Eight months ago, consumer technology website CNET opened a demonstration home in Louisville, Ky., to serve as a living laboratory for testing a range of smart home products. The company’s editorial team outfitted the home with a variety of gadgets including 34 smart bulbs, 12 smart switches, 38 groups of smart lighting systems, automated heating and cooling, and four apps to disasterproof the home with smoke, CO, and leak detectors.

The project allowed editors to explore and experiment with connected-home tech, mixing and matching to figure out which tech works best separately and together. The team focused on products that help alleviate pain points in the home around the areas of safety, comfort, and security. Looking at more than 40 smart home products that spanned all areas of the house, CNET found the biggest labor intensive areas involved lighting, kitchen, garage doors, smoke detectors, thermostat and locks.

The CNET Smart Home opened last August to test the latest high-tech smart home gadgets.
The CNET Smart Home opened last August to test the latest high-tech smart home gadgets.

“From security to lighting to entertainment, we put every major category of the smart home to the test,” says CNET editor Lindsey Turrentine, adding that consumer interest in smart home innovation is burgeoning. “The smart home is where the PC industry was 30 years ago – it’s still in its early days with a lot of potential for growth."

The company recently unveiled the results of its Smart Home project with a list of top recommended products across a number of categories, many of which work with voice control systems. Some of them might be just the thing to differentiate your houses. See the slide show above for CNET’s top recommended products.