Over the past five years or so, smart home technology has taken off in terms of capabilities and popularity.
With a few devices, you can turn off your lights, control your television, or watch your front door from anywhere with an internet connection.
If you haven't taken the leap to make your home a little smarter yet, here is a list of some basic devices you can use to get started for under $100 each.
1. Samsung SmartThings Hub ($89.99)
In order to connect all of your smart home devices, it might be helpful to start off with a hub to control them all. Samsung's SmartThings Hub allows you to control most of your gadgets through your smartphone instead of using individual apps for each device.
2. Amazon Echo ($99.99) or Echo Dot ($49.99)
You've probably heard people talking about Alexa – Amazon's cloud-based assistant that can take orders or provide useful information based on vocal commands. Many smart home devices are Alexa enabled, so in order to control them orally, you can purchase an Amazon Echo or an Echo Dot. Either option will give you access to all of Alexa's capabilities and can be connected to any Alexa-enabled device for seamless use.
3. Philips Hue Light Bulb Starter Kit ($69.99)
Philips' Hue lighting devices are a quick way to start your smart home transformation. All you have to do is unscrew your old light bulbs and replace them with the appropriate Hue bulbs. From there, you will need to set up the Philips Hue app and connect it to your Alexa device and voila! You're well on your way to living like the Jetsons.
4. Ecobee Switch+ ($99.99)
If you're not interested in upgrading your bulbs, but you still want to dip your toe in the smart home water, you can try purchasing an Ecobee Switch+. This device has motion sensors that will turn your lights on and off automatically. It also has a temperature sensor that you can link to an Ecobee thermostat to make sure the temperature in each area of your house is being monitored correctly. Also, the Ecobee Switch+ has a microphone and speaker you can use to communicate with Alexa.
5. Ring Video Doorbell ($99.99)
Your smart home experience can begin before you even enter your house. With a Ring Video Doorbell, a motion sensor alerts you when there is movement outside your door. This wireless device also includes two-way audio and video so you can communicate with your visitors from any smartphone, tablet or desktop computer with internet access.
As a company, Ring's mission is to reduce crime in neighborhoods. A Ring Video Doorbell can easily help you keep an eye on your front door and give you some extra peace of mind while you're away from home.
6. Amazon Fire TV with Alexa Voice Remote ($69.99)
With Amazon Fire TV, you can use your Amazon Prime membership to access a library of free movies, TV episodes and music. Plus, with the included Alexa voice remote, you can speak your commands into the remote to play or pause your 4k Ultra HD content. Even better -- if you already have an Amazon Echo, you can use it to control your Fire TV as well.
Before you start setting up your smart home, be sure to research the compatibility of each item. Not every smart home device works with every other device, so you want to make sure that you think ahead and pick brands that are highly compatible with most devices on the market. That should help you avoid certain issues in the future.
Atlanta @ Home is a monthly series from The Atlanta-Journal Constitution that offers inspiration and ideas for home party planning, decor, improvement and other helpful tips Atlanta's homeowners can use. Contact Stephanie Toone at firstname.lastname@example.org to share any insights or home ideas for future series.
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