As 2021 — and indeed the decade — comes to a close, it's time to look ahead and predict what 2022 might have in store. For the smart home, this means planning on what upgrades you want to tackle in 2022, and which devices you should hold onto for another 12 months.
From lights and locks, to switches, speakers, cameras, doorbells and thermostats, the smart home has grown quickly these last few years. But — as we outlined this time last year — that doesn't mean you should prepare to upgrade everything each year. Thankfully, smart home products have yet to hit the annual upgrade cycle of our smartphones, so your credit card can breathe a sigh of relief.
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Instead, let us look at each of the main product categories in turn, and decide if 2022 is your year to upgrade, or if 2023 is a better bet.
Smart home hub
Amazon Echo (4th Gen) has become a hub is its own right Amazon
The smart home hub felt forgotten in 2019. Where we previously recommended the Wink 2 to anyone who didn't want a smart speaker with a voice assistant, the company has been out of stock for months.
Instead, the Samsung SmartThings is a solid choice, and so too is the Apple TV 4K if you want to go down the Apple HomeKit route. But, for 2020 we suggest you wait on buying a new hub. (Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Samsung SmartThings.)
A great new option might come along to replace the Wink 2, but we think it's more likely that smart speakers and displays will take the place of dedicated hubs. Those unsure about bringing an always-listening voice assistant into their home might not have much choice.
Smart speakers and smart displays
In brighter news, the smart speaker and display markets are booming, with more choice than ever. Given the last couple of years, it's unlikely we will see any new smart speakers coming to market. In 2021, Amazon announced new Echo speakers and displays at its annual hardware event last year. Google also revealed new smart home devices in 2020 which are still good smart speakers or displays.
The good features for these devices is that most of their computing is done online, so an old Echo Dot or Google Home has the same intelligence as the latest model — at least for now.
The original Google Home is rather old, having not received an update since it launched in 2017. Google Nest did shift the Google Home line entirely to Nest branded line in 2020. So, it might be worth picking up a Nest Hub 2nd Gen or Nest Hub Max for all your Google Assistant needs.
The Google Nest Mini and Amazon Echo Dot are still safe to buy, and we can't see either company replacing its smart displays with major upgrades any time soon. So go ahead, reach for that credit card.
In 2019, Ikea continued its cut-price pressure on more established smart lighting brands like Philips Hue. For now, Hue still offers the largest range (for both indoors and out) but prices remain high and the fundamental technology hasn't changed since the new Hue bridge arrived in 2015.
It is very unlikely that any smart lighting company will roll out such a major update that older bulbs will become useless overnight, so you'll be safe to keep buying into your preferred ecosystem in 2022. But if you are yet to get into smart lighting, we suggest you check out Ikea.
Ikea now has not only smart LED bulbs, but offers LED panels, smart lighting kits, smart integrated lightiing systems and under the counter lighting. All of these new smart lighting are fashionable indoor fitting worth a look. If not, you are free to pick whichever system you prefer, and whichever fits suits your budget. (Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Philips Hue smart lights.)
IKEA 903.533.61 Trådfri Gateway Kit, White Spectrum, White
Smart plugs and switches
Smart plugs are such simple items that your current devices will continue to work just fine in 2022. We don't see much headroom here, and it's unlikely that any company will disrupt the smart plug market in any meaningful way.
We would, however, suggest buyers keep an eye on in-wall options. Devices like the new ConnectSense Smart In-Wall Outlet put a smart plug in the space of your existing wall outlets, for a neater solution. It also supports Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.
Those unafraid of some simple wiring should certainly consider smart plug sockets like these for 2022.
Smart Door locks
Smart Lock Smart locks will continue to get smaller and there will be more innovative ways like biometrics to unlock your door lock in 2022 Level Home
Another slow-burning sector of the smart home market, but one which does see the occasional leap forward. In 2020, we saw the launch of the Level Bolt, which hides its technology inside your door and uses your existing deadbolt. This makes for a neater solution than other, chunkier smart locks from the likes of August and Yale, but the feature set remains the same. Then last year, we saw biometric controlled smart locks come into smart homes. Level Touch was one of them. This smart deadbolt lock is a well-designed, well-built Apple HomeKit compatible smart lock that is easy to setup and control. It allows you to use your finger to lock and unlock your smart lock.
For 2022, we could see more of the same — smart locks which are controlled through biometrics, smaller and more aesthetically pleasing than before. But we don't expect a major leap forward in features or performance. If you already have a smart door lock, then we see no real reason to upgrade for now, unless you really want a different design or add another way to lock and unlock your smart lock.
Industry leaders like Nest, Arlo and Ring will likely announce new home security cameras in 2022. We expect to see improvements in AI and battery life, plus small changes to their design and overall feature set. But what we hope mist of all, is that any new models continue to work with users' existing systems. That way, a new camera can be added to an old system with minimal effort and financial outlay.
In 2020 budget smart home company Wyze re-introduce AI person detection for its $20 indoor smart camera. The feature disappeaedr with a software update in January 2020 due to a decision made by the technology's provider. Wyze did create its own AI and roll that out to its camera for free in 2020. We expect to see new smart budget security cameras enter the market in 2022. We urge buyers to think carefully before paying for cut-price smart home products, especially with expensive features like AI motion detection.
Another device which doesn't need annual updates is the video doorbell. Ring offers a range of options, and some got updated in 2020. In 2021, we saw newer models introduced, like Google Nest Doorbell (Battery) and Ring Video Doorbell 4. Each with extended battery life for the wireless models, higher-resolution cameras, and improved artificial intelligence with motion detection. .
In 2021, Amazon-owned Ring increase its smart home product portfolio with the company's first smart light bulbs recently passing through the FCC. it also launched new smart flood light cams and other new smart lighting accessories. For 2022, the company launched new smart home security system with built in Wi-Fi 6 router. The new Ring Alarm Pro Security Kit comes with an eero Wi-Fi 6 router built-in to the Base station to provide exceptional connectivity and security.
Whether you upgrade to a new video doorbell depends on which model you already have, and if you think improved video quality or a smart new design will really be worth the investment. We'd say probably not, but if you are yet to buy a video doorbell, 2022 is a great time to do so, with plenty of options to consider.
Nest's third-generation Learning Thermostat was three years old by the end of 2020 and it's still a viable smart thermostat for your to consider. We do wonder if a new model is on the way in 2022, especially as new modesl are being introduced this year. For instanced rival Ecobee has new models along with Amazon introduced a new smart thermostat powered by Honeywell. And recently GE Lighting, a Savant Home company launched in 2022 a new smart thermostat.
For 2022, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat is a very safe bet as the Cync Smart Thermostat. But if you'd rather buy into a Nest system, we still recommend the Nest 3rd Gen Thermostat. It is an electronic, programmable and Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostat which is easy to set-up and works with Google Assistant. If you are an Amazon Alexa home, the Amazon Smart Thermostat will work for you . But no matter which ever one you buy, check to see if you need a C-Wire. Most smart thermostats require a C-Wire or sell a C-Wire adapter kit so it can work with your HVAC system.
One of the more niche sectors of the smart home market, but one which is nonetheless growing. Since 2019, we have seen weather-resistant outdoor speakers from Sonos, a robotic lawn mower from iRobot, maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaners. And now, WORX a maker of The Landroid has added their smartest, safest, most innovative robo mower to the market and Philips Hue is continuing to expand the range of outdoor smart lighting.
These all make for worthwhile purchases in 2022 (and the WORX mower is on sale). Our advice would be to focus on the 'smart garden' in 2022. We wouldn't be surprised to see outdoor lighting options from Ikea and Lifx to rival the Hue range.
Smart irrigation system like those from Rachio are also worth looking at in 2022. These are on a slower update cycle than most, so fitting one in time for the summer is likely a safe bet — and in any case, we doubt a new model would make you envious, as the current offerings are already packed full of useful features to keep your garden watered and healthy.
Ikea's cut-price smart window blinds finally arrived in late-2019. These seriously undercut the competition and tap into the company's existing Tradfri smart home ecosystem. But they lack some features for now, like the ability to open and close in sync with sunrise and sunset.
Features like this can be added via a software update, but what's interesting to us if whether other companies follow suit and offer low-price smart blinds of their own. Ikea's entry into the market might force pricier companies like Lutron, Pella and Somfy to offer something cheaper.
As with most categories listed here, we recommend waiting to see if any new models will arrive in 2022. If not — and if the Ikea options fit your needs or Somfy's new controls— then we would say go for it; extra features could well come along via future software updates.
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