Smart Home On A Budget: The $150 Starter Kit

Yep, you read that title right: for US$150, you can get everything you need to get a smart home off the starting blocks—or give a loved one the gift of a smart home starter kit. This combo is ideal for renters or dorm dwellers too, because there’s no wiring to run and nothing to be permanently installed. Smart home on a budget: it’s a thing!


150 Smart Home Starter Kit


You can get all the stuff pictured above for just under US$150 (as of this writing on 11/15/16, prices slightly higher in the UK). With the setup above, smart home mornings are good to go.

Alexa wakes you with your choice of alarm tone, then you ask her to turn on the bedroom light and as you pull yourself out of bed to stretch, you ask her, “What’s up?” to get the day’s weather report and trending news.

As you move sleepily to the bathroom to brush your teeth, you ask Alexa to shuffle your morning playlist or tune to your favorite radio station (because you’ve connected the Dot to an external speaker of your own via Bluetooth).

Changing into your clothes for the day, you ask Alexa to start the coffee (because you pre-loaded and switched on the coffee maker the night before, but it won’t have any power until you ask Alexa to turn it on: it’s plugged into a TP-Link smart plug).

The delicious smell of piping hot java wafts in to perk you up, and as you finish primping you ask Alexa what’s on your calendar for the day. One last Alexa request, for the traffic report, and you’re ready to grab that cup o’ joe.

Just before you head out the door, you ask Alexa to turn off the bedroom light, turn off the coffee maker, and turn off the music.

It’s gonna be a great smart home day!


The Items To Buy

1. All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – Black + TP-Link Smart Plug – $69.99.

Click here for just the TP-Link smart plug on its own.

(UK visitors click here for the Dot, and click here for the TP-Link Smart plug)

2. LIFX (A19) Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb, Adjustable, Multicolor, Dimmable, No Hub Required, Works with Alexa – $59.99
(UK visitors click here)

Note: this is the multicolor bulb that allows you to ask Alexa to change the color of the light as well as turning it off or on or dimming it. A white light only version (UK visitors click here) is also available and will shave another $20 or so off your total, but…multicolor LED bulb! For twenty more bucks, why not opt for that extra bit of pizazz? Either version of the bulb has an estimated 20 year life, so it’s not as much of a splurge as it might seem at first.

3. Black & Decker CM1200B 12-Cup Switch Coffeemaker, Black – $16.19
(UK visitors click here for the comparable Swan model)


$69.99 + $59.99 + $16.19 = $146.17

See? Getting started with smart home doesn’t have to cost a fortune! You’ll notice that the coffee maker isn’t a “smart” appliance, and in fact it’s important to get about the “dumbest” coffee maker you can for this setup, not a programmable model. It works because you can leave it switched on and ready to brew, but plugged into a smart plug that won’t power on until you ask Alexa to turn it on.


I’ll be running a series of these Smart Home on a Budget posts over the holiday shopping season, to address several budget ranges and smart home device suites.


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