Starting a smart home is a fun endeavor, but it can also get expensive. Fast.
That doesn’t have to be the case, though, and with a little planning and the right products, it’s possible to create a smart home on a budget.
The four products on this list all cost under $100, and when used together can make your current home smarter without a lot of extra work.
A smart-home hub
Every smart home needs a hub.
A hub is how you communicate to all of your smart-home accessories, and in the case of Amazon’s Echo Dot I mean that literally.
As someone who uses an Echo product every day, I can attest to the platform’s versatility, and being able to control parts of my apartment using my voice still impresses me.
The Echo Dot is just as smart and capable of any other member of the Echo family, but it’s smaller and less expensive. If you’re starting a smart home on a budget, this is the hub I’d choose.
Echo Dot, $49.99, available at Amazon
Making the appliances you currently have smarter is significantly less expensive than buying all new ones.
TP-Link’s Smart Plugs make retrofitting these still-functional pieces of your home easy. You plug the smart plug into an outlet, connect it to your Wi-Fi and Echo (a process that doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes), and plug in your “dumb” appliance.
You’ll be able to turn the appliance on and off through TP-Link’s app or the Echo Dot, which doesn’t make it as smart as a new appliance, but does make it more useful.
Think about your morning routine: There’s probably something you have to turn on in another room, like a coffee maker. Wouldn’t it be nice to turn it on and have fresh coffee waiting when you’re done getting changed? That’s the type of luxury smart plugs can provide while still being reasonably priced.
TP-Link Smart Plug, $29.99, available at Amazon
Smart light bulbs
Smart light bulbs are probably the first smart-home accessory people think of when considering starting one.
It’s fun to turn your lights on and off with your voice (trust me), but there’s also a lot of utility in it. If you have a room where the light switch is in an inconvenient spot, it pays to be able to turn the lights on and off without it.
I’ve tried a couple of different smart light bulbs, and both have specific pros and cons. TP-Link’s option is less expensive, but isn’t part of a larger ecosystem of lighting products.
Philips Hue bulbs require a larger upfront investment, but are part of a series of different lights that can be used in different places around your house. Most of the initial cost comes from having to buy a Hue starter pack, which includes a hub. Once you have a hub in the house, you’re able to buy different lights a la carte, and it becomes less expensive.
Either way, as someone who started their smart home with bulbs like these, I can highly recommend them.
TP-Link Smart LED Light Bulb, $19.99, available at Amazon
Philips Hue White Bulb Starter Kit, $67.94, available at Amazon
A smart light strip
If you decide to get into the Philips Hue ecosystem, I highly recommend checking out their lightstrip.
I bought a couple of them last year, and they’re essentially the ultimate night light. Instead of fumbling around with my phone’s screen or flashlight when going to the bathroom, I keep the Hue Lightstrip on low.
You can also change the color of the lightstrip, in case you’d like to create some ambiance.
Philips Hue Lightstrip, $89.99, available at Amazon
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