The Best Smart Home Devices for Apartments of 2020
— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
If you live in an apartment, an RV or a tiny house, you may fear that limited space and lack of ability to modify your dwelling will prevent you from creating the smart home of your dreams. Certainly, there are limits to what you can install. However, there are plenty of home automation devices that will fit in nicely in your small space without upsetting your landlord or messing with your compact living space.
(For those who want products specific to the Amazon environment, be sure to check out the Best Alexa-Compatible Smart Home Devices.)
The following are products that we've selected specifically with apartment-dwellers in mind, thanks to their compact size and simple installation. Note that in a few cases these are not our favorite overall products, but they're the ones we feel will be best for people living in rentals, tiny houses and other small spaces.
These are the best smart home devices for apartments:
Amazon Echo Show 5
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit (Gen 3)
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote (2019)
Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi Thermostat
Currant WiFi Smart Outlet
Flo by Moen Smart Water Leak Detector
The Echo Show 5 fits into small spaces while still bringing all Alexa has to offer.
Smart Speaker Amazon Echo Show 5
The Amazon Echo Show 5 offers Alexa’s visual cues and video functionality without taking up much room, which makes it perfect for apartments where space is at a premium. The combination of the small but super useful screen with a sleek, modern design makes this little smart speaker look just as at home on a bedside table as it does on a home office desk, a living room shelf, or a kitchen counter.
The screen displays a customizable clock but also cycles through useful information to give you insights at a glance. It also gives you the ability to make video calls, which are surprisingly perfect even on the 5-inch screen. You can also check in on video feeds from smart cameras, video baby monitors, and video doorbells. And it can stream TV and movie content, though it's not really designed as a media streaming device.
Read more of The Best Amazon Echo Smart Speakers
Full Alexa capabilities
Integrated camera cover
None that we could find
$69.99 from Amazon
Credit: Reviewed.com / Nick Schmiedicker Smart Lightbulbs Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit (Gen 3)
One of the quickest ways to deck your apartment out with smart home technology is to replace its standard light bulbs with smart lightbulbs. They can dramatically change the ambiance of a room, enhance your movie nights, and even keep your home safe while you’re on vacation with smart schedules. Across the board, the Philips Hue smart bulbs topped all of our tests thanks to an easy setup, a robust suite of features, and an intuitive app.
Additional support with smart assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri add tremendous benefit to an already impressive portfolio. Once you throw in the additional rainbow of possible light colors, these are without a doubt the best smart bulbs you can buy.
Read more of The Best Smart Bulbs
Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit
Requires hub for remote use
Buy now at Amazon $199.99 from Walmart $199.99 from Target $199.99 from B&H
Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan
The Amazon Fire TV interface is a bit busier, with more promos for Amazon Prime and its content partners, or movie rentals if you don't have Amazon Prime.
Streaming Device Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote (2019)
If you don’t have much room for a streaming box next to your TV, Amazon’s Fire TV is just about perfect. It sticks out of your TV’s HDMI port and offers access to all your favorite streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The Fire TV’s biggest advantage is its inclusion of the Alexa voice assistant for voice searching.
Though we think the new Roku Ultra and Apple TV are better all-around streaming options, the Fire TV Stick is a much better option if your main goal is creating a smart home. Alexa can just do so, so much more like set reminders, control smart gadgets, or re-order you popcorn. You can even use the Fire TV app to control your Fire TV if you misplace the remote or want to type in a password without much effort.
Read more of The Best Media Streaming Devices
Not as fast as other Fire Sticks
$49.99 from Amazon $49.99 from Best Buy $49.99 from Target $49.99 from B&H
What makes a product great for apartment dwellers?
There are lots of great smart home products out there, but why did we recommend these picks for those who live in apartments?
Installation—Living in an apartment means that you can't always permanently mount or install your new favorite gadgets. All of our picks in this list can be easily uninstalled without leaving a mess.
Portability—Housing situations can change on a dime, so it's best if all of your favorite tech devices are easily portable from your old home to your new home. Our selections can all be stowed away relatively easily.
Small Footprint—In a rental, space is at a premium. These products can help you to get the most out of your smart home environment without taking up valuable real estate on your TV stand or on your living room table.
Credit: Sensi Smart Thermostat Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi Thermostat
You might have to run this one by your landlord, but if they’ll give you permission to install a smart thermostat, the one you want is the Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi thermostat. While Nest and Honeywell may be better known smart thermostat brands, we love this one for its smooth installation process, helpful app, and functionality across multiple “smart” assistants.
The installation directions in the Sensi app were fantastic and foolproof: the Sensi app actually checks which wires are connected (which tells you if a wire isn’t touching its contact properly), and then checks the viability of that wiring configuration. If you're new at playing around with thermostat wires, this will be hugely reassuring, as will the easy-to-access contact push tabs.
Read more of The Best Smart Thermostats
Works with Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Google
Clear directions and easy setup
Nothing we could find
$132.81 from Amazon $143.16 from Home Depot $149.99 from Wayfair
The D-Link DIR-878 is the best wifi router for most people according to our tests.
WiFi Router D-Link DIR-878
All the smart tech in the world won’t do you any good if you have an unreliable internet connection. A good router is the foundation of your smart apartment, so make sure you have a good router before you go any further.
Our favorite is the D-Link DIR-878. It gave us the best performance across all of our test locations on our wired file transfer test, and at our toughest, long-range test location, the DIR-878 had the best-combined read and write throughout—and nearly double the speed of the next-fastest router.
Read more of The Best WiFi Routers
$195.21 from Amazon $176.30 from Walmart
Currant's Smart Outlet can control and monitor two devices independently.
Smart Plug Currant WiFi Smart Outlet
Having a few smart plugs throughout your apartment is a quick way to make some of your “dumb” appliances and accessories smart. The Currant Smart Outlet was the best smart plug we tested. This snazzy little gadget checks a lot of boxes on our wish list, including two side-facing outlets that can be independently operated. It's attractive, offers energy monitoring, and it also has a really nifty orientation feature—you can switch the plate on the back so it can be plugged into your wall facing either right or left, which is incredibly handy.
Also, if plugged into the bottom outlet on your wall, it doesn't cover the top one, leaving it free to use. Each outlet has an indicator light, which only fires up if that particular one is on. When not in use, it does not emit light.
There were no quirks to be found in its connectivity, as it responded just as effortlessly to the app as it did to Alexa.
Read more of The Best Smart Plugs
Controls two plugs independently
Has energy monitoring
Recommends smart schedules
None that we could find
Buy now at Amazon
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy
The Flo by Moen Smart Water Leak Detector is a reliable gadget to help protect your home from water damage.
Water Leak Detector Flo by Moen Smart Water Leak Detector
If you’re going to lose your security deposit, lose it over something fun like a raucous party – not a water leak from some appliance. The Flo by Moen Smart Water Leak Detector can alert you right away if there’s something leaking. When a leak is detected, the sensor begins playing an alarm sound and flashes red, in addition to sending alerts in a matter of seconds.
The leak detector isn't compatible with any smart assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple's Siri. However, what it lacks in voice-control capabilities, it makes up for with a beautifully designed app full of useful data insights. The sensor also keeps track of the temperature and humidity within your home, which can help with moisture control. The detector works over WiFi for easy setup, doesn't need a hub, and should last up to 2 years. Just leave it in a leak-prone spot and forget about it.
Read more of The Best Smart Water Leak Detectors
None we could find
$49.99 from Amazon $49.99 from Walmart $49.99 from Home Depot $49.99 from Wayfair
• The Best Smart Bulbs
• The Best Apple HomeKit-Compatible Smart Home Devices
• The Best Google Home-Compatible Smart Home Devices