Best Home Automation Gifts

What are the best home automation gifts this holiday season?

A smart home is a safe, comfortable home, and what better way to help out with the automation process than giving some amazing gifts this holiday season? From security to safety to practicality, these gifts are the best that home automation has to offer!

Nexia Z-Wave bridge

Nexia Z-Wave bridge

The Nexia Z-Wave bridge, paired with the Windows 10 app, is a great place to begin your home automation process. Connect your Nexia bridge to the internet, hook up any automated accessories, and you're essentially good to go. The list of Z-Wave products compatible with Nexia is quite extensive, and other smart devices from Nest, Schlage, and even the Amazon Echo also work with Nexia.

I found setting up and using the Nexia system to be one of the best home automation systems I have used so far.
— Daniel Rubino, Windows Central Editor-in-Chief

There is a monthly $10 subscription fee to use the Nexia system, but you get 250MB of video storage, remote access to all devices connected to Nexia, and the ability to connect over 250 Z-Wave devices. The Nexia bridge starts at about $85.

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Ecobee3 smart thermostat

Ecobee3 smart thermostat

Our favorite smart thermostat over here at Windows Central is super easy to install and set up, has an LCD touchscreen, and has an app available for your Windows devices. The kit comes with all the hardware you need to attach the backplates and thermostat. Use your modern HVAC's wiring — or the handy converter kit for older systems — to have your ecobee3 up and running in about 10 minutes.

Fantastic hardware paired with an outstanding app on Windows 10 and Mobile. What's not to love?
— Daniel Rubino, Windows Central Editor-in-Chief

The ecobee3's remote sensors can tell if you're home and which rooms you're in to deliver heat or cold only when and where it's needed. Enjoy incredibly precise weather updates both inside and outside your house, a nice way to take advantage of the large screen. The ecobee3 starts at about $250.

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Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is not only a 360-degree Bluetooth speaker with great sound, it's also the centerpiece of your automated home. Compatible with popular brands like Nexia, Hue, and ecobee, Echo uses its AI, Alexa, to answer questions, play music, turn on lights, and organize your life thanks to access to a ton of apps.

The Echo's seven microphones will hear your commands from across the room even when you're blasting music, and if you have multiple Echos throughout your house, only the one closest to you will respond. There is currently no Windows app, but thanks to complete voice control and integration through the Amazon website, you set up your Echo from your Windows 10 PC and then just use your voice to control it. This speaker with so much more starts at about $180.

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Philips Hue starter kit

Philips Hue starter kit

The days of only white light in your home are coming to an end thanks to products like Philips Hue. This starter kit comes with three full-color LED bulbs compatible with your standard light socket, and a small, square hub that can connects with up to 50 bulbs at a time.

These bulbs have about 16 million different colors to choose from without even getting into the 50,000 different shades of white light. Control the lighting in your home with the excellent Huetro app for your Windows devices, or sync with the Amazon Echo. Having a party? Set your lights to move with the music. This starter kit, with three bulbs and a hub, starts at about $200.

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Ring video doorbell

Ring video doorbell

Having a doorbell that simply sounds when someone is at your door is a thing of the past. With the Ring video doorbell, you get instant notifications on any Windows 10 device, and you can see and talk to whoever is outside. Ring also acts as a motion-sensing security camera with a 720p resolution, and you can subscribe to a cloud recording service for $3 per month or $30 per year.

Ring is a smart use of modern technology, and it also serves as a safety measure for your home and family.
— Daniel Rubino, Windows Central Editor-in-Chief

Ring comes with all the hardware needed for quick installation, and you can connect it to existing doorbell wiring. The battery, however, should last upwards of a year depending on use. Never miss another delivery again, and have peace of mind about who's coming and going at your household. The Ring video doorbell starts at about $195 and is available in four colors.

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Nest Protect smoke alarm

Nest Protect smoke alarm

Installing the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm in your house is a fantastic way to alleviate worry when you're both at home and away. It connects with the Windows 10 app to give you instant updates about potential fires or buildups while you're away, and has an automated voice that alerts you to danger when you're at home. It can even tell the difference between you burning dinner and a full-on fire, and will alter its notifications depending on the situation.

The Nest Protect comes with the hardware needed for quick installation — choose from a battery option or a wired option that hooks up to existing wiring. Don't worry, you'll receive notifications if the AA batteries are running low (Nest says they will last for "years" and will notify you a year out from replacement). Why use a standard smoke alarm when you can protect your home to this degree? The Nest Protect starts at about $100.

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Schlage Connect touchscreen deadbolt

Schlage Connect touchscreen deadbolt

The Schlage Connect hooks up to your Z-Wave home automation system — like Nexia — to provide an effective means of keeping your home secure. Thanks to its simple design, you can install the Schlage Connect in a standard door using only a screwdriver.

Each member of your family can use their own PIN on the touchscreen to unlock the door, and you can give out temporary guest PINs for visitors or housekeepers. A built-in alarm has three stages of urgency based on suspicious activity, tampering, and actual breaking and entering for a bit of extra security.

While this deadbolt is based around keyless entry, there is still a key slot in the case of an emergency. The Schlage Connect starts at about $160.

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Nest indoor camera

Nest indoor camera

Keeping tabs on the comings and going of your household has never been easier thanks to the Nest indoor camera. Monitor a live video feed in 1080p, and take advantage of a night-vision feature to keep an eye things even in the dark.

Connect the Nest camera with a Z-Wave hub — like the Nexia bridge — and receive alerts anytime the camera senses movement. The camera's speaker and microphone allows for two-way communication, so you can ask exactly what the kids were thinking when they tipped the vase off the table.

The wall-mount allows the camera to be mounted practically anywhere, or use the stand to place it on a flat surface. The Nest indoor camera starts at about $180.

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