In this article, we look at “Basic Smart Home Automation on the Cheap”. We are going to show you how you can get some basic smart home automation up and running. In addition, we are going to make this happen with the minimum amount of apps to install on your smartphone. Let’s jump right in.
For this article, I am going to assume you have not been living under a rock and already know what a smart home is. If you don’t know, put very simply, it gives you the ability to automate certain tasks or do those tasks by simply using your voice.
What do I need to get started on your Smart Home and Smart Home Automation?
The first thing you’re going to need is a controller. Something that can take your voice commands to do your bidding. So the cheapest way to do this is with an Amazon Echo Dot. The 5th generation 2022 release of Amazon’s Echo Dot is the most affordable and advanced small smart speaker on the market today (as of this writing).
The 5th generation 2022 release of Amazon’s Echo Dot edges out the other competition like the Nest Mini from Google. The 2nd gen Nest Mini just doesn’t have the tech that the Amazon Echo Dot does. You might be tempted to go with Google anyways and that’s alright. When they are both at full price the cost is the same. That being said, Amazon seems to have a sale on the 5th gen Echo Dot very often. It stayed at $27.99 all the way from Black Friday to the end of the year. Often times it was even paired with a smart light bulb at that low price. The last thing you will need to install the app. For iPhone users, here is the link to Amazon Alexa on the Apple app store and for Google Play it’s Amazon Alexa.
Advantages the 5th gen Echo Dot has over the 2nd Gen Nest Mini
- Pricing – most of the time Amazon’s Echo Dot is going to be cheaper.
- Temperature Sensor – You could automate a fan or small heater thanks to this sensor.
- Movement sensors – automate lights coming on as you walk into a room.
- Sound – the Nest mini just can’t compete with the louder sound you can get out of the Echo Dot.
- Sound detections – the Echo Dot can listen for alarms or broken glass while you are away and alert you.
- Eero satellite router to expand your Wi-Fi coverage
- Touch – if you need to quickly pause your 5th gen Echo Dot you can by simply giving it a pat on the top and it will stop playing music.
You might be asking us, hey what about an Apple smart speaker? Since we are looking at the cheapest ways to get your home automated, the HomePod mini just doesn’t compete in the price. The starting price for the HomePod mini is $100. That’s double the price of Amazon or Google’s smart speakers. Also, Apple also has some catching up to do with Amazon and Google as far as smart home automation goes. Another thing is there are way fewer products that work with Apple’s HomeKit. Most products that do work with HomeKit cost a good bit more than those that work with Amazon and Google. So we don’t recommend Apple just yet. This of course could change in the very near future.
Best Smart Home Smart Plugs for Smart Home Automation
Now we settled on our controller, let’s started building out our other smart home products. First on this list are smart plugs. You can make nearly any dumb product smart with smart plugs. The problem is, there are probably over 100 different companies making smart plugs.
So how do we pick what we want to use? We advise you to go with a trusted well reviewed brand. Sure you might be able to save a few bucks by going with some brand no one has ever heard of but you might be taking a risk. How is that you ask? The app and permissions on your phone! Nearly every smart plug is going to make you download an app on your smartphone before you can connect it to Alexa. For this reason, we use only well-reviewed and trusted companies that have gotten plenty of attention. To minimize the number of apps we have to download, we want to go with one company ideally and stick with it. Otherwise, you can easily have a half dozen apps or more installed on your smartphone.
So our top pick for well-reviewed and affordable prices for smart plugs is Kasa. The Kasa app is well thought out and works very satisfactorily. It also has no problem syncing up with Alexa.
The 4-Pack Kasa Smart Plug Mini 15A Smart Home Wi-Fi Outlet (EP10P4) is currently our top pick. The cost at full price is $30 for the 4-pack but is often times discounted. If you get these for closer to $25, you are only paying $6.25 each. A few of the things we like are its small size, 15A rating, 2 Years warranty, and of course the low cost. We use these ourselves in our homes. The customer reviews on Amazon are 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 18,000 reviews. Kasa also sells an Energy Monitoring 4-Pack Smart Plug if you are interested.
Best Smart Lighting for Smart Home Automation
Sticking with the idea of having to install only two apps (Alexa and Kasa), our top pick for lighting is also Kasa. Whether you want to go with the smart light bulb route or go with the smart switch route Kasa has you covered.
In case you are wondering, no Kasa has not sponsored this article or given free products. We spent our own money on them.
We really like the Kasa Full Color Changing Dimmable WiFi Smart Light Bulbs that cost only around $40 for a 4-pack. Again, just like with the plugs, often these go for less.
If you have done some DYI projects on your home, you might want to go with the Kasa Smart Light Switch. The Kasa Smart Light Switch installs where your current light switch is now. The Kasa Smart Light Switch (HS200P3) 3-Pack goes for about $40. And you guessed it, often it’s discounted too. The great thing about doing smart switches is that you keep all your current lights the same without replacing them all. Honestly, this is probably the cheaper way to go for most.
Last but not least, smart plugs again! That’s right, if you have lamps, floor lamps, strip lights, and other lighting items, smart plugs can control these. In the Alexa app, you can group plugs into lighting groups to simplify what lights you want to control. You can say, Alexa, turn off all lights in the living room. This would turn off the smart bulbs, smart light switches, and or smart plugs with lighting all off at the same time. Or set up a schedule to do it without you saying a word.
~In conclusion for Smart Home Automation on the cheap~
We fully realize there are almost an unnumberable smart home products on the market today and we only scratch the surface in this article. The goal was to get you started on your own smart home with just a few basic products to get you started. You could spend less than $100 and make a big difference in your home.
Using the Alexa app, you can make all kinds of routines with Alexa and your 5th generation 2022 release of Amazon’s Echo Dot. The great thing about it is if you never want to deep dive into that app you can still control everything just with your voice. If you never got into any smart home products because you thought it would be complicated, we hope we helped you out a little.
If you listing to a lot of music, one of the coolest things about having several Echo Dots is Alexa will make a group automatically to let you listen to them all a the same time while you play your music list on Spotify or Amazon music.
Let us know if you would like guides to the Alexa app in the future. Thanks for reading.
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