How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?


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Most people’s idea of a smart home is adding a device that can control lights, plugs and door locks.

But what if you wanted to make your entire home smarter? We’re talking about replacing every regular bulb with a smart alternative, swapping out the locks for smart ones, fitting motorized window blinds and even making the garden more intelligent.

The short answer is that such an ambitious project is not cheap. Even if you live in a small apartment, the cost of replacing lighting alone can run close to $1,000. Though making a home smart can be expensive, homeowners can still be smart about their spending on these systems.

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What does the average US home look like?

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

We have chosen a four-bed, two-bath property to serve as a smart home template. According to data released by the Survey of Construction in 2017, this is the most common newly built type of home, clocking in at 43 percent of all new house construction (houses with three bedrooms are next at 41 percent, and the remaining 16 percent have two bedrooms or fewer).

The 2017 data also states that the average newly built American home has 2.5 bathrooms — which we will round down to two for convenience.

For the purposes of this article, this hypothetical smart home also features a living room, kitchen and dining room, plus a modest garden and driveway. There is no dedicated home theater or gymnasium to rack up additional costs.

If something in this home can be made smart, it will be. Let’s get started.

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Smart home hub or smart speaker

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

Getting started on your smart home is surprisingly cheap. All you need to begin is a hub like the $99 Wink 2 or the $80 Samsung SmartThings Hub. This device can be used as a central controller for all of your smart home devices.

Alternatively, you can opt for a similarly priced smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Because these also include a smart assistant (like Alexa), you will want to install several across the home so that they can hear you no matter where you are.

We will budget for one smart assistant in each bedroom, plus one each in the living room, kitchen and dining room. These can be the $50 Echo Dot or Google Home Mini, the $100 Echo, or something more high-end like the $350 Apple HomePod or $400 Google Home Max.

Assuming that there’s a mid-range Echo or Google Home in each room, this setup works out at $700 — or $350 if you opt for cheaper options and hook those up to existing speakers.

How to pick the right smart home hub for you

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How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

Smart lighting starts at just $25 for a single white bulb from LIFX, which connects to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled with your smartphone or a virtual assistant.

Colored bulbs, though, cost anywhere from $40 to $60 depending on whether you go for a system by LIFX or Philips Hue.

According to this article by CBS, the average U.S. household has 45 light bulbs, or around five per room based on the nine-room property that we’re using as a template. Multiplying this sum by an average cost of approximately $50 per bulb makes your total cost about $2,250.

Throw in some dimmer switches, motion sensors and $90 LED light strips — which look great under kitchen counters or behind the television — and an extra $500 on mood lighting and accessories doesn’t seem too unreasonable. Add in some smart lighting for the garden and driveway, though, and $3,000 comes into view alarmingly quickly.

All of that said, smart bulbs are all LED and will use far less electricity than the incandescent bulbs you might still be using. Your energy bills are thus likely to fall. LED bulbs also last far longer, so their high initial cost should spread itself out over the coming years.

Six of the best smart light systems to transform your home

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Door locks

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

Realistically, you only need to purchase two smart door locks to complete your property — one for the front door and one for the back. Of course, your costs will increase if you want to add some smart locks to other doors.

One of our favorite smart locks is the August Smart Lock Pro, which costs $279 and comes with a sensor for letting you know when the door is ajar, not just unlocked. Once installed, a smart lock can be programmed to unlock automatically when you approach it (by recognizing your smartphone), and it can be controlled remotely for letting guests in.

Purchasing two of these costs $558 and brings our total to approximately $4,200.

Best smart door locks for your home

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Video doorbell

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

A video doorbell is a great companion for your smart lock. These devices look like regular buzzers but include a camera, speaker and microphone so you can see and talk to whoever is at the door. Because they connect to your Wi-Fi and ping your smartphone, you can chat with the visitor whether you are at home or in another country.

August’s Doorbell Cam Pro costs $199, while the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is $249 and the Skyball HD is $199. Obviously, you only need to buy one.

6 smart video doorbells to see who is there

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Smart plugs

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

Smart plugs are a simple and affordable way to make dumb devices smart. Plug a regular heater into a smart plug, set up an applet through IFTTT (If This, Then That), and the heater will automatically switch on when the temperature falls too low. The same setup works for fans, air conditioning units, dehumidifiers and anything else designed to start working once it is plugged into an outlet.

Smart plugs start at around $20 each. You can also buy smart plug multi-packs that cost as little as $35 for four plugs. We’ll budget for two in each room, minus the bathrooms, totaling 14 plugs at a cost of approximately $200.

Smart home plugs and switches: What you need to know

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Motorized window blinds

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

Things are about to get expensive again. Along with smart lights, motorized blinds are among the most expensive connected devices to install in your home.

These blinds start at around $300 to $500 per window, but that cost can increase depending on the size of each window and the fabric you want to install. Smart blinds from the Lutron Serena collection are among the most connected, as they work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Nest, SmartThings, Wink and IFTTT, all via the $80 Caseta Smart Bridge.

These blinds can be programmed to lower and raise at certain times of day, or you can manipulate them at any time with voice commands. IFTTT applets can be configured to close the blinds at sunset (using data from Weather Underground), or to close when you leave your house.

According to Lutron, the average house contains 18 windows, so you are looking at $6,000 to $7,000 to cover them all with motorized blinds.

A cheaper option to consider is to retrofit your blinds with motors that pull their chains automatically. These motors cost around $150 each for devices like the Alexa- and HomeKit-compatible Soma.

Assuming a $6,500 Lutron installation, our costs have risen to about $11,000.

How to install motorized blinds: 5 options to consider

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How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

A smart thermostat like the Nest or Ecobee is designed to save you money by heating and cooling your home as efficiently as possible. It does this by learning your temperature habits and knowing which rooms are a priority to heat or cool.

Compared to lights and blinds, this is a more affordable device — and one that should save you money on energy bills. The Nest Learning Thermostat costs $250, while the simpler Next E costs $229. The Ecobee 4 is $249 and smart options from Honeywell cost around $170.

Larger properties with zoned heating and cooling systems require a smart thermostat for each zone. For this article and our fictitious four-bedroom home, we’ll install two — one upstairs and one downstairs — at a cost of $500, plus installation by a professional.

Automate the heating and lower your energy bills with these 6 smart thermostats

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Robot vacuums

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

Is your home even that smart if it doesn’t have its own army of cleaning robots? Since the answer is obviously no, you’ll want to invest in a robotic vacuum cleaner or two.

iRobot, manufacturer of the Roomba, is the current market leader, with prices ranging from $250 to $900. Other brands’ cleaners can range anywhere from $100 to $950.

For our imaginary home, we’ll buy two (because, like Daleks, they can’t manage the stairs), and set aside $1,000 for the pair.

The best robotic vacuum cleaners at any budget

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Security cameras

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

This is an area of smart home management where prices can vary significantly. Do you just want a single indoor camera pointed at the front door? Or, do you want a house-wide surveillance system with night vision, infrared lighting, flood lighting and facial recognition?

The former starts at just $20 for the Alexa-controlled Wyze Cam, while pricier options include the $120 Amazon Cloud Cam. Nest cameras and Netgear’s Arlo system start at $200.

Many security cameras require a subscription service to view footage any older than 24 hours. Nest, for example, charges between $6.99 and $19.99 a month, depending on how long you want to have access to your camera’s recordings.

Realistically, we can see a four-bedroom home having two cameras outside and one inside. You’ll want to budget around $300-$600 for this setup depending on which camera you opt for. We’re now at approximately $13,000 for our smart home build.

The best smart home security cameras for renters

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Alarm systems

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

Beyond cameras, a smart home security system should also include door sensors, motion sensors and smoke detectors that buzz your smartphone.

This is where you need to decide if you want to install a DIY system of off-the-shelf cameras and sensors, or hire a professional to install an alarm system with 24/7 monitoring.

Alarm specialists ADT offer the latter and so too does Vivint. Their monitored systems are professionally installed and the costs vary depending on both the size of your property and the kind of system you want.

For a solution that falls between DIY and professional, Abode offers a starter kit for $299 that includes door and window sensors, an indoor motion sensor with a camera, a remote key fob and a smartphone app for iOS and Android. Extra sensors start at $29 and 24/7 monitoring costs $15 a week or $8 for a three-day weekend, making it perfect for occasional use.

Meanwhile, a Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm will set you back $119.

Protect your home with these 8 smart security systems

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Garden tech

How much does it cost to turn the average house into a smart home?

If your garden is large enough to justify it, a smart irrigation system can help save you time and money.

Options for this setup include the $230 Rachio 3, $200 Spruce and the Orbit B-hyve, which starts from $79.

Most smart irrigation systems share the same key features. They connect to your existing watering system and track hyper-local weather forecasts to deliver the right amount of water each day. The system even skips watering on rainy days.

You will have to input what types of plants you have, as well as the soil, shade and gradient of the garden, which all make the system adjust how much water is used and when. Like LED lighting, an irrigation system like this can save you money in the long term by only using water when necessary.

The best smart garden devices and outdoor gadgets

This brings our grand total to approximately $13,600. We have kitted out a four-bedroom home with smart lights, several smart speakers and plugs, an intelligent thermostat, motorized blinds, an alarm system with security cameras, a smart doorbell, smart door locks, a pair of robotic vacuum cleaners and a smart irrigation system.

Of course, we could throw in a $6,000 smart fridge and a $3,000 robotic lawn mower, plus other devices like a smart bathroom scale, media streaming sticks and even more impressive lighting systems, but that’s all contingent on having a larger budget. We hope that this experiment has given you a flavor for what costs are involved in making an entire house smarter.

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This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by

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