The Best Smart-Home Devices for Aging in Place Comfortably – The New York Times
As we get older, we tend to accumulate more stuff that we have to keep track of — appointments, visitors, coffee tables we keep bumping into. Meanwhile, routine things like late-night bathroom trips can start to feel a bit more hazardous.
The good news is that smart-home devices — internet-connected versions of household tools that can be wirelessly controlled and automated — can make all of it easier to manage, lighting up dark hallways, showing you who’s at the front door and helping you stay in touch with loved ones. It may all sound terrifyingly high-tech, but take comfort: If you can use a smartphone app, you can use any of these devices.
Indeed, one of the great benefits of this technology is that it can help aging adults — not to mention their friends, family and caretakers — feel more confident and secure about living independently. Here are some of Wirecutter’s preferred smart devices for helping people age comfortably.
Devices for Everyday Convenience
SMART PLUGS are the easiest, least expensive way to integrate smart devices into your home. Just plug one of these tiny switches into an outlet, follow the instructions to pair it with a smartphone app and your home’s Wi-Fi network, and then plug an on/off device — like a lamp, fan or space heater — into it for full automation.
That can mean setting lights on a regular schedule, or controlling a device remotely when you aren’t home. The TP-Link Kasa EP10 ($17) and Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Plug ($25) are easy to use and compact enough to fit into outlets behind furniture, allowing remote control of connected devices so you can make sure that, say, a lamp turns on at dusk and off after bedtime.
SMART LIGHTING is easy and popular. With smart light bulbs, you can use an app to control bulbs remotely, or set them to a schedule; an “away” mode triggers lights randomly so your home appears occupied when you’re not there. Smart LED light bulbs like the Wyze Bulb Color ($15) are the easiest and least expensive ways to add smart lighting — just screw the bulb into any standard fixture and pair it with an app on your phone or tablet.
Philips Hue bulbs are pricier (a package of three goes for about $100), but offer a large ecosystem of bulbs that work together. (They do require using a special hub, a small puck that connects to your home’s Wi-Fi router and boosts the wireless signal.)
Smart bulbs don’t work as well for those who prefer to flip lights on and off using a switch. If you’re not ready to give up the feel and function of a light switch, Hue bulbs can be paired with a smart adapter, like the Lutron Aurora ($40), which clips over an existing toggle switch. A more useful and permanent solution is an in-wall smart switch and dimmer, like the Lutron Caséta Wireless In-Wall Smart Dimmer ($90). It makes regular bulbs act like smart ones, but installation is more complex and may require an electrician.