So you've decided to take the plunge and turn your home into a smart home. Where do you start, and how do you save money? One option is to buy a kit that includes the basics that you need to get going in one handy pack. So, let's take a look at what deals are on offer for smart home starter kits.
The Philips Hue smart lighting platform is one of the most popular smart home systems available, as it offers a simple, easy-to-use way to control your lights. The best place to start is the Hue White A19 starter kit, which includes the Hue bridge and two white, dimmable Hue bulbs. The best price that we found for this is $56 at Dealscube, which also offers free shipping (Amazon and other sell this same kit for about $70).
Once you have the system installed and are controlling your lights from your smartphone, you can start to expand it with kits like the Hue Light Recipe kit ($50 at Best Buy), which includes an additional white dimmable bulb and a wireless remote. This kit allows you to control up to 10 bulbs with the remote, creating different lighting setups that can be switched in at the touch of a button. It can also be used without the hub if you want a very simple lighting setup, but the hub is a worthwhile investment if you want to have multiple rooms under your control, or do things like use a motion detector to trigger a light. The ambiance bulb in this kit does allow you to tweak the color temperature of the light, but if you want to get colors other than white, things get a bit more expensive: the full-color version of the Philips Hue bulb costs $50 a pop.
Alternatively, the discontinued-but-still-supported Belkin WeMo LED Starter Kit ($50 directly from Belkin while supplies last) includes two bulbs and the controlling WeMo Link plug-in hub. These won't change colors like those full-color Hue LEDs, but like Hue, you'll be able to add less expensive, generic smart bulbs to your setup, including the Cree Connected LED, which costs $15 at Home Depot.
Whichever lighting kit you start with, once you have gotten used to turning the lights on and off remotely, it is time to start controlling other devices. It used to be the case that different smart home devices didn't talk to each other: they spoke different languages and there was no translator. Fortunately, that's continuing to change, but if you want to use a variety of devices, then you'll still probably want a master system that ties everything together.
One option that'll do exactly that is Samsung's SmartThings hub, a device that can speak to pretty much every smart home device out there. Samsung offers a number of kits that combine a SmartThings hub with devices that work with it. The Home Automation Kit, which includes the hub, a wall socket controller, motion sensor and two activity sensors, seems like a good place to start. Amazon has it for $217, about $35 off the usual $250 price.
Now that you have control over both your lighting and wall sockets, it's time to expand further. This is where the versatility of the SmartThings hub comes in: it can work with devices like the Honeywell Lyric Round thermostat (on sale at Sears for $200 with free shipping) and the Belkin WeMo Insight switch, available from Home Depot for $50. The latter allows you to control pretty much any device that plugs into a wall socket, so things like standing lamps and small appliances are now under your control.
From there, the world is your oyster. You can add voice control by integrating with Google Home or Alexa. If you want to know more about which smart home devices work best together, we've put together a guide to which smart home devices will work with each other that should help out.
Have you spotted any smart home starter kit deals? Post them in the comments and we'll feature the best ones.