Best smart starter kits are like all-in-one set meals

Safe Distancing

To prevent the second wave of Coronavirus Disease COVID-19 pandemic, many people are still working from home. While at home, smart starter kits are useful for managing home appliances, creating office-like environment, keeping everyone entertained and more.

The biggest benefit of starter kits is that there is no compatibility or integration issue because all the devices in the kits come from the same manufacturer. It’s common that the setup is auto-detect and auto-configure. And the smart home system can be up and running in no time.

Important Considerations for Best Smart Starter Kits

There are 3 factors to consider when choosing a suitable starter kit:

  1. As the brain of the starter kit, the controller should be compatible with as many 3rd-party smart devices as possible including smart speakers for future expansion.
  2. It’s likely that the smart plug included in the kit is not usable in all countries due to incompatible plug type. However, the starter kit cost is still lower than the total cost of the devices even though smart plug cost is excluded.
  3. US Z-wave frequency is not compatible with UK/EU Z-wave frequency. As such US Z-wave smart devices will not work with UK Z-wave smart hubs and vice versa. This is not an issue when the smart devices are using other popular wireless protocols like ZigBee, WiFi, Bluetooth LE etc.

Based on the above factors, we recommend starter kits that work straight out of the box. Obviously, the subscription plans must be optional since most of them are working in US and/or Canada only.

Hue (US version here).

With more than 100 years of history, Philips is synonymous with lighting. Philips Hue smart starter kit includes a bridge, smart light bulbs and other accessories. The power rating of Philips smart light bulbs is either US or UK voltage level. To control Hue smart light bulbs and other accessories, a Hue bridge is necessary.

The advantage is smart devices like motion detector are available as accessories and they can be added to the bridge easily. However, this advantage is restricted to Hue devices only. For non-Hue smart devices, either a controller like SmartThings hub or Amazon Echo, or a freeware web-based IFTTT is required. And the cost is also higher due to the bridge. Click on the title to learn more.


Starter kits – Hue White Starter Kit E27, Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit E27, Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit E27, B22, GU10

Accessories – motion sensor, outdoor sensor, smart plug, dimmer switch, tap switch, smart button, play HDMI syn box

1. US type is Edison Screw E26 (A19 refers to bulb diameter) while UK, Singapore and most Asian types are E27 (Japan, Taiwan & Korea use US type). Although thread difference is not a main concern, the voltage rating is. See Note 2.
2. Hue bridge voltage range is 100-240VAC which is suitable for all countries. However, the light bulb voltage is country specific, ie US type is 110-130VAC and UK type is 220-240VAC. Choose either US or UK type that matches the voltage rating in your country.
3. Hue starter kit with Hue bridge is recommended for 1st time installation due to lower total cost than buying the bulbs and bridge separately.

SmartThings Monitoring Kit (UK version here).

Unlike the previous versions, the battery backup feature is no longer available in SmartThings hub V3. Meanwhile, the hub has become more attractive because of lower price tag. As the most popular smart hub, almost all smart home devices are compatible with SmartThings hub. In other words, you’ll have no problem of carrying out expansion plan with 3rd-party smart devices in future. Click on the title to learn more.

Includes: SmartThings hub, SmartThings multipurpose sensors, SmartThings motion sensor and SmartThings power plug

1. US power plug – type A/B, 120 VAC; UK power plug – type G, 230 VAC.
2. To use the smart power plug in the kit, both the plug type (US or UK) and voltage level (US or UK) must be same as those in your country. Other smart devices in the kit have no such issue.
3. The US starter kit contains V2 devices while the UK starter kit has been upgraded to V3. 

The main advantage of smart starter kits is that they operate as a system for an intended purpose. A good controller should be able to accept as many 3rd-party smart devices with as few compatibility issues as possible.

Explore here for more smart home devices which are working well with these best smart starter kits.

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