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DIY smart home projects are more popular than ever. The Internet of Things (IoT) unifies everything from lighting to full security systems. Once separate systems, many things in the home are now controllable from a smartphone.
As a new technology, some elements of home automation do not come cheap. However, with a DIY attitude and some cheap components you can build your own smart home on a shoestring budget! Just be sure to keep in mind how you plan on securing your smart and IoT devices. Here are nine examples to get you started.
Most smart home devices come with an app for control via smartphone or tablet. Blynk is a service designed for controlling IoT devices.
In our introduction to the Blynk service, we show several methods for using the free app. The easy to use service is perfect for monitoring and controlling DIY smart home setups. In addition to the online service, it is possible to install Blynk to a server locally. Blynk gives you quick and easy control of any Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller and is a strong tool in the arsenal of all home automation hobbyists!
While it seems similar to Blynk, OpenHAB is specifically designed to be a DIY smart home hub. The system is designed to be installed locally, though they provide cloud services too. Every kind of in-house switch, monitoring system, or timed event is accommodated. OpenHAB supports over 1000 device types such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and IFTTT.
Though free and open source, the sandbox nature of OpenHAB comes with a price. It is quite complicated to set up. Luckily, we have a detailed guide on setting up OpenHAB which takes you through the steps required to set up the service.
This video covers the basics of setting up and using an RFID entry system, using a solenoid and an Arduino board. These systems are already standard in many workplaces. Our full tutorial article takes you through how to set up a fully functional budget smart entryway.
HomeKit is Apple’s entry into controlling the home through certified smart devices. While there are many devices which are already compatible with HomeKit, it is not for the budget conscious. For Apple users looking to integrate Siri into a DIY smart home project, our DIY Siri-controlled Light article is what you need.
This build revolves around a custom HomeKit device, a Raspberry Pi, and an ESP8266 controlled light. As far as clever workarounds go, this one opens up Siri and HomeKit to any smart home device you can dream up!
5. Gassist Pi
The above video is one of many highlighting the features of GassistPi. This Raspberry Pi driven custom Google Assistant is the work of GitHub user shivasiddharth. The Gassist Pi setup has all of the same features as a regular Google Home—along with an ever-increasing array of other integrations.
By modifying the Google Assistant SDK, shivasiddharth has added support for Kodi and other streaming platforms. GPIO pins can now be voice activated, and wake words can be customized.
Gassist Pi is the most ambitious implementation of Google Assistant on Raspberry Pi we have seen so far. It is still in active development, and with updates released regularly, we look forward to what may come next!
6. Door Sensors
In the above video, a reed switch is used to detect when a door opens, and trigger an event. In this case, it was a way to Play Your Own Theme Tune When You Enter the Room. This is a fun project, but the theory behind it is an essential part of home security.
Magnetic door sensors (a type of reed switch) are available cheaply and work with all microcontrollers. As in the project above, they work like a switch whenever the two halves of the switch either come together, or move apart.
The obvious applications of these switches are in the doors and windows of your home. A clear use for them is to trigger an alarm or log entry and exit times for suspicious behavior. Used in conjunction with Blynk or OpenHAB it would be possible to see the status of each entry point to your house from your smartphone.
Reed switches are reliable enough to include in any home security system. They are also cheap enough to extend that system to your cookie jar to keep away prying hands!
Sticking with the security theme, why not set up a DIY camera in your home? The full project featured in the video teaches you how to set up a fully controllable USB servo camera with a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino.
Using this project in conjunction with a cloud service would allow you to monitor your home in real time from anywhere!
For a related article, take a look at how to stay safe and private with your smart home gadgets.
Smart switches are catching on. Increasingly your future light switches will have Wi-Fi capabilities. For now, they are for the dedicated home automation fans. If you want to automate your switch without digging around in your walls, there is a solution!
Max Glenister solves the problem of a hard to reach light switch in his Foray Into Home Automation blog post. Using a Wi-Fi enabled NodeMCU board alongside a servo motor, Max physically moves the switch via the cloud. By creating a dedicated 3D printed case which fits over the existing light fixing, the original fitting is unaffected.
Using Blynk to communicate with the switch from his smartphone, this is a great budget workaround for those not wanting to take the smart switch plunge.
9. Smart Thermostat
Carefully controlling your home heating system can save you a lot of money. While many modern heating systems come with a level of control built in, there is still no substitute for a fully automated experience.
The project in the video from Ecobots is a perfect budget example of a DIY HVAC thermostat controller. In this case, the Adafruit IO service provides the cloud integration, though Blynk or OpenHAB could fulfill the same task.
With a few cheap relays and a NodeMCU board, you could take full control of your home’s heating system.
Building a DIY Smart Home, One Step at a Time
These projects constitute only a small cross-section of what is possible for a DIY smart home project. Once you get started, you’ll find more and more things you wish to automate, and there are many ways to use your Raspberry Pi and Arduino in your smart home.
And while you’re working on your DIY smart home, check and monitor the air quality of your house with handy mobile apps and websites.
If DIY isn’t for you, but you still want to save money, check our cheap smart home gadget recommendations.