Should You Buy Smart Home Gadgets on Prime Day?

This story is part of Amazon Prime DayCNET’s guide for everything you need to know and how to find the best deals.

Amazon’s annual Prime Day sale returns July 12-13, and some deals are already live in the run-up to the event. Not surprisingly, that includes a smattering of deals on Echo speakers and other Amazon devicesa few of which are already marked down to all-time lows.

If you’re an avid Alexa user interested in expanding the assistant’s footprint throughout your home, then you’ll obviously want to give those deals a look, but other smart home manufacturers are likely to be in the mix, too. From smart lights to robot vacuumsit’s a safe bet that you’ll be able to find Prime Day discounts across a variety of categories, and competing retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Target figure to be in the mix with smart home sales of their own, too.

That said, as far as smart home gadgets are concerned, the absolute best discounts of the year typically come in November, when Black Friday unleashes a flood of deals aimed at holiday shoppers. Your best bet is to save any major purchases for then — but Prime Day can still be a great time to expand your smart home setup with a new device or two, or to try out something completely different. Here’s what you should know as you shop.

Read more: Best Cheap Alexa Devices of 2022

Prime Day pickings are slimmer than Black Friday

Don’t get me wrong, we’re definitely going to see discounted smart home tech for Prime Day, and some of those deals might indeed be pretty tempting. You can already find good deals on smart plugs, smart displays, self-emptying robot vacuums and more, many of which bring the prices of those products down to the lowest levels we’ve seen all year.

Historically, however, the best sales of the year come closer to the holiday buying season — specifically, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday at the end of November. Simply put, there’s a much, much greater number of shoppers ready to spend; in turn, that means a much greater number of manufacturers pulling out all of the stops to compete for your dollar.

On top of that, your Prime Day pickings are going to lean heavily toward the Amazon side of things, with many of the best discounts reserved for Echo speakers and other Alexa-compatible devices. It isn’t all Alexa, though. Echo stuff aside, a good number of those third-party devices will work in Google Assistant smart homes and in some cases Apple HomeKit smart homes, too. Meanwhile, other retailers like Best Buy and Target working to counter-program Amazon with summertime sales of their own might provide some additional variety among brands and devices. Still, for the most part, Prime Day’s smart home deals are always going to skew toward Alexa. Maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for — but maybe it isn’t.

In the end, a deal’s a deal, so if there’s a smart home gadget you’ve been meaning to add to your setup and you find it at a nice discount in the coming days, feel free to pull the trigger. But if it’s a big purchase and you’re trying to find the best price of the year, consider holding your fire for Black Friday, when you’ll likely have more options to choose from (and the potential for better savings, too).

Try to avoid impulse purchases

It happens to the best of us — you aren’t shopping for anything specific, but a big sale comes around and you don’t want to miss out. You see a good deal on a neat product you hadn’t even considered for your home, and all of a sudden, it’s on its way to your door. I get it.

With smart home gadgets, however, you’ll want to try to put a little more thought into your purchase. For starters, a lot of smart home gadgets won’t work with all platforms (Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, SmartThings, what have you), so you don’t want to buy something only to find out that it doesn’t work with the other devices in your home. And impulse purchases are always going to be somewhat ill-advised when we’re talking about internet-connected tech seeking a place in your home.

Your best plan of attack is to come into Prime Day with a plan. All deals aside, is there anything specific you’ve been meaning to add to your smart home setup? Maybe you’d like to try out a smart lock that works with your voice assistant of choice, or maybe you’re a smart light user who’d like to add a couple of extra bulbs to your setup. Whatever it is, understand your options ahead of the sale, then keep your eyes peeled.

Matter logo

Matter, a new universal smart home standard with wide industry support, is scheduled to launch later this year after multiple delays.

Illustration by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Matter will be a thing, but not quite yet

One of the next big things to pay attention to in the smart home will be Matteran upcoming Wi-Fi-based standard that promises to act like a universal language for smart home gadgets and platforms. All of the biggest names are on board, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsungand many, many moreso there’s a good chance that Matter’s efforts to standardize smart home connections could make a meaningful impact once it arrives.

Originally slated for a 2020 release, Matter understandably saw multiple delays amid supply chain shortages and a global pandemic, and the launch is now planned for this fall. Some devices, including Echo speakers, Nest devices, Apple TV systems, Philips Hue bridges and others could flip the switch on Matter with a simple software update, but we’re also expecting to see lots of new devices touting support for the standard, too.

Assuming Matter launches on schedule, I wouldn’t expect to see too many of those new devices this year. A splashy debut at the CES 2023 tech conference seems more likely — one executive involved in the Matter rollout recently telling me that the January tech showcase could be something of a coming-out party for the standard. Time will tell, but at this point, I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to factor Matter into your Prime Day shopping strategy.

Watch this: Matter’s Smart Home Platform Could Help Your Devices Play Together in 2022

Think outside the smart box

One last thing: You don’t have to buy new smart home gadgets on Prime Day to make your smart home better. With a wide variety of home goods marked down for the occasion, there’s room to get creative by picking up peripheral devices that pair well with your existing setup.

Here’s an easy example. Got an old smart plug sitting in a drawer that you aren’t using? Keep an eye out for deals on desk fans or space heaters with a physical dial you can leave in the “On” position (appliances like those work great with smart plugs capable of automatically turning them on and off). Or maybe someone gifted you a smart sous vide cooking device for your kitchen — Prime Day might be a great time to grab a vacuum sealer or a cooking torch to go with it.

I’ll be keeping my eyes out for sneaky sales on smart home-adjacent gear like that as we sift through thousands of offers to monitor the best deals and discounts of Prime Day. If I spot anything interesting, you’ll be able to read all about it in our deals rundowns, so stay tuned for those.

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