DIY Smart Home: 7 Essential Devices I Use in My Home

A few months ago, I introduced the 7 best smart home devices that I use every day. But since then I’ve moved into a new apartment and had to consider which tenant-friendly networked products I would like to integrate into my current lifestyle.

While the DIY smart home renovation of my parents’ home requires more permanent solutions, I have different needs in my personal apartment. My door doesn’t have room for video doorbells or smart thermostats. Replacing existing switches with smart switches is a lot of work for a place where I temporarily live.

As in my previous apartment, most of my smart home devices fall into the categories of best smart lights and best smart speakers. I use both Alexa and Google Assistant (I didn’t feel compelled to choose on top of each other like when renovating a house) to control my products hands-free. Routines with both assistants introduce hassle-free automation that I think anyone with the right hardware can achieve – even in a small, rented apartment.

Here is my starter pack of the best smart home devices for living in apartments.

Echo Dot with clock rating

(Photo credit: Tom’s Guide)

1. Amazon Echo Dot with clock

Everyone who knows me knows that the $ 60 Amazon Echo Dot and Clock is my favorite smart home device no matter where I live. When the Alexa spherical speaker hit the market last year, I knew I needed it on my desk. Not only does it look good, but over time I can easily keep track of my priorities and workflows. In addition to the best Alexa skills, the Amazon Echo Dot shows off a countdown timer that I can use to manage my breaks, appointments, and more.

Google Nest Hub (2nd generation) rating

(Photo credit: Tom’s Guide)

2. Google Nest Hub (2nd generation)

While the Echo Dot with clock is my vehicle for Alexa, I also need access to the Google Assistant. The new $ 99 Google Nest Hub (2nd generation) is a great addition to my smart space, whether you’re testing the best Google Home commands and the best Google Assistant commands, or managing my Google Calendar events want. I keep it on a bedside table across from my Alexa speaker where it can track my sleep – no skin contact required. It felt a little creepy at first, but as my sleep profile grows, the Nest Hub compares my persistence from night to night to provide actionable advice based on my overnight schedule of activities and the guidelines of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine . Sleep is not easy for me, especially in a new environment, but my Google Nest Hub made useful suggestions for getting more zzz.

Govee light streaks

(Image credit: Govee)

3. Govee LED light strips

I love light bars, but those from Philips Hue and other leading smart lighting manufacturers can be expensive, depending on how many meters of LEDs you need. In my search for light strips that wouldn’t break the bank and that also offer a physical control button in addition to being compatible with voice assistants, I found the $ 40 Govee LED light strips. These Amazon darlings are two-pronged so you can feed the strips in two different directions with a remote control in the middle. I lined my bedroom with these strips of light that stirred up either static colors or dazzling, party-ready colors in my room. The glue is tacky enough to hold the light streaks in place but didn’t ruin my walls or bed frame when I was trying to reposition them – a must have for a rental.

Philips Hue switch

(Photo credit: Philips Hue)

4. Philips Hue Smart Dimming Kit

As for the lights in my apartment, I turned on Philips Hue lights. Specifically, the $ 40 Philips Hue Smart Dimming Kit. With this kit, not only does the box work and no company bridge is required, the dimmer switch also does not have to be mounted on the wall with screws or other fittings. Instead, the plate is magnetic, so it can stick to my refrigerator or magnetic door frames. I also leave the dimmer remote on my living room coffee table so I can turn on the lights without opening my phone or speaking loudly while watching TV. This is useful when I have guests who are not familiar with my smart home products.

Sonos Roam

(Photo credit: Tom’s Guide)

5. Sonos Roam

Neither the Amazon Echo Dot nor the Google Nest Hub are great smart speakers for music. While the Sonos One makes a great stationary smart speaker, why not one that you can carry around with you? I’ve tested the new Sonos Roam and appreciate how I can take it with me from room to room. That way, my music and podcasts, as well as my voice assistants, are always close by. The Roam’s lightweight design also makes it a breeze to toss my bag in when driving to park or take the train to the beach in the summer. With bluetooth capabilities outside and clever Wi-Fi capabilities inside, it’s a 2-in-1 speaker with great sound for just $ 169.

Samsung Q80T QLED TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

6. Samsung Q80T QLED TV

No smart apartment is complete without a smart TV. While most of the best TVs are smart TVs in that they offer dozens (if not hundreds) of streaming apps, you might want a TV that supports voice assistants. Today, the top 4K sets from brands like LG, Sony, and Samsung support Alexa, Google Assistant, or both. Although I was once an OLED fanatic, the $ 1,200 Samsung Q80T QLED TV recently made me a fan of QLED. I can only activate one assistant at a time, but one of them can help me navigate content and control my other smart home devices.

For more gadget recommendations, check out my guides on the best smart home devices (and the best cheap smart home devices). Email me at [email protected] or leave a comment below with anything I should cover in the related area – I may bring it up in a future episode.

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