Google Home is a software-based smart home hub. This is different from other systems like Wink and SmartThings, which are connected via a piece of physical hardware called a hub. With Google Home, the hub is the Google Home app and all connectivity between devices is based on software or app connections.
A software-based hub will work just fine for many people. Google has invested a lot of effort in getting major smart home brands to create software connections to the Google Home app. Google Home is great for people with Android phones or those who already have Google Home devices.
There are some trade-offs with using a software hub. First, it will take you a bit of extra effort to sign up for every accessory service and then connect it to the Google Home app. In addition, you will be giving Google a lot of information, which may be a privacy concern. Finally, some functionality isn’t available in the Google Home app so you’ll have to use the device’s native app to make some changes.
Another drawback: since there isn’t a hardware hub to send commands in your home, all commands must be sent up to Google’s Servers, over to the device manufacturer’s servers, and then back down to your device before the function occurs. You might see a brief lag from the time you tell Google to turn off the lights until they actually turn off. In our experience, this is only a second or two, but occasionally it could lag a bit more.
Like I mentioned earlier, most people will find a home automation system based on Google Home to be perfectly adequate for their needs. If that is you, then let’s look at some of the devices that work well with Google Home.
Most of the smart thermostat manufacturers have software integrations to Google Home so you have a bunch of options. Our two favorites are ecobee and Nest, with a slight advantage to Nest (in this case) since it is a Google subsidiary so we expect better integration.
If you have a line voltage heating system, like electric baseboard or electric radiant floors, we recommend the Mysa thermostat, which is fully compatible with Google Home.
Nest Learning Thermostat
|Buy Nest||Buy ecobee4|
Our favorite light switches, the Lutron Caséta Wireless lighting system, integrates into the Google Home app. However, you’ll have to use the native Lutron app to engage Smart Away when you go on vacation.
Lutron Caséta Wireless Dimmer
Wemo Dimmer Switch
|Buy Lutron Caseta Dimmer||Buy Wemo Dimmer Switch|
There are a lot of Wi-Fi smart plugs on the market and many of them integrate with Google Home. Here are two options we like since they are short enough that they only take up a single receptacle.
The Nest Hello doorbell integrates with the Google Home app so you can review video and speak to visitors though the app interface.
Since the Nest Cam is manufactured by Nest (a Google brand), we place it slightly ahead of the Arlo Q. However, both cameras are accessible through the Google Home app and Google Assistant voice control.
The Arlo Pro System is another option if you are looking for a wireless camera setup. The Arlo Pro requires a base station and is quite a bit more expensive, but the flexibility may be worth it depending on your situation.
Voice Assistant / Speaker
You will probably use a Google Home device if you want to add voice control to your system. Home devices span the gamut of audio quality from the puck-sized Google Home Mini up to the Google Home Max, which is quite expensive, but has very good sound quality. Audio tastes vary so you’ll have to determine the balance between price and sound quality. Check out our review of the Google Home devices for a thorough comparison.
A couple of other audio companies make hi-fidelity speakers with built-in Google Assistant. These can be connected to the Google Home app and controlled through it. For instance, JBL has their Link line of speakers with a range of quality and pricing. You can also consider the Sony S50G speaker.
You can use the leakSMART Water Sensor with Google Home, but you need the LeakSMART Hub. Unfortunately, the Water Sensor only has a Zigbee radio. Therefore, you need to LeakSMART Hub to communicate via Wi-Fi to leakSMART’s servers, which integrate with Google Home. It is an extra expense, but it gets the job done.
Door / Window Sensor
We have been unable to find a door and window sensor that connects reliably to the Google Home. The biggest problem is that most door/window sensors communicate over Z-Wave or Zigbee, but the Google Home doesn’t have that capability. There are a few Wi-Fi door/window sensors on the market, but we haven’t been able to confirm any that work with Google Home.
Door Lock / Deadbolt
Unfortunately, there aren’t any smart deadbolt locks that connect to Google Home directly. Therefore, you’ll need an extra piece of hardware (called a bridge) to get the job done.
The Nest x Yale Lock can be controlled with the Google Home app when it is paired with the Nest Connect or the Nest Guard. Either item acts as a bridge to connect the deadbolt to Wi-Fi using Nest’s Weave communications protocol.
Another option is the August Smart Lock Pro. This lock pairs with your existing deadbolt and attaches on the inside of the door. That way, you can still use your key from outside if the lock malfunctions or the battery dies. You will need to use the included Wi-Fi Bridge, which allows the Google Home app to control your August lock.