If you’re new to home automation, what can you do to get started without spending a fortune?
Begin small and work your way up.
While you won’t have a robot maid or rapid transporter like the Jetsons’, you can achieve a fully connected home for less than $1000.
1. Install a Video Doorbell
Choose an entry-level doorbell. There are many models available for less than $100 dollars, so this is a useful, simple way to start. Cheaper models allow you to benefit from many of the same features that more expensive models offer without spending hundreds more.
The major benefit of video entry systems is convenience. Look for a model that offers simple control within the app. For example, pick a model that will let you connect your doorbell to your home Wi-Fi network. Even when you’re away, you’ll be connected to your home!
Or, if you feel confident in your DIY skills, you might choose a hardwire option, and tap into your current doorbell.
When you are up and running, you can have two-way audio communication with your visitors and 720p HD video feeds.
Other important features include the unit’s field-of-view and night vision capabilities. You want models that offer at least a view of 180 degrees and have low-light visibility extending as far as possible.
2. Change your door lock
For around a couple hundred dollars or less you can install a smart lock on your front door.
Some smart locks allow you to use your existing deadbolt. This is typically referred to as a “retrofit” option, and it is ideal for renters or anyone who doesn’t want to change keys.
Retrofit setups allow you to keep the hardware already protecting your door while adding a layer of connectivity on top. You also get to keep your physical keys. Retrofitting a smart lock to your existing door is the easiest way to add connectivity without replacing your entire deadbolt system.
You can also replace your existing deadbolt altogether; this is the approach most smart locks take.
Smart locks need to communicate with your smart home system and your smartphone. Most will use either Bluetooth, Zwave, or Wi-Fi to communicate with one another.
Before purchasing, be sure to compare the pros and cons of each type.
Tip: Take a picture of your current setup before you begin, so you can reverse the process if you experience any unexpected issues with the smart lock. The new deadbolt may require a new set of keys (unless you choose a keyless model), so everyone in your household who needs a physical key will need a duplicate.
3. Add smart home speakers and/or a hub
With your entryway now smart, you’ll want to research smart speakers and home hubs.
While you don’t have to have a smart home hub to have smart home elements, it may be to your advantage to start with a hub early on if you plan to add to your smart home over time.
This gives you the chance to master it long before it becomes the norm in every home.
A smart home hub functions as a central command for a smart home.
This includes either hardware or software (often both) that connects to smart home devices, enabling you to control each one from one app.
For example, let’s say you have smart light bulbs, a smart lock on your front door, and an intelligent thermostat. By connecting these elements to a smart home hub, you can manage them all from one place, rather than managing them separately.
Do you need a smart home hub to have a smart home?
Consider the following to decide whether or you not you need to purchase a smart hub:
- ⬥ The number of smart home devices you need to control
- ⬥ The extent to which you would like to connect them
- ⬥ The ease with which you would like to control your devices
- ⬥ If you already have something you can use as a hub.
Note that with some hubs it is also possible to create multi-step actions that all your devices will follow automatically, regardless of their manufacturer.
With the help of a smart lock, for instance, you can set up an action sequence so multiple actions occur at once, such as the lights turning on, the alarm disabling, and the thermostat adjusting according to your preferences.
In addition to a smart home hub you’ll want to consider speakers. What is the purpose of smart speakers connecting to smart home hubs?
A smart speaker will allow you to do voice commands within your smart home. Alternatively, if you select a hub that doesn’t require a speaker, you don’t have to worry about a device that is listening to everything going on under your roof.
4. Add smart lighting
To stay within your budget, look for a smart light kit where no electrician or rewiring is required. There are several options available in the marketplace, at different price ranges for $200 dollars or less.
5. Take advantage of intelligent climate control and save money
Smart thermostats are often the starting point for many newcomers to home automation.
This sector of the smart home device market offers a wide variety of choices at all price ranges, many of them less than $100 dollars.
This is an easy project for the average DIYer, and with the wide range of options in the marketplace, you will find something that will suit your budget.
So let’s add up what we’ve put together…
- ⬥ Video doorbell – $100 to $200
- ⬥ Door lock – $100 to $200
- ⬥ Hub and speaker – $100 to $400
- ⬥ Smart lighting – $100 to $200
- ⬥ Smart thermostat – $100 to $200
And while there are some products priced much higher than what we’ve shown here, it is possible to have a smart home for less than $1,000 dollars.
You can spend a minimum of about $500 to $1200 dollars (or more) on creating a home with many of the smart home features you may use or want.
Finally, remember that the idea in putting together the elements of your smart home is to think about the features that mean the most to you and finding products that suit your needs at a price point you can afford.
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