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Easy and Affordable DIY Smart Home Updates

Upgrading your space is quick and easy with these no-fuss smart home devices.

January 31, 2022

To say there are a lot of smart products on the market is an understatement. 

And with so many options available, selecting the right smart technology for your home – whether it’s your very first smart device or the newest addition to an existing smart setup – can often be overwhelming. 

How do you know which solutions will add the most benefit to your day-to-day life, without bringing along unnecessary hassle or sporting a price tag that breaks the bank?
To help you narrow down your search, below is an overview of several smart options that can be integrated into your home, quickly, easily and affordably:
Where to Start: Smart Speakers

If you’re new to the smart home game, then there is absolutely no better place to start than a smart speaker. 

These wireless speakers deliver quality audio throughout your home, from playlists to podcasts to phone calls, but that’s just the beginning.   

Because they are equipped with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri, smart speakers can easily become the Command Center for additional smart functionality throughout the home. 

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the buzz around Amazon’s Alexa for the last several years.  The phrase “Hey, Google” has had plenty of attention too. And because of the popularity and prevalence of smart speakers with these voice assistants, an enormous number of other smart products from third-party manufacturers have followed suit and been designed specifically to connect with Alexa or Google too. A smart speaker can be the doorway to a more comprehensive smart home; simply choose smart products that are compatible with the same voice assistant technology for your future additions. 

Both Amazon’s most recent generation of their Echo speaker and the Google Nest Audio speaker are well-reviewed and comparably priced around $100, while Amazon’s more premium Echo Studio speaker model and the Sonos One smart speaker, which features compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant for added flexibility, cost a bit more in the $200 - $220 range.
Easy Environment Enhancers: Smart Lights & Smart Thermostats

While smart home technology is cool (especially for anyone who grew up watching The Jetsons), its real purpose is to improve quality of life. That’s why some of our favorite smart solutions are those that make our spaces more comfortable, more secure, more enjoyable. 

For example, smart thermostats. Finding the perfect temperature for a home can be complicated

Are you always cold? Or a hot sleeper who kicks off the blankets every night? Do you wish you adjusted the temperature to save energy when nobody’s home, but always forget to do it before you head out?

Smart thermostats can help with many of a home’s trickier temperature situations, giving you more options for programmable automation (great for maximizing comfort and/or minimizing bills) as well as the convenience of mobile access, and with some models, voice command.

While missing some of the sensor technology of other smart models, Amazon offers an Alexa-enabled Smart Thermostat for an incredibly competitive price, while Google’s Nest Thermostats include a variety of sleek options with fine-tuned feature lists. Additionally, the Ecobee selection of Wi-Fi-enabled Smart Thermostats are well-reviewed and equipped with robust features, its top touted model including a remote room sensor and voice control that’s compatible with Alexa and Siri.

Another element of the home where smart functionality delivers a myriad of benefits is lighting. 

Smart lights – a broad category which includes color-changing smart bulbs, smart plugs or plug-in controller options for lamps, WiFi light switches and other platforms for smart switches or dimmers that easily replace those old not-so-smart versions – add comfort, safety and convenience. 

Set the lights to turn on automatically in the evenings so you and your family never have to return to a dark home, or use app control to adjust lights while out of town, making it look like your home even when you’re not.
While the size of a home and the number of individual lights involved means the price of a smart lighting update can vary, the versatility and convenience can easily be added a room at a time. For example, this sleek smart dimmer switch installs in just 15 minutes, connects directly to your Wi-Fi, is compatible with both Alexa and Google voice assistants.
Time Savers and Task Do-ers: Small Smart Appliances

For most people, any device that can shorten the to-do list is a WINNER. So, the addition of smart technology to many basic appliances and other household tools is truly a welcomed advancement.

If you are in the market for a new refrigerator, washer/dryer set, or even oven, consider adding smart functionality to your search parameters and overall deliberation. But even if you are not, here are some small-but-mighty-smart time-savers you should note:

Perfect for amateur chefs and experimental foodies, a smart kitchen scale can help you adjust servings and sub ingredients, while ensuring the precision measurement a gourmet meal deserves. 

For the busy cooks with a family to feed, Wi-Fi enabled InstaPots and AirFryers can be great as well – like this best-selling model on Amazon that also connects with Alexa and Google for voice command.
Hate mornings? A smart coffee pot probably can’t change that, but it might help take the edge off – start the brewing before you’re out of bed by using the app, or take advantage of its Alexa compatibility. 
Little Look-Outs: Smart Cameras & Smart Baby Monitors

It can be worthwhile to upgrade your home’s safety and security through smart technology – even if you aren’t interested in or ready for a full and elaborate professional security system.

The Ring Video Doorbell continues to be a popular safety addition, providing remote video access and recordings of whoever (and whatever) shows up at the front door – perfect for assuring yourself it really is just the wind, or letting your see and speak with unexpected visitors without opening the door. The company also offers security cameras and alarm systems for a more robust setup. Similarly, Arlo is another DIY-friendly security brand with well-reviewed video doorbells and smart outdoor camera options to consider.

And home safety isn’t just keeping watch on the outside, which is why smart functionality is also a great addition to devices like baby monitors.

Going beyond keeping an eye on your beloved little ones, most of the smart options in this category have a host of additional features like breathing monitoring and safety alerts as well as white noise or lullaby options for helping soothe when you are in another room. 

The Nanit Pro, Miku Pro and Cubo solutions were all named as best options from multiple tech reviewers for 2022, while options from Motorola were highlighted for value and affordability.

Finally, if it is fur-babies you need to keep an eye on, affordable smart brand Wyze offers indoor cameras that can help you see what the pets are up to when you are not at home, while the Instagram-famous Furbo camera lets you remotely check in on Kitty or Rover via video and even reward good behavior with a built-in treat dispenser. 

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