The Beginner’s Guide to Setting up a Smart Home

The Beginner’s Guide to Setting up a Smart Home
Contributor: Alex Kidman, Chris Neill
At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

Welcome to the 21st century. It’s time to turn your home into a smart one with this range of essential smart home devices. We’ve seen a rapid explosion in smart home gadgets in recent years. From security systems to kitchen appliances and cleaning products – name a piece of tech, and there’s a high chance there’s a smart version.

So, if you’re looking to finally take the plunge, we’ve rounded up a range of must-have smart home devices and gadgets that will level up your digs and make your life easier in doing so.

Automate your life with these smart home devices

Smart plug: meross smart plug

Image: meross

If your home is currently bereft of smart devices and you’re only looking to start small, you can’t go past a smart plug. These devices are a handy way of transforming your normal everyday tech into something smarter.

For example, if you don’t want to come home to a dark house, you can plug your living room lamp into one and set a schedule to automatically turn the light on. Or maybe you want to try and cut down on energy wastage, so you can use real-time power consumption data to keep track of any errant devices that maybe need to be turned off for a bit.

This meross smart plug is also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, meaning you can control them with voice commands. You’ll never have to touch a light switch again.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($19.99)

Smart lights: LIFX A60 Smart Bulb

smart bulb
Image: LIFX

Smart lighting isn’t just about simple dimming – it can include coloured bulbs for that special occasion, security lighting within zones, or just making it easier to get the lights on when you return home or if you have to make that late night trip to the bathroom without the actual “trip” part.

Whether starting from scratch or adding to your current smart home setup, the LIFX A60 bulb is a great option when it comes to lighting. It’s incredibly simple to set up and use, giving you access to billions of colour options and LEDs that can last up to 25,000 hours. It also offers support for every smart assistant going, so you’ll quickly forget where the actual light switches are.

If you’re after a more lighting option, you can follow Gizmodo Australia’s smart bulb guide here.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($49) | Catch ($47.95) | eBay ($59)

Smart pet door: PetSafe Microchip Activated Cat Flap

Microchip cat door, smart home
Image: PetSafe

If your cat has a habit of bringing a friend or two home, or perhaps you’d prefer to keep your cat indoors at night, you can trade your current cat flap for this microchip-enabled one.

It comes with a four-way lock, including “locked”, “unlocked”, “enter only”, or “exit only”, so you can keep your cat as secure as you like. If you happen to own a lot of pets, never fear because the PetSafe microchip-activated cat flap can scan up to 40 microchips.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($84.48) | eBay ($199.99) | Pet House ($146.29)

Smart vacuum: ECOVACS DEEBOT N8 Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Ecovacs Deebot N8
Image: Ecovacs

How about a vacuum cleaner that not only sucks but can mop too? The Ecovacs Deebot N8 will keep your home tidy and dust-free with its 2,300Pa suctioning power and 99% bacterial removal. It can easily remove dust, pet hair and dirt from carpets and even rugs.

Through the Ecovacs app, you can map your whole house so that your robot vacuum cleaner can find its way through your home, even if it’s multi-levelled. You can also set cleaning schedules for it to follow and no-go zones to mark the rooms you want it to ignore. It’s even voice control-compatible, so you can tell it to start and stop if you need to move things out of its way.

If only it could clean your toilet as well.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($699) | eBay ($999) | The Good Guys ($799)

Smart thermostat: Tado Smart AC Control V3+

smart home
Image: Tado

Who needs to get up to alter their air conditioner these days? Not you, that’s for sure. This smart climate assistant by Tado will ultimately help you save on your energy bill by allowing you to control your air conditioner from anywhere.

The Tado V3+ can detect when a window or door is left open and automatically pause your air-con, so you don’t use up valuable energy. Through the Tado app, you can always check and change the temperature to your liking, or you can use voice control to dial it up or down and adapt its cooling depending on the weather outside.

It’s even compatible with a wide range of Smart home systems, including Apple Homekit, Alexa and Google Assistant.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($169) | Catch ($179) | eBay ($169)

Smart lock: ULTRALOQ Smart Lock U-Bolt


Eventually, fumbling through your bag or pockets to find your keys will become a thing of the past. The ULTRALOQ Smart Lock U-Bolt is a 5-in-1 keyless entry door lock that can be unlocked via a traditional key, a numerical code, through the companion app, on an automatic schedule or by shaking your smartphone.

Not only can it unlock your house door, but it can also deliver a full report of who’s entered your home and exactly when they did it through the smartphone app. If you’re going away, you can even grant temporary or restricted access to friends, house sitters or handymen through a special eKey.

The smart lock also knows to automatically lock your door upon closure so that you never have to remember to secure it yourself. In the event that it doesn’t work or malfunctions, don’t worry because it has a mechanical key backup. Pair this with the Ring Video Doorbell, and nobody’s getting past your front door’s defences.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($159)eBay ($159)

Smart security: TP-Link Tapo C200 Camera

smart home
Image: Amazon

You can keep a watchful eye on your home with the TP-Link Tapo C200, a security camera that will feed footage right to your smartphone. When in use, the Tapo C200 provides you with live audio and two-way audio. So if you’ve got a four-legged friend who you suspect is getting into mischief while you’re not home, you can literally give them a yell. This camera also comes with a built-in motion sensor that will automatically send you notifications if it detects anything.

In terms of movement, this handy camera has a full 360-degree horizontal range and a 114-degree vertical range. It can record video in 1080p high-definition and uses a MicroSD for storage (up to 128GB) to record up to 384 hours of footage. The camera can also run a night vision mode, helping you keep watch over your house after dark.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($56.30) | Catch ($58.60) | eBay ($55.10)

Smart hub: Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen)

smart home gadgets: Echo Show
Image: Amazon

Why not start with the humble alarm clock? Strictly speaking, that’s not the Echo Show 5‘s only use, but its small size does lend itself to sitting beside your bed, making smart home control, room monitoring and more available with a simple call to Amazon’s Alexa assistant. It also doesn’t hurt that this device is one of the least expensive smart home hubs you can buy, coming in at under $120.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($119)eBay ($95) | The Good Guys ($119)

Smart scale: Withings Body Weight and BMI Scales

smart home
Image: Amazon

Your home is probably awash with Wi-Fi, but did you ever consider using that Wi-Fi to help you maintain a healthy body weight? That’s where the Withings Body Weight and BMI Wi-Fi scales step in – or more accurately, where you step onto them – to let you easily track a range of body statistics for not only your use but also up to 7 other family members in total. It’s even capable of tracking pregnancy weight while you’re expecting – and, of course, then tracking your healthy weight management afterwards, too.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($98)The Good Guys ($99)

Smart video doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell 4

Image: Ring

Home security starts at the front door. With the Ring Video Doorbell 4, you can receive notifications whenever someone’s at the door and check out who it is, even if you’re sitting on the opposite end of the house. Thanks to its 1,080p HD resolution camera, you’ll always be able to tell who’s waiting outside in crisp detail.

If you’re upstairs and a delivery man has buzzed asking you where they can drop off your package, you can speak through your phone to let them know you’re home, and they’re free to leave it on your doormat.

When you’re out, this smart doorbell can act like a home answering system. For example, if a friend has spontaneously dropped in, you can tell them through a pre-recorded message that you’ll be back soon or to come again later.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($329)eBay ($285) | The Good Guys ($329)

Smart router: Amazon eero Mesh Wifi Router

smart home
Image: Amazon

Most smart home devices rely on Wi-Fi connectivity (although some will work with ethernet), but getting those Wi-Fi signals into the pokier areas of your home or through brick extensions or other interference factors can be genuinely painful.

That’s where the use of a solid mesh router system like the Amazon eero can really help, making it easy to extend your network in a way that maximises throughput whether you’re streaming Netflix in the bedroom, playing video games in the living room or watching a recipe on your smart display in the kitchen. Amazon also sells the eero in a three-pack, providing plenty of coverage and fallback for even the largest homes.

Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($119.99)

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At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.