Beginners Guide to a Smart Home

My Smart Home Layout

When it comes to building out a smart home, there are a lot of options out there.  What protocol should you use?  What products should you use?  Does Product A work with Product B?

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed with all the different protocols and products.  The best approach is to start simple, and that’s what this guide will be.  I will walk you through by working on 1 room.  We will price out different products so you can see how much it costs to really get started with a smart home.  I’ll also be showing you some add-on smart home devices you can have that will make your house even more high-tech.

My Home Layout

My Full Home Layout

The room we are going to build out will have 4 outlets and a single light switch.  We will control this room with the Amazon Echo, as well as with our smart phone.

For our protocol, we are going to start simple and go with WiFi.  The reason we are picking this type of smart outlet is you probably already have a WiFi router and it’s one of the easiest to get set up.  If you want to read more about the different protocols, check out my article on Understanding Home Automation Protocols.  Going WiFi also saves us money, since we don’t have to purchase a hub.

So let’s start.  First thing to do is tackle the 4 outlets.  For this, we are going to purchase 4 Belkin WeMo Smart Plugs.  These 4 outlets can each be individually controlled.  Fortunately for you, I also have a guide on How to Set Up the Belkin WeMo Switch with Amazon Echo.  Each one of these can cost anywhere between $30 – $40.  Let’s go with $40 to be on the safe side.

Current Total Cost:  $40 x 4 Belkin Wemo Smart Plugs = $160

Next thing to tackle is the light switch.  For this, we’re going to go with the Belkin WeMo Light Switch.  These run about $50.  Why this smart light switch?  Once it’s installed in your wall, the setup is the same as the setup for the outlets.  They’re also both integrated into the same app, so you don’t have to pick 1 app to control the lights and one to control the outlets.

Remember that the goal here is to compliment your life, not complicate.  Having 1 app to control everything will make your smart home much more manageable.

Current Total Cost:  $160 + ($50 x 1 Belkin WeMo Light Switch) = $210

At this point, you could technically stop and use your phone to control everything.  That’s $210 for 1 room.  Let’s take it one step further though, and let’s add an Amazon Echo Dot.  I went with the dot since it provides the same features as the full Amazon Echo, but is significantly cheaper.

Current Total Cost:  $210 + ($50 x 1 Amazon Echo Dot) = $260

That $260 gives you full automation for a whole room in your house.  Fortunately for you, that Echo works for more than 1 room.  You can use it to control your entire house if you’d like.

Now this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to home automation.  If you want to be overwhelmed by even more smart home devices, continue reading.

A Smart Thermostat, such as the ecobee3 or Nest, can cost another $250.  The nice thing about them, though, is that you save money over time.  They will use your AC unit a lot more efficiently than a traditional thermostat.  They also provide very helpful reports and have great scheduling functionality.


If you have sprinklers, a smart sprinkler controller such as the SkyDrop 8 or Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller can cost you about $200.   Smart Sprinkler Controllers save you money in the long run by only watering your lawn when it really needs to be watered.  They monitor the weather so you don’t over-water and allow you to really customize the watering schedule.

They also give you access to your sprinkler system from your phone, so you can control watering from anywhere that you have cell phone reception.

Skydrop 8

Want a smarter fire alarm?  Nest’s Protect is a very nice Fire Alarm that also has a small built in light.  If your budget is a little lighter, check out the First Alert 2-in-1 Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm.  It looks and acts just like any other fire alarm, but it also has z-wave connectivity so it can trigger your smart home hub to do actions.  Want to flash the lights when it goes off?  You can do that.

Read More:  First Alert Smart Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Install and Review

Want to have a smart garage door opener?  The Chamberlain WD1000WF can run you an additional $250.  You can try the NEXX Garage Remote instead at $100, but it’s not going to be as full featured.  Nice thing about it though is that you don’t need to replace your entire garage door opener.

Read More:  Best Smart Garage Door Opener Options

How about a smart doorbell?  The Ring Smart Doorbell comes in around $180.  The awesome thing about this doorbell is it lets you see who is at the door through your phone.  Not home?  No problem.  Since it uses WiFi, you can track everyone that rings your doorbell.

These are just some of the devices you can add to make your home smarter.  At some point, you’ll want to consider getting a hub to help you control all of these.  Samsung’s Smart Things hub and the Wink hub are 2 of the most popular options out there.  Our simple room that we built out above doesn’t need a hub due to it being all on Wifi, but that will probably change as you branch out more and more.

Read More:  Best Smart Home Hubs for 2017

Samsung SmartThings

The only limit is your imagination and your budget.

Read Next:  Smart Outlet Options


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1 Response

  1. January 30, 2017

    […] Read next:  Beginners Guide to a Smart Home […]

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