12 Handy Smarthome Gadgets for Your Home Office

A MacBook, an ecobee sensor, a smart plug, and a Google Home Hub on a desk.
Josh Hendrickson

One of the benefits of working from home is you can make changes you can’t in a corporate office. This includes adding smarthome gadgets to improve your workspace. These devices can help your workflow and make you more comfortable.

When you choose smarthome devices for your home office, you want the same convenience you’d want for any other room. And when it comes to work, smarthome devices can increase your productivity because you can do so much without leaving the room.

After all, if you work from home, one of the hardest things is to get back into a workflow after an interruption. Here are a few smarthome gadgets that can help you remain focused.

Start with a Smart Display

A Google Nest Hub and Amazon Echo Show.
Google, Amazon

A smart speaker with a voice assistant, like Amazon Echo or Google Home, is normally a good starting point for a smarthome. However, for a Home Office, we recommend you step up to a Smart Display. It gives you extra features, like visual weather forecasts, and video feeds from cameras and smart doorbells. And, of course, Smart Displays include all the usual features a smart speaker has.

Here are the two best smart displays to consider:

  • Google Nest Hub: Unless you already own Amazon Echo devices, we recommend the Google Nest Hub (formerly, Home Hub) as the best pick for a smart display. This is partly due to the ambient mode, which adds all your family photos to your office and gives you a taste of home while you’re…at home.
  • Amazon Echo Show: If you have an Amazon home, you can get the Echo Show. It doesn’t have an ambient screen mode, but you still get better weather forecasts and video feeds.

Add a Video Doorbell

A Nest Hello Video Doorbell and Ring Video doorbell.
Google, Amazon

We think Video Doorbells are one of the best smarthome gadgets you can own. When you combine them with a smart display, their value only goes up, especially for your home office. The last thing you need is another interruption—especially, from solicitors. A video doorbell and smart display enable you to ignore salespeople while keeping an eye out for packages.

Given their advantages when coupled with a Smart Display, there are two main video doorbells worth your consideration:

  • Nest Hello Video Doorbell: If you have a Google Nest Hub, then the video doorbell from Nest is a no-brainer. When someone rings your doorbell, the video feed appears almost instantly on the Nest Hub. Then, you can talk to the person, ignore them, or send a preselected message. Nest Hello provides high-quality video, and it’s the only doorbell that offers 24/7 recording. The downsides are you need doorbell wiring that works, and a Nest Aware subscription to get the best features.
  • Ring Video Doorbell: If you’re already in the Amazon Echo system, or your doorbell wiring doesn’t work, the Ring Video Doorbell is a great option. They come in both wired and battery-powered versions. Ring also offers a Door Cam that doubles as a peephole. This video doorbell doesn’t record 24/7 but, with a subscription, you can access the video of any motion or doorbell presses.

Smart Bulbs Light Your Office and Keep People Out

Philips Hue and Wyze Smart Bulbs.
Philips, Wyze

Want to control the lights in your office without rewiring your switches? If so, smart bulbs are for you! And, if you purchase colored bulbs, not only can you change the ambiance of the room, but you can also create a warning system.

The most significant source of interruptions when you work from home is the other people who live there. When a closed door isn’t enough (and it often isn’t), a light system might make all the difference.

If you can, place a lamp directly outside your closed office door and put a smart bulb in it. Then, you can set up a color system. Green could mean you’re on a break, and it’s okay for someone to come in. Yellow could indicate you’re working but can be interrupted if necessary. And red could mean you’re on a video call or a deadline and can’t be interrupted.

Alternatively, you might consider a smart LED strip, either for bias or accent lighting. LED strips also come in colors and, typically, you can mount them with sticky tape if you can’t set up a warning system outside your office.

Here are some of our choices for smart bulbs and LED strips:

  • Philips Hue Bulbs: The premium smart bulb option and, as such, they’re also among the most expensive. But for your hard-earned dollars, you get vibrant colors, scene support, and local controls that work fast. The company’s new Bluetooth bulbs can also save you a few dollars (because you can skip the Hub) if you don’t plan to expand beyond your office.
  • Wyze BulbsWyze offers the cheapest, good quality smarthome products around. Whether it’s cameras, sensors, or light bulbs, we like Wyze. If you don’t care about colors, but want good smart lights for fewer dollars, Wyze is the best option.
  • iLinktek LED Strips: Philips Hue offers the best-looking smart LED strips, but they’re also incredibly expensive. You can save around $100 if you buy this 16.4-foot iLinktek strip instead. These lights are compatible with Alexa and Google, and if you use iClever products, they work with the same Smart Life app.

A Smart Plug for All Your Dumb Things

Amazon, Sonoff, and iClever smart plugs.
Amazon, Sonoff, iClever

If you have tabletop or floor fans, window A/C units, or chargers for your devices in a power strip, you can add a smart plug and  make routines and voice control possible. You might even save some money if you power down some devices overnight (or whenever you aren’t in your office).

There are plenty of smart plug options, but you want to make sure the one you choose is compatible with your Google or Alexa smart display.

Here are some of your options:

  • Sonoff S31: This plug is one of the cheaper options, and it has features many other smart plugs do not. It’s compatible with both Amazon and Google, monitors energy usage, and has built-in scheduling support.
  • Amazon Smart Plug: If you use Alexa, the Amazon Smart Plug is the easiest option to set up with your voice assistant devices. You get on and off controls, along with routines and voice commands, but not much more. If you don’t already use Alexa, you might want to skip this option.
  • iClever Smart Plugs: The cheapest smart plugs around, but they’re also tricky to set up. Once you get them working, we suggest you use a single-app solution, like Google Home or Alexa, to control them instead of the Smart Life app.

While they’re not available yet, Wyze will soon have smart plugs, and they’re cheaper than any of the others, by far. If you own other Wyze products, it might be worth the wait to see if its smart plugs live up to the stellar reputation of its other products. Wyze said the plugs should be available in late September 2019.

A Smart Thermostat to Keep You Comfortable

A Nest Learning Thermostat and ecobee smart thermostat.
Google, ecobee

When you work from home, you also (sometimes) get to control the thermostat. That doesn’t mean you want to have to walk out of your office to adjust it, though. This is where a smart thermostat comes in! Thanks to voice integrations and apps, you can change the temperature from anywhere. You might want to consider a temperature sensor for your office, as well. This keeps your thermostat from going to away mode when you’re hard at work in your office.

Here are our choices for smart thermostats:

  • Nest Learning Thermostat: This is the most well-known smart thermostat, and for good reason. It’s easy to use (you just turn a dial), pretty to look at, and it easily integrates with Google products. The only downside is the temperature sensors for Nest are sold separately.
  • ecobee SmartThermostat: This model doubles as an Alexa device and comes with a temperature sensor, so you can save some money if you go with this option. The interface has a higher learning curve than Nest, but it’s nearly identical to the ecobee smart app, so once you master one, you master both.

You might not need everything on this list. After all, every office, home, and worker is different and has different needs.

But with the right combination of items, you can start and end your workday with simple routines that automate your tasks and prevent interruptions. And all of this can lead to a more productive you!

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

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