How to: Build a HomeKit or Alexa-powered smart home on a $200 budget

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Whether you’re hearing about it in the context of more basic smartphone control, home security or voice assistants, a lot of perks come from being a smart home owner. But often times smart home tech can be expensive, especially to someone just looking to get started. So below you’ll find our top picks for building a budget smart home under $200 to have you living in the 21st Century in no time.

When deciding which platform to center your smart home around, there are really three options accessible to newcomers: HomeKit, Alexa and Google Assistant. For iPhone owners, I can’t recommend HomeKit enough, but for those with Android devices it’ll come down to personal preference whether you opt for an Echo Dot or Google Home Mini. Those looking for more in-depth info to help them decide can check out our guide.

Control: up to $50 |

For those in the latter camp, both Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home mini run anywhere from $35 to $50 depending on sales and are highly-rated solutions for those just getting into home automation.

Just about all of our recommendations are compatible with all three options. If you decide to go the HomeKit route or already own your preferred smart speaker, that just means you’re ready to expand your setup with additional accessories.

Lighting: $70 |

The focal point of many people’s smart homes comes down to lighting. It’s no secret that we’re fans of the Philips Hue lineup of accessories here at 9to5, which should make our recommendation for lighting even less surprising.

At just under $70, the Hue White Starter Kit includes two dimmable LED bulbs alongside the HomeKit and Alexa-compatible hub. The flexibility and overall reliability of the Hue ecosystem makes this bundle a great keystone for your smart home.

Another benefit is that down the line, if you chose to expand your setup, the Hue bridge makes it easy to add extra bulbs and devices, unlike competitors such as LIFX. Plus, it’ll work with just about any smart platform on the market, meaning your setup will be as future-proof as it gets. Additional bulbs start at $15 a piece, with the Color Ambiance versions going for as much as $50.

Smart Plugs: up to $50

Alongside lighting, there are most likely going to be appliances or devices around your home worth augmenting with smart functionality. Smart plugs are often times a go-to solution for connecting anything from accent lighting to coffee makers to your smart home.

Our top pick is the $23 iHome ISP6X Wi-FI Smart Plug, which from over a year of personal use, I can highly recommend. iHome’s solution works with HomeKit, Alexa and Assistant, making it a solid option for just about anyone’s smart home.

We’ll assume you need two in order to bring smart features to more than one device, but if not, consider adding an extra Hue bulb to your setup. 

Extra devices: up to $40 |

Just like everyone’s homes are bit different, smart setups will also vary from person to person. So with the remaining funds, we have a few options to supplement your setup with additional devices as you see fit.

If you value automation in your smart home, a $40 Hue Motion Sensor is a great addition to automatically turn lights on and off when someone enters or leaves the room. For those looking to ease the transition away from physical controls, adding a $25 Hue Switch is a worthwhile option.

For more ideas on how you can build out your smart home, check out our more in-depth getting started guide, alongside our top picks for smart remotes. If you’re not on that tight of a budget, consider outfitting your home with Z-Wave devices.

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