6 Affordable Alternatives to Pricey Smart Home Devices

PROVO, UT - JANUARY 16: In this photo illustration, a Nest thermostat installed in a home is seen on January 16, 2014 in Provo, Utah.
George Frey / Getty Images

The smart home revolution that for so many years tech experts predicted would happen is finally here, and it looks like it’s here to stay. According to MediaPost, 69% of households in the U.S. contain, at minimum, one smart device; 12% have several smart devices. Recent data from Statista shows that the number of smart homes will surpass 350 million by 2023. 

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Though smart devices can be cost-saving in the long run, they tend to cost quite a pretty penny up front. A fully connected smart home can run you up to $20,000, which is absurdly high for most people, especially when you consider soaring inflation rates. Fortunately you can save on smart home costs by purchasing cheaper (but just as intelligent) smart devices. Let’s explore some options. 

Feit Electric Smart Lights (Instead of Philips Hue Lights) 

“Philips Hue lights are definitely pricey; but, if you’re a Costco member, you can actually get some excellent deals on Feit kits for a fraction of the cost,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “They work just as well and can be set up to work with assistants like Google and Amazon’s Alexa. For instance, you can get a four-pack of Wi-Fi bulbs from Costco for around $20 right now because they’re on sale. But, even at full price, they’re $40; meanwhile, a four-pack of Philips Hue 75W A19 bulbs, even at Costco, is still about $150.”

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Kasa Mini Plugs (Instead of Amazon or Wemo Smart Plugs)

“These can be picked up relatively cheap in multipacks — currently a two-pack is about $20 on Amazon, and a three-pack is about $26, also on Amazon,” Ramhold said. “By contrast, a single Amazon smart plug is $25, and a single Wemo smart plug is around $18. Again, these are just as good as their name-brand counterparts at a way more affordable price tag.”

Wyze Cam (Instead of Amazon’s Echo Show or Google Nest Hub) 

“One of the great things about Amazon and Google hubs is that you can check the cameras from your phone to take a look at home when you aren’t there, but these items are definitely more expensive,” Ramhold said. “Even Amazon’s Echo Show 5 is around $80, while Google’s smaller Nest Hub is around $100.”

A Wyze Cam Black goes for around $20, so you can set up a system that is ideal for small spaces. 

“Even Wyze’s other cameras such as the v3 and Pan v2 are more affordable than smart home displays, at around $30 and $34 respectively,” Ramhold said. “These are also good alternatives to dedicated pet cams. Sure, they can’t throw treats out for your pup or kitty, but you can still check on them while you’re away from home — and that’s the most important part.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Wyze Bulbs (Instead of Philips Hue Bulbs)

“If you only need one smart bulb, the Wyze bulb may be a good way to go,” Ramhold said. “The white variety is around $10 for a single bulb; whereas, if you opt for the Philips Hue bulbs, you’ll have to pay around $16 for a single bulb. The Wyze bulb is a good way to sort of dip your toes into the smart home lighting ecosystem and see if it’s something you’re interested in expanding.”

Nest Thermostat (Instead of Nest Learning Thermostat) 

“This is the regular thermostat as opposed to the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is much pricier,” Ramhold said. “The more basic one doesn’t learn your routines or preferences, but you can still control it from the Google Home app, so it’s still a handy device to have, especially if you want to take advantage of things like setting the heat or air to start before you get up for the morning or get home after being out for a long period of time. The standard one starts at $129.99, which isn’t super cheap. But, as far as smart devices go, it’s pretty reasonable. Conversely, the Nest Learning Thermostat starts at $249; so, just by choosing the more basic model, you can save more than $100.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Nest Mini or Amazon Echo Dot (Instead of the Regular Nest Audio Speaker or Amazon Echo) 

“These will both run around $45 to $50, although they will often go on sale around Prime Day and/or Black Friday,” Ramhold said. “They’re a good alternative to the regular Nest Audio speaker or Amazon Echo as those are both closer to $100 normally, although sales will drop the price. If you don’t really care about audio quality (although they offer pretty good audio for their size) and are only interested in a smart speaker for different tasks, these are both more affordable ways to go, especially if you’re just getting into a smart ecosystem.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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