December 15, 2020
December is the happiest time of year — to buy the latest in smart home equipment. Here’s some of our best picks in home automation technology to add to your holiday shopping list. It’s the perfect time to spruce up your Bay Area smart home with many of these brands running holiday deals, so that you can get the most for your well earned dollars.
Let’s start off with the center of operations for the usual smart home. The smart hub usually can be programmed to voice activate nearly everything that has a Bluetooth connection in your home. Not only that, but smart hubs are now available everywhere these days. It’s very difficult to make the wrong choice when picking out your new smart hub. Whether you want to go simple with the Amazon Alexa, or get something different such as the Google Nest Mini — coming in at a low price while offering tons of home automation solutions. No matter which smart hub you get, you’ll get functionality across your entire home. There’s nothing more wonderful than using your Samsung SmartThings Hub to voice activate your TV, along with your Philips A19 smart lightbulbs and much more. It’s best to do your research before purchasing one of these smart hubs as some of them offer functionality and some extra features that some of the others don’t. We’re a bit partial to the Amazon Alexa at Regent5, as it provides the best connections to the most devices across many platforms. Lighting, Wi-Fi, sound systems, TV control, and much more can be controlled solely from a voice activation on your Alexa.
It never hurts to be able to open an app and see whether the pizza delivery guy is finally here, or maybe someone has finally delivered that amazon package. Thankfully many companies provide smart video doorbell options with easy installation. Since most doorbells are already wired, switching out to the smart options isn’t generally that difficult. Ring offers their Video Doorbell Pro option, which can come with multiple chimes that can be spread throughout your house (so you’ll never miss someone showing up even while vacuuming), and Nest offers their Hello video doorbell. Both have very similar functionality and can provide you with the safety of being able to two way talk with someone you’re not too sure about, until you get their intentions sorted away. We’ve noticed at Regent5 that the Ring Video Doorbell Pro has the best bang for its buck and provides the most up to date and useful features.
Let’s be real — you probably have quite a few remotes sitting around your house and you’re probably not sure what half of them even do. Thankfully you can easily combine all of your remotes into a single unit that has multiple functions. While brands such as URC offer universal remote abilities, we’re a bit more partial to the Logitech Harmony Elite remote. It has a useful touch screen and a very simple to use interface. It works with multiple home systems from TV’s to sound systems to Sonos players, and it’ll leave you wishing you had thrown all those extra remotes out years ago.
For those of you with whole-home automation systems by Savant, the Savant Pro remote offers a very elegant whole home universal remote solution. Similar to the Logitech Harmony Elite in functionality, the remote comes with a touch screen interface along with the usual buttons to get you where you need to go when controlling every aspect of your smart home. Even better, the Savant remote links to Lutron smart shades such as the Sivoia QS roller shade line or Lutron Homeworks shades as well. It’s a win-win solution!
While it was an amazing deal back on Black Friday 2009 and you waited in line at 4am to get it — that 40" TV isn’t going to cut it anymore. Thankfully smart tv prices from brands such as Samsung, LG, and many more have come down considerably in price the last few years, with the premium models hovering in around $1,500-$2,000. You can even get a lovely Picture Frame TV from Samsung for that price, which doubles wonderfully as an art piece when in low power mode. The LG 77" OLED TV is one of our favorites, coming in $3,500, and is well worth the premium price point.
Even in Hillsborough or Atherton it can get quite chilly in the winter. Low temperatures going into the low 40’s hasn’t helped keep those homes warm, but thankfully a large selection of smart thermostats can help. Whether you’d like to keep it simple with models such as an Ecobee thermostat, or with the Nest Learning Thermostat. You can also upgrade to something more fancy such as the Savant Smart Thermostat if you’re feeling adventurous. You can’t go wrong with your smart thermostat options in 2020. Just make sure you install them in a hallway or other highly trafficked area of your home, and you’ll be all set. For the average home, the SmartThermostat (by Ecobee) is quite a fun model offering a lot of features and we’d love to see more homes with it installed.
It’s never too early to invest in a great security system, complete with alarm and as many cameras as you need. Thankfully it seems as though every home automation company is diving into the security world. Ring has some great options that cover every type of setting, from indoor cameras to complex outdoor floodlight and spotlight cameras that can be both battery operated and wired to your home network. These come with apps that let you get motion detector alerts and see your home in real-time without any frustrating footage search methods. You can get a bit more advanced with your camera system and install wired LTS cameras with an associated NVR recorder to play back important footage. These cameras allow you to store and access much more data over a longer period of time than the Ring cameras.
2020 is by far the year spent most at home, so why not upgrade your sound system and make the most of your work at home experience? Thankfully there’s many options when it comes to sound. Sonos is one of our favorites, as you can wirelessly control all of your speakers. Sonos gives the ability to add speakers as you go, without any of the messy wiring associated with most surround sound systems. They released the brand new Sonos ARC this year, which gives full Dolby Surround Sound abilities from a simple sound bar that can be mounted below your TV. If you’re feeling more adventurous though, you can install some Sonance in-ceiling VP66 speakers and tie them together with a Marantz SR6015 receiver, and a Denon AVR-2700H amplifier. No matter what solution you decide on, there are many options available for your personal needs.
There’s quite a few options available when it comes to smart home upgrades in 2020. Smart shades are among one of the more popular items, along with beautiful Lutron Palladiom keypads that can accent your home. You can even now throw an iPad on your wall and control your home temperature and connect it to a smart home system such as Savant. Smaller gadgets and other additions to your home are available for those of you who don’t want to venture too far into the home automation world. Of course your mileage may vary depending on if you have a Los Altos Hills three story villa or just a cozy little cottage in Hillsborough or Atherton. Either way, there’s always something you can put under the tree this year that will bring convenience and joy to your home.