The best smart home gadgets 2018: upgrade your abode with top tech

From Hue to Hive, Nest to Netatmo, this is the cream of the Internet of Things crop

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Yale Conexis L1

Yale Conexis L1

Best lock: Yale Conexis L1

Go keyless with this smart lock from Yale

Reasons to buy
+Looks just like a normal lock+One of the most trusted brands+Share keys with others
Reasons to avoid
-No keypad backup access

In today's super-connected smart homes, keys can feel very old-fashioned, but getting all your locks upgraded can seem like a chore that's not worth your time. The Yale Conexis L1 might just have enough to change your mind.

Access is simple and is handled via your phone – you just wave your handset close to the lock, and you're in. Of course, this being a smart lock, you can also easily share access with guests, family members, people who've booked on Airbnb, and so on. Even better, it fits in with other smart home systems, including Z-Wave and SmartThings, and it should work with most PVC and composite doors – all you need is a screwdriver, though there is the option of a professional installation if you prefer.

Everything is battery-powered and you get an alert through the app well in advance if the batteries are running low. Yale was a little late in getting involved with the smart home scene, but it's making up for lost time now.

Hive Motion Sensors

Best window/door and motion sensors: Hive

Never accidentally leave a window open again

Reasons to buy
+Integration with Alexa+Reasonably attractive+Dead simple to operate
Reasons to avoid
-Limited number of integrations

Sensors aren't the most complicated of smart home gadgets and most of the products on the market will do a perfectly reasonable job at detecting when there is motion and when there isn't motion. You don't have to spend hours deliberating over which ones to buy like you might do with smart lights.

That said, the Hive sensors for windows and doors are as good as any that we've come across during our tests. They look the part, they work with other Hive kit as you would expect, and you can even access them with Amazon Alexa voice control. When movement is detected, the sensors can trigger other devices (like lights) in the Hive ecosystem, and send an alert straight to your phone at the same time.

These sensors are easy to set up, easy to configure, and are relatively affordable, so they tick just about every box when it comes to sensors – just make sure they're going to work with the rest of your smart home kit before buying.

Netgear Arlo

Netgear Arlo

Best security camera: Netgear Arlo

Complete wireless security solution

Reasons to buy
+No wires required+Long-lasting battery+Very good image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Needs an extra hub

With batteries that can go up to half a year without needing a recharge, the Arlo cameras from Netgear can be put just about anywhere – and when you're trying to protect your property, that can come in very handy indeed.

You do need a hub plugged into your router for the Arlo cameras to function correctly, but you can then tap into the feeds live from wherever you are in the world. You don't have to be watching around the clock though, because the devices will alert you whenever motion is detected, and ping the app on your phone.

Unlike many similar cameras, you get access to a decent number of days' footage (a whole week) without paying any subscription. The outdoor cameras are waterproof, and all the models include night vision, so even in the dark they can keep an eye on what's going on.

Logi Circle

Best lifestyle camera: Logi Circle

Looks like an eyeball on a stalk

Reasons to buy
+Very cute design+Decent battery life+Reliable operation
Reasons to avoid
-Rivals have more features

The Logi Circle is a smart camera that shoots some decent footage and has proved highly reliable in the time we've been playing around with it. Although it looks disconcertingly like an eyeball from certain angles, we like its versatility – it can run off the mains or from an internal battery, getting "up to 12 hours" between charges (more like four or five if you're regularly checking in on the feed).

The camera starts filming when it detects motion or you connect to it via the app, and while the 720p resolution isn't the best out there, it's perfectly fine. Thanks to the built-in mic and speaker, you can also communicate over it, which is great if the idea of talking to someone via a disembodied robot eyeball appeals.

This is very much a fun, social camera rather than a serious security device, but it can do the latter job too: hand over some money and you can keep days or months or recordings up in the cloud. Even without subscribing though, it's a simple and foolproof way to monitor your home (or children, pets or elderly parents).

Canary security system

Canary security system

Best security system: Canary

Cover your whole home with one system

Reasons to buy
+Fantastic all-in-one hub+Expand it with cameras+Software is slick and easy
Reasons to avoid
-Needs more integrations

For a complete security solution, consider Canary. At the centre of everything is the all-in-one Canary device that acts as a sensor, monitor, video camera and warning siren. On top of that you can add extra cameras to the mix to detect what's happening and home and of course control everything with an app.

In other words you can check up on the humidity and the temperature in your house as well as scare off burglars and find out which of your pets is responsible for knocking over plants in the hall. The software that comes with Canary is straightforward to use even if you haven't installed a setup like this before.

We would like to see more integration with other smart home devices and platforms, and some of the best features (like two-way audio and video history beyond a day) require a monthly subscription. However, overall Canary is an excellent home security system.

Best standalone smart alarm: Y-Cam Protect

Home security without the camera

Reasons to buy
+Relatively easy setup+Can connect to cell networks+Not too expensive
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't work with much else

Maybe you don't want the whole home and all your family members under constant surveillance around the clock, and with that in mind we present to you the Y-Cam Protect, which doesn't have a camera but does have everything else you need to keep your house, flat or canal boat safe from harm.

Somewhere between a traditional burglar alarm and a smart home device, the system uses door and motion sensors to set off an alarm, and send a notification straight to your phone wherever you happen to be. The alarm isn't the loudest we've ever heard but it does the job well enough.

When it comes to value for money and the ease of installation, the Y-Cam Protect is a better option than getting a more traditional burglar alarm system up and running at home – it definitely borrows from the modern-day flood of smart home gadgets in the simple way you can operate it from your phone.