Not so long ago, the idea of talking robot assistants who can open garage doors, adjust your home’s temperature or suggest recipes was the stuff of sci-fi novels.
These days, smart home devices that can perform an impressive array of intelligent tasks to make your life easier are not only ubiquitous — they’re often affordable.
Like most other technology, smart technology has become more accessible over time, even as it simultaneously becomes more sophisticated. Now, smart tech can be found in a wide range of affordable gizmos and gadgets, from voice assistants and smart lighting to smart locks and plugs.
What does this mean for you? If you want to give your home a smart tech makeover, you don’t have to empty your bank account. To help you build a smarter, safer and more comfortable home for less, we’ve rounded up 10 best smart home devices for small budgets.Need more ideas? Our friends at PCMag have also rounded up their favorite smart home picks.
The Best Cheap Smart Home Products
Amazon unveiled the fourth-generation Echo Dot smart speaker in 2020. The fourth-gen mini smart speaker is a half-plastic, half-fabric covered sphere designed to compliment the new fourth-gen full-size Echo. As with all Echo smart speakers, the Echo Dot allows you to activate Amazon’s voice assistant by saying “Alexa” followed by a request — which could be anything from turning your smart lights off to telling you a “yo mama” joke.
Why We Love It: One of the best smart home devices in miniature size around, Echo Dot comes with all the fun, useful and imaginative Alexa functions you get with a full-size Echo, but for less than half the price. We also love this cheap smart home device’s sleek, minimalist design.
Things to Consider: The primary difference between an Echo Dot and a full-size Echo is audio performance. The Echo Dot sounds fine, but doesn’t have the power to fill a space with quality music. If you want an Echo that can bump your tunes, you’re better off upgrading to an Echo or Echo Studio.
$44.99 at Amazon.
Google Nest Mini
The successor to the Google Home Mini, the Google Nest Mini was released in 2020 as part of the retitled Nest line of Google smart home devices. The smallest member of the Nest family, the second-gen. speaker features built-in access to Google Assistant.
Why We Love It: For a small, low-priced smart speaker, the Google Nest Mini packs a solid audio punch — it’s able to play podcasts and daily news over a fair amount of background noise. We also like that the Nest Mini is made from recycled materials and comes with an integrated wall mount.
Things to Consider: As with the Echo Dot, the Google Nest Mini isn’t your best smart home device choice for music listening. Music isn’t really the strong point of any of the Google Nest devices, so you may want to consider an Echo product if you plan on rocking out with your smart home speaker.
$49+ at Target.
Apple HomePod Mini
In true Apple fashion, the Apple HomePod Mini is more expensive than the “mini” smart speakers of its competitors. But for diehard Apple fans — particularly ones who are already living with Apple device and subscribe to Apple Music — the Siri-controlled smart speaker makes a lot of sense.
What We Love: Compared to the previous two mini speakers, the Apple HomePod Mini delivers excellent audio that is clearer, less distorted and more suitable for music listening.
Things to Consider: Just under $100, the Apple HomePod Mini may be one of the least expensive Apple electronic devices out there — but it’s still more than double the cost of other smart speaker options. If you are an Android user, skip the HomePod Mini and buy yourself two Echo Dots or Nest Minis for the same price instead.
$99 at Apple.
Ring Smart Lightning
From the Amazon-owned smart home security company, the Ring Smart Lighting system helps keep your home safe and well lit. There are currently four lighting options available for the Ring Smart Lighting system: the hardwired or battery-powered Ring Floodlight, as well as the battery-powered Ring Spotlight, Pathlight and Steplight. In addition to lights, there is an optional a battery-powered motion sensor that triggers Ring lights and other Ring devices when movement is detected.
Why We Love It: The individual Ring Smart Lighting components are easy to install and you can place them around your home as desired. You can further customize your lighting system by adjusting motion and light sensitivity and programming it to silence alerts during certain windows of time.
Things to Consider: The Ring Smart Lighting is missing a few functions offered by more sophisticated systems, like programming lighting to turn on based on whether someone is home or scheduling off and on times. For more advanced functions, you might want to go with a more sophisticated, pricier system like Philips Hue.
$24.99+ per light at Amazon.
Wemo Mini Smart Plug
With the Wemo Mini Smart Plug, you can transform virtually any regular ol’ appliance into a smart one. After connecting to your WiFi, the Wemo Mini lets you control appliances from your smartphone and link them to your smart home system.
Why We Love It: Cute and compact, the Wemo Mini only takes up the outlet that you want it to — unlike many of its bulkier competitors. It’s easy to install, pair and control with your existing smart speaker assistants, whether you use Amazon Echo, Google Nest or Apple HomeKit. The cheap smart home plug can also be programmed to turn appliances on or off at certain times and days using the Wemo app.
Things to Consider: Our only gripe with the Wemo Mini is that it doesn’t let you track your energy usage like other smart plugs, such as the iDevices Outdoor Switch or Satechi Dual Smart Outlet.
$48.99 for a three-pack at Amazon.
Greater Goods WiFi Smart Scale
The Greater Goods WiFi Smart Scale can do a lot more than measure your weight. The smart scale also automatically tracks your body fat, lean mass, water weight and bone mass.
Why We Like It: Unlike competitor smart scales, the Greater Goods WiFi Smart Scale relies on WiFi connection instead of Bluetooth, so you don’t need your phone on hand to track your metrics. Compared to many pricier competitors, the smart scale is also more accurate at registering weight changes and logging data.
Things to Consider: It’s worth noting that smart scales in general still tend to be finicky and unreliable. As with other models, the Greater Goods WiFi Smart Scale provides a rough estimate of your body fat and lean mass percentages.
$27.88 from Amazon.
Wyze Cam v3
Consistently hailed as one of the best affordable security cameras, Wyze Cam has a lot going on beyond its low price tag. The feature-rich cam offers HD video live streaming, motion detection, sharp night vision, weather-proof housing and a handy app to boot.
Why We Like It: It bears repeating: The Wyze Cam v3 is a fraction of the cost of other smart home security cameras without slacking on sophisticated features. In addition to delivering sharp 1080p video, the camera also comes with 14 days of free rolling cloud storage and a built-in microSD card slot for capturing local video storage. All of this, and it supports Alexa and Google voice commands.
Things to Consider: If you do decide to make use of the microSD card slot and record footage locally, you’ll need to purchase your own microSD card. In addition, personal alerts and more video storage cost extra.
$35.98 at Amazon.
Lux Kono Smart Thermostat
Lux Kono Smart Thermostat is a stylish, affordable smart thermostat with plenty of smart home integrations. The Lux Kono is compatible with most standard two-stage heat/one-stage cooling systems, in addition to most heat pump systems with two-stage heat/one-stage cooling and auxiliary heat. It also works with gas, oil and electric furnaces.
Why We Like It: In addition, this nifty thermostat comes with handy energy-saving and learning features, including smart scheduling. It also harnesses the magic of geofencing to adjust the temperature based on whether you are home or not.
Things to Consider: The Lux Kono features a single knob and small display screen that can be a pain to adjust manually. The thermostat also doesn’t come with a remote room sensor, which means it’s harder to ensure temperature is consistent in different rooms.
$83 at Walmart.
Easily one of the best budget baby monitors out there, the Babysense V24R packs in a fair number of features to help you keep your eye on your baby. The high-resolution camera connects to a high-quality LCD video monitor from a range of up to 900 feet.
What We Like: The Babysense V24R delivers reliable connection, video and sound — all critical when it comes to caring for your little one. A feature we especially liked was the two-way talk, which lets you speak to your baby through a speaker on the camera.
Things to Consider: Although the camera can zoom, it does not have a remote tilt or pan function. The battery life is on the shorter side, though it can be extended to 10 hours if you keep it on ECO mode.
$64.99 at Amazon.
Philips Wiz Smart Wi-Fi LED Color Bulb
Once upon a time, finding a smart bulb as sophisticated at the Phillips Wiz Smart Wi-Fi LED Color Bulb for such a low price would be unimaginable. (It’s a great time to be alive!) This smart bulb offers both white and color light, as well as scheduling capabilities and a few special effects.
Why We Like It: Compatible with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, you can control the Philips Wiz Smart Wi-Fi LED Color Bulb with the mere sound of your voice like Harry Potter. It also has a cool feature called vacation mode, which sporadically turns the light on and off to make it look like you’re home when you’re away.
Things to Consider: Some color presets aren’t recognized by Google Assistant or Alexa, and trying to activate them through these assistants makes them go kind of wonky. Also, the cheap smart home bulb isn’t compatible with Philips Hue’s apps or integrations.
$12.97 at Home Depot.