonder this Christmas.

Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit

Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit, Dimmer Switch with Smart Bridge and...

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If you want smart gadgets for Christmas this year, then the Caseta Smart Start Kit from Lutron is a great place to start. The comprehensive smart home starter kit works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant to transform your environment into a voice-controlled technology haven.

The smart home starter kit includes a Caseta smart bridge, a dimmer switch, a Pico 3-button dimming remote, and a Pico plate bracket. Also, you can set your lights to adjust to the changing seasons automatically. You may also set your lights to randomly work when you travel to provide peace of mind and home security.

You may control your Caseta Smart Start Kit from Lutron in a variety of ways. The sophisticated mobile app provides instant control or uses your voice to create personalized schedules to change lighting schedules.

The smarts

Customers love the smart price as it provides a budget-friendly introduction to the world of smart homes. Furthermore, users report how easy the system is to set up and that it proves exceptionally reliable and simple to use.

Low-fi

Some users wanted to use the system in two houses but could not pair the kit with Alexa in the second location due to Alexa pairing. Some had poor connectivity and, in some cases, could not get the system to work.

Brilliant Smart Home Control

Brilliant Smart Home Control (2-Switch Panel) — Alexa Built-In &...

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The Smart Home Control from Brilliant represents a more considerable investment but offers a sophisticated system to give you the ultimate smart home control.

The touch screen panel features built-in Alexa connectivity to control a variety of smart-home functions. You may control your heating, lighting, cameras, locks, and music from the easy to use, touch, or voice-controlled panel.

The convenient installation replaces a standard 2-gang light switch panel and requires neutral and ground wires. In addition, you can control your Sonos music system and convert regular lights into smart lights. The system supports LED, CFL, halogen, incandescent bulbs, Control Hue, LIFX, and Kasa TP-Link intelligent bulbs.

The Smart Home Control from Brilliant offers a complete smart home solution from one panel with a 5-inch LCD touchscreen. When you consider smart gadgets for Christmas, the system makes an impressive main gift for under the tree.

The smarts

People love the detailed instructions and found the system easy to install and use. The modern design and intuitive function proved extremely popular with users who loved the device’s smart control.

Low-fi

Some users felt the system too expensive, while a couple of users found the dimming functions lacked range and sensitivity. A couple of them found the interface difficult to use.

Sonos Connect Amp

Sonos Connect: Amp - Wireless Home Audio Amplifier for Streaming...

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The Sonos Connect Amp from Sonos  is a must for anyone who wants smart gadgets for Christmas. The innovative amplifier features Alexa voice control to upgrade your speakers with amplified music streaming both indoors and outside.

The powerful yet compact system offers 55 watts per channel with an RCA line for connecting a range of playback sources. You may control wired speakers anywhere in your home with a mobile device such as a tablet or mobile phone.

Sonos Connect Amp from Sonos enables you to stream all your favorite music from services such as Amazon Music, Pandora, Apple Music, and Spotify. Furthermore, you may connect your system to an Amazon Echo or Alexa device.

The smarts

Customers love the compact system and appreciate how it effortlessly controls and streams music. Most users found the system easy to set up and loved how the Sonos mobile phone app interacts with the device. Many users like the expandable nature of the product with additional Sonos components.

Low-fi

Some users complain that Sonos doesn’t support their products long term, while a few users found the device didn’t connect with their Wi-Fi. A few users report that the system has difficulty connecting to Apple Music.

Sensi Emerson Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat

Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat for Smart Home, DIY, Works With...

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The Emerson Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat from Sensi makes one of the best smart gadgets for Christmas because of its attractive price and superb functionality.

The smart thermostat is Energy Star certified and enables you to save on your energy costs with features such as geofencing, a 7-day flexible scheduling function, and a remote access system. Plus, the system is quick and easy to install.

The Emerson Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat from Sensi features extensive compatibility and works with HVAC equipment found in most homes. A c-wire is required for heat only, cool, and heat pump systems. Additionally, you can control your smart thermostat using Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit platforms.

The smarts

Customers appreciate the ease of installation while many report how the thermostat saved them money. Most users found the system displayed excellent connectivity and love using it as part of their Alexa smart home set up.

Low-fi

Some users found frustration through poor Wi-Fi connectivity. And the battery backup was problematic for some users who found they needed to reset the system frequently.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

No products found.

No products found.

When you consider smart gadgets for Christmas, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro from No products found. sits at the top of your list. The excellent system contains the Ring Video Doorbell Pro and the Ring Chime Pro to provide a fantastic value bundle.

The 1080p high-definition doorbell lets you see, hear, and speak to people from your mobile or tablet. Alternatively, you may pair your Ring system with an Amazon Echo device and use voice commands to control your system.

The product showcases privacy features, such as customizable privacy zones and audio privacy. Furthermore, you may set the device to provide you with notifications whenever it detects movement outside your door. The live view enables a view of your doorstep no matter where you are.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro from Ring remains an innovative and sophisticated system that gives the homeowner superb security functions. The device’s sophistication remains unparalleled and makes an excellent gift to place under the tree this Christmas.

The smarts

Many customers report how they found the system easy to install. Most users find the doorbell provides excellent security functions with superb reliability and particularly enjoy using the functions when away from home.

Low-fi

Some users found the system difficult to install, while a few reports that it failed to connect to their Wi-Fi. Some customers found the motion detector too sensitive. Additionally, some users remain dissatisfied with the quality of the audio and video.

Yale Assure Touchscreen Lock

Yale Assure Lock Touchscreen, Wi-Fi Smart Lock - Works with the Yale...

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The Yale Assure Touchscreen Lock from Yale Security replaces your existing deadbolt with a touchscreen smart lock. With this innovative smart device, you may lock, unlock, share access to your home, see who comes and go from anywhere using the Yale Access app.

You may unlock your door automatically as you arrive by using the app on your phone. Alternatively, you may use the touchscreen keypad to activate the innovative lock.

The system is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Furthermore, you can choose for Alexa to notify you when the lock’s battery runs low. Additionally, the Auto-Relock feature negates that dreadful feeling when you forget to lock your door because it ensures the door always locks behind you.

The supplied Wi-Fi bridge means you don’t need any additional hubs to set up your smart home lock.

The smarts

Users appreciate the additional backup key provided with the system and found the lock simple to install and use. The system provided customers with peace of mind due to the excellent security functions.

Low-fi

Some users found the Wi-Fi bridge provided of low quality with various connectivity problems. Some customers found the device didn’t work with Google Home. A couple of customers found the device failed to work at all.

Gosund Smart Light Bulb

Smart Light Bulb, Gosund Dimmable WiFi LED Light Bulbs That Works with...

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The Smart Light Bulb from Gosound makes a fantastic stocking stuffer if you want smart gadgets for Christmas. The pack of 4 bulbs features dimmable LED lights with smart voice control. You may use Alexa and Google Assistant to operate and control your bulbs to set the right mood and create an atmosphere.

The Gosund app enables you to control the bulbs from anywhere at any time. Alternatively, you may use the timer and scheduling function to set the bulbs to function at a time convenient for you. Consequently, the Smart Light Bulb from Gosund makes a fantastic security feature in your smart home.

The bulbs prove easy to install and feature energy-saving properties with an extended lifespan.

The smarts

Users found the bulbs worked well with Alexa and connected easily to their smart home set up. And many customers appreciate the reasonable price compared to others on the market. Also, the app proved immensely popular to control the lighting.

Low-fi

Some users couldn’t connect the bulbs to their Alexa systems and found them unreliable. But some users found the bulbs too dim for practical use.

Recommended Read: Best Smart Light Bulbs To Make Your House Smarter

Anki Vector Robot

Vector Robot by Anki, A Home Robot Who Hangs Out & Helps Out, With...

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Who doesn’t want a robot that controls your smart home and gives you timely reminders? When you consider smart gadgets for Christmas, the Vector Robot from Anki makes an impressive gift to place under the tree.

Vector is a robotic companion powered by intelligent artificial intelligence to interact and integrate with your smart home technology. The robot is voice-activated and will answer questions, take photos, time your dinner, and show you the weather.

And if you connect Vector to Alexa, you’ll be able to set reminders, control various smart home devices, activate speakers, and heating systems in a truly interactive way.

The robot updates via a Wi-Fi Cloud platform to keep up to date with skills and features.

The smarts

Users love the robot. It displays a variety of movements with surprising personality traits that customers adore. Plus, when paired with Alexa, the robot takes in an entirely different persona and becomes an integrated part of any smart home.

Low-fi

Some users found the robot underwhelming and an expensive toy. A few customers claimed it lacked purpose or personality, while some customers felt the artificial intelligence aspect felt incomplete.

SimpliSafe 5 Piece Wireless Home Security System

SimpliSafe 5 Piece Wireless Home Security System - Optional 24/7...

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The 5 Piece Wireless Home Security System from SimpliSafe is a wireless smart security system compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

The kit is ready to use straight out of the box. You plug in the base station, place the sensors, and your house is protected. And you can choose the 24/7 professional monitoring plan with police, fire, and medical dispatch.

The pioneering signal burst technology is powerful enough to cover homes of various sizes, with a range of up to 1000 feet. The system uses a 24-hour battery and dual Wi-Fi and cellular connections for backup.

The kit includes a base station with a built-in siren, a keypad, an entry sensor, a motion sensor, and a key fob.

The key fob allows you to arm and disarm the system, and a built-in panic button triggers the alarm and alerts the monitoring center when you need help. Alternatively, you may use your smart home devices such as Alexa and Google Assistant to arm and disarm the device.

The smarts

Customers praise the ease of installation and simple operation of the smart security system. Many users enjoy the Alexa connectivity and appreciate the reliability of the kit.

Low-fi

Some users don’t like the use of third-party organizations for the monitoring function. Some users felt the kit underperformed for the price, with some of the parts proving low-quality construction.

WYZE 1080p HD Indoor Wi-Fi Smart Home Camera

Wyze Cam v2 1080p HD Indoor WiFi Smart Home Camera with Night Vision,...

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The 1080p HD Indoor Wi-Fi Smart Home Camera from WYZE allows the user to live stream from anywhere in full high definition. The smart camera enables you to see inside your home from anywhere in real-time using a tablet or mobile, and while live streaming, you may use the two-way audio to speak with your friends and family through the Wyze app.

The camera features a night vision function and free cloud storage. You may activate the camera using Alexa and Google Assistant.

The 1080p HD Indoor Wi-Fi Smart Home Camera from WYZE is an innovative addition to your list of smart gadgets for Christmas that provides various social functions combined with excellent security capabilities.

The smarts

Customers love the smart price and the superb security functions offered by the camera. Customers found it easy to set up and use and appreciate the compatibility with other smart home devices.

Low-fi

Some users disliked the user agreement terms. Furthermore, some users found the privacy aspect of the streaming unacceptable.

Our Smart Gadgets for Christmas Explored

holiday gifts

Whether you want the Vector Robot from Anki to tell you what the weather is like or the Sonos Connect Amp from Sonos to play your favorite music, we have you covered.

While some items represent a considerable investment, products such as the Emerson Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat from Sensi may save you money in the long run.

Smart homes no longer remain the dreams of Sci-Fi authors. We now use Alexa and Google Assistant to perform many functions around the house, and before long, the smart home may feel as normal as getting up for work in the morning. Perhaps we could ask Alexa to go to work for us in the future.


Sean Kerr

Sean Kerr lives in Cardiff, Wales, and is a published author with over 10 novels to his name so far and still counting. As well as writing his next bestseller, Sean also runs a successful jewelry making business and sells his creations online. Enjoy more of Sean’s “smart” reviewing at BestSeekers and ExtensivelyReviewed!

10 Smart Gadgets Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals You Need

Black Friday GIfts

Holiday shopping looks a little different this year, with more sales happening online than perhaps ever before. You don’t need to stand in line at the crack of dawn to snag the best smart gadgets Black Friday sales.

Shopping online for smart home gadgets, Black Friday or not, is a great way to find unbeatable deals and compare products before really making up your mind. But if you go in blind, you’re sure to miss out on this year’s top sales.

Fret not, because we’ve put together a list of the best smart gadgets to buy this holiday shopping season.

10 Must-Have Smart Gadgets Black Friday Shoppers Don’t Want to Miss

giving gift

This year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have, more or less, merged into one long weekend of savings. For bargain hunters of all kinds, this is great news.

Whether you’re buying for yourself or checking items off your holiday gift list, here are the top smart home gadgets going on sale this Black Friday.

1. Ring doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell 3 – enhanced wifi, improved motion detection,...
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Between its propensity for making laugh-out-loud social media videos and its pure convenience, the Ring doorbell is easily the most talked-about smart home gadget of the moment. It’s also a prime candidate for great holiday deals you won’t find the rest of the year.

Why is this tiny video-enabled doorbell so popular? First and foremost, it lets you see who is knocking, ringing, or just loitering at your door from anywhere. That means you can easily see who is outside, whether from your bed or all the way from the office.

Ring doorbells also include two-way audio. While you won’t experience crystal-clear sound quality from either end, this feature is surprisingly handy in day-to-day life.

Some of the top Ring models to look for this season include the Ring Video Doorbell 3 and No products found..

You can also snag a deal by bundling your new Ring Doorbell with a compatible voice assistant, like the Amazon Echo Show. So before you hit “Checkout” this Black Friday or Cyber Monday, be sure to check for extra savings!

2. Smart locks

Yale Security YRD226-ZW2-619 YRD226ZW2619 Touchscreen Deadbolt, Satin...
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Going into this holiday shopping season, you probably have a few electronics on your must-buy list. But smart gadgets Black Friday deals are a great place to find new devices you never knew existed.

For instance: With the prevalence of app-enabled security systems, many homeowners replace their traditional home deadbolts with “smart” versions.

There are countless models out there, ranging from those equipped with a regular keypad to locks entirely managed from a smartphone or tablet.

This year, you’ll find major savings on models like the Yale Assure Lock with Z-Wave and Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt. Both locks work as an add-on to most existing smart security systems (so you won’t need to deal with an extra app).

There’s no singular big name in smart lock technology. Instead, smart locks use Z-Wave technology to be cross-compatible with systems like Ring, Nest, and SmartThings. Always check that your existing gadgets support Z-Wave tech before buying.

Recommended Read: Best Automatic Pet Feeder To Make Your Life Easier

3. Philips Hue

Philips Hue White and Color LED Smart Button Starter Kit, 3 A19 Smart...
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Remember the late-night commercials for clap-activated light switches? Those are a thing of the past. Now you can control every light in your home from your phone or tablet.

When it comes to smart gadgets that your family will use multiple times per day, each and every day, nothing beats WiFi-enabled lightbulbs like the Philips Hue system.

With this system, you can adjust the brightness and color (of compatible bulbs) and create a custom on-and-off schedule for your home’s lights. The scheduling feature is surprisingly versatile too, since you can create a gradual wake-up alarm or make lights turn on when you’re away on vacation.

If you’re installing smart lightbulbs for the first time, the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit is a great Black Friday steal. It comes with a hub, three lightbulbs, and a smart button — perfect for outfitting a single room.

And once you have the hub set up, you can install additional lightbulbs throughout the rest of your home as you please.

4. Smart thermostats

ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control
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We’re all doing our best to save money and cut down on household energy usage. However, if you’re still relying on a traditional thermostat, you’re missing out on some of the easiest energy savings out there.

Smart thermostats have been around for years now, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive. Instead, the technology seems to improve tenfold with each new release.

These handy devices let you control your home’s temperature from a phone or tablet (even when you’re not actually home). Most also connect to voice assistants, like Amazon Alexa, for hands-free control.

The market is flush with smart thermostats promising to make your life a little easier. But if you’re looking for smart gadgets Black Friday deals on the absolute best models, check out the ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control or Nest Learning Thermostat.

5. iRobot Roomba

iRobot Roomba i3+ (3550) Robot Vacuum with Automatic Dirt Disposal...
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Staying home means being hyper-aware of the day-to-day dirt and dust that collects in our living spaces. Just because we’re spending more time at home, though, doesn’t mean we have any extra time to clean.

A robot vacuum can help keep your home clean when you’re too busy to do the job yourself. You can find deals on these smart gadgets from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, so now is the perfect time to invest in an automatic vacuum of your own.

The iRobot Roomba was one of the first big names in robotic vacuum cleaners, and the brand is still going strong. Today, these automatic vacuum cleaners even connect to your favorite smart devices for easier scheduling, mapping, and maintenance.

The iRobot Roomba i3 is WiFi-enabled and works with popular voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. If voice controls aren’t your thing, you can manage everything in the app.

For a vacuum that’s almost entirely self-contained, consider upgrading to the iRobot Roomba i3+. Along with the features above, this model comes with a self-emptying station. It limits the amount of maintenance needed to keep your Roomba up and running.

6. Tile trackers

Tile Mate (2020) 2-Pack -Bluetooth Tracker, Keys Finder and Item...
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Busy schedule or not, no one has time to misplace their phone, wallet, or keys. Even when we’re not leaving the house like we used to, there seems to be no shortage of strange places for these items to get lost.

Tile makes tiny trackers that help locate your most important (and most often lost) belongings. Each tracker connects to iOS or Android through Bluetooth to show the location of your lost item.

If the tracker is within 150 or 200 feet, you can trigger a beaconing noise depending on the exact model. Further than that, and you can use the app to see your item’s last location with GPS. Tile also offers premium services to help track down or reimburse you for items that are otherwise long-gone.

Tile has plenty of great Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts going on this year. Use the newest Tile Mate to keep track of your keys or purse, or place the Tile Slim in your wallet for peace-of-mind.

For everything else, the Tile Sticker is your best option. You can use these trackers on everything from your TV remote to your child’s skateboard.

Recommended Read: The Top Smart Gadgets for Christmas You Should Buy This Year

7. Petcube cameras

[New 2020] Petcube Bites 2 Wi-Fi Pet Camera with Treat Dispenser &...
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If you’re like most pet owners, you probably wonder what your four-legged friends are up to when you’re not home.

Sure, you could use your household security cameras to sneak a peek. But wouldn’t it be nice to have something a bit more interactive?

Petcube makes standalone cameras explicitly designed to monitor and interact with your cat or dog. The camera connects to your smartphone, providing live video and audio. You can even use the built-in speaker to talk to your pet through the app.

If you’re interested in a basic pet camera for your home, you can find the Petcube Cam on tons of smart gadgets’ Black Friday lists.

On the other hand, the Petcube Bites 2 offers an additional feature you and your pet are both sure to enjoy. With this upgraded camera, you can dispense treats using the app. You can use this feature to spoil your pet or reward good behavior even when you’re not home. It’s up to you!

8. Hatch Restore

Hatch Restore - Sound Machine, Smart Light, Personal Sleep Routine,...
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If you’re still jolting awake to a buzzing alarm or your phone’s ringtone, you’re doing it wrong. One way you might be able to improve your waking experience is by using a sunrise alarm clock.

There are plenty of big names making sunrise alarms these days, including Philips and Homelabs, but Hatch has built itself a loyal customer base with surprising speed.

The original Hatch Restore lets you customize a wake-up schedule with light and sounds. At night, you can also use this alarm clock as a gentle reading light that won’t interfere with sleep. While controlling the alarm clock from your smartphone is quite easy, you can also make adjustments from the device itself.

Hatch alarm clocks don’t go on sale very often, so Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the perfect opportunities to snag these gadgets at a discount.

9. Hatch Baby Rest

Hatch Rest+ Baby Sound Machine, Night Light, Time-to-Rise Plus Audio...
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Speaking of the Hatch brand, adults aren’t the only ones benefitting from these smart bedtime gadgets. Parents are also big fans of the company and its line of baby products.

The Hatch Baby Rest works like a smaller version of the brand’s alarm clock. You can control the device’s brightness, volume, and other settings from the smartphone app — no need to go into the room and disturb a sleeping child.

For even more functionality, look for Black Friday sales on the Hatch Baby Rest+. Like the basic model, this device includes the same nightlight, white noise, and ultra-gentle alarm features. However, you can also check-in from your smartphone with the built-in two-way audio.

10. Blink Home Security

Echo Show 5 Charcoal with Blink Mini Indoor Smart Security Camera,...
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Resting easy is simple when you have home security cameras, but not everyone wants to fill their house with large, unsightly camcorders. Blink Home Security cameras are a compact, smart-tech alternative to more traditional home monitoring systems.

If you want to keep an eye on your home’s exterior, the Blink Outdoor camera offers daytime and nighttime video monitoring. This camera is battery-powered, but just one set of AA batteries can run the device for up to two years.

For your home’s interior, we recommend the Blink Mini. This camera features recorded video, two-way audio, and built-in motion-detection, all in an extra-small package.

Amazon owns Blink Home Security, so these cameras are compatible with other Amazon smart home technology. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’ll be able to find tons of great bundles. One such bundle includes the Echo Show 5 + BlinkMini.

Save Big on Smart Home Gadgets: Black Friday

Family with tree

Smart home technology is becoming more and more mainstream, with the perfect device existing for nearly everyone.

Whether you’re a renter, first-time buyer, or renovating your lifelong home, smart gadgets can instantly improve your quality of life. Some gadgets, like smart thermostats, will even help you adopt more eco-friendly habits.

Remember: While we recommend snagging your must-have items as early as possible, be sure to take the time to ensure you’re really getting the best deal. In some cases, waiting to buy your smart gadgets on Cyber Monday could result in even more savings!

What smart home technology is on your holiday shopping list this year? Are there any new or upcoming releases you’re particularly looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments below!

ecobee vs. Nest: What You Need to Know About These Smart Thermostats

Race

Smart thermostats are one of the most popular types of high-tech devices in today’s homes. If you’re ready to invest in one of these devices for yourself, you’re probably stuck on a big question: Which is better between ecobee vs. Nest?

Both ecobee and Nest make great products, especially when it comes to smart thermostats. In many ways, these two companies have shaped the smart home market we know today.

With that said, you can only have one smart thermostat in your home. So which will it be?

What Makes a Smart Thermostat so Smart?

Before we dive into comparing ecobee vs. Nest, what exactly differentiates a “smart” thermostat from a normal one?

On the surface, you might think a smart thermostat is just one with a digital interface. But the differences run much deeper than that.

wifi
Photo by Praveen kumar Mathivanan on Unsplash

What is a smart thermostat?

Smart thermostats are those that connect to WiFi or another local network. Once connected, users can control these devices via smartphones, computers, tablets, or voice assistants.

Obviously, the ability to control your home’s environment from your smartphone (yes, even when you’re not physically at home) is super convenient. But the value of a smart thermostat becomes even more apparent when you consider its energy-saving and home maintenance capabilities.

Are smart thermostats more energy-efficient?

If you take advantage of their energy-efficient features, yes. The ability to control different rooms and automatically adjust the temperature when no one is home are just a couple of examples of energy-saving features.

According to ENERGY STAR, the average U.S. household puts half of its energy spending toward heating and cooling. Because smart thermostats offer so much more control than traditional ones, making the switch can save you a ton in energy costs.

Can smart thermostats be installed in any home?

In most cases, yes. As long as your home has central heating and air, you can switch your normal thermostat to a smart version.

Many newer homes come wired specifically for a smart thermostat, making for quick and easy installation.

In older homes, you may need to update the existing wiring. A professional electrician should always take care of this process.

Also, not all HVAC systems are compatible with all thermostats — smart or not. Double-check which models will work with your existing system before jumping straight into the installation.

Recommended Read: First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm

What You Need to Know About ecobee

Ecobee is a Canadian company that started making smart home devices in 2007. Of these devices, the brand is most famous for its smart thermostat systems.

Rather than rely on a single thermostat, ecobee makes SmartSensors that you can place in high-traffic or important rooms, like a family room or bedroom, to monitor the environment. They can also detect when a room is occupied or empty, adjusting the temperature accordingly.

Energy-efficiency is also a top priority for ecobee products. The eco+ software adjusts for peak usage times and takes advantage of cleaner, cheaper energy sources whenever possible. It can even pull in cool air from outside your home to prevent unnecessary AC use.

Right now, ecobee’s top smart thermostats include the SmartThermostat with Voice Control and the ecobee3 Lite.

ecobee SmartSensor 2 Pack, White
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ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control

The new ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control does away with the need for a separate voice-operated device. Instead, Amazon Alexa is built right into the thermostat itself.

On top of adjusting your home’s temperature, you can make phone calls, control audio, ask questions, and more with just your voice. You can also control the ecobee SmartThermostat from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

This thermostat works with HVAC accessories like humidifiers and dehumidifiers, something not seen in most models. It also includes one ecobee SmartSensor, with additional sensors sold separately.

ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control
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Pros

  • Amazon Alexa software built-in
  • Includes one SmartSensor
  • Sleek design and user interface
  • Compatible with one- and two-stage HVAC systems
  • Adjusts humidity in compatible homes
  • Connects to Android and Apple devices

Cons

  • Reports of WiFi connectivity issues
  • Lack of integration with other Amazon Alexa devices
  • Smartphone app is slow and clunky
  • Resets in the case of a power outage

ecobee3 Lite

As an older, budget-friendly model, the ecobee3 Lite #EB-STATE3LT-02 misses a few notable features seen in the SmartThermostat.

First, it does not have built-in voice control via Amazon Alexa. You can still use voice commands with the ecobee3 Lite, but you will need a separate Google Home, Amazon Echo, or similar device.

Second, it does not come bundled with an occupancy sensor or SmartSensor. The ecobee3 Lite is compatible with SmartSensors, though, so you can always purchase them separately.

In terms of design, the ecobee3 Lite is slightly smaller than the SmartThermostat. It also utilizes a plastic screen rather than a glass one.

The ecobee3 Lite is compatible with most central HVAC systems but does not support accessories like humidifiers or dehumidifiers.

ecobee3 Lite SmartThermostat, Black
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Pros

  • Compatible with all major voice assistants
  • Great for first-time smart thermostat users
  • Works with up to 95 percent of HVAC systems
  • Easy-to-use scheduling system
  • App works on Android and Apple devices

Cons

  • No built-in occupancy sensor
  • SmartSensors sold separately
  • Inconsistent energy data-tracking
  • Does not support HVAC accessories
  • Plastic screen may scratch

Taking a Closer Look at Nest Thermostats

Google Nest
Photo via Smart House Team

In the world of smart home technology, Nest is probably one of the most recognizable names around. Since purchasing the company in 2014, Google slowly transitioned Nest products into its Google Home lineup.

Like ecobee’s SmartSensors, Nest uses Bluetooth-enabled Temperature Sensors #T5000SF to track different rooms’ activity and environment. Keep in mind, however, that these sensors don’t work with all Nest thermostats.

Nest products have a simple, user-friendly design. This attention to detail also extends to the brand’s energy-saving features. To encourage good habits, users receive real-time feedback for eco-conscious decisions in the shape of a Leaf icon on the thermostat’s interface.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is the best-rated model currently available, but the new Nest Thermostat offers many (but not all) of the same features at a more affordable price.

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Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat #T3007ES isn’t the company’s newest device, but it is one of its most popular.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is the last model to use the original Nest app. It’s unclear whether Google plans to migrate this model to the Google Home app at some point.

The Nest Learning Thermostat does not feature a built-in voice assistant. You need a separate device like the Google Home, Nest Hub, or Amazon Echo for integrated voice controls.

The Nest Learning Thermostat does not come bundled with any sensors but is fully compatible with them.

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Pros

  • Automatically displays temperature, weather, and time
  • Compatible with most voice-control assistants
  • Optional battery backup
  • Available in several metal finishes
  • Adjusts to household schedule over time
  • User-friendly energy tracking features

Cons

  • Nest Temperature Sensors sold separately
  • Voice controls not built-in
  • Not currently supported by Google Home app
  • Lackluster custom scheduling capabilities
  • Frequent reports of Nest app crashing

Nest Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat #G4CVZ is the company’s newest model and the first to be fully integrated into the Google Home app.

One of the Nest Thermostat’s biggest selling points (at least compared to the Nest Learning Thermostat) is the affordable price. Customers will need to give up a few core features to take advantage of this deal, however.

The Nest Thermostat does not come with additional Temperature Sensors and, at least at this time, is not even compatible with them. For homeowners interested in mapping out their home’s different rooms, this alone could be a deal-breaker.

The Nest Thermostat is compatible with just 85 percent of HVAC systems, which is a big drop from the Learning Thermostat’s 95 percent compatibility rate.

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Pros

  • Designed for use with Google Home software
  • Attractive casing comes in multiple colors
  • Touch-enabled screen
  • Offers full control over temperature schedule
  • Built-in battery backup
  • Works with standalone voice control devices

Cons

  • Only compatible with up to 85 percent of systems
  • Does not work with Nest Temperature Sensors
  • Downgraded occupancy-sensing
  • Does not adapt to users schedule on its own

ecobee vs. Nest: Which Is Better?

Looking at the thermostats above, it’s clear that both companies know how to cater to smart home enthusiasts of all walks of life. But which is the best match for you?

Temperature control

Let’s set aside the futuristic appearance and high-tech features for a moment to look at what you really want from a thermostat. In other words, which device offers the most reliable temperature control?

While Nest’s learning software is convenient, it lacks hands-on control and customization. Some users have trouble overriding the Nest Learning Thermostat’s schedule. The newer Nest Thermostat does away with this feature in favor of manual scheduling.

The ecobee thermostats are less intuitive at first, but most users agree they can’t beat the customization.

Energy efficiency

Whether you opt for ecobee or Nest, upgrading to a smart thermostat is almost guaranteed to save you money.

If you have zero desire to set up a custom schedule, the Nest Learning Thermostat is likely the best eco-bang for your buck. While not perfect, it’s a good option for hands-off users.

For those willing to fine-tune an energy-efficient HVAC schedule, though, ecobee tends to be more user-friendly.

Google Home
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Voice features

So, when comparing ecobee vs. Nest, which is better for google home? The answer is that it depends.

If you want but don’t already own an in-home voice assistant, the ecobee SmartThermostat is the clear choice. This thermostat practically replaces the need for a separate device like the Google Home or Amazon Echo. The only major downside is that you can’t choose where to place it.

If you already have a voice-control device (or don’t care to own one), then any ecobee or Nest thermostat will do.

Otherwise, both companies support all the major in-home voice assistants. You can also set up voice control from your smartphone or tablet.

User interface

Voice controls aside, the Nest user interface takes the lead in simplicity and aesthetics. Nest’s leaf icon, indicating when a user has made an energy-saving decision, is a favorite among users.

The Nest models also include Farsight, which automatically lights up with key information like temperature, weather conditions, or the time when someone walks past.

The ecobee and original Nest app both seem to suffer from slow loading times and crashes.

Appearance

Both ecobee and Nest make beautiful devices, especially when compared to traditional thermostats.

The ecobee thermostats are sleek and low-profile. The Nest Learning Thermostat is a bit bulky, but the newer Nest Thermostat is just as stylish as the ecobee models.

One advantage the Nest thermostats has over ecobee is the option to choose from several casing colors.

Product support

Both ecobee and Nest are large companies with overall positive reputations with customers. While some users have experienced lackluster tech support, these reports are fairly few and far between.

The ecobee SmartThermostat and ecobee3 Lite each come with a three-year limited warranty.

The Nest Learning Thermostat comes with a two-year limited warranty. The new Nest Thermostat only comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Recommended Read: Best Smart Lightbulbs to Make Your House Smarter

What Is Better: Nest vs. ecobee? The Result

In comparing ecobee vs. Nest thermostats, there is no clear winner. Both companies are at the forefront of smart home technology and manufacture great products.

The ecobee SmartThermostat is an easy choice for homeowners who want built-in voice control. If you want a thermostat that you can truly set-and-forget, go with the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The ecobee3 Lite and newer Nest Thermostat are simpler models with fewer features. For homeowners just dipping their toes into smart technology, though, they’re quite affordable and easy to use.

Whether you opt for ecobee or Nest, you’re sure to notice greater comfort in your home. You might even enjoy some energy savings, too.

Do you have experience with any ecobee or Nest products? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!


Featured Image by Tim Gouw on Unsplash