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Smart Home Automation

Automate Anything

7 incredibly cool and cheap smart home devices

Not looking to spend thousands on retrofitting your home with a slew of new devices and wiring? With technology constantly changing and being more available the pricing tends to get lowered as well.

We’ve done the leg work and found some of the easiest and most affordable upgrades you can do in your home. These devices and changes can draw a huge wow factor and let you show off your smart home. Not only that but they can actually be quite helpful as well.

Info about hubs and wifi devices to know beforehand

We won’t go indepth on this subject but we need to breifly touch on the differences in order to distingush which devices to buy. Smart and wireless devices work using protocols. This is how they communicate with each other. When using a device that work over wifi, you can usually use your wireless router as the hub to integrate your devices together. Using a device that works off of different protocols you will need to purchase a hub that will be able to talk to the devices. For example if you purchase Insteon devices you will need an Insteon hub to communicate and link the devices online. For more information take a look at this post.

The more easier methods and smart home devices

Now that we have some basics on when we need to purchase a hub and when we don’t, we can move on. In this first section we will look at more easier devices to install, most of these are as simple as screwing in a light bulb or plugging into an outlet.

1. Smart WIFI Outlet 4 Pack

Amazon 4 Pack Smart Outlet – Gosund

Listed currently at $25.49 and can be found in multiple countries on Amazon. These outlets are capable of connecting to Google Home or Alexa and can control anything that plugs in. They also work with IFTTT, meaning interactions between different devices can be set up. You can read more about IFTTT here also.

Some key features of these outlets:

  • Set a timer and schedule an on/off cycle
  • Connect with your Google Home or Alexa to voice control
  • Control through your phone anywhere in the world
  • Set groups and member, so family can have control as well
  • Setup snippets and interactions from IFTTT

I personally have found great uses in smart outlets. One being a reptile aquarium where we would constantly forget to shut off the light. Using one of these and now no need to remember to shut of the light switch.

1.2 Outdoor smart wifi outlet

Outdoor WIFI outlet from Amazon

We labeled this one as 1.2 because it is very similar to the last device, but is meant for outdoors. Listed currently at $25.99 US. This outlet will have the same features but is safe for outdoor use and no need to take your old outlet and change it out, just simply plug in the new one.

I found this to be particularly useful for our hanging tiki lights going around the hot tub. Able to simply press or talk on the phone and my tiki lights were on.

2. RGB screw in light bulb 4 pack

Smart WIFI bulb 4 pack from Amazon

Here we have a 4 pack of RGB WIFI smart bulbs. Currently priced at $39.99 US. These work on WIFI and staying with our theme are alot cheaper then name brand alternatives and don’t require a hub. The amount of effort to install these are literally unscrewing and screwing in a nother light bulb. Simply pair it up on your phone and optionally connect it to Google Home or ALexa and your good to go.

You can create a timer and on/off periods. You can also control the lights using your voice through Google Home or Alexa. Set groups and other users to control the lights. In addition there is a music option so the lights will dance to the music (this is done through the app on the phone), we loved this feature.

3. Rotating smart WIFI camera

WIFI Smart camera from Amazon

Next we have a WIFI enabled smart camera starting at a mere $39.99 US on Amazon. With AI ability to follow motion and rotate and pan. There are several different brands on Amazon and most likely part of a private label product shipped from China. Trying one out we found it definitely did what it was suppose to. The image, as with most of this types of products, is not as crisp as promoted. But it was definitely enough to see the facial details and actually surprisingly good at night time.

Features include ability to send emails with photos attached. Send smart phone real time notifications. Night vision, motion detection, 2 way talking through phone and camera. It also had the ability to record on SD car or upload 2 min clips to cloud. No PVR or hub needed and it is just as simple to install as the other items on this list.

4. B.One WIFI IR Hub for Remote Controlling Almost Anything

There are quite a few of these IR blasters on Amazon and it seems a hit or mess. The above B. one is currently list at $39 US. It seems to have the most stable reviews although the broadlink, currently at $23 US seems to have a lot of good reviews. With IR hubs it comes down to the devices you are trying to control.

The install should be the same for most, by plugging the device in and linking it up through WIFI. The harder part may be connecting everything. In theory you should be able to control most devices that have an IR signal. For example, your AC unit, radio, tv, receiver, projector, and anything else you might have in your home.

You would be able to control it through your phone anywhere, some seem to support IFTTT as well. So you’d be able to integrate it with certain situations and devices. Also most support Google Home and Alexa so you can even say what devices to turn on and off.

Smart home devices for the more DIY prone

5. Wifi smart switches to replace your current dum dum switches

Gosund 4 Pack WIFI Smart Switches from Amazon

This 4 pack of smart switches from Amazon start at $69.99 for the dimmable type and 56.99 for thje 4 pack of non-dimmable type. Considering that a single switch from other brands can set you back 60 bucks just for one this isn’t a bad deal. They also work on LED and of course do not require a hub.

They can be connected to Google Home and Alexa and have set schedules as well as scenes set up. For this switch you will need a nuetral wire in your switch box. Yes thats right, you will need to take off your old switch and replace it with this one. Get yourself a voltage tester and shut off the power, than test to make sure no other wires in the box are live.

You could leave the lights on for the switch and have someone yell when you shut off the right breaker. Once you open up the switch box, use your tester to make sure no other lines are live and replace the outlet. Make sure you grab a 3 way version of the smart switch if you have more then one location where your light switches are controlled from.

6. Smart WIFI water/gas control valve

WIFI water and gas automated control valve

This item is a little different but can most certainly have it’s place in a home. Great for ensuring water damage is kept to a minimum or when a gas leak is detected to shut it off. Currently priced at only $36 US we think it’s a great addition to the list. Also for 20 dollars more you can add the water sensor to it as well.

It does work with IFTTT so scenario can be set up where one device could trigger the valve to close or open. We actually used one of these in the implementation of our auto water leveler for our hot tub. We used this as a way, if water continued and triggered a relay in the overflow the valve would shut off the water. We will be making a diy guide on how we made it as well.

7. WIFI relay with Voice and IFTTT support

WIFI Relay switch on Amazon

Here is a relay that can connect to most home applainces and circuits. Rated for 110V at 1100W or 220V at 2200W for 10 Amp capacity. Currentl;y only priced at $11.99 for 2 and no hub needed of course.

It works with Google Home and Alexa so it can be voice control, but it also can used with IFTTT. Because it connects with wifi, you can interact with it anywhere in the world.

You’ll need to connect the line (incoming power) to one side and load (connected device) to the other side. Then you can control that device using any of the above methods. The list of areas may be limited as you’ll want to put this device in an enclosure, but could be helpful with lighting applications or controlling devices that do not have a switch initially.

What can you actually do with the above installations

So what can you actually do with these cheaper smart home automation devices. With the smart outlets you could use for your outside plug in light such as christmas or patio lights.

Then add the switches in a couple of key areas, such as your tv room, kitchen, ensuite, or outside lights. We can create different scenes such as movie time for the lights to dim to a certain level. If you’ve installed a couple of the smart bulbs you could throw some music on and have a light show.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve already started driving away and left the lights on, it can be done from anywhere. Many other items could be added such as door locks, wifi door bells, full temperature and motion sensors, smart thermostats, and many more.

These are some easier and cheaper ways to get started without spending a ton on hubs or kits. If any of this was usefull please give us a share on Pinterest or Facebook – thanks.

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