Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
A smart home could change your life. Not only can it free up time in your day that could be better spent elsewhere, but it can help regulate your routine so you aren’t burdened by having to remember or lose track of what needs to be done.
But how expensive is it?
For a lot of us, that’s the real issue. Who wouldn’t want the trivial matters of everyday life automated and improved? None of us in our right minds would turn down that offer — that is, if we could afford it.
As it turns out, the cost of smart home conversion doesn’t have to blow out your wallet as long as you’re smart about it (no pun intended). Let’s take a look at what a typical smart home conversion could cost you.
Note: In this overview, we’ve purposely avoided over-the-top smart home products with niche appeal. Rather, we’ve focused on products that a typical homeowner would likely make use of.
Most smart home newbies start with lighting because it’s the easiest and least risky modification one could possibly make. Smart lighting serves two functions: automated contextual lighting (e.g. by time of day) and energy efficiency (e.g. turning off unnecessary lights).
The Phillips Hue starter pack is one of the most user-friendly yet feature-rich lighting setups available today. The starter pack comes with a bridge — which acts as the central controller — and three bulbs that can replace traditional 60-watt bulbs. Additional bulbs are $60 each.
A single system supports up to 50 different bulbs, each of which can be controlled from anywhere in the world using Hue mobile apps on iOS and Android. For advanced tips, check out our coverage of using the Phillips Hue system to light your home the smart way.
If you’d rather “smarten up” your current home lights instead of installing brand new equipment, consider the Belkin WeMo Switch. The WeMo Switch is simply a plug that fits into any standard outlet; all you have to do is plug your cables into the WeMo Switch. Thus, your electronic devices are controllable by controlling the WeMo Switch.
In addition to remote control, it supports motion sensing and IFTTT triggers. Confused? Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds. Check out our Belkin WeMo Switch overview for more details.
There are other smart lighting options out there but none are as good as these two.
The Phillips Hue system is certainly more powerful due to its centralized design but can be quite costly. For ten bulbs, you’d be spending $200 (starter pack) + $420 (seven additional bulbs) = $620. On the other hand, ten WeMo Switches would cost $450 and can be used with more than just lights but lacks a centralized design.
The verdict? For ten bulbs or outlets, a smart lighting setup would cost an average of $535.
Smart Climate Control
Did you know that the average home dedicates 40 to 60 percent of its energy consumption to temperature regulation? Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Comfort comes at a price.
But what if you could drop a little bit of cash now to save a whole lot on energy costs over the next five, ten, or even fifteen years? Sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s when smart home energy hacks come to the rescue.
The most popular form of smart climate control in today’s market is the Nest Learning Thermostat. This incredible device replaces your “dumb” thermostat and automates your home temperature in a way that maximizes comfort while cutting down on energy costs.
Over time, it learns what you like and when you like it that way. It turns itself off when you’re away. It can be controlled manually by touching the device or connecting to it through Wi-Fi. Plus, as the above video demonstrates, it’s easy as pie to install.
Marketed as the world’s smartest air conditioner, the Aros Smart Air Conditioner actually lives up to its name quite well. This beast will track all kinds of data over time — schedule, usage, location, and even budget — and alter its behavior accordingly, thus saving on cooling costs.
For those who don’t have central climate control and thus can’t use the Nest, this smart air conditioner is a worthy alternative. You can even connect using the Wink mobile app on iOS and Android to control it remotely. But remember: at the end of the day, it’s still just a window-mounted air conditioner.
The verdict? Both products are similarly priced, but the Nest is superior. Either way, you’re looking at an average cost of $265 for climate control.
Beefing up your home with smart security isn’t just for increased safety — it’s for peace of mind. While no security device will ever provide 100% protection, every bit does add up. What are you missing from your home?
The August Smart Lock is the next evolution of home security. It may not offer more protection than a regular lock, but it’s far more convenient to use and manage. Any smartphone can access the lock as long as you first grant them permission — which can be revoked.
How does it work? It senses your approach and unlocks. When you leave its vicinity, it locks again. Brilliantly designed but deceptively simple. If you don’t like this particular one, there are several other smart home locks that you can explore.
The Dropcam Pro Security Camera is one of the best-selling products in the smart home security category. The image quality is sharp, the field of view is 130-degrees from corner to corner, it can zoom in-and-out, and it can switch into nightvision mode.
Setup is simple — guaranteed to take less than 60 seconds — since all you have to do is connect to it through Wi-Fi to livestream its footage. Works on desktop, iOS, and Android. Other features include intelligent alerts, armed scheduling, and two-way talk.
The SmartThings Moisture Sensor is a preventative device that could end up saving you a lot of money and a lot of headache. Once installed, if it detects excess water or moisture, it will alert you on your mobile device.
When home flooding damages can cost you an average of $2000+ in repairs, this is a relatively cheap device. All you have to do is set it and forget it.
The verdict? I’d say that all of these are necessary for a basic smart home security setup, including at least three moisture sensors (kitchen, laundry, and one per bathroom). That comes out to a total of $600.
Lastly we get to explore the fun side of smart technology: entertainment and leisure. As with most luxury items, none of these are strictly necessary (or even wise if you don’t have the budget to support them) so purchase at your own discretion.
One product that has changed the way I live at home is the smart TV, which is basically a TV with Internet capabilities. With one, I can watch all of my Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime movies and shows seamlessly using the smart TV’s native apps.
Shopping for one? I’d recommend the Samsung H6350 2014 series which offers a tremendous balance between quality and price. It comes in a 32-inch model all the way up to a 75-inch model with six more sizes in between. For best results, pick the one that best fits your setup.
Though there are a few known security risks with smart TVs, they’re manageable as long as you take the right precautions. At the very least, cover up the webcam if your smart TV has one built-in. That’ll keep any potential prying eyes away.
We’ve already mentioned a SmartThings product above, but here’s another one that deserves your attention: the SmartThings Starter Kit. The main component of this kit is the SmartThings Hub, which is a centralized unit that can control several other SmartThings devices.
The kit also comes with a motion sensor (trigger the hub if motion is detected), an open/closed sensor (trigger the hub if windows, doors, or drawers unexpectedly open or close), and a presence sensor (track locations and trigger the hub when the sensor enters or leaves specified areas).
We’ve noted before that smart hubs are great. As SmartThings continues to pump out more smart home devices, this hub will only grow more powerful and more useful.
Tired of cleaning up your home? You aren’t alone. Roomba has been around since 2002 but continues to prove popular year after year, and when you look at how much it has improved during those years, that should be no surprise.
The iRobot Roomba 870 is a powerful vacuuming agent that’s dependable enough to free up your hands and your mind. It can be scheduled to clean up to once per day and it will automatically return to its charging dock when it’s done.
There’s a more recent model in the iRobot Roomba 880 but I’m not convinced that it’s worth the extra cost. The lack of a remote control for the 870 is the only reason worth considering the upgrade.
We’ve covered the regular Belkin WeMo Switch in the lighting section, but if you want to spend a little more for a little more punch, consider the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch which is similar but with three additional benefits: energy monitor, scheduling, and notifications.
With all of these awesome smart devices being added to your home — plus whatever other devices are already running your home — you want to make sure that you aren’t throwing money down the drain with all of that electricity. It’s ideal for any and all devices that you use regularly.
The verdict? If all of the above were bought, including ten of the Insight Switches, then we’d arrive at a total of $2300. But of course, these are luxury items so feel free to pick and choose what looks good to you.
And the Final Cost Is…
When you combine the total costs of smart lighting, smart climate control, and smart security, it sums up to about $1400. Compare that to these average U.S. home renovation costs:
- Bathroom remodeling: $9000 to $14000
- Regrade lawn: $700 to $2000
- Replace warm air furnace: $2500 to $4800
- Replace septic system: $4000 to $6000
- Replace windows: $350 to $700 each
In the grand scheme, smart home conversion isn’t all that expensive — and that holds true even if you include all of the smart luxury items, which brings up the total to $3700. Not too shabby, eh?
So what do you think about smart home products? Are you thinking about converting? Or do you think it’s not worth the money or effort? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: Smart house Via Shutterstock