Interested in getting started with setting up a smart home? There has never been a better time to get started with home automation. Here are some helpful things to think about before choosing a starter kit.
There is a lot of information about selecting a starter kit on this page, and there are many good choice. However, there is one that I think is best. My recommendation for a quality starter kit for a reasonable price is the Wyze Smart Home Starter Pack (linked to Amazon to check price). This kit has a wide variety of commonly used smart devices, so you can experiment, see what you like, and go from there.
What Will it Cost to Get a Smart Home Starter Kit?
Most smart home starter kits range from $100 – $200. The price goes up to $500-$1000 is wireless cameras are added to the starter kit.
The Wyze starter kit I recommend is among the cheapest.
I think investing in a smart home is a smart idea. It provides so many benefits to you as a home owner, and even as a renter. Think about the reduced energy consumption, or the increased property value. Not to mention the convenience factor.
You may have researched how much it cost to make your normal house a smart house. I know I have, and some of those figures I saw were outright scary. I saw figures ranging from $2,000 all the way up to $15,000 for just a normal sized house.
I’ve got good news for you though. Getting started isn’t nearly that expensive. While I agree you can spend a lot if you buy everything you possibly can, most people generally don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars to create a smart home.
Top Smart Home Starter Kits to Consider
- Lutron Caseta Smart Lighting Kit
Lutron makes an excellent kit if you want to get started with smart lighting from a trusted brand in lighting
- Philips Hue Starter Kit
Philips Hue started focused on lighting, and did it well. They have branched out into more devices. It uses Zigbee, so it is compatible with some other brands as well.
- Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
A solid choice for getting started with home security without the cost of cameras. SmartThings is also compatible with many name brand devices, such as Schlage Smart Locks.
Why Use a Started Kit?
It has everything you need to get started
Have you ever started a home project?
First, you go to the hardware store and buy everything you think you need. You get home and start the project, and realize that you forgot some things, so it’s back to the hardware store.
This won’t happen if you buy a starter kit. Everything you need comes in the box, and no worries about missing parts. As long as you have a router in your house (and most people do), you should be good to go.
Everything in the box is compatible
Smart devices come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. That’s great for customization, but unfortunately, not all of these devices are compatible with each other.
If you new to smart homes, this is often confusing. To my wife, it;s like I’m speaking a different language when I start using some of the terminology.
The great thing about a starter kit is that you know everything in the box is compatible with each other. They all support the same communication standard and can talk to each other, meaning you can use the “smart” features of the devices.
There is a package discount
Just like most other things bought in quantity, by purchasing a starter kit you often receive some sort of discount and possible a bonus item.
This makes it cheaper than buying the devices individually. It may only be a slight discount, but it’s better than nothing, right?
What to Look for In a Starter Kit
Obviously you will want something right out of the box that you can use right away without any other equipment needed, besides a router, but what other factors should you consier when selecting a starter kit?
Here are a few things to think about. First from a broad overall perspective, and then more technical things to think about.
What Do You Want From Your Smart Home?
Smart homes come in an wide variety of shapes and sizes. When someone says they want a smart home, they could be talking about a variety of different systems. From smart lights, to security system, and all sorts of different sensors.
So ask yourself what you are looking for. What do you want to get out of having a smart home?
Think about the things you do around your house on a regular basis. How could you use a smart home to help you out with those tasks?
I recommended the Wyze starter get because it includes a variety of the most commonly sensors, including lights. Smart bulbs are a sensible and easy to understand starting point for just about everyone. It’s pretty obvious when a light bulb is on or off.
If you plan on using your voice to control your new smart devices, it’s worth while to make sure that they are compatible with at least Alexa or Google Assistant. Those are the two big ones when it comes to voice assistants.
Apple’s HomeKit is starting to make a name for itself, and could become a decent option in the future as it becomes supported by more devices.
If you have one of these voice assistants already, do a quick check to make sure the device your interested in is compatible. Also, having both Google and Alexa is a valid option, and many people do that.
Home Automation App Integration
Once you start building up devices, it’s essential to be able to control them all from one place, or one application.
If all of the smart devices you use come from the same manufacturer, than you don’t have to worry about. However, its pretty common to build up smart devices over time and as you are building up your smart home, you will probably buy from different maufacturers.
That’s where smart home automation app come into play. One of the most common ones available today is called IFTTT (If This Then That).
IFTTT has put together a video demonstarting how to get started.
Sensor range can become a problem if you have a larger house, or even multi-story. Smart devices support a wide variety of connection protocols. (Remember the compatibility I was talking about earlier? This ties into that also.) The most widely used protocols are Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and ZigBee.
Each of those protocols have vastly different ranges.
Z-wave and ZigBee are good for long range because they create what is called a mesh network. That means all the devices can talk to each other and relay any messages to a further device.
Wi-Fi does not do this, so devices have to be within range of the router. For most houses, this works. That is why the starter kit I suggested works on WI-Fi. Also, most people have a router, so no additional equipment is needed besides the smart device.
Lastly, there is Bluetooth. It has the has the shortest range of all, but is often used in conjunction with one of the other protocols. Smart locks are a good example. They use bluetooth to connect to a phone. When the phone is within range, the deadbolt will unlock. Of course that is optional, so no need to worry if you don’t like that.
Smart Home Complexity
I’ve touched on several aspects to consider when selecting a smart home starter kit. Are you starting to see the complexity? There can be a lot more complexity if your the kind of technical user that needs that level of customization.
Do you want a smart home geared toward the average consumer with an average level of customization for home automation? Or do you want to learn more and be an advanced user, able to setup any customization or automation desired?