Wouldn’t it be great to turn on your lights or adjust your home’s thermostat before you reached your front door? Or maybe you’ve got sticky fingers from cooking and don’t want to smudge everything. But getting connected is expensive, right?
Smart home setups might seem financially out of reach, but some great products are on the market that don’t cost as much as you might expect. Discover how you can connect your home at an affordable price.
How Does a Smart Home Work?
The Internet of Things, the good ol’ “IoT” that makes smart homes possible, no longer means you have to install a separate app to control each device. The IoT makes it possible for devices, appliances and systems to “talk” to each other and connect through various networks, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
What Devices Can You Connect?
Convenience is probably the top reason most people want a smart home setup. Before you consider your options, decide what you want to connect. The list of connected devices is always growing. From security systems to thermostats, you’ll find something for every corner of your home, inside and out. Here are some ideas for the different areas of your home.
Doors and Security
The Ring Doorbell
For under $200, you can see who’s at your door and talk to them – whether you’re home or not – and they never have to know where you really are. The Ring Doorbell system works as a stand-alone device, or you can upgrade to motion-sensing cameras and security lights for outside your home, starting at around $199 per light set.
The August Smart Lock
The August Smart Lock lets you use your smartphone as a key to unlock your door. It integrates with a smart hub to let you grant access through virtual keys and lets you keep track of who comes and goes. Prices vary by model but you can find one in the $200 range most of the time.
The Nest Protect Smoke Detector
The Nest Protect Smoke Detector doesn’t just alert you to fires while you’re at home – it can alert you while you’re away, too. It can even tell you what kind of smoke it detects so burned toast doesn’t turn into a panic. With a combined carbon monoxide detector and a 10-year life span, the $100 price tag is almost a steal.
Heating and Cooling
The Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat learns your preferences and adjusts the temperature based on your usage. You can also access it through your smart hub to change temperatures whenever you want. It’s $249 at most retailers.
The Amazon Dash Wand
You may not be able to afford the $3,700 price tag of the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator, but the $20 Amazon Dash Wand lets you scan your food to create shopping lists, read recipes or convert measurements with a flick of the wrist.
The Crock-Pot with WeMo
The Crock-Pot with WeMo lets you monitor your meal wherever you are. Just fill it up with your favorite recipe before you leave in the morning and you can adjust the temperature from your smartphone and forget about it. Available for around $129.
Lighting and Power
The Philips Hue Smart Bulb
Whether you want a regular white light bulb or one that changes colors with your mood, the range of Philips Hue Smart Bulbs will light your way. The starter kit with two bulbs with the required Hue Bridge start around $70.
The iHome ISP5 SmartPlug
Even if you don’t want to dish out money for smart appliances or you rent and can’t install permanent devices, you can still turn many devices into smart ones with the iHome ISP5 SmartPlug. Just plug your device into it and you’ll be able to connect with it through your smart hub. Prices start around $85.
Smart Home Hubs and More
A smart home hub lets you connect seamlessly with your devices for the ultimate in access control. It works like an app for apps and can even integrate with hands-free speakers that save you from always fiddling with your phone. A smart speaker works with your hub by listening to your voice command and then completing the action you requested. Here are some popular options.
The Samsung SmartThings Hub
At only $50, the SmartThings Hub will help you connect your home for a very reasonable price. It connects to a wide variety of third-party devices. If you want to cut costs even more, you can take advantage of some of the SmartThings sensors for windows, doors and outlets or integrated motion sensors and wired cameras.
The Wink Hub 2
This hub is a little more expensive at $70, but setting it up is straightforward. It integrates with the popular Nest devices and Amazon Echo as well as many more devices. If you like the simple, “If this, then that (IFTTT)” mode of doing things, this might be a great hub for you.
The Amazon Alexa
Alexa isn’t a hub, but it can help you get things done. Alexa works easiest with one of Amazon’s smart speakers, like the Echo or the Echo Dot. These two-way speakers act as a virtual assistant, listening to what you need and then setting the action into motion for the desired result. Echo starts around $99 and the smaller Echo Dot can be found for $49.
Another smart speaker, Google Home, is powered by Google Assistant and connects with many devices and hubs. The plug-and-play design is exactly what you’re used to with Google. Google Home can be found for around $129.
Have you heard of any new smart home setups you can use to connect your home that aren’t mentioned here? Share it in the comments.
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