In 2022, welcoming home automation to into your household is not only becoming necessary but equally exhausting to research and build. Where do you start? What system should you use? We’ll get you pointed in the right direction.
This article was updated on: February 8, 2022
There exists a multitude of Home Assistant and Automation Systems, in that it is easy to find yourself overwhelmed. We’re here to help alleviate that stress by covering at least four of the best home automation systems we’ve researched, tried and tested. Though we state they are ‘the best’, please note that this is entirely subjective as systems evolve and grow over time, our thoughts on these subject matter will eventually change. What we hope to do by sharing our knowledge is that it will at the very least give you a head-start on jumping into the world of home-automation and relieve you of your choice anxiety.
Which home assistant system and app will work best for me?
Where do I begin? Depending on the current devices you current use at home you’ll want to start with what you already have. For example, if you’re an Apple user, using iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, Home-Pods etc., you’ll like want to use and integrate the Apple Home-Kit that’s already included in the Apple ecosystem. On the other hand, if you use mostly Android devices at home, including Android and Google Phones, then you’ll want to look into using Amazon Alexa as your home assistant and automation system. If you’re a mixed user household that uses both Apple and Android systems, you’ll want to possibly use a hybrid system or something that’s compatible with both; for example, TP-Link’s Kasa Systems and Sonos speakers are both compatible with both Apple (HomeKit) and Android (Amazon Alexa) systems, while providing functionality via their own proprietary apps. Lastly, if you’re super tech-savvy, you may even try building your own custom home-automation system.
- Where do you fit best?:
- You’re an Apple Aficionado – Apple HomeKit
- You are an Android Advocate – Google Nest/Home
- You and your family members are both Apple and Android users – Amazon Alexa
- You’re the Renegade DIY-er – The Open Source HomeAssistant.io
1. For Apple Aficionados = Apple HomeKit
Apple HomeKit – https://www.apple.com/ios/home/
What is Apple HomeKit? HomeKit is Apple’s very own smart-home app and system. It functions as a platform for all of your Apple HomeKit compatible devices to connect to, thereby allowing you, the user, to control each device, all under one roof. Imagine the system as the a whole piano, with the keys being your devices and the the wood, strings and all of its innards as Apple HomeKit, each key or device is connected to one another through the system, which can work separately or together.
What can Apple HomeKit? As per Apple.com, “With the Home app, you can easily and securely control your HomeKit accessories from all your Apple devices. Turn off the lights, see who’s at the front door, adjust your living room temperature, turn up the music, and so much more…the Home app makes all your connected devices work harder — and smarter — for you.”
How does the Apple HomeKit system work? Apple HomeKit acts as the scaffolding which connects all of your smart-devices together. Devices connect to the internet through a hub connected to Wi-Fi (explained in the next section) or directly to Wi-Fi. Once devices are set-up to your HomeKit set-up at home, they can then be controlled through the app and controls can be relayed and shared to various users in your household.
Who is this for? If you’re an Apple devotee and all-in on Apple hardware but you’ve been waiting for a reliable system to tie your smart home together, the good news is that HomeKit is all you need. It’s easy, it works well and it ties everything in with Siri, so it gives you a good base of commands from which to expand your digital repertoire.
What devices does Apple HomeKit incorporate? Apple lists some of the devices and accessories at which their Apple HomeKit are compatible with, including: AC Units, Air Purifiers, Wi-Fi Bridges, Wi-Fi Cameras, Wi-Fi Doorbells, Electric Fans, Faucets (who would have thought?), Garage Doors, Air Humidifiers, Lighting, Locks, Outlets, Audio Receivers, Wi-Fi Routers, Home Security Devices, Home Security Sensors, Speakers, Sprinklers, Light and Power Switches, Thermostats, TVs and even Windows (not the Microsoft kind). Apple HomeKit compatible devices are denoted with the logo: .
Are there limitations or added products needed like a hub? Some devices that are HomeKit compatible but require a hub include: blue-tooth enabled door locks like Level Deadbolts. These locks require that you be nearby as they communicate with your device via blue-tooth. The work-around for this in the case that you’re away from home and wish to unlock or lock your door, is to utilize a compatible hub, acting as a go-between your smart phone, the net, and internet router you have at home. These can be: an Apple Home-Pod Mini, iPad with iOS 10+, and an Apple TV with tvOS 9+. These devices must be connected to your respective HomeKit system/profile and be nearby both the Wi-Fi access point and the device, in this case a blue-tooth enabled door lock, in-order for the lock and unlock functions to work correctly.
Note: We will create a more in-depth guide as to how to set-up Apple HomeKit on a later article. If you’d like to receive updates on future articles we publish, consider signing up for our Newsletter here.
2. Android users = Google Nest/Home
Google Nest/Home Assistant – https://assistant.google.com/
What is Google Nest? Google Home and Nest are actually synonymous in name. Google has basically changed its home-automation system’s name from: Google Home to Nest to Assistant and also ‘Hey Google’. In all actuality, it functions similarly to Apple’s HomeKit and Amazon’s Alexa. If you’re an Android user, this is likely the system you will want to use as your Android device already utilizes Google apps including Gmal and Chrome. Google Nest/Home devices will say or will be labeled: and
What can Google Assistant do? As per Google.com, “Ask Google to control smart devices in your home. No matter where you are, get things done – whenever you want.” You can, “protect your home with smart devices built to give you peace of mind. Control security systems and cameras from anywhere. And even lock doors using your voice or mobile phone. So you have less to worry about.” You are also able to, “transform your living room into a theater. Dim the lights, play your favorite movie, or find something new to watch, all with a little help from Google.” Lastly, they state that you can also “start and end every day more easily, with a smart bedroom tailored to your comfort. Wake up to your favorite podcast or music with smart speakers. Even get blinds that open and close with your voice.“
How does the Google Nest system work? Google Nest is actually a wider array of devices all working together under the same umbrella, under Google. Much like Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit, it acts as a platform and scaffold, connecting and controlling all of your Google Assistant compatible devices.
Who is this for? If your home is exclusively using Android devices, Google Home will likely be your best bet, this is due in part by your phone being equipped with Gmail and Chrome. If you are already comfortable with the Google system, you’ll likely feel right at home with Google Nest and Google Assistant.
What devices does Google Nest incorporate? A lot of the products available today for your smart-home will likely be compatible with Google’s systems. This includes: Lighting Systems (LIFX, Nanoleaf, Sengled), Wi-Fi Plugs (D-Link, GE Smart Plugs, Geeni), Wireless Switches (Kasa, Geeni, Brilliant), and much more. They also have smart speakers that come with Google Assistant already built-in.
Are there limitations or added products needed like a hub? Much like the other devices and systems on this article, Google Nest will not require a hub to function. Most of their devices directly connect to your smart-home’s wi-fi. Google does however offer a ‘Google Nest Hub‘, which is a smart-screen with Google Assistant already built-in. However, don’t confuse this as a necessary hub that acts as a go-between for devices, but rather, this specific device just acts as a mini-control center, much like the Amazon Echo Show.
Note: We will create a more in-depth guide as to how to set-up Google Nest on a later article. If you’d like to receive updates on future articles we publish, consider signing up for our Newsletter here.
3. Apple and Android users = Amazon Alexa
Amazon Alexa – https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=18354642011
What is Amazon Alexa? Alexa is Amazon’s smart-home platform. It was designed to be a smart voice assistant which allows the user to perform tasks and commands audibly through voice. The app itself functions much like Apple’s HomeKit by acting as a platform for all of your Amazon Alexa compatible devices to connect to and control. What’s nice about Alexa is, like Google Home, its available to use on both Android and Apple devices. Similar to Apple’s HomeKit, Alexa Certified devices will say or will be labeled:
What can Amazon Alexa do? As per Amazon.com, “Alexa is Amazon’s voice AI. Alexa lives in the cloud and is happy to help anywhere there’s internet access and a device that can connect to Alexa. Making Alexa part of your day is as simple as asking a question. Alexa can play your favorite song, read the latest headlines, dim the lights in your living room, and more. Basically, Alexa wants to make your life easier, more meaningful, and more fun by helping you voice control your world—both at home and on the go.”
How does the Amazon Alexa system work? Amazon Alexa functions in the ‘cloud’ where it acts as a hub for all of your Alexa compatible devices. It not only controls your various devices in your smart-home, but it also congregates the latest information online for you to audibly access. For example, you can ask Alexa to ‘read the latest news’, and it will reply with the current news articles and topics. It can greet you in the morning with the weather for the day and even check to see if there’s traffic ahead of your commute. All of this is accessible via your Alexa compatible devices so long as they are connected to the internet.
Who is this for? Chances are, your household will utilize both Apple and Android users and at one point you will want to be able to share access to all of your smart-home device’s controls. Amazon Alexa allows you to do just that due to the fact that the app is available to both Android and Apple users (via their respective app stores).
What devices does Amazon Alexa incorporate? Much of the technology available today are Alexa compatible devices. Amazon lists several features on Amazon.com. This includes: Smart Displays (for watching videos, accessing your Ring video doorbells and cameras, etc.), Smart Speakers (which can also act as voice-devices for controlling your smart-home), wireless earbuds and sunglasses (acting as hands-free units similar to smart speakers but in a more compact fashion), and lastly, various wi-fi connected doorbells, doorlocks and security cameras which are all accessible through voice controls.
Are there limitations or added products needed like a hub? Amazon Alexa devices do not require a smart hub to function. This is due to Alexa devices all being connected to the internet and cloud via wi-fi connection. They directly connect to wi-fi, thereby bypassing the need for a hub. On the other hand, there are devices such as the Philips Hue Bulb System (for their smart lightbulbs and LED systems) and Samsung SmartThings Hub (for outlets, door, motion, and water leak sensors) which may be required in-order to enable the connection between the devices to the hub and then to your wi-fi.
Note: We will create a more in-depth guide as to how to set-up Amazon Alexa on a later article. If you’d like to receive updates on future articles we publish, consider signing up for our Newsletter here.
3. Open Source Home Automation: HomeAssistant.io
The Open Source Home Assistant – HomeAssistant.io and via its Reddit Community
What is HomeAssistant.io? Home Assistant is an open source system which provides home automation with the emphasis of enabling local control and focus on privacy. This system is built and installed locally, which means it doesn’t operate on the cloud, but rather, the operating system runs on a small computer such as a Rasberry Pi or a local server/PC running Windows, macOS or Linux.
What can HomeAssistant.io? As per Home-Assistant.io, “Automations in Home Assistant allow you to automatically respond to things that happen. You can turn the lights on at sunset or pause the music when you receive a call.” This open-source home-automation system allows you to implement ‘blueprints‘, which are pre-configured tasks that you can add to and then initiate on the system. Some of these include: wake-up light alarm with sunrise effect (going from dim to bright with warm-colored light to slowly wake you up), notify or do something when an appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine finishes (to let you know your chores are finished), automatic room occupancy (so you know when people are present) and so much more!
How does the HomeAssistant.io system work? Unlike the other store-bought and readily available systems listed on this article, which all operate in ‘the cloud’, HomeAssistant.io works and operates locally. One basically sets up a computer or server at home with the Home Assistant Operating System installed. Examples of the available systems you can build it on are: Rasberry Pi, ODROID, ASUS Tinkerboard, Intel NUC, Windows, macOS and Linux.
Who is this for? Home Assistant is made for tinkerers and DIY-ers. This is made for the guys and gals that are confident in their abilities to build and configure their own custom computer(s) to accommodate Home Assistant’s operating system. These are fully customized systems that run locally and not dependent on Amazon, Google, or Apple. Thus, the user must also be open to finding and fixing software bugs and glitches as this system is constantly being improved upon. Programming your own home automation system also requires that you understand conditions, triggers, and actions. The good thing is that the community behind this system are friendly, willing and able to help newbies and veterans alike. Such that, help is readily available on their website, Reddit, Discord and forums.
What devices does Home Assistant incorporate? Much of the work needed to integrate these devices into Home Assistant would not be possibly without their community’s support. With their help, a wide array of devices are supported, including: alarm systems, cameras, cars, climate controls, doorbells, fans, and even your email! Despite running locally, Home Assistant is actually compatible and able to integrate with many different systems, including: Alexa, Google, HomeKit, Philips Hue and much more!
Are there limitations or added products needed like a hub? The only limitation with this system will be its user. This is likely the only system which allows devices work with one another even if they’re not normally meant to. That’s the beauty of an open-source Home Assistant and Automation system, it requires a lot of custom configuration which means a lot of trial-and-error but it also means that you can perform tasks that store-bought systems are unable to do.
Note: We will create a more in-depth guide as to how to set-up and build your own open-source Home Assistant on a later article. If you’d like to receive updates on future articles we publish, consider signing up for our Newsletter here.
Devices (including speakers and TVs) that are compatible with: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Nest.
Which are compatible with my current devices? There’s a large array of TVs and speakers that are compatible with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa. We’ll dive into a few on this article so we can get you on the right path.
- TVs and Streaming Devices:
- Apple Airplay 2 Compatible TVs and Speakers
- Amazon Alexa Certified TVs and Speakers
- “Why not both?” – Devices compatible with both HomeKit and Alexa
1. TV’s & Streaming Devices:
When it comes to watching your favorite TV episodes and YT channels, there exists two types of devices that are compatible with: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Chromecast.
A. AirPlay 2 compatible devices, as noted on iGeeksBlog.com, include: LG Airplay 2 – enabled TVs, Samsung TVs with Airplay 2, Roku devices and Roku equipped-TVs with Airplay 2, etc. Apple TV is another device that’s similar to Roku, which can then be used with non-AirPlay 2 compatible devices.
These Airplay 2 TV-devices allow you to control your television and streaming device through Apple HomeKit. That means if, for example, you’re playing the new episode of Gilded Age (on HBO MAX), you can fast forward, pause/play, turn on closed-captioning, all through your iPhone/iPad’s Apple HomeKit app. Thus removing the need to find and use your TV remote. Apple’s AirPlay technology in TVs also allows you to go from one room (the living room for example) to your bedroom, all the while keeping in tune with your streaming-program; which means you need not pause the program on one TV, then go to the other TV and find where you left-off (first-world problems, am I right?).
B. Amazon Certified TVs are devices that are are fully compatible with Amazon Alexa. These TVs are found most easily through Amazon.com via this search-link, or simply search for ‘Amazon Alexa TV’ through Amazon.com or browse through BestBuy’s Alexa device-specific landing page. Similar to Apple’s HomeKit, Alexa Certified devices will say or will be labeled:
If you’re trying to watch the latest episode of The Expanse (on Amazon Prime Video), you’ll likely enjoy it most while using an Alexa television. This is because when you’re using an Alexa powered TV, it literally links to your Amazon Prime Video account, which then gives you the fun experience that you’re already light years ahead of other TV viewers by simply advising your Alexa TV to, “Alexa, open Prime Video… Alexa, play The Expanse”. As with the Amazon echo, you can use your Alexa powered TV to control your lights, access security cam feeds, play specific music genres and/or songs, all from the comfort of your couch or bed. This is new-age living!
2. Apple-friendly and Alexa-compatible Speakers:
Similar to Airplay 2 compatible TVs, Apple HomeKit compatible speakers also allow you to listen to one song or podcast-episode in one room and continue it on to the next room. Amazon Alexa compatible speakers allow for the same function through the Alexa app. TechRadar.com goes more in-depth by showing a multitude of examples to the many types of speakers available for Apple HomeKit and CNET.com goes into detail in regards to what else you can do with Amazon Echo speakers, but here we will focus on two specific brands and types of speakers: Apple Home-Pods, Amazon Echo and Sonos Speakers. We chose these three as examples as the first two run natively for each respective systems (Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa), while the Sonos speakers are able to function on either platforms thereby having dual compatibility.
Apple Airplay (for playing music) comes standard with your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Thus, if you own any and all of these devices, you already own the controller needed to hook up to and utilize Airplay compatible speakers. As an Apple user, you also have access to Siri and Apple Music (music library subscription), which all work with AirPlay.
- Apple HomePod Mini: Compatible with Apple HomeKit.
- Apple.com – https://www.apple.com/homepod-mini/
- BestBuy.com – https://www.bestbuy.com/site/promo/apple-homepod-mini-colors
- Target.com – https://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=homepod+mini
- We’ve covered this device’s features, partly in our article, Smart-Homes 101 : A Beginner’s Guide, Your Top 5 Starter Home-Tech Devices.
- These small speakers provide a huge oomph in terms of volume even at its small size.
- You can pair at least two together so they can work in unison as a two-separately plugged-in stereo system
- You can use them as an in-house announcement system, especially if you have a HomePod mini in each room of the house, thus allowing one to use it as an intercom system
- You can control Apple HomeKit devices audibly through the speakers as well
- Sonos: One, Arc, and Roam: Compatible with both – Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.
We’ve personally experienced these speakers, specifically the Sonos Arc and Sonos One, which is a essentially a really-smart sound-bar and room-speaker, respectively. We’ve had it installed alongside TVs and in restrooms (weird, I know, but does it sound amazing when you’re singing along in a shower? Yes). Like the HomePod Mini, these speakers natively support Apple HomeKit. Unlike Apple however, Sonos specializes specifically in smart-wireless speaker systems. Thus, the sound quality that comes from these speakers are incredibly high, which also reflects their high price-points. On top of Apple HomeKit, these devices are also compatible with Amazon Alexa. Lastly, Sonos also has their own smart-phone app which connects to and are able to control their devices: https://support.sonos.com/s/downloads?language=en_US
- Sonos One – Compatible with both – Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.
- Sonos.com – https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/one
- BestBuy.com – https://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?st=sonos+one
- Target.com – https://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=sonos+one
- Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sonos+one
If you can only have one (or two) speaker(s) in a large room, the Sonos One is the one to get. Being natively accessible through the Sonos app and Apple HomeKit (but also works with Amazon Alexa), you can audibly control your Apple Home through this one speaker while providing a rich musical experience, all in a medium sized device. Like the Apple HomePod Mini, you can pair of these together for a more rich-stereo sound experience.
- Sonos Arc – Compatible with both – Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.
- Sonos.com – https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/multiroom-entertainment-set-arc-and-move
- BestBuy.com – https://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?st=sonos+arc
- Target.com – https://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=sonos+arc
- Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sonos+arc
These are SOLID soundbars and their price reflects it. At $899, it better! Contained in each massive sound-bar are: 11 digitial amplifiers, 8 elliptical woofers, 3 angled silk-dome tweeters, and far-field microphones which are then beam-formed and noise-cancelled, in order to best utilize voice-controls. Suffice to say, if you want to pair your extra-large TV set with an equally powerful speaker system that also pairs with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa, but don’t want to sacrifice space, this is the speaker for you.
- Sonos Roam – Compatible with both – Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.
- Sonos.com – https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/roam
- BestBuy.com – https://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?st=sonos+roam
- Target.com – https://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=sonos+roam
- Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sonos+roam
These are the portable speakers you’ll likely fit into a bag and/or take with you when working outdoors. These as of February 2022, have been back-ordered, due to its popularity. These are waterproof (IP67), drop resistant and includes an internally placed 10+ hour battery, compactly residing in one small yet powerful speaker. These are also Apple Airplay 2 compatible which means that even as a portable speaker, its still able to connect to Wi-Fi and can also be mixed-and-matched with other fellow Sonos speakers so that you are able to stereo-pair and group them together. The amazing thing about this device is that its truly portable. Unlike the HomePod Mini, which requires to be plugged into a 20-watt USB wall-outlet, the Sonos Roam has enough battery life to power up to 10+ hours (thus being aptly named ‘Roam).
So which system are you going with?Tells us which one you’re going to use and why: on discord or Give us a comment below!
Each home automation system has its own pros and cons. Apple’s HomeKit is a proprietary system that is built into iOS, which can be limiting in terms of hardware choices, but also has major tie-ins with other devices and systems you may already be using. TP-Link’s Kasa and Google’s Alexa are two smart home systems that work very similarly, but have key differences: Alexa works in mainly in voice control, while Kasa can be used via the app or hardware buttons. Sonos and Google Home use the major competition’s system to operate, making it easy to integrate with existing hardware if you and yours already has respective devices that are compatible at home. Lastly, HomeAssistant.io is the next level, fully customized home-automation for the tech-savvy smart-home owner. Whatever your choice for a smart home, remember that there will be some investment necessary (both time and money) to get it started.
We hope that our exploration of the different systems available for home automation, helps you find the one that best fits your current lifestyle and needs. While there are some common strengths amongst them, each system has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Choose the one that’s works best for you and your family. Whatever your choice, we wish you happy automating. 🙂