Building a smart home on a budget requires a bit more research and effort than simply splurging on the best connected tech. If you're here, it's likely because you're interested in smart home automation, but have been put off by lofty prices.
Luckily, we're here to help. In this guide to the best cheap smart home tech, we'll be detailing budget speakers, bulbs, cameras, plugs and more - giving you a one-stop shop to discover all the top devices currently available for a fraction of rival price tags.
For any budget: The top smart home devices you can buy
Our team of smart home experts have tested everything listed below, letting us deliver comprehensive verdicts and allowing you to buy with confidence.
We've also tried to only list the gadgets from reputable brands - so, none of the white-label knock-offs you can find through a quick Amazon search. Let's go shopping.
Best cheap smart bulbs
Smart bulbs are coming down in prices rapidly. What used to be a luxury is now super affordable and, given wireless standards are similar across many brands, it's easier than ever to mix and match smart light bulbs from numerous brands using smart home hubs and digital voice assistants.
Here's our current wallet-friendly light favorites:
Wyze's debut smart bulb only comes in white for now, but at just $7.99 it's hard to argue with. The price doesn't mean sacrificing too much either, with decent automations, support for Alexa/Google Assistant, and decent integration with other Wyze products.
Best of all, it doesn't require a hub to use, which shaves off what could be a large chunk of change.
The downsides? There's no HomeKit support, and the bulbs don't dim as low as some others. A new color Wyze bulb was also recently announced.
Read our full Wyze Bulb review.
Ikea's smart lights still need polish, but at $7 a pop (even less if you buy multi-packs), theyâre incredible value. Part of their beauty is the flexibility â you can buy the bulbs, wireless dimmer or remote switch and not even have open the smartphone app.
If you do want the extra smarts, such as app control and Alexa controls, youâll need to grab a TrĂ„dfri gateway ($25).
Ikea bulbs also play nicely within the Hue app as well, and it's much easier to set them up than it used to be.
Read our full Ikea Tradfri review.
TP-Link Tapo L530E
Buy now: Amazon | $14.99
If you're looking for a color smart bulb that won't break the bank then TP-Link's Tapo brand has you covered.
It has the usual 16 million colors on offer and works with both Alexa and the Google Assistant.
Note - Tapo hasn't officially launched as a brand in the US yet and, annoyingly, Tapo kit lives outside of the great TP-Link Kasa smart home system, which is a shame.
But it's still a fantastically priced color Wi-Fi smart light bulb. Shoppers in the US should look out for the TP-Link Kasa KL125, which is more or less the very same bulb.
Nanoleaf Essentials bulb
Buy now: nanoleaf.me | $24.99
That wacky looking bulb above is the Nanoleaf Essentials Bulb - which is a Rhombicosidodecahedron shape, but you already knew that, right?
The bulb itself is super bright, with multiple color temperatures (2700K-6500K) and an 1100-lumen max brightness.
Read our full Nanoleaf Essentials review.
Other smart bulb budget brands to look out for
Ikea and Wyze are currently our top picks for the best cheap smart light bulbs but you can also get great priced options from the likes of...
Smart speakers come in all shapes and sized and, more importantly, budgets. Yes, you'll sacrifice audio quality to get a smart speaker at a cheap price but, if you're more concerned with getting Alexa or Google Assistant all around your house for smart home controls, the lower-end of the market is where your focus should be.
Here are the current front runners:
Amazon Echo Dot 4th-gen
Buy now: Amazon | $49.99
With its fourth-generation Echo Dot, Amazon has improved most of what we didn't like about previous editions. First, it looks much better.
The design of the new Echo Dot 2020 model features a 1.6-inch, front-firing speaker, which helps to boost the slightly tinny Echo Dot sound.
There's also a new 2nd-gen Echo Dot with clock (
Read our full Amazon Echo Dot review.
Google Nest Mini
Buy now: store.google.com | $29.99
The Google Assistant equivalent to the Echo Dot is the colorful Google Nest Mini, which was refreshed in 2019 with an improved speaker and the ability to mount to a wall.
Google Assistant is a great ecosystem, and the Chromecast tie-in works nicely, plus the Google Nest Mini will work as a Bluetooth speaker as well.
Like the Echo Dot, Google also isn't shy about slashing the price even further on the regular. The one downside, considering the (still) not-great audio quality, is that thereâs no audio out, which is a drawback for music listening, somewhat.
Read our full Google Nest Mini review.
Best cheap smart displays
Smart displays take everything that's great about smart speakers and slap a screen on the front for a few extra visual features.
Here are our best budget picks, it's easy to get a smart assistant display with plenty of change from $100.
Lenovo Smart Clock
Buy now: lenovo.com | $79.99
With just a 4-inch display, there's less space to work with than the larger and more expensive displays, but Lenovo has adapted with fewer features on its Smart Clock. For example, there's no Google Photos and no Home View, two of our favorite features from other Assistant-compatible displays. And it's not ideal for music, either - matching the kind of levels you'll receive from the Google Home Mini.
On the other hand, it's a less intrusive device, which is especially important for something you'll put on your bedside table. For that same reason, there's no built-in camera, another reason this might be more appealing than the Echo Spot or the Echo Show 5. All in all, this is a great entry into Google Assistant for those who don't want to shell out for a Google Nest Hub and those who prefer a screened device over a Home Mini.
Read our full Lenovo Smart Clock review.
Echo Show 5
Buy now: Amazon | $74.99
If you're on Team Alexa, the Echo Show 5 is a very good little smart display that won't cost the Earth. With just a 5-inch display (clue's in the name) the Show 5 is working with little space, but still manages to do plenty with it. In fact, we think it looks much nicer on our bookshelf than the full-size Echo Show, but it does come with some disadvantages â chiefly that it's harder to read across a room.
But if discretion is the game, the Show 5 is a great little speaker with better sound quality than the Echo Spot and all the full range of control for your connected smart home devices.
That price above is the full MSRP, you'll often now find the Show 5 on sale at half of this price.
Read our full Echo Show 5 review.
Smart plugs are the ultimate cheap way to automate your house. Stick one of these connected adapters on your dumb lamps, heaters and appliances and you'll have a fully automated abode in no time.
The beauty of Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit or SmartThings is that it just ties all of your smart devices together in one place. So it's fine to mix and match brands, especially with things like smart plugs.
TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini
Buy now: Amazon | $14.99
The TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini may be a mouthful, but it actually keeps things pretty simple in practice. And that's what you want in a smart plug, right?
It's cheap, does the job and doesn't take up too much space in the process. There's no HomeKit support and it lacks energy tracking, but the ability to set schedules and an 'Away' mode mean it's not short on features. It does make an oddly loud clicking noise when you turn it off - but maybe that'll bother you less than it did us.
Read our full TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini review.
Buy now: wyze.com | $14.99 for 2-pack
Per plug, Wyze actually has the cheapest smart plug by a long shot â just $7.50 a piece. The only problem is that you have to buy them as a pair for $15, which is a cunning plan by Wyze considering how many people buy multiple smart plugs for their homes.
The other good news is that the Wyze Plug does all the basic stuff you'd expect, from scheduling to Alexa/Google Assistant integration.
Read our full Wyze Plug review.
Other smart plug budget brands to consider
Amazon is awash with Chinese brands selling cheap smart plugs and some of these are really great. Some... not so much. But it's an incredibly busy area for connected tech. Be sure to also check out options from:
Budget home security cameras used to be horrible but, thankfully, times have changed.
At Full HD or even higher resolutions, cheap security cameras now have a level of sharpness that often competes with the more expensive big-brand competition.
Here are our favorite cheap security cameras..
The Kasa Spot gets top billing for being both cheap and reliable. Sure, it looks budget, but when you consider you're getting key features such as remote viewing, motion alerts, two-way audio, and Alexa/Google Assistant support, the cosmetics quickly fade into insignificance.
This new model gives you free cloud storage with two-daysâ video history (or up to 1GB of footage), which should be enough for most people. If you want more storage, just pop a microSD card into the back and youâll never need to pay for storage.
Read our full TP-Link Kasa Spot review.
Best for outdoors: Blink Outdoor
Buy now: Amazon | $99
Having to remember to charge outdoor cameras can be a real pain, but not so with the Blink Outdoor. It can run for up to two years on a set of AA batteries.
The first pack you buy must include one camera and the Sync Module. You plug the Sync Module into your home network and then the Blink cameras talk wirelessly through that. Additional cameras can be bought individually, and the Sync Module is compatible with the Blink Mini and older Blink XT2, too.
Gone is the free cloud storage, but you can plug in a USB flash drive to give you local storage instead.
As youâd expect from an Amazon company, the Blink Outdoor camera plays nicely with Alexa, and you can watch a live feed on an Echo Show, use the cameraâs motion sensors to trigger routines, and even arm and disarm the system with your voice (plus by app or by schedule).
Read our full Blink Indoor + Outdoor review.
Other cheap camera brands to look into
Like smart plugs, there is an absolute avalanche of brilliant devices in this area coming from China. Keep an eye out for:
Smart doorbells, thankfully, are now much more affordable than when the likes of Ring and August burst onto the scene a few years ago.
Here are our current cheap video doorbell best buys:
Ring Video Doorbell 2nd-gen
Buy now: Amazon | $99.99
The smart doorbell that kick started the connected front door revolution was recently revamped for 2020. The second-gen Ring Video Doorbell boasts a budget price-tag and some pretty impressive specs.
It takes the original Ring Video Doorbell and adds Full HD 1080p video, improved motion detection, privacy zones, audio privacy and crisper night vision.
The good news is the price stays the same at $99.
Eufy Video Doorbell
Eufy offers a great balance between excellent value for money and exceptional performance, and it does it all without any monthly cloud storage fees - as it stores your video locally.
We love the responsiveness of this doorbell - there's no waiting for endless buffering, and the video quality is excellent, serving up 2K (2560 x 1920) resolution with HDR technology for clearer images, and offers a 160-degree field of view and 4:3 aspect ratio â totally comparable to Nest's Hello.
Person detection means you can choose not to be bombarded with notifications when trees sway in the wind or a cat or car crosses by your front door, and quick responses let the doorbell do the talking for you, you can even create custom ones.
Read our full Eufy Doorbell review.