Consumer Reports: Smart home upgrades

If you’re ready to upgrade your home with automated features or features powered by the touch of a button... we’re working for you to explain how inexpensive upgrades on everyday items can bring many smart home features to you.

Syed Abbas has been using smart bulbs and plugs for a few years.

“When I leave home I can just check my app to know that, ok, all the lights are turned off and I’m not using any energy that I don’t need,” Abbas said

Both smart bulbs and plugs can turn any lamp into a smart lamp that you can control from anywhere using an app, or a smart speaker like Alexa or Google Assistant ... but how do you know if bulbs or plugs are best for your home?

“Smart bulbs are a better choice for lamps that have a lamp shade because the bulbs themselves are kind of ugly looking,” Dan Wroclawski with Consumer Reports said. “Bulbs are also a great choice for fixtures that can’t be plugged in such as overhead light fixtures. If you want lightning that can change color or even color temperature from warm to cool then you would also want a smart bulb.”

After evaluating nearly, a dozen smart bulbs, Dan said these models from TP-Link Kasa Smart and Cree are great budget options.

If you want to dip more than your toe into the smart home trend, Consumer Reports said smart plugs offer a lot of options.

“With smart plugs you can automate way more than just lighting. You can use them to control any appliance in your home whether it’s a fan or even a coffee maker. They’re also really great for fire safety for devices like space heaters, hair straighteners or hair dryers. If you forget to turn them off, you can do it remotely from your phone even if you’re not home,” Wroclawski said.

CR said a smart plug from GE was one of the easiest to set up and works with both Alexa and Google Assistant.

The TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug is also easy to set up and use and it works with Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung assistants.

Consumer Reports said some smart plugs even offer energy monitoring, so you can figure out which devices in your home hog the most energy and turn them off when they aren’t in use.

About the Authors:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.

You can watch Brittny during the week anchoring the 5, 7 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10 and reporting on news that matters to you.