The phrase, "smart home" sounds super expensive, it’s true. Seriously, a house that knows when you get home and automatically opens the garage door, turns on the appropriate lights, and sets the HVAC system to the perfect temperature, has to cost a fortune right?
Surprisingly, it’s much cheaper than you may think to have a smart home! The cost just depends on what level of automation you want.
Just like there are different types of houses, there are different types of home automation systems. You may not need all the bells and whistles, but you might want to know when someone opens your front door or you may want to have a Jetsons house that does virtually everything for you... well except for cook dinner. It’s really up to you how you want to do it, since the latest smart home technology is so versatile and expandable.
There really is a way to automate virtually any home out there! So, how much does home automation cost? Let’s look at some options to fit a small, medium, or large budget.
Beginner's Smart Home Package
The Best Value For a Smart Home
You can set your smart home up with only a few items if you want. Even a couple devices can make a real difference in how your home works for you. So, to start let’s look at a small system with only two devices: a hub and a door sensor.
A smart home hub is the “brain” of your home automation system that controls all of your devices and gives you remote access via your smartphone, tablet, or PC. The door sensor tells you whether a door is open or closed, and if you put it on your front door, then you’ve got yourself a beginner's home automation package.
The VeraEdge is one of the best hubs for a smarter home because it’s affordably priced and extremely versatile.
Some smart home controllers are locked into a certain brand's devices (ie. Nexia), but the Vera lets you use virtually any wifi or Z-Wave compatible device.
The VeraEdge is the entry level Vera hub, but it works beautifully with a sleek design and a great deal of support. You don’t need any special plugs or wires to set up, either.
Z-Wave Door Sensor
Our pick for a great beginner door sensor is the Ecolink Intelligent Technology Window or Door Sensor.
This battery operated smart home device senses whether a door or window is open or closed and sends a signal to the Z-Wave hub that lets it know what’s going on with that entry point.
Because it uses Z-Wave protocol, it’ll work great with the VeraEdge and most other Z-Wave hubs.
Intermediate Smart Home Package
A Modest Smart Home For a Modest Price
This package has a different smart home controller and a few more devices to give you a better smart home experience without spending too much more money. Your smart home hub will still connect you to everything in your home via their app, but you’ll have more to control with a switch and a couple sensors.
Because the Z-Wave home automation protocol creates a mesh network for your devices to connect to, you can rest assured that all your devices will be able to talk to each other - even if they’re a little spread out.
The SmartThings V2 Hub offers fantastic value for such a power Z-Wave smart home controller.
This hub works beautifully with a small system but can also easily expand to include more gadgets as you buy them.
SmartThings is one of the best home automation product lines out there, and there are many Z-Wave products you can buy that will mesh well with this controller.
Z-Wave Door Sensor
The Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor offers the best value for a door sensor that does a little bit more than just tell you when a door is open or close.
This smart door sensor tells you when a door’s open, but it also senses vibration (so you know if someone kicks your door or if there is an earthquake), tilt (so you can put it on a garage door), and even temperature (so you know if there’s a draft).
Z-Wave Motion Sensor
The SmartThings Motion Sensor pairs with the hub seamlessly. Most people think a motion sensor can just turn on a light, but it can really save you tons of energy by turning things off when you’re gone or adjusting the thermostat based on when you’re around and when you aren't.
Z-Wave Light Switch
We strayed from the SmartThings product line a little with the LINEAR Z-Wave light switch, but it’s well worth it. This is a sleek, reliable smart light switch that has Z-Wave control so that you can turn your light on and off remotely. It also integrates easily with your other Z-wave devices.
Expert Smart Home Package
The Most Expensive, But Also The Most Versatile
Now this home automation package has everything you could possibly want in a smart home. You can see what’s going on with your entire home from the temperature, to the doors and windows, as well as set up various “scenes” or protocols for when various family members come home.
This packages uses all Z-Wave devices which gives you a stronger network with fast communication between those devices.
Z-Wave Door Sensor
We would recommend the SmartThings multi sensor again here, but there is such a thing as information overload. With larger systems, you have to watch out for redundancies, so you just need a reliable, simple sensor that does what it says it will.
Z-Wave Motion Sensor
The best value and reliability for a Z-Wave motion sensor is the Ecolink Z-Wave PIR Motion Detector.
You could get a multi sensor or a plain motion sensor, depending on your needs. Simple motion sensors are good for things like turning on closet or pantry lights when you open the door, though you may want a fancier multi-sensor facing the front door to give you more information about that area of your home.
Z-Wave Light Switch
For an expert home automation system, you need a smart light switch with a dimmer feature so that you can get the most out of every device in your home.
The best dimmer light switch on the market is by far the Linear Dimmer Light Switch by GoControl, which uses Z-Wave to control and program.
A smart thermostat is the crown jewel of any home automation system, and you have to have one if you want a fancy smart home.
Your smart thermostat works with motion sensors, door locks, and all the other information input devices to automatically adjust the environment for optimal comfort with minimal input from you.
Our pick is the Honeywell Smart Thermostat because it has all the functionality you’d need plus a huge customizable touch screen.
Z-Wave Door Lock
You also need a smart door lock for an expert home automation system, and the Schlage Connect is a great model, that features a touch screen instead of buttons.
Not only can you program in different codes for different users, you can also use those codes to trigger different actions in your home depending on who is using it.
The Schlage door lock also has a built-in alarm!
No matter your budget or the size of your home, you can build a smart home without going bankrupt. The coolest thing about creating a smart home with the Z-Wave communication protocol is that it's an expandable mesh network. You simply have to look for the Z-Wave logo on the new devices you want to purchase, and then you'll know you can seamlessly integrate it into your system.
Once it’s there, it will also make that network stronger (assuming it's hardwired)! This means that you can expand your home automation system as your budget allows, letting you build in more and more cool things over time.
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