Want to know how to turn your home into a smart home on the cheap? Maybe you just went out and bought a second home. Maybe you plan on retiring there. Maybe your plan is to fix it up and someday resell it or possibly you just plan on renting it out.
Either way, we’ll show you the best cheap smart home devices that actually work and how easy they are to implement for your home.
Is your home as dumb as a wall phone?!? Do you want to make it smart, but don’t have a lot of leftover cash?
Well, you are in just the right place!
My Experience With Smart Home Devices
This article really isn’t about me. But I feel that I should tell you a little bit about how I got my insight on the topic. I live in a little town in northern New Hampshire; where half of the population of other New England states come to visit every weekend.
I used to work for the local cable company in sales, but also did installations as I got referrals from the local realtors. Much of that time I used to sell and install related services to people buying second homes.
On average there are approximately 15 to 20 homes sold every week here in our little valley during the summer. Mostly vacation homes or rentals. Just in our little area, that’s a lot!
Almost everyone who buys a second home in this day and age asked me several questions. Mostly where the local Best Buy was so that they could go out and buy smart thermostats. So I usually would offer them our service.
Which was insanely expensive, and I’d usually get shot down right away. Well, there isn’t a local Best Buy to us anyway, so typically this is something they ended up researching and buying later online. That’s where this guide will hopefully help you out.
Saving Money With A Smart Home
My wife’s grandfather always says “pay yourself this way” and then motions dollars going to him, not delving dollars out. Well, with technology comes convenience and that convenience comes with a price tag.
Of course, there are ways that smart thermostats will save you money on your heating bill for example. But if you can spend less when you first purchase your smart home devices, then you are better off in general.
How big of a price tag really depends on what you want to be able to accomplish. What do you want in your smart home? What do you want it to be able to do?
This is a guide for those of you on a serious smart home budget. I’ve spent a lot of time, and I’m talking dubious hours, managing a way to do this. No one wants to spend a fortune trying to figure out which products work and don’t work. Especially when you are just starting out.
So lucky for you I’ve done all the legwork. Of course, prices go down and up on certain items. But for the most part, I think you will find that the products I’m going to recommend here will stay on the cheaper side.
Cheap Smart Hub – Under $50
When you are trying to navigate the cheaper way to turn your vacation home into a smart home. It’s all about what exactly you want to do. No matter what your end game is, there is one product you will need to build this system around, and that is a hub.
In order to build your cheap smart home, let’s start with a Wink hub. You can probably get one cheaper. However, you’re not going to be happy as there are far too many technical hiccups that you are going to run into.
Not only that, but I think that you are going to find that the Wink Hub is very intuitive and easy to set up. It is also compatible with almost everything you can throw at it. There are a lot of people who would disagree with me on choosing that hub.
But remember, we are trying to keep this on the cheap and if that is truly the case, then cheap is what you get. Besides the fact that Wink has a huge following and will work just fine for most people.
Cheap Smart Assistant – Under $50
So, we are trying to build this smart home on the cheap right? You don’t have to have a smart assistant. That is unless you want to be able to control your smart home with the sound of your voice.
So this is one of those items that is not a “must-have”. This is one of those things that a lot of people will definitely argue with me about.
There are generally two camps here. Some people like the Amazon Echo Dot, and some people like the Google Home Mini…..and then there are others. But personally for compatibility sake and the fact that Echo Dot has just been around longer than the competitors it is my top choice.
This little assistant has all the power of its big brother without the sound quality. So what?! You aren’t buying this as a speaker that you are going to listen to music on. You want to build a cheap smart home. That’s why you are here.
Typically these are going to run you about $50. Although I saw them on sale last Christmas for around $25. So keep your eye out on Amazon and check the current price.
Cheap Smart Lighting – Under $50
After you have your hub and or assistant. The very first thing I would do is invest in smart lighting. Mostly because if you are like 90% of the population nowadays you forget to turn off your lights.
Well, with smart lighting you don’t have to worry about that anymore. The best part is, you don’t have to spend a fortune. It doesn’t have to be expensive to convert your existing system to make it smart.
We are going to take out the idea of buying all new lightbulbs for this project. We are going to focus more on where your lights are plugged in and take a look at your light switches. One of the cheapest and easiest ways to start with are the switches.
You can buy TP-Link Smart Wi-fi switches and swap out your existing switches. Typically they will typically run you around $35 each. The nice thing is, they will convert your dumb lights connected to them to make them smart.
The other thing you can do is simply buy some smart plug-in outlets and convert your existing outlets to smart ones. This is very handy in a situation where a lamp or something else was already powered by plugging it into the wall. Right now you can get a 4 pack of these for $50 or less. But you can check out the current price here on Amazon.
Cheap Smart Home Security – $50 to $150
This is a tough one because smart security doesn’t come cheap. Good smart security for your vacation home really doesn’t come cheap. But if you are looking for the most inexpensive way to add in a security camera and a couple of window and door sensors. I think I might be able to help.
If you are trying to do this on the cheap, then you are brave. But it can somewhat be done. First of all, let’s just address the security camera right now. I can not and will not recommend any cheaper solution than the Blink XT2 Cameras.
They are easy to set up and they work solidly under any conditions. Rain, snow, cold temperatures. They are just rock solid. You can check out the price on Amazon here or you can see my full review of the TP-Link Smart Wi-fi switches.
Now, if you are looking to add door or window sensors I would look into the Ecolink Z-wave door and window sensors. They pair great with the Wink and are very discreet. Typically they run around $29, but you can check out the current price over here on Amazon. I also wrote an article titled Smart Home Security For Your Shed. I would check that out as well if you happen to own a shed.
Cheap Smart Entertainment Controller – Under $50
Well, I didn’t think I could do it, but I did. I found you a relatively inexpensive IR Controller that will work with your entertainment system. Primarily, in conjunction with Alexa from your Echo device, you’ll be able to turn your TV off and on with your voice.
You can even change the channel with your voice. The Broadlink IR Control Hub is what you’ll want to look at for under $30. It definitely beats spending what they want for a Harmony Smart Controller if you are trying to get out of this on the cheap.
Cheap Smart Home Thermostats – Under $100
This is the part you’ve been waiting for. There are a ton of smart home thermostats out there. There really are! You can spend a fortune on Nest thermostats if you are just trying to go high end.
In the middle of the road are the Ecobee thermostats, which I can’t praise enough, as I have 4 of them in my house right now.
But being on the lower end of the spectrum are these little gems that a lot of people pass by, and they are quite the quality product from a manufacturer known for making good thermostats.
I’m talking about the Honeywell Wi-Fi programmable thermostats. Typically you can get these for under $100 each. If you know anything about Smart Thermostats…..that’s stupid cheap.
So they would be my recommendation for this section. Take a gander at them over here on Amazon to check the current price.
If you are buying a home or a vacation home, then you will want to buy some smart home devices for it, even if it’s just a security camera or two.
There really are a whole lot of inexpensive options out there when it comes to building a smart home. It’s just knowing where to find them and which ones are a waste of your money to begin with.
Well, I’ve done the research for you. These are my recommendations based on what I have seen with a limited budget. I hope you find this information useful and share it with your other friends, realtors, etc.