Remember universal remotes for home theater systems? They seemed like magic, commanding the television, DVD player and stereo all from one little device. Now you can extend that magic to your entire home’s worth of smart devices, and in some cases you may not even need to touch the physical remote. Today’s universal smart remote systems can let you command your TV, media players, game consoles, lights, HVAC, locks and more. Here’s how you get all those smart devices under control.
Talk to your smart speaker about it
If you have a smart speaker like Amazon Echo, which uses Alexa to respond to your vocal commands, you already have a control device in your home. Google has a similar offering called Google Home, and Apple has a Siri-integrated system as well. You can use these systems with devices like LFIX, which uses your Wi-Fi connection to control LED smart lights, or with voice-controlled smart thermostats like Nest and Ecobee.
Those smart speakers double as smart home control hubs and personal assistants. At your command, the speakers that serve as part of your entertainment system that can also carry out tasks like internet searches, turning the lights on when the TV is turned on after sunset or dimming the lights when watching a movie. The entertainment systems use voice recognition to perform or schedule various functions.
With multiple smart speaker systems in your home, like both Amazon Echo and Google Home, you will need to assign separate commands for each in order for them to work. For example, you may prefer to have a Google Nest in the kitchen, so you would speak specific vocal commands to Google Assistant located there, while you have Amazon’s Alexa at your beck and call in the den.
Use your mobile device to control your smart home
Mobile apps can turn your smartphone or tablet into a universal remote for your smart home devices with help from your internet service. A device like the popular Logitech Harmony Hub allows you to control various devices all from your smartphone or tablet, plus it gives you the option of controlling your home system when you’re out of the house. You can set recordings or turn the lights on and off while you’re away from home using infrared signals, Wi-Fi or bluetooth.
If your home has high internet speed, use your Wi-Fi to run your devices remotely, without the need to go from floor to floor adjusting stereos or thermostats. If you’re using an Ethernet connection to the internet, talk to your service provider about setting up a Wi-Fi connection in your house.
Get your hands on a universal remote
If you do not choose the smart speaker option, there are good options for universal remotes to talk to the various smart devices in your house and get them to work together at the touch of a button. Some of the remotes on the market don’t require line of sight to your smart gear, and they allow you to fully control all of the features.
If you have a lot of smart devices you want to control, you’ll want to invest in a smart hub that works with infrared, Wi-Fi and bluetooth devices, as those are all the ways your smart devices will communicate. The devices that work best with universal remotes are lights, door locks, motorized window shades, thermostats, TVs and speakers.
Below is a list of universal remotes that will work with various smart home devices. You’ll need to decide which ones fit best with your needs and budget. If you primarily need the remote for entertainment purposes, an IR controlled remote like the Amazon Fire TV Cube might be a suitable option for you. If you want a whole-home smart system, the Logitech Harmony Companion could be a good value for you.
- Logitech Harmony Companion – A robust system that works with infared, Wi-Fi and bluetooth smart home devices. You can combine up to eight remotes with one remote control, and you can also use the Logitech Harmony app on your smartphone to make it a universal remote for the entire house. The system uses Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice controls. Harmony Companion works with over 270,000 smart home devices.
- Caavo Control Center Smart Remote and Home Theater Hub – It’s an all-in-one voice-activated smart remote that can control everything that you’ve connected to your TV. It includes an HDMI switch in addition to the smart remote. You just plug your devices into the switch, and the hub will recognize your gear during the setup process. The remote doesn’t require line of sight to work, and it responds to both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant commands.
- Amazon Fire TV Cube – A voice-controlled universal remote, the cube works with infrared technology emitter for smart device control withs a microphone that’s sensitive enough to pick up your voice over the sound of music blaring from the speakers. The Cube is like a Fire TV combined with an Amazon Echo. It will let you stream movies and TV shows from a variety of services, and you can use voice commands to control your home and entertainment center.
Given the various capabilities of different universal remotes, you’ll want to choose one that best fits your lifestyle. With a few commands or clicks of a button, you and your family can enjoy multiple devices at the same time in multiple rooms of your home.
Product features listed above might have changed and are subject to change.