Cheap smart home tech: Pay less for lights, plugs and that work

Save a packet with these top devices

The best cheap smart home tech

If you’re only just starting to build your smart home, you’d be forgiven at balking at the price. Some of the latest and greatest connected home tech can be eye-wateringly expensive, but luckily there are plenty of cheap smart bulbs, connected cameras, smart speakers and other devices out there.

As the smart home has matured, prices have dropped, and there are much cheaper alternatives for many types of products. Granted, the likes of Nest, Philips Hue and the like are still pretty expensive, and, at the other end of the scale, there’s plenty of white-label dross floating around on Amazon.

What we’ve tried to highlight, however, is some bargain smart home tech from decent brands. We’ve tested most of this stuff, and it gets our thumbs up. It might not be the best, but it’s good for the price. Let’s get our bargain hunting hats on and go shopping.

Budget smart bulbs

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Ikea Trådfri

Range from £7, Amazon |

Gateway kit: £80, Amazon |

There’s no getting around it, Ikea’s smart bulbs are far from perfect. The app is a bit buggy and the performance isn’t great, either – but at £7 a pop, they’re worth a shot. Part of their beauty is the flexibility – 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 - however, you’ll need to grab a Trådfri gateway (£25).

There’s a growing range of bulbs, and they’re Alexa and Apple HomeKit ­and Google Assistant compatible. Getting the full gamut of smart home platforms at this price isn’t to be sniffed at.

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells for less

Lifx Mini

From £24.99, Amazon |

Perhaps a better deal in the US than the UK, Lifx is one of our favourite smart bulbs. Lifx eschews any of the in vogue smart bulb standards such as Zigbee or Z-Wave in favour of good old Wi-Fi, and it actually works.

There’s no hubs or mess, each bulb just installs and falls under the spell of the Lifx app – and after that Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Nest and IFTTT. It’s a compatibility grand slam. But what about the price? You can pick up a simple Lifx white bulb for less than £25.

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Hive Active Lights

£19.99, Amazon |

If you’re going big on building your smart lighting, it’s worth giving Hive a shout. The downside is that you need the Hive hub for the smart lighting to work, so that’s £80 out of the box.

However, when you’ve got that, the actual lighting is really cheap. You can pick up bulbs for £20 a pop and the company announced GU10 bulbs for £19, with a six-pack for £79. It might not be the pound-for-pound cheapest, but if you’re going big, it could make you a tidy saving.

The best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells for less

Sengled Element

From £13, Amazon |

Sengled's smart bulbs are some of the best value you can get in smart lights. If you've got an Amazon Echo Plus, SmartThings Hub or Wink smart hub you can simply power them using the power of Zigbee. That means you can spend as little as $9 on a bulb.

If you don't have any of those things, you'll have to pay $40 for a kit, which gives you two bulbs and a hub. So it's still one of the more affordable smart lighting systems you can get. There's also both Google Assistant and Alexa support. You will definitely need Sengled's hub to use Assistant though, so keep that in mind.

Check out our round-up of the best smart bulbs.

Best cheap smart speakers

The best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells for less

Amazon Echo Dot 2018

£49.99, Amazon

With its third-generation Echo Dot, Amazon has improved most of what we didn't like about previous editions. First, it looks much better. Amazon's new fabric design may make the new Dot look like a very bloated Google Home Mini, but it's far less outdated looking than the previous editions.

It's also improved the sound considerably. It's not going to blow you away, but it does sound better than the Home Mini and previous editions. Plus, you get all the same Alexa features that are present in other non-display Echos. You'll get things like Whisper Mode and Alexa Calling and Shopping Lists and Flash Briefings. You also have a 3.5mm aux jack to hook up to a better speaker, and there's also stereo pair mode for even better sound.

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Google Home Mini


The Google Assistant equivalent to the Echo Dot is the colorful Google Home Mini. The mesh covered speaker comes in a range of funky colours, including coral, aqua and pale grey, and certainly looks the part.

Google Assistant is a great ecosystem, and the Chromecast tie-in works nicely, plus the Google Home 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 not-great audio quality, is that there’s no audio out, which does let the ensemble down for music listening, somewhat.

Read our round-up of the best smart speakers money can buy.

Best cheap smart plugs

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

TP-Link HS100

£23.99, Amazon |

From the range of smart plugs we’ve tested, the TP-Link HS100 represents some of the lowest priced options from the familiar names out there. The HS100 has recently been updated, so there’s plenty of deals around on Amazon, and you should be able to bag a plug for around £23.99

It’s pretty no-frills stuff (it’s a plug), but you get smartphone control without a hub, and it plays nicely with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

The best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells for less

Amazon Smart Plug

£24.99 | Amazon

If you're well into the Alexa ecosystem, Amazon's smart plug is a pretty solid choice for you. It's affordable and doesn't come with a lot of fancy features like energy monitoring, but it does do the job of a smart plug effectively.

Best of all, it works seamlessly within the Alexa system. It's one of the debut devices for Amazon's Wi-Fi Simple Setup. What this means is all you have to do is plug it in, open up the Alexa app and you're off to the races.

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Powerbear Smart Plugs

$11.95 | Amazon

OK, we haven’t tested these, but with an outstanding price and plenty of positive Amazon reviews, we’re including them in the list. The Powerbear Smart Plugs cost $11.99 a pop, support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and don’t require an extra hub.

Unlike TP-Link, they don’t come fully endorsed as we haven't tested them yet, but given a lack of actually cheap smart plugs out there, they could be worth a pop.

Read our round-up of the best smart plugs money can buy.

Budget smart home cameras

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Wyze Cam

$19.99, Amazon |

We haven’t had chance to test out Wyze Cam yet, but it’s one of those products that seems to defy logic. Designed by former Amazon employees, it’s a 1080p smart home camera, with motion detection, night vision and free access to your recorded clips.

The Wyze Cam is just $19.99 ­– US-only right now – and the company has just launched an updated version, still at the same price. The only thing to be wary of is a truly basement level 10fps recording, but if you’re looking to take your first step with a home camera, it offers staggering value.

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Blink Camera

£99, Amazon

There are cheaper smart home cameras out there – but hear us out on this one. The Blink is a totally wire-free, smart camera that runs on a couple of AA batteries. You get 1080p recording, motion alerts and, no monthly fees to access recorded clips and it’s Alexa and Google Assistant compatible. £99 gets you a starter kit with one camera and the Blink Home Security Module, which you’ll need for the system to work.

While £99 isn’t bad for a smart home camera system, each additional camera will set you back, £99 which offers one of the cheapest ways to get your entire home covered.

Cheap smart home tech: Pay less for lights, plugs and that work

Amazon Cloud Cam

$119.99, Amazon

Amazon has both Ring and Blink under its wings, but it's also got an affordable camera of its own: the Cloud Cam. It's got crisp 1080p video with night vision and two-way audio. If you opt for the subscription plan (either $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year) you'll get motion, people and sound alerts. There's also the Amazon Key edition, which you can pair up with a lock to allow deliver people into your home. The big negative here, however, is that it's indoor only.

Check out our round up of the best wireless home security cameras.

Smoke alarms, doorbells and everything else

Cheap smart home tech: Pay less for lights, plugs and that work

Fire Stick 4K

£49, Amazon

Amazon's Fire Stick 4K is the best bargain in streaming sticks. Sure, you can't natively get YouTube, but there's the Silk Browser to fix that. You're getting a whole lot of stuff for not a lot of money. There's enough standard support here to make the biggest A/V nerd dance with glee: Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, 4K and HDR10+ support are all on board. Plus, you get Alexa and the new Alexa Voice Remote with volume buttons. This is the best alternative to the Apple TV 4K, and it's not close.

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Roost Smart 9V Battery

£39.99, Amazon |

Smart smoke alarms are pretty pricey, but Roost offers the chance to smarten up your home on the cheap. It’s a smart battery, which fits into old smoke detectors, but will ping your phone if the alarm sounds.

It’s a bit of a retrofit fudge and it doesn’t require the certificates and rigorous testing smoke alarms do, due to it piggybacking on tested systems – but you can make three smoke alarms smart for the price of one Nest Protect.

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Now TV


One for our UK crew, Now TV is a bargain streaming stick with a difference. Now TV plugs into your telly, and enables you to access Sky’s premium programming on the cheap. Plus, Netflix has now been added.

Want to watch all the Super Sunday games? Now TV means you can just buy a day pass for sport, or monthly subs for its entertainment and film packages, meaning you just pay for what you watch. The only problem is that streaming is only in 720p, which is a damned shame, and there’s no Amazon.

Best budget smart home tech: Lights, cameras, doorbells and more

Ring Video Doorbell

£89, Amazon |

The original Ring Video Doorbell is still going strong, and you can bag a first generation model for around £89.

You still get to see who’s at your door, and access two-way audio, but the video feed is only in 720p – which let’s admit it, is absolutely fine for a doorbell.

Cheap smart home tech: Pay less for lights, plugs and that work

RemoBell S

$99, Amazon |

But if you're looking for a little more, the RemoBell S promises the world for $99. You're getting a 180-degree field of view with 1080p video. There's support for motion zones and two-way audio, plus night vision up to 7.5m. You'll also be able to use it with both Alexa and Google Assistant.

We haven't tested this one yet, but it's certainly an attractive package. If it can do everything it promises well, it's one of the best bargains you can get in the smart home world.

TAGGED   smart home

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