by Jennifer Allen on
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Dipping your toes into the world of smarthome can be an expensive endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of really great products that are relatively cheap, which can get you started building your perfect smarthome.
Keep in mind, though, that even the cheaper smarthome products aren’t necessarily low priced. You’ll still pay a few hundred dollars to get started with handful of smarthome devices. However, a few hundred dollars is bargain considering that it’s really easy to spend thousands of dollars outfitting your home with all sorts of smarthome products.
Without further adieu, here are a handful of low-cost smarthome products that are perfect for getting your first smarthome off the ground.
Smart lights are a great place to start when building your frugal smarthome, and the Philips Hue White Starter Kit ($70) can get you there.
Even if that’s slightly expensive for you, keep in mind that this also includes the main hub that you’ll need for your Hue bulbs, and that’s the only big up-front cost you’ll have to deal with. After that, you can add on as many Hue bulbs as you like in the future starting at about $10 per bulb, all the way up to $40-$50, depending on the bulb and whether or not it’s on sale.
Sure, you could also go with smart light switches instead, and the cost will probably even out compared to smart bulbs, but not everyone has the necessary wiring skills to replace light switches around the house—Philips Hue lights are as easy as screwing in a bulb, literally. This also makes them the perfect fit for renters where rewiring things isn’t an option.
Smart thermostats can be great, but shelling out $250 for a top-tier model isn’t always in the cards for some homeowners. However, there are budget options available, including the Honeywell Lyric T5 ($150).
It’s also one of our budget picks in our Best Smart Thermostats guide, and you can frequently find it on sale for as low as $100 throughout the year.
While it doesn’t have some of the advanced features from the upper-tier options (like auto-learning, usage history, and motion detection), it still has the smart basics that you would most likely look for anyway, like remote control, geofencing, schedules, and integration with the big voice assistants.
If you want to turn your dumb appliances and devices into smart ones, smart plugs can make that happen. They’re also pretty cheap.
It’s a pretty basic smart plug, but it comes with the necessary features, like support for Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and IFTTT. And you can set up scenes and have lights and other devices automatically turn on and off on a schedule, as well as randomize lights when you’re on vacation. Obviously, it can also be controlled manually from your phone using the Kasa app.
One of the most useful smarthome products that anyone can enjoy and take heavy advantage of is the trusty Wi-Fi camera, and the WyzeCam ($26) is about as cheap as it gets.
We like this camera a lot, and that’s because it sports 1080p video, night vision, motion detection with notifications, two-way audio, and free video storage. It can even detect unique sounds like a smoke alarm and let you know about it if you’re away from home.
Its 110-degree field of view isn’t anything to write home about, but for less than $30, it’s seriously hard to complain about this camera, and it would make a great addition in any frugal smarthome for sure.
Just like a Wi-Fi camera, a video doorbell can be a really useful smarthome device, and Ring still sells its original video doorbell for just $99.
This is way cheaper than other video doorbells on the market, including the newer Ring Doorbell 2, the Nest Hello, and the SkyBell HD, all of which are $200 or more.
The downside, however, is that the original Ring Doorbell only does 720p video and the internal battery isn’t removable, but it does have a slightly wider field of view than the newer model. Plus, it still has night vision, two-way audio, and the ability to connect it to your existing doorbell wiring.
Some might say that a smarthome isn’t complete without a voice assistant to control it all, and you can cheaply place the cherry on top with the Echo Dot or a Google Home Mini, both of which are priced at $50.
You really can’t go wrong with either one of these, as they both support a large number of smarthome devices. However, you might be better off with one over the other, depending on a couple of things.
For instance, if you have a Fire TV in your house, you can use the Echo Dot to control it in order to make it easier to watch content on your television. Likewise, if you’re a Chromecast user, the Google Home Mini might be more up your alley.
Whatever platform you opt for, however, we recommend at least trying out a voice assistant to round out the whole smarthome experience. After all, are you really living in the future if you can’t yell at your house to crank the AC and dim the lights?
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