Creating a cheap smart home with basic devices that are energy saving and remotely controllable, can be an extremely tricky task. How to choose the correct devices and configuration that will add the convenience and desired savings, at the same time being the best value for money?
Usually what refers to a smart home is a fully automated house that you have control over practically everything. Starting with gate openers, security cameras, door locks and finishing with water leak sensors. All of this is great but do You need everything (that’s really expensive) to get the basic smart home functions? I think that for creating a budget smart home, we just take the basic (in this case lighting and power) devices and move on from there in the future step by step.
For our tutorial, let’s take an average house: 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, 2 bathrooms, utility room and 2 halls. My aim is to create an average price per room, so everyone can do their own calculations based on their number of rooms. Since this is going to be a cheap smart home, we connect just the main power consumers with the smart devices and we’re going to control them with one voice control unit, that is located at the center of the house. It’s not perfect as we can’t control devices from a bedroom when the door is closed, but considering this is only a basic smart home, we have to accept this.
Our cheap smart home has only smart bulbs, plugs and one Amazon Echo dot device for voice control. All the devices (bulbs and plugs) need to be compatible with Amazon Alexa, so this will be our main input.
Cheap Smart Home Devices
As we described our average house, before we get to the specifics of the devices, let’s calculate how many devices we actually need.
As You can see, we need 17 smart bulbs and 18 smart sockets, that are wireless and Alexa compatible. Also, as this cheap smart home building guide, the devices should be standalone, which means we have to find devices that have no hub, as we can’t afford to buy one. We have previously reviewed Smart TP-Link bulb and Smart TP-Link plug, which I think are best in the class, but as this is a cheap smart home tutorial, we’re going to use cheaper versions of these. I chose TP-Link L100 Smart bulb and TP-Link HS100 Smart Plug.
As I mentioned we are going to use Amazon Echo Dot (second generation) for this tutorial. For the ones who don’t know, Amazon Echo dot is a reasonably priced smart home voice controlled device, that uses Amazon Alexa virtual assistant to play music, control compatible smart home devices, read news, search desired information from the web and much more. Although Echo dot has a small Bluetooth speaker, it’s recommended to connect some quality Bluetooth speakers with it to get the most out of the music You like (yes it can play also from Spotify, Pandora, Amazon music and TuneIn, so everyone should find the favorite). Echo dot gen 2 is available in black and also in white.
In our budget smart home tutorial, Amazon Echo dot will be used to control lights and home appliances connected with a smart plug. Usually, it’s recommended to use Echo dot in every room, to get the most out of our smart home, but I think at the first it’s ok when we control everything from the living room for example.
Now we have all the devices and the amounts, let’s put it all together and find out how much is it going to cost us.
|Amazon Echo dot (2’nd gen)||50$||1||50$|
|TP-Link Bulb L100||20$||17||340$|
|TP-Link Plug HS100||30$||18||540$|
The final amount, with 17 bulbs, 18 sockets and one Amazon Echo dot, will be 930$. Considering we wanted this to be cheap, it’s relatively big amount to pay. To get more basic, let’s do another calculation, with only one bulb and smart plug in each room. Amazon Echo dot is also a device we can exclude from the list as all of the TP-Link devices are fully controllable wirelessly via their own Kasa app.
|TP-Link Bulb L100||20$||10||200$|
|TP-Link Plug HS100||30$||10||300$|
The basic solution will cost about 500$. As I was hoping, turning a regular house into a basic smart home is possible at a fairly small budget. Starting with only a 500$ and buying few devices every month will eventually turn your house into a full smart home eventually.
Creating a smart home on a budget as small as 500$ is possible, but you have to keep in mind that this is only a start point in creating a fully intelligent home. Moving on from here step by step is the best option for those who has a tight budget. The cheapest solution is a good option to start with, but still, I recommend using the solution with more devices and voice controlling solution, to get the taste of the convenience that smart home should offer. Otherwise, you might be disappointed and stop the building process.
As I said before, I wanted to find out the average price per room to create a basic smart house. All of this is going to cost with an average house (described at the beginning) about 930$, that’s 93$ per room (or 500$ per house and 50$ per room with ultra cheap solution).
Additional simple devices and recommendations to consider that makes the budget smart home smarter with a relatively small investment:
Speakers are usually connected with wires but adding extra wires to an already built house may be complex. Therefore the solution is to use wireless (wifi or Bluetooth) speakers. Price is a little bit higher, but it adds the possibility to use these speakers with any device that has Bluetooth or the ability to control wifi speakers. I have reviewed few smart home speakers, maybe something to choose from this list: The 3 best smart home speakers.
Security is the biggest concern when thinking about home and family. Installing just one network camera is not expensive and doesn’t require any monthly fees. The same time it gives us the knowledge of what’s going on in home or office. I have covered Yi Dome Camera before, so something to consider.
having different sensors in the house can help to warn about accidents. For example, flood sensors in home or office can send warnings to smartphone whether you are in or out. I recommend D-Link DCH-S160 Water leak sensor.
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I have over 15 years of knowledge in the technology field. Studied IT systems administration and now installing security cameras and smart home devices into user’s homes and offices.