Although smart home tech is meant to make life easier, not all of it is worthwhile. Most of it seems to just add time and confusion to the day, but some data is worth having in your home.
We reached out to smart home manufacturers to pull in some smart home sensors and see what’s worthwhile and what’s not.
The Good Smart Home Sensors
SimpleSence WiFi Leak Detector ($60)
SimpleSence is a great sensor to have near your pipes to check for leaks or freezes. It’s also good for attics, garages, and any windows or other rooms that may experience leaks.
Because it connects via WiFi, there’s no need for a centralized hub. Although it’s unfortunately not great at interfacing with other smart home platforms (like Samsung SmartThings or Nest), it does well with the functionality listed on the box.
Set up real-time alerts on either iOS or Android, and replace the AAA batteries every other year, and you’ll have seamless protection you never have to think about (except for the wasted app on your phone).
Kangaroo Home Security Motion Sensor ($30 w/ free plan)
If you’re not looking for a full smart home subscription but still want a motion sensor hooked up, Kangaroo Security has the answer. Hang this sensor anywhere and get alerts if there’s any motion in the room while you’re away.
It’s great for keeping an eye on your back if you’re in stealth mode. The compact device is 3.55 x 1.55 x 0.7 inches and is powered by two AA batteries. This is definitely the kind of thing my brother and I would use to trigger traps when we were kids.
Kangaroo’s motion sensor has a 120-degree field of view and can detect motion up to 15 feet away. If motion is detected, you’re given a push notification to call 911. There’s also a paid premium monitored security plan that can save you money on your home insurance.
Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker ($15)
Tile is synonymous with Bluetooth trackers, despite the deluge of copycats that flooded the market since its arrival. These trackers can be found integrated into high-end luggage, bags, wallets, and more. What the company has that its competition doesn’t is a massive global network of users that makes it much easier to locate missing Tile devices.
The entry-level Tile Mate has basic connectivity features to locate your lost keys, wallet, purse, and more. Upgrade to the Tile Pro for $30 to get a replaceable battery, or just pry this one open and glue it back together.
I love Tile Bluetooth trackers, and this app is only getting better with time.
Check out these security cameras to add video to your smart home security arsenal.
NetAtmo Personal Weather Station ($180)
NetAtmo was critically acclaimed back in 2015, but it’s having trouble finding its place among consumers entering the 2020s. It’s not for lack of design – these sensors are much better than the above mentioned ones, with Alexa integration, a smart bot, and a wide range of functionality.
The Weather Station is an indoor/outdoor (two different sensors) device that monitors temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, CO2, and noise. Having all this information in a graph for every room of your home, along with the yards, is probably the best gift you can give your health.
I’m a huge proponent of air filtration and run about five types of air filters around my house, which are constantly changed. It’s amazing how much healthier you feel just reacting smarter to the environment around you.
Check out these air filters that keep your home smelling fresh through anything.
The Bad Smart Home Sensor
AngelSense GPS Child Tracker ($500 for one year)
While reviewing products, we do occasionally come across duds, and AngelSense appears to be one of these products. Not only is it bulky, but it’s using an expensive white-labeled Verizon plan that’s not even that great in most areas. But the product’s specs aren’t what bothered me, since I never bothered to turn it on.
About a week before we got into testing, the pushy marketing manager for the company made it clear the company was remote monitoring the device they sent. As a privacy advocate, I was immediately turned off. There’s no reason for them to monitor me (I felt really creeped out), and it has to be against COPA for them to do this.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable attaching this device to a child with special needs, and there are much less bulky ways to accomplish the same thing. Amazon reviewers complain of bad service and inaccurate GPS, but the fact that some creepy old men are tracking these children from the office crosses the line into inappropriate and creepy. Steer clear of this dud.
Check out the Litter-Robot 3 for a cooler smart-home product for you to poop on.