By Paul Q.

We’ve all heard about smartphones, but what about smart homes? A fully-connected home may sound like science fiction, but more and more products are coming online to make managing your home easier and more efficient. Here are four outstanding products to consider.

The Nest Learning Thermostat replaces your existing thermostat and is compatible with a wide range of heating and cooling systems. The Nest improves the efficiency of your home by learning the temperature settings you select at various times of the day and how long it takes to reach those temperatures. It also learns when you tend to be home using motion sensors and the location of household members’ mobile phones. It combines all of this information to produce the most efficient heating/cooling schedule for your home. You can make adjustments anytime using the Nest itself, from an app on your phone, through the Nest website, or even with your voice using Amazon’s Echo. It comes with everything you need to install it yourself, and should you run into any complications, Nest support is just a phone call away.

Pros: Do-it-yourself installation; maintains the right temperature all day; pays for itself over time
Cons: Functions best when installed where it will pick up your movement

The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller replaces your existing irrigation timer to create an intelligent watering schedule. Using your smartphone or tablet, you enter details about the area that each valve waters (type of valve, sun exposure, type of soil, etc.). You set up an initial watering schedule, and from then on, the Rachio monitors daily weather conditions, considers past and future watering times and makes adjustments to reduce wasteful watering. You can manually control valves using your mobile device from your home or anywhere in the world. You can also get notifications when watering begins, ends and when intelligent adjustments have been made. Ultimately, this smart controller saves water.

Pros: Reduces water waste; automatically adjusts with the weather; easy programming
Cons: Must be in range of your WiFi network; may require professional installation

The Ring Video Doorbell replaces your existing doorbell button and contains a motion-activated, wide-angle HD camera and a large round doorbell button that is always lit. When someone presses the doorbell, it rings your mobile phone and initiates a two-way video call. You can see and talk to the person at your door using your phone from wherever you are, right inside the house or miles away at your favorite restaurant. Regardless of whether you choose to answer the call or not, the Ring records a video for 40 seconds. You can also set the Ring to initiate a 40 second recording when it detects motion even if the doorbell is never pressed. You can connect multiple phones to one Ring so multiple people are notified. There is also an option for a small, plug-in speaker that will sound off in your house like a traditional doorbell.

Pros: Includes everything you need to install; promotes security; visual deterrent
Cons: Must be in range of your WiFi network; ring at your phone is sometimes delayed

The Netgear Arlo Wire-Free Camera System is a video surveillance system that uses small, weatherproof cameras to capture and record movements of anyone or anything approaching your home. These small, wireless cameras fit in the palm of your hand and use batteries that can last as long as six months. Unlike the other products mentioned, the cameras don’t use your WiFi network. The Arlo system comes with its own hub that wirelessly communicates with the cameras. You’ll need to plug that hub into your home router using an Ethernet cable (included in the kit). All of the necessary mounting hardware is included, too, so you can place the cameras outside (or inside) your home.

Pros: Can install yourself; no need to run wires all over your house; small cameras
Cons: Very expensive; batteries need to be replaced; cameras must be in range of hub

Whether you’re looking for peace of mind, or a way to be more eco-friendly in your home, these options will help you get there. Find out more information about how Arizona Federal can help you obtain peace of mind with an insurance review and become more eco-friendly with mobile solutions at ArizonaFederal.org.