In the past couple years, smart homes have transformed from geeky, far-fetched concepts for the super rich to affordable, easy-to-run products with high utility value for the regular consumer.
Now you can create a smart home without breaking the bank. An affordable smart home consists of five key elements: a smart speaker, smart lighting, a smart thermostat, a smart security system, and a smart TV. All these devices can now be purchased for much less than the cost of remodeling a small bathroom.
Besides their convenience and ease of control, these devices offer savings and peace of mind. A smart lighting system and smart thermostat can result in significant savings on your electricity expenses, while a smart security system lets you safeguard and monitor your home remotely at a much lower price than traditional security systems. The return on investment on smart devices is more than just having a cool, futuristic home — there are clear, practical benefits as well.
To set up your smart home, you need a device that ties all of the elements together, such as the $99 Samsung Smart Things hub, which allows you to set up all your devices and set their rhythms. For example, if you want an alert when your child comes home or you want the lights to go off whenever you leave, you can simply set it up using a smart hub.
Once you’ve done this, the next step is to invest in a smart speaker. Instead of fiddling with your smartphone for every command, you can simply give voice commands. The $49 Amazon Echo Dot is the most affordable smart speaker available and can easily run with most Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. Just be sure to check your device’s settings and remain current on software updates, which will help protect the privacy of your data against snoopers and hackers.
Regarding thermostats, while Nest is the most well-known, there are more affordable brands to choose from. The Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat sells for just $80 and works with Amazon Alexa. You can even schedule the temperature of your home in advance, so that it is warm or cold when you enter.
Smart lighting is another facet of a smart home, which not only lets you save on electricity costs but can also set the lighting of the room according to your mood. The $179.99 Philips Hue Starter Kit is a good place to start, mostly because of its compatibility with all leading voice assistants.
Security systems can be expensive to install and use, but not the smart ones. The $99 Blink security camera is an affordable yet efficient solution for home security needs. It records 720p video and detects motion up to 20 feet away. It can store up to 20 hours of recording in the cloud, which means you can easily check what happened around your home when you were not around. It is also compatible with Philips Hue and Alexa.
Have you invested in a smart TV? In case you don’t want to make that sort of an investment, a good alternative is a Google Chromecast or the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Both can turn a regular TV into a smart TV, and they retail for less than $40. You can watch YouTube, scroll online and mirror your smartphone on your TV, simply by using these alternatives. However, if you have an Amazon Prime membership, the Fire Stick might be the one you want to consider.
Look for bundles of smart devices to purchase together, which can lower the overall cost. All in all, you can set up a complete smart home for less than $1,000, depending on the features you want and price points for various devices, as well as installation. That one-time entry cost could be well worth it for the convenience, security, and savings on utility expenses.