Home Automation on a Budget: A Smart Home for Under $100

Keep the roof over your head while outfitting your abode.

By David Isaac

Smart home gadgets can make you sigh—the tech is cool, but the price is high. I'm still wrapping my head around the idea of a $60 light bulb, given that a buck twenty-five seems kind of high to me. If you're frugal like me, you'll appreciate these smart home devices that offer a taste of life in a smart home for under $100.

WeMo Switch

The WeMo Switch is a great place to start. You plug this switch into an outlet and it turns any device you attach to it into a smart home device. This arrangement gives you the flexibility to decide what you want to smarten up: a blender, a coffee maker, a lamp or a TV.

Plug in the device, download the WeMo app (it works with Android and iOS), and you start controlling the device from your smartphone or tablet. Turn it on or off, set schedules for it to do things, and control it remotely via the Web.

The more switches you add, the more things you can control. But since we're keeping our total expenses under $100, we advise adding just one switch for now. It'll cost you $35.

BL08A Smart Music Speaker Lamp

Sold by Gearbest, the BL08A Smart Music Speaker Lamp is the best deal here. It's a multicolor LED light with a built-in speaker. It costs just $18. By way of comparison, one bulb from Sengled, known for its LED speaker lights, will run you $50.

The BL08A, which desperately needs a new name, plugs into any standard light socket. Download the app (Android or iOS), and you'll be able to choose colors, dim the light, and play music through the speaker. That's a lot of smart tech for a rock-bottom price. As '80s sales icon Crazy Eddie would surely admit, "This price is insane!"

Eve Door & Window Wireless Contact Sensor

Security is a primary focus of smart homes. Cameras stream real-time video. Door bells watch your comings and goings. Locks open and close automatically. Unfortunately, none of these things has a super-cheap alternative. But the Eve Door & Window Wireless Contact Sensor offers security advantages at a reasonable price of $40.

The Eve Door & Window Wireless Contact Sensor comes in two parts: one piece connects to your doorjamb or window frame, and the other connects to the door or window itself. The Eve app will tell you the number of times your door/window has been opened and for how long. This information could potentially save you even more money on air conditioning and heating bills.

The sensor does not send push notifications, which is regrettable because it means you won't know the moment an entryway is opened. The culprit is limitations with HomeKit (the Eve sensor works only with iOS). However, you can use voice commands to find out what the status of a door or window is. Ask Siri and she'll tell you.

So there you have it—three steps toward smartening up your home for a grand total of $93 (before tax). With options like these, both you and your house are just going to get smarter and smarter.

Credits: WeMo, Gearbest, Elgato.