Home automation has been the stuff of myth for years. We read about high-tech smart houses that belong to movie stars and people like Bill Gates in magazines, but the price tag attached to these houses is so big we assume automation is well outside the reach of our pocket books. In fact, automation has become increasingly affordable thanks to increased options and the invention of the smartphone. If you want an affordable way to automate your home, here are four options.
1. DIY Install Individual Devices
You don’t have to buy an entire system to get started with automation. In fact, many companies have come out with products that connect with your smartphone that you can install yourself. A programmable thermostat takes about 15 minutes to install and can do everything from learn your usage patterns and automatically set itself to monitor energy usage. The thermostat also connect to your phone, so you can control it from anywhere.
For less than $100, you can purchase a light automation system from Lutron that is controlled by infra-red remote. Install the system yourself, and then dim the lights with the push of a button at movie night.
Ready for one less chore throughout your day? Install some automated window shades. The ones created by Lutron run on batteries and install in about 10 minutes. With a range of $300 to $1,000 per window, the shades will automatically draw in the morning to let in the natural light and go down at night for privacy.
Switch out the old bolt in your front door with a keypad or an automatic lock that opens up with the wave of your smartphone. All you need is a screwdriver.
2. Affordable Starter Kits
Packages of integrated automated systems have become much cheaper over the years and can even be found at retailers like Home Depot. Control4 offers an affordable processor that acts as a remote for your entire system. For around $2,500 you can get the processor, a smart thermostat, a smart door lock and six light dimmers complete with programming and installation costs.
3. Rig Your Own
Many startups are working on providing the tools for homeowners to rig their own system by using motion sensors and other detectors to control their appliances the way they want to. SmartThings offers an app, a hub, a cloud service, a development environment and a maker’s toolkit. The toolkit allows people to “hack” their appliances and connect a wireless smart chip to everyday things that were never meant to be controlled by a phone. The price: $174.00. The company will also sell a wide range of sensors, from motion sensors to moisture sensors.
4. Find a Good Company
Going through a reliable company is also a good way to find a deal on home automation. Do your due dilligence by researching a number of companies to find someone who will be able to provide exactly what you need. It’s also recommended to talk to people who have home automation and get their opinion about their personal provider. The leading home automation companies in the USA right now are Vivint, Protect America and Life Shield. Check out their reviews, perks and packages to find the best deal for you.
David Glenn is a home improvement expert. He occasionally freelance writes about home security and DIY home repair.