A Cost-Effective Introduction to Smart Home Technology

Basic smart home devices started hitting the market less than ten years ago. For many consumers, the Nest Learning Thermostat, which was released in 2011, comes to mind. Dozens and dozens of products have been released since 2010 that fall under the Smart Home category. Most consumers weren’t introduced to the Internet of Things and smart home tech until Amazon released the Echo. At this point, a majority of consumer product manufacturers sell at least one smart home device.

Cost of Entry A Problem For Countless Consumers

Since the category is still new, the main barrier to entry of the smart home is cost. The best smart home and IoT gadgets often cost $199.00 or more, and most people can’t afford that price point. Luckily, more and more companies continue to release affordable smart home tech. A couple to a few hundred dollars is still necessary to get a comfortable smart home started. Consumers who want to try these technologies out can do so without spending a small fortune, though.

Options, Options, Options!

IoT devices control everything from lights to electrical outlets and even a home’s HVAC system. Consumers can cherry pick which features and capabilities they want while leaving out the ones they don’t care about. For instance, quite a few individuals want to control the lights and the temperature; not everyone wants to control their washer and dryer. The average consumer starts with IoT-enabled lights and controllable switches due to their lower cost anyways.

Controlling All Of These Devices

Typically, each smart device features its own proprietary hub or companion app. A given home usually doesn’t feature IoT-enabled devices from the same manufacturer. A home might feature Belkin WeMo outlet switches, Philips Hue lights, and a Nest Thermostat. Of course, each device is controlled through a separate app and might require a separate hub. However, smart home assistants can control multiple devices at once, regardless of manufacturer. The two main assistants are Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, while Apple HomeKit with Siri is another option.

Google Home and the Amazon Echo house their respective AI assistants. A Google Home speaker costs $129.00 and includes compatibility for most smart home brands. On the other hand, Amazon sells the $50 Echo Dot and the $179.99 Echo. Amazon and Google’s assistants come with their own pros and cons, which could be explained in another piece. One of these assistants is necessary to control a smart home, but it turns out that consumers can forgo purchasing an expensive speaker – here’s why!

AI Software Built For Smartphones

All smartphones running Android 7.0 Nougat or above include Google Assistant by default. Newer Apple iPhone models and the Huawei Mate 9 smartphone include support for Amazon’s Alexa. Therefore, a consumer can use their smartphones in lieu of purchasing a pricier Google Home or Amazon Echo unit. AI software provides the same capabilities and compatibility for smart home devices in the palm of a user’s hand. Such software can save a consumer anywhere from $50 to $179 while getting started with smart home tech.

Get Started: Outlet Switches and Lights

IoT lights and plugin outlets remain the most popular smart home tech because they’re also the cheapest options today. WiFi enabled switches cost between $25 and $50 each. Through these switches, a consumer can turn plugged in electronics on or off and monitor energy usage. Most switches can be set on a schedule, too. As for smart lights, they can be turned on through voice commands or scheduled as well. Smart lights now cost $20 to $50 each. It’s still an expensive price to pay, but convenience and automation are the benefits here.

What about the temperature?

At first, the Nest Learning Thermostat was the only smart thermostat on the market. It cost a hefty $249.99 at the time, and that’s still a heinous price to many consumers. Other options are available today that range from $79.99 to $150 on average. WiFi enabled thermostats allow homeowners to control the temperature at all times and automate heating or cooling at the touch of a button. Without a doubt, the average consumer would consider $80 a reasonable price for a controllable thermostat with smart features.

Prices Can Only Go Down From Here

As things stand now, consumers can jump into smart home basics with $100 to $300, depending on their wants or needs. AI software helps cut out the extra expense of a speaker with an AI assistant. Prices will only drop from here as more consumers adopt smart home technology and more options become available on the market. For early adopters, the price will remain somewhat high to deck out an entire home. Newbies can nonetheless install the basics in their home at a reasonable price that will only become more reasonable over time.