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With more and more smart home devices hitting the market, the idea of automating our houses seems less left-field than it once did. Despite that, only a small minority of people have chosen to take the plunge.

Perhaps that’s because prospective smart home owners just don’t know where to start. If that sounds you, read on. We’re going to talk about five basic beginners smart home projects you can build right now.

Protect Your Pipes With An Automated Smart Valve

This is a smart home project that anyone with a bit of plumbing know-how could do in an evening. If not, you could just hire a plumber.

Smart valves Install a Smart Valve and Stop Your Basement from Flooding Install a Smart Valve and Stop Your Basement from Flooding What if you could prevent home flooding or water damage by installing a single piece of equipment? I am, of course, talking about smart water valves. Read More essentially replace dumb, mechanical valves on your plumbing system. You can use your smartphone to shut off your water, without having to go on all-fours. This is handy if you’re about to go on a long road trip, and you’re worried about pipes bursting.

SmartValve

Some smart valves allow you to couple them with a water sensor, which will actively sense when a pipe has burst and shut off the water. No interaction required.

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Although smart valves can be expensive, you might find that long term they’ll save you money, as your insurance premiums may go down. Plus, the risk of a burst pipe flooding your home will drop significantly.

There are a few to try. One I recommend is the LeakSMART Smart Home Kit, which costs $399.00 on Amazon. This includes the valve and the water sensor, and a central hub to tie it together.

leakSMART Smart Home Kit with Automatic Water Shut-Off Valve (3/4"), Leak Sensor, and Hub leakSMART Smart Home Kit with Automatic Water Shut-Off Valve (3/4"), Leak Sensor, and Hub INCLUDES: (1) leakSMART patented, automatic water shut-off valve (3/4"), (1) leakSMART wireless & waterproof sensor, and (1) leakSMART system hub. Professional installation is recommended Buy Now At Amazon $544.00

For the same price, you could also get the FortrezZ Z-Wave Water Valve, which costs a little bit more, but has great reviews and is built in the USA.

Wireless Z-Wave Water Valve 1" ; Cert ID: ZC08-13040028 Wireless Z-Wave Water Valve 1" ; Cert ID: ZC08-13040028 Standard pipe Size: 1" Buy Now At Amazon $439.99

It also works with the Z-Wave protocol, which means you can easily connect it to other smart home products, through a compatible Z-Wave hub.

Level Up Your Lighting With Philips Hue

LED lights are just better than their halogen counterparts in all areas, except perhaps in their initial price. They’re way more energy efficient. They last longer. They’re also significantly brighter than old-school halogen bulbs.

Some bulbs, like the Philips Hue ones 4 Ways Philips Hue Can Push Your Lighting to the Next Level 4 Ways Philips Hue Can Push Your Lighting to the Next Level Without Philips Hue, however, the smart home concept might never have gotten off the ground. Here are some cool ways to make use of them. Read More , can be controlled through your smartphone, via a central hub.

So, what’s the point? Well, there’s a lot you can do with Philips Hue. You can group lights together, and turn them on ensemble. You can set moods and zones, and you can even control them through Siri Philips Hue Works With HomeKit: How To Make The Most Of It Philips Hue Works With HomeKit: How To Make The Most Of It Philips has finally gotten round to integrating HomeKit into their Hue lighting platform, and it's amazing. Here's what you need to know. Read More , thanks to Apple’s HomeKit!

As an introductory experiment in home automation, Philips Hue is as easy as you can get. You literally just need to screw in some bulbs, connect the hub to your network, and define the behavior of the bulbs through a convenient smartphone app.

You can get a starter kit from most good DIY stores, as well as from Amazon, where it will cost you around $200 for the latest generation kit.

Philips 456210 Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Bulb Starter Kit 2nd Generation, Works with Alexa Philips 456210 Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Bulb Starter Kit 2nd Generation, Works with Alexa New and enhanced Hue white and color ambience kit now upgraded from 600 to 800 lumens with increased internal storage for added functionality Buy Now At Amazon $161.99

Older versions are slightly cheaper, but should be avoided as they lack features like Siri integration.

Build Your Own Smart Security System

One of the great things about smart home tech is that it can ultimately make you safer. There are a great many products in this sphere, which range from smart smoke detectors, to smart home locks.

There are also smart home security systems, which allow you to remotely monitor your home, track intruders, and take action if you need to.

You’ve got a lot of choice in this space. There are out-of-the-box solutions, like Google’s Nest Cam, and newcomer Canary Canary Home Security System Review and Competition Canary Home Security System Review and Competition Canary is finally here: "the first smart security device for everyone". Is it the last word in affordable home security and monitoring systems, or just another overpriced and glorified webcam? Read More , which James Bruce reviewed last year. These tend to be on the expensive side of things, but work rather well.

If you want to increase the difficulty level just a little bit, you can also create your own DIY security system by cobbling together individual components.

Dann Albright wrote a piece 5 Cheapest Ways to Create Your Own Wireless Home Security Alarm 5 Cheapest Ways to Create Your Own Wireless Home Security Alarm Put one of these five wireless home security alarms together with the recommend components, or use them as inspiration to come up with your own alarm system! Read More on how to do that late last year, which featured projects from the likes of Lowes, Honeywell, and Belkin. The overall cost will be slightly cheaper, too, with the cheapest DIY security system costing a paltry $60.

Automate Your Heating and Save Money

One of the biggest costs involved with owning a home is actually heating it. Fuel is expensive, and it’s not unusual for a heating bill to stretch in the hundreds of dollars, especially in winter.

But are we heating our homes efficiently? Quite often, homes are overheated past what would be adequately comfortable. Another problem is that we often heat rooms which we don’t occupy. But this can be fixed with a quick weekend project, by installing a smart thermostat, and doing some clever automation tricks 7 Nest Automation Tricks to Cut Your Heating Bill in Half 7 Nest Automation Tricks to Cut Your Heating Bill in Half If there were a Nest thermostat in every home, it would have the biggest single impact on energy consumption in history; and it could save you more money than you might imagine. Here's how. Read More .

The most widely known is the Nest Thermostat. In addition to allowing you to remotely set your home’s temperature, it will also automatically adjust it as required. The Nest actually uses machine learning algorithms to learn how you use it.

The device itself should cost around $250, and you can install it yourself How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings If you've ever considered getting started with home automation, purchasing a Nest thermostat is the perfect way to start. In just a week of using it, we cut our energy consumption in half. Read More as a weekend project.

Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation, Works with Alexa Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation, Works with Alexa Works with Alexa for voice control,Languages:English,French,Spanish,Dutch Buy Now At Amazon $195.00

Although, if you’re not feeling confident, there are a number of Nest-approved plumbers who’ll be glad to fit it for you.

Automate Your Garden

The final frontier of home automation is undoubtedly the garden. It’s a field that’s bustling with interest right now, and there are an increasing number of smart garden devices 5 Smart Devices To Help Manage Your Garden 5 Smart Devices To Help Manage Your Garden Turns out, a smart garden is completely possible, thanks to the devices we are going to take a look at today. Read More on the market. It’s now possible to build a mostly automated garden. Here’s what you’ll need.

You’re probably familiar with the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners iRobot Roomba 760 Review and Giveaway iRobot Roomba 760 Review and Giveaway Who doesn't like a clean house? Actually, let me rephrase that - who doesn't like a self-cleaning house? Imagine a world where you needn't lift a finger to sweep or mop your floor. We'll be... Read More . These wander your home sucking up dust and debris as they go. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could get one that cuts grass?

Well, the Husqvarna fits that bill, and more. It’s a true, set-and-forget lawn mowing solution. As you’d expect, at $2,399.95, it’s a little bit more expensive than your bog-standard mower. But it’ll save you time and effort.

But it doesn’t stop there. Some products, like GreenIQ, fully automate the process of watering your lawn and your plants by tracking the weather in your local area. If you feel your lawn needs a bit of a top-up, there’s a web app which allows you to manually turn it on.

There’s also Edyn, which continuously monitors the quality of your soil. Once installed, Edyn will provide you the information you need to keep your plants looking green. It also allows you to control the irrigation of your garden.

Another product I’ve been impressed with is the Parrot Flower Power. This, like the Edyn, monitors the aridity and quality of your soil. But it also works with the GreenIQ system.

Although it has the potential to be eye-waveringly expensive, one fun weekend project would be to see how much of your garden maintenance you can automate. From hydration to lawn trimming, there’s a lot you can do.

Any Other Ideas?

If you want to augment your house, these five projects are a great place to start. Dann Albright has four other suggestions Kickstart Your Smart Home With 4 Easy Projects Kickstart Your Smart Home With 4 Easy Projects Creating a smart home might sound like a huge undertaking, and it can be difficult to know where to start. But it's not as hard as you might think! Read More , too. Have you got any other ideas I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

  1. melissa
    March 1, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    All of our Smoke/CO detectors are WIFI capable. They send us a text if the detector goes off or is tested and we can test them from afar.

  2. Andy Simmons
    February 27, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    You keep talking about halogen light bulbs. Most of the "traditional" bulbs in your house are incandescents that don't contain halogen.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 29, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      Good catch!

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