So, you have less than $1,000 you would like to spend on building a smart home.
2020 has always had a distinctly futuristic flavor. In a matter of days, the future becomes our present.
What can you do if you’re new to home automation and want to get started without spending a fortune?
Well, you’re in the right place. Today, we’ll launch directly into a blueprint for a complete connected home for less than $1000.
1) Get Started with a Video Doorbell
If you want to get started while keeping the budget down, we’d strongly recommend the base model of Ring’s classic Video Doorbell. You’ll benefit from most of the functionality on the more expensive stablemates for less than $100. What’s not to love?
Convenience is the primary benefit of video entry systems, and Ring makes sure control is seamless in-app. All you need to do is hook up your doorbell to your home WiFi network, and you'll stay connected to your home even when you're away.
Installation is straightforward with the battery-powered model. If you opt for the hardwired doorbell, why not consider getting professional installation from our partnership with HelloTech?
Once you’re up and running, you can enjoy two-way audio communication with your visitors along with 720p video feed in HD. While the pricier Ring models boast superior resolution, what you have here is more than fit for purpose.
The field-of-view is generous at 180 degrees, and you can make use of optional wedge kits or corner kits to improve the angle further. Crowned with piercing night vision, this is a cheap and cheerful way to start your connected home in elegant style.
Before we move indoors, there’s a little more you can do to smarten up that entry system…
2) Smarten Up Your Entry System On a Budget
Smart Door locks have many benefits, and there's a new superstar in town…
Friday Home Wireless Smart Door Lock is the smallest retrofit lock you’ll find. Taking up less room on your door than any comparable lock, compatibility extends to pretty much any single cylinder deadbolt.
While this is responsible for almost one-third of your $1000 budget, you'll become rewarded with a versatile and secure entry system with no need for a third-party hub. Many comparable smart locks come in at a keener price-point, but you'll need an additional gateway. In that sense, you could argue that Friday Home offers unbeatable value even though it's not cheap.
Another key selling point besides its compact size and hub-independence is the choice of 6 colors. Many smart locks are limited to black or gray. With Friday, you can match your lock to your outside décor.
It gets even better for Apple fans since this lock is HomeKit-enabled. That said, if you’re looking to kit out a whole connected home on a budget, give Apple’s ecosystem a swerve.
You can share temporary or permanent codes, so you've got friends, family, and any home help covered.
For a combination of convenience, security, and ease of use, Friday Home is a modern classic that's sure to fly off the shelves, so order your smart lock before it’s too late.
With the entrance to your home smartened up, you need to think about a smart speaker and a home hub. Luckily, the multipurpose Echo Plus gives you both in a powerful and pocket-friendly package…
3) Echo Plus Serves Double Duty: Smart Speaker & Home Hub
If you're new to home automation, it won't take you long to find out there's no unified standard, so devices sometimes don't play nicely together. Check out our look at Insteon, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and WiFi communication protocols right here.
Smart home hubs allow devices from contrasting brands to communicate with one another (assuming they share a protocol). Amazon's enduringly popular Echo Plus is a smart speaker packing a Zigbee radio. This makes it a de facto home hub for the Zigbee kit, saving you an extra purchase.
That's just the tip of the iceberg with Echo Plus, too. Besides robust and hands-free control of your smart home, you'll get a powerful smart speaker with the perfect Alexa onboard. Automating your home just got even more accessible.
Unlike many smart speakers, audio on Echo Plus is crisp with powerful bass and higher frequencies well represented, too. You can even pair Echo devices for smart stereo sound.
If you want a digital butler and entertainment system rolled into one with the inbuilt kicker of that Zigbee hub, this might be the best Benjamin you spend this year.
4) Classic Smart Lighting: Philips Hue Starter Kit
If you want to smarten up your lighting without spending a great deal, a Philips Hue Starter Kit is a wise entry point. You won’t need to call in an electrician or worry about rewiring. Simply give these bulbs a try and then expand over time if you find them to your liking.
What do you get for your money, then?
Well, since the budget is uppermost in our decision-making process today and we splurged on the Friday Home smart lock, we've opted here for the cheapest starter kit Philips Hue offers. Here’s what you’ll get:
- 3 x Smart Bulbs
- Hue Hub
- Smart Button
With the gateway bundled, you can again sidestep the additional cost you need to weather when investing in many smart bulbs. Most require a hub for full functionality, and you've got one included here. You can build up to 50 bulbs into your ecosystem, which is far more than enough for most needs.
You can choose your bulbs in 3 configurations:
- White Ambiance
- White and Color Ambiance
Once you're up and running, the Smart Button gives you the ability to control your lights from a physical control. You're far more likely to take the helm using the Hue app, though. This is a cinch to use, even if you're a complete beginner.
Creating custom lighting scenes couldn’t be easier with Philips Hue. You’ll take all the sting out of the tedious elements of running your home with this solid starter kit. What are you waiting for?
5) Intelligent Climate Control To Make Your Life Easier and Save Money
Potentially the most common starting point for many newcomers to home automation is a smart thermostat.
You’re spoiled for choice in this sector of the market. If budget is a concern, though, there’s no substitute for Google Nest Thermostat E.
You’ll enjoy much of the firepower of the pricier Google Nest Learning, the iconic flagship model, but at a fraction of the cost.
The frosted disc slips in neatly with most design schemes, whether traditional or modern. The display shows extensive temperature readings. If the trademark green leaf is illuminated, your house is running energy-efficiently. Any truly smart home is a green home, and you'll be minimizing your electricity consumption through intelligent climate control. We would say it's realistic to achieve a cut of 10% or so on your power bill.
Working wonderfully with Alexa, if you’ve got the Echo Plus we highlight above, you’ll be able to alter the temperature hands-free.
The polar opposite of those fiddly, traditional thermostats, soar into 2020 with Nest Thermostat E, and you'll never look back.
6) Smart TV For All Your Entertainment
If you thought smart TVs and streaming devices were extortionate, you might be surprised at this TCL Roku Smart TV. If you roll with the 2018 model and the 32-inch screen, you’ll pay as little as $150. IN return for that nominal investment, you’ll rejuvenate your entertainment.
This screen size works equally well in the bedroom or the kitchen if you’ve already got your lounge kitted out. If you’re looking to create a complete smart home for $1000, once you’ve done this, you might consider a home theater as a separate project. For now, though, this Roku TV will get the party started.
With access to 500,000 movies and TV shows across 5000 channels, you’ll never be stuck for something to watch. If anything, you’ve got too much choice. Luckily, navigation is a snap. Throw in the Echo Plus we recommended above, and you'll be dancing through the channels with voice control. If you prefer Google Assistant, you could throw in a cheap Google Home Mini smart speaker
1080p full HD with direct-lit LED gives you impressive picture quality. Blacks and colors both render well with a super-swift refresh rate giving you smooth fight scenes and sports action.
A generous supply of inputs completes a winning package at a scarcely credible price.
7) Stealth Security Camera without Spending a Fortune
Since you’ll want a degree of protection, why not think about a stealth camera like the Maximus Coach Porch Light Camera?
Looking just like a traditional lamp, there’s an HD camera nestling inside to capture footage of anyone trying to enter your home with ill intent. If the motion sensor is triggered, a piercing siren should see off any would-be intruder.
You’ll be able to communicate with two-way audio or by playing a pre-recorded message. You can also call 911.
For an elegant addition to your porch that ramps up security wonderfully without costing the earth, this stealth approach to security is a great way to round out your new connected home.
If you have $1000 to spare, why not make 2020 the year you automate your home?
Feel free to use the above as inspiration and to customize your connected home, so you get everything running just the way you want it.
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