I’ve been wanting to create my smart home for quite a while, but I found myself frustrated with pricey and complicated home automation devices. Not only did I have to spend thousands of dollars but the devices did not communicate or were compatible with each other.
I knew I wasn’t going to give up on my smart home goals and I was determined to find a solution that would make my day to day more convenient. As the geek that I am, I decided to do some research.
I found that while the automated smart home market is packed with expensive devices, there is no compatibility between the systems. For example; If you have a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino, OpenHAB is a free open source home automation platform that works well with 150 different smart home products. However, although you’ll save some money, you’ll need to have some kind of programming experience and be willing to put in some time.
If you are not into programming or installing a few-thousand dollar system, the following options I found might be a better fit for you.They are not free, but reasonably priced, and they are easy to install as automated home devices.
Smart Plugs are a great way to get started, as they control the on and off switch of any power connected device, straight from the outlet. Once set up and plugged into a power outlet, you can control the devices connected to the Smart Plug remotely through a mobile app. Other features such as scheduling, energy monitoring and thermal sensor for automatic shut-off overheated devices, make it a worthy addition at this economical price.
Available for iOS and Android
NOW Promo Price: $49.99
Available for iOS, Android and Amazon Echo
Smart Water Saver
BOA Waterpebble is a cheap gadget to help you reduce your daily water consumption. By memorizing your first shower, it indicates (with light signals) when you are showering beyond your benchmark. Every time you shower, it will encourage you to reduce showering time, helping you save money and the planet.
Price: $13.99 on Amazon
A Smart Hub is a priority when getting started with your Smart Home. Control various functions around the house with a single application. You can also connect between devices – for example, turn on the coffee maker when your alarm clock goes off. How awesome is that?! Here are some excellent Smart Hub solutions:
The SmartThings Hub lets you control and monitor your home, from a simple app, by enabling to connect various smart devices into one hub. You can receive notifications from your connected doors, lights, locks, electronics, wireless speakers and it even notifies on moisture levels, home intrusion, and extreme temperatures inside the house.
The SmartThings app is free and it is available for iOS, Android, Amazon Echo and Windows Phone.
This fine-looking device and app connect multiple smart devices, allowing you to control them in one app. Wink Relay works with a very impressive list of smart devices, and recently the company announced it also integrates Uber, Fitbit and IFTTT protocol – very cool. Also, if that wasn’t enough, you can use the various Wink devices as Intercoms for room-to-room communication. Nice.
Price: $99.00 for the latest version
Leading the home personal voice assistant market (on a budget) is Echo Dot. It is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that can control your smart home, connect to applications and services, be your music player and more. The Echo Dot pack includes several devices that are placed in rooms around the house and control it as a whole.
Replace traditional bulbs by simply unscrewing the old ones and replacing them with wireless LED bulbs. It is the easiest step in the process of creating an automated smart home. You might need a main smart home hub or you might simply be able to control it directly via Bluetooth from your smartphone or tablet. Here are various options to choose from:
You don’t need a fat wallet to get your smart lights going. GE Link light bulbs are “a bright idea for your smart home.” You connect them through a hub to the Wink app on your smartphone or tablet and control them from wherever you are. You can control them individually or in groups and schedule or sync with other smart devices. Not only are they super affordable but they consume less power and last longer than regular bulbs. The app is available in Android and iOS apps.
Price: starting at $13.33
These smart bulbs are also a great option for your light-tech home. LIFX pioneered the first Wi-Fi enabled, multi-colored LED that’s controllable via a smart device. It works with Nest and other smart home devices like IFTTT and Google App, providing a friendly experience without needing a hub or additional systems.
Price: Starting at $22.49
This starter pack provides an instant smart lighting system with two bulbs and the WeMo Link connector for the price of one. It is now half the price, and if you want to add some more later on, WeMo Link supports up to 50 bulbs and each the starting price of each is below $20.
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Smart Security System
One of the main advantages of creating your smart home is monitoring your home security system by adding door and window sensors. A smart door-lock that unlocks from your smartphone and virtual keys that you can give to visitors. The price range for this sector is above all others for purchasing a complete system.
Kwikset’s Kevo was the first smart lock on the market and it still remains as my favorite option. You can unlock it by touch or, alternatively, with a key. It works with an apple watch and it is compatible with Nest. You can also pair it with your smartphone and email Kevo keys, via the Kevo app. You can also send keys to other users and deactivate them when they no longer need them. Additionally, you can monitor when each key is used and you can set up an alert to get notified every time someone enters.
This is a great way to monitor your home without paying crazy amounts of money. The night vision camera starts recording when it detects motion and sends alerts to your smartphone or tablet. You can monitor your home even if you are away. The 720p HP video has a 130-degree view and multiple storage options. It is easy to set up and you can voice control it using Alexa with IFTTT. It comes with a free month trial for you to check it out first.
Honeywell might not look as fancy shmancy as other thermostats on the market, but it works perfectly and it is as functional as every other. You can manage heating and cooling systems at anytime through its WiFi capabilities and adjust the thermostat’s schedule. You can set the perfect indoor temperature while viewing the outdoor temperature and humidity. It also displays a five day weather forecast and allows you to view and change humidifier settings. If you register a system at home and another one at your office, you can access multiple locations and upgrade to new features. Honeywell might not be as well-known as Nest, but it is an affordable and fully functional alternative.
Now to you
If you combine the total cost for creating a complete, affordable smart home, you will find that the value is less than $1,000.00. Your home will adjust to your daily patterns and help you keep calm when you are halfway around the world.
These options are an investment as they will help you save energy, save water, keep your house safe, monitor your children, and get the most out of your home.
If you take a look at the big picture, it is not expensive to get smart lighting, a smart thermostat, a smart security system, and more. You can start with these devices to make your life more convenient, and later on, expand on some smart luxuries. But I will warn you about one last thing – if you are on a low budget, be careful because these wonderful gadgets can become highly addictive and you WILL want to expand on your Smart Home!
Founder, Design & architect Audioburst’s products, with focus on the Speech-To-Text world.