Building a fully integrated smart home is one of those tasks that can feel as though it’s exclusive to those with a big budget, and to an extent, once upon a time, this was definitely the case.
The truth today however, is that it’s now possible to deck your home out with some of the very best smart technology devices for a fraction of the cost of even a couple of years ago and the ability to do so is becoming more common by the day.
From budget smart light bulbs to cheap voice controlled speaker systems, the affordability of the latest and greatest smart devices has made it possible to completely kit out your home (should you want to) with connected technology from some of the biggest names on the smart home scene.
In this guide, we’re taking a look at the very best in budget smart home tech to help you build the ultimate affordable smart home ecosystem, whether you’re starting from scratch or adding to an existing setup.
- 1 Affordable Smart Home Devices – The Essentials
- 2 The Best Affordable Smart Home Devices
- 2.1 Budget Voice Control Devices and Smart Speaker Systems
- 2.2 Budget Smart Light Bulbs and Smart Lighting Solutions
- 2.3 Budget Smart Safety Devices and Security Systems
- 2.4 Budget Smart Plug and Power Outlets
- 2.5 Budget Smart Home Switches
- 2.6 Budget Smart Home Cleaning Devices
- 2.7 Budget Smart Cameras and Video Doorbells
- 2.8 Further Reading
Affordable Smart Home Devices – The Essentials
When it comes down to it, the recent affordability of smart home devices can be seen as a direct result of the connected technology market entering the maturation stage of its development.
As smart tech has begun to move out of the ‘launch’ phase and has gained wide-spread uptake from consumers, the effect of this has been a gradual (yet continual) decrease in prices.
The great thing about this development is that while smart home device prices have fallen, the range of products on offer has simultaneously increased with new players entering the smart home scene while existing market leaders and the big name players such as Amazon, Philips Hue, and Samsung have strengthened and further diversified their offering and the compatibility of their platforms.
The result of all of this when taken together is that building a smart home which is both highly compatible and fully-featured, while still remaining affordable, is now easier than ever.
The Best Affordable Smart Home Devices
When it comes to building a fully connected smart home ecosystem on a budget, the principles are exactly the same as you’d apply if carrying the exercise without consideration for price.
Generally speaking, if you’re starting your smart home system from the ground up, you’re going to want to focus on a couple of core areas such as lighting, control, and sound.
These areas would usually be classified as the ‘essentials’ to put in place for further smart home automation and functionality and would typically then be extendable to areas such as smart safety and security devices, connected cleaning devices, more specific smart home entertainment options, and of course, solutions specialized to particular tasks or rooms of the house (such as for the kitchen, bathroom, or nursery).
We’ve taken this basic high-level smart home blueprint as a basis for outlining the best budget smart devices within these categories to help you find the best recommendations from each category to assist you in making an informed buying decision.
If you’re just starting out, this approach will arm you with the best budget-friendly approach to kitting out your smart home, allowing you to pick and choose the elements you want to focus on first. If you’ve already begun your smart home journey but want to expand your inventory on a budget, the devices in this guide will help you get there in the most economical way possible.
This doesn’t however mean that you’re going to sacrifice quality by going for cheaper smart home devices and while you’re likely to see a reduced feature set in some of the budget smart home tech when compared to top-tier devices, the high levels of compatibility provided by today’s lower price-point devices make them perfect to get you up and running quickly without breaking the bank, while providing the flexibility for growth further down the line.
Budget Voice Control Devices and Smart Speaker Systems
Being able to control the connected smart devices throughout your home is one of the cornerstones of building an automated smart home environment and the ability to do it using your voice is the natural extension of this which has seen incredible growth in recent years.
Voice activated smart speaker systems represent a catch-all term for these kinds of devices which at the simplest level, allow you to activate any number of connected smart devices around your home meaning you can switch the lights on and off, change the temperature of a smart thermostat, and even lock the doors, all using your voice.
While the high-end devices in this category focus heavily on audio output quality, the best budget smart speakers and voice control devices represent an amazing cost-effective entry into the world of voice activated smart home control.
The Echo Dot is the smallest member of Amazon’s Alexa-powered smart speaker family and for it’s pocket-sized form factor and equally compact price tag, is the obvious choice if you’re looking to include a fully-featured budget voice controller into your smart home ecosystem.
Utilzing the Alexa voice assistant, the Echo Dot is designed to carry out everything from answering questions and playing your favorite music, to controlling the smart devices on your home network with Alexa currently compatible with over 10,000 smart home devices.
The latest generation of the Dot incorporates an improved audio output experience into the design of the tiny smart speaker with the goal of bringing it more into line with its larger siblings such as the Echo and Echo Plus when it comes to music playback, but ultimately this functionality is always going to be the secondary consideration within the Dot’s price-point and with this in mind, what you’re really getting is a high-quality Alexa platform for controlling your smart devices with your voice.
If you’re looking for an affordable voice-controlled speaker system for use with your connected devices, it’s hard to better than the Echo Dot for the asking price.Learn More About the Amazon Echo Dot Smart Speaker Here
Budget Smart Light Bulbs and Smart Lighting Solutions
Smart lighting is one of the most immediately useful and dare we say it, ‘life changing’ additions that can be instantly made to a conventional home to begin making it smart.
Whether you’re interested in illumination options that switch off automatically at a certain time of day, activate when you trigger a motion sensor, or can simply be controlled from a phone or using your voice, then smart lighting is the answer you’ve been looking for.
Smart lighting systems and individual smart bulbs are one of the areas in which prices in the connected technology market have seen the greatest reductions as uptake has continued to increase.
What this means in practice is a number of high performance smart lighting solutions from leading brands, all at a price point that makes installing in multiple rooms an economical option.
There are a number of things that we love about the LIFX bulbs, but the one that pushes it straight to the top of the affordable smart bulb pile is the connectivity and compatibility offered by these awesome lights.
Favoring a standard WiFi connection over some of the other common smart home wireless protocols (such as Z-Wave or ZigBee means that the LIFX bulbs are plug and play right out of the box meaning once you screw them in, they’re ready to go and will work with basically any other smart device in your system.
This is a major advantage for a couple of reasons but for the budget-conscious buyer, the immediate effect is that you’re not going to have to invest in any additional hubs or extraneous devices in order to get your home lighting up to the next level.
Without the need for a dedicated hub or specific bridge device, the LIFX bulbs are ready to play nice with everything from Alexa to Google Assistant for voice control as well as offering instant compatibility with other major devices and platforms such as Samsung SmartThings, Nest, and Arlo.
The LIFX Mini White is (as the name suggests) a white smart bulb, making it the entry level option in the range and if you’re looking to bring some smart color lighting into rooms, a small bump in budget allows you to move up to the LIFX Mini which offers the same smart functionality as the plain vanilla version with the addition of 16 million colors.Learn More About the LIFX Mini Smart White LED Bulb Here
Budget Smart Safety Devices and Security Systems
Safety and security are two of the areas which are perhaps most important when it comes to ensuring your home environment is looking out for you and your family.
With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why smart safety devices in areas such as smoke detection and intruder prevention have proven to be both so effective and so popular.
Combining the two key areas of smart home technology – namely sensing and responding – connected smart safety devices are able to detect when there’s a problem before alerting you to the danger immediately, wherever you are.
This means if there’s signs of smoke or carbon monoxide in the kitchen for example, a smart device designed to detect this is going to let you know, whether you’re upstairs in bed or on the way to the store.
When it comes to budget smart smoke detectors, the affordability of the Z-Wave based First Alert system puts it close to the top of the list and allowing it to hold its own among some of the best smart detectors on the market.
Coming in at around half of the price of other smart smoke and air quality alarms like the Nest Protect system, it’s little surprise that the First Alert is going to be somewhat lighter on the feature front.
With that being said though, if you’re looking for a smart smoke detector unit that connects to other Z-Wave enabled devices in your smart home ecosystem and that will send you phone or email alerts at the first sign of trouble, then the First Alert can’t be beat for the money.
Alongside the ability to detect both smoke and carbon monoxide, the First Alert utilizes a photoelectric smoke sensor which effectively reduces the instances of ‘false alarms’ caused by things like cooking or steam from the shower.
If you’re building your home around a system which integrates (or entirely utilizes) the Z-Wave protocol, then the compatibility of the First Alert which is certified for use with other third party Z-Wave systems (such as Nexia Home Intelligence and Ring’s Home Security System) is a huge bonus for such a modest price tag.Learn More About the First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm Here
Budget Smart Plug and Power Outlets
Being able to remotely control, trigger, or schedule a device plugged into a power outlet was always going to be the natural extension of the smart home landscape and the latest versions of these devices combine both functionality and affordability for bringing your sockets into the smart home era.
The true benefit of a smart power outlet device is that it allows you to deploy the same kind of connected skills to those devices and appliances around your home which aren’t inherently smart – things like lamps and devices in the kitchen. The extension of this ability of course is that you’re then going to be free to control these newly connected devices through your phone or via your voice as well as setting timers and automation sequences for maximizing the hands-free potential of your home.
As you’d probably expect, Amazon’s foray into the smart plug market sees a device which is fully compatible with Alexa from the moment you attach it to a socket meaning you’re going to effectively have voice control over any connected outlets (and appliances) where you place it.
On top of the ability to control your plugs via Alexa, this compact budget smart plug also provides the ability to schedule any connected devices for automatic activation when needed as well as allowing you to control them remotely if you’re not near enough for issuing a voice command.
A definite drawback of earlier smart plug systems was the size of the devices which had the tendency to block access to any adjacent outlets but as with many of the best contemporary devices, the Amazon Smart Plug is compact enough to go almost unnoticed, keeping free sockets, well… free.
The Amazon Smart Plug doesn’t require a smart home hub to operate and the small size combined with an equally small price tag make the device the perfect option if you’re looking to deploy multiple smart outlets around your home without taking out a second mortgage to fund the project.Learn More About the Amazon Smart Plug Here
Budget Smart Home Switches
It’s easy to confuse smart switches with their close-siblings smart plugs and it’s not difficult to see why – both effectively do the same job of allowing you to control conventional, non-smart electrical equipment through the use of an intermediary smart device.
In the case of a smart switch you’re generally going to be using the device as a means of converting an existing wall light (or ceiling fan) switch into an upgraded smart version with the subsequent smart functionality such as scheduling, automation, and voice and app control for the connected devices in question.
By swapping out a traditional light switch with a smart switch replacement for example, you’re effectively making any conventional lighting or light bulbs smart in the process, negating the need for dedicated smart bulbs which would usually handle the connectivity.
The Kasa range of smart home devices from TP-Link covers everything from smart light bulbs and smart plugs and it’s therefore little surprise that they also bridge the gap between the two producing some of the best smart switches on the market.
The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch provides a good variety of smart options for replacing existing switches in your home extending the control methods to both smartphone control as well as voice activation through Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana supported devices.
On top of the usual remit of smart control options, the Kasa smart switch allows detailed scheduling for automation of lighting – perfect for switching on the lights before you get home in the evening or for setting up light timers if you’re on vacation or away for longer periods.
Wi-Fi connectivity makes the Kasa smart light switch solution an excellent choice if you’re looking for a budget smart switch with maximum compatibility and ease of setup without the need for specialized hubs or bridge equipment.Learn More About the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch Here
Budget Smart Home Cleaning Devices
One of the turning points in home appliance technology has to be the transition to automatic vacuum cleaners and mops that are able to take care of the job of keeping your floor clean without the need to get involved with the task yourself.
If like us, the idea of regularly picking up the vacuum cleaner fills you with a minor sense of boredom-induced dread, then the affordability of the latest and greatest robot vacuum cleaners and robot mops within the budget category is going to come as welcome news.
While obstacle avoidance and scheduling come as standard, some of the top models of robot vacuum cleaner also provide the ability to control your automated cleaning device with voice as well as some of the models in this class even incorporating advanced room mapping technology.
Robot vacuum cleaners aren’t cheap – with some models costing upwards of $800 – but there are some truly excellent devices that come in significantly lower than this top-end, providing many of the advantages of higher spec models at a fraction of the price.
The most impressive element of the Roborock S5 has to be the sheer amount of functionality that the device crams into the shell for such a comparitively modest price, delivering more features than some of its peers which come in at a significantly higher price point.
In order to find its way around your home, the S5 utilizes a smart sensor navigation system to map your home’s layout, make a plan, and find the optimal cleaning route around your joint.
With the ability to set schedules for timed cleaning sessions before returning to the base for self-recharging, the S5 is a great example of a set and forget budget robot vacuum.
One of the unique features offered by the Roborock is the ability to both sweep and vacuum as well as a mopping functionality for cleaning hard floors.
The companion Mi Home App allows control of the ST from an Android or iOS device as well as setting up schedules, saving maps, and telling the device areas of your home that you want it to avoid.
Around 150 minutes of battery run time, the ability to clear ground obstacles of up 2 cm, and edge and object avoidance, the Roborock S5 is going to tackle most multi-room home settings whether you live in a studio apartment or a large house.Learn More About the Roborock S5 Robotic Vacuum and Mop Cleaner Here
Budget Smart Cameras and Video Doorbells
Allowing you to remotely view (via a connected smartphone or tablet) whatever the camera itself is capturing is the fundamental offering of all smart home camera systems whether a standalone device or integrated into a smart video doorbell unit.
Beyond this though, the best smart camera systems also offer functionality ranging from cloud upload and storage, to motion detection, night vision, and two-way audio capabilities for allowing you to hear and be heard by whoever’s on the other side of the camera.
For indoor smart home camera devices, this results in a system that’s ideally suited for use monitoring pets, as an indoor smart home security component, or as a highly sensitive visual baby monitor for use in a home nursery environment.
Outdoor rated smart cameras and video doorbell devices tend to offer the same functionality as their domesticated counterparts, although in this case night vision capability and varying degrees of weather resistance are pretty standard.
Not only is the original member of Ring’s video doorbell family one of the best in the business when it comes to front-porch smart tech, but it also happens to be one of the cheapest.
Compatibility with Amazon Alexa allows any connected Echo devices in your home to illuminate and provide you with an audible alert whenever the doorbell detects motion by the door or if pressed. From here, you can communicate via your Alexa device and the doorbell’s two-way communication functionality with whoever’s come knocking (or ringing).
This two-way talk feature naturally extends to smartphone, tablet, and PC meaning you can see, hear, and speak to the person on the other side of the door whether you’re at home or away.
As with most of the best video doorbell systems, the Ring Video Doorbell lets you know as soon as someone presses the doorbell, allowing you to respond at all times – particularly useful if the delivery guy calls and you’re at work or running errands.
On top of the usual visitor interfacing roles you’d expect from a video doorbell system, the Ring is at it’s heart an outdoor smart camera and as such, delivers HD video capture along with infrared night vision for 24/7 monitoring ability.
The final thing that sets this doorbell out from rivals is the fact that if stolen, Ring will replace the device for free, providing extra peace of mind.Learn More About the Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell Here