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The beginnings of a smart home are becoming increasingly common in households nationwide, starting with the smart speakers. The idea is simple – with even affordable smart home devices, you can control your home using your voice, your phone, or without having to do anything at all. That makes your home more customizable, more automatic, and arguably more convenient.
But, smart home devices can still be relatively expensive – and if you want to add smart home devices to your entire home, the bill can really add up. That's exactly why we've put together this guide.
When buying smart home devices, there are a few things you'll want to consider. First of all, you'll want to make sure that the devices you buy are compatible with the rest of your devices. If you use Android and mostly other Google devices, you'll probably want devices that work with Google Assistant. If you use Amazon devices around the house, you'll want products that work with Alexa. And, if you're an Apple user, you'll want to only buy devices that work with Apple's HomeKit. There are other smart home ecosystems out there, but they're a little smaller, and to find compatible devices, you'll probably need to do some research.
You'll also want to think about price – and not just the price of a single device. If you plan on ultimately replacing all of your lights with smart bulbs, you'll need to figure out how many bulbs you need, what kinds of bulbs you want, and how much each bulb costs. The same is true for things like smart speakers, which you might want around the home, and smart plugs.
Thankfully, building a smart home doesn't have to break the bank. Here are the best budget smart home devices out there to get you started.
If you're looking for a highly intelligent smart speaker that you can use to control your smart home devices, then the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is easily the way to go. The Echo Dot has Alexa built right into it, meaning that you can use it to control smart home devices, find out information from the web, and even play music — all at under $50. The device also has a clock built into it, so you can check the time without having to ask Alexa.
The Echo Dot is currently on its third generation, and it looks pretty stylish. The device is available in a few different colors, and features a fabric covering around the outside to make it look more homely. On the top, you'll get controls for volume and to mute the microphone.
The Echo Dot won't sound as good as a much larger smart speaker, but it still doesn't sound bad at all — and it sounds a whole lot better than the original Echo Dot. The bass is relatively solid for a speaker this size, while the mid range sounds good, and there's a decent amount of clarity and detail.
Pros: Inexpensive, Alexa built in, decent sound for the price, works with range of smart home devices
Cons: None at this price$59.99 from Best Buy $59.99 from Amazon
If you prefer to use Android and other Google devices, then it's worth getting the Google Nest Mini instead of the Amazon Echo Dot. The Nest Mini is small and compact, like the Echo Dot, plus it comes in a range of colors — some bright and fun, and others sleek and stylish.
Of course, the best thing about the Nest Mini is the fact that it has Google Assistant built into it. Google Assistant is considered by many to be the smartest digital assistant out there, and you can use it to control your smart home devices and more. Google Assistant also integrates with your other Google products — so you can use it on your compatible phones, TVs, speakers, and so on.
As you would expect, the Nest Mini isn't quite as good-sounding as much larger speakers, but it's still able to pump out a solid sound for the price and the size. Notably, for this model, Google added a much better bass response compared to the previous-generation model.
Google Assistant is compatible with a huge range of smart home devices, meaning that you should be able to find devices that work with you across all product categories. I've personally used the Echo Dot for a few years, and it still works just as well as the day I got it, plus Google Assistant has continued to get smarter over time.
Pros: Inexpensive, Google Assistant built in, decent sound
Cons: None at this price$49.99 from Best Buy
Philips Hue has been a top player in the smart light bulb game since the beginning, and for good reason. Philips bulbs connect through a hub, making them more reliable and meaning that you can still use them even when the internet goes down. This starter kit comes with the Philips Hue hub, along with two bulbs. That makes for a slightly more expensive upfront cost, but means that you'll pay a whole lot less for more bulbs as you grow your smart home.
Philips Hue in general is pretty easy to use. Once you have connected your bulbs, through the Philips Hue app, you can turn your lights on and off, dim them, and so on. This kit only comes with white bulbs, but you can also buy and connect color bulbs.
Of course, most people probably don't want to use the actual Philips Hue app — and they don't have to. Philips Hue is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit — so no matter what smart home ecosystem you prefer, you'll be set.
But, what about the downsides? Well, if you do use the Philips Hue app, it can be a little confusing, and as mentioned, there's a slightly higher startup cost than if you bought Wi-Fi connected bulbs like those from LIFX.
Still, reviewers in general love Philips Hue bulbs. I've been using Philips Hue bulbs for around three years now, and have bulbs in each room of the house, can control them with my voice, and even have some smart switches that can control Philips Hue bulbs. It's a great setup — and I would recommend it to anyone interested in getting started in the smart home.
Pros: Inexpensive if you buy lots of bulbs, works with a range of smart home ecosystems, easy to set up, lots of compatible devices
Cons: More expensive startup cost, Hue app isn't the best$69.98 from Amazon
Smart plugs allow you to turn your older dumb devices into smart ones. Simply plug the smart plug into a wall outlet, and then your appliance or device into the smart plug — after which you can turn on and off the power using your phone or your voice. As far as smart plugs go, the Belkin WeMo Mini is small, inexpensive, and relatively well-designed.
Some smart plugs are big and chunky, and while the WeMo Mini isn't small, it is designed in a way to allow you to still use the outlet above or below it — and there's even enough room to plug two WeMo Mini devices into a two-gang outlet. The device also has a power button on it, so you can control it manually if you want too.
The WeMo Mini works with a number of smart home platforms too. It works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit, so matter what your setup is, you should be able to get it to work.
But, what about the downsides? Well, it's hard to really consider downsides considering the price, but some more expensive switches have energy monitoring, which is a feature that this plug does not have. It's also a little unsightly, despite being designed in a way that makes it very functional.
Still, despite that, I've been using a WeMo Mini consistently since I got one a few years ago. It works great plugged in to a hot water heater for tea fans — turn the heater into the on position the night before, then set the plug to switch on in the morning and you'll have hot water without having to wait around.
Pros: Cheap, slim enough to not block other outlet, physical power switch, highly compatible
Cons: Still a little ugly, no energy tracking$17.98 from Amazon
If you want to heighten your home security on a budget, it's worth considering the TP-Link Kasa Spot security camera, which will bring a security camera to your smart home at under $50. The camera is relatively small and stylish, and allows you to keep tabs on your home straight from your phone.
The camera offers a solid video quality for the price. For a camera this cheap, you might expect it to limit resolution to 720p, but you'll get a 1,080p resolution in the Kasa Spot. The camera also supports night vision, and has a wide 130-degrees field-of view.
The camera will integrate with some smart homes too. It works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, which is pretty impressive for a camera in this price range.
There are some compromises in this price range. Notably, the camera isn't compatible with HomeKit, so Apple users will need to keep looking. Still, despite that, reviewers love the camera, with The Ambient having given the camera an impressive 4 stars.
Pros: Inexpensive, Alexa and Google Assistant, relatively high-quality video
Cons: No HomeKit support$20.99 from Amazon
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