How to Make a Smart Home on a Budget
A smart home is a term that we’re hearing a lot these days, and until a couple of years ago, it seemed almost fiction. Smart home on a budget isn’t a far fetched idea, however, it requires some research to make sure you’re buying the right hardware for your home.
Smart homes range from millions of rupees to mere thousands depending on the scale and quality of automation. However, you don’t have to shell out bags of cash to enjoy the convenience of turning off your lights from the bed using a simple voice command. Graana.com, Pakistan’s smartest property portal, is here to help you make the best purchase according to your needs and budget.
Understanding The Standards of Smart Home Automation
As with all other technologies, home automation also has a few ecosystems upon which the entire space is built. Its best example is like buying an apple watch if you own an iPhone and a galaxy watch if you own a Samsung device. Granted the two devices will work with each other but with limited functionality. Smart home devices work in a very similar way.
Listed below are some of the standards to keep in mind while constructing a smart home setup.
Wifi is the standard we all know and love. This means that the smart home devices will use your home’s wifi as a means of communication with each other and the command centre itself. When building a smart home on a budget wifi devices are usually very popular.
Discussed in the table below are metrics to quickly help you decide to consider this standard or not. To quickly summarise,t wifi is a good option if you do not intend to add a considerable amount of devices as it can throttle your internet connection sometimes.
It’s also not suitable for battery-powered devices as this protocol uses a lot of power, and unless you like replacing batteries every couple of months, this is not an ideal choice.
Zigbee is another popular protocol and is very similar to wifi as they both use the same 2.4ghz frequency. However, it does not require an internet connection to work.
Zigbee is a mesh style network which means that the devices can communicate with each other instead of relying on a router. This gives the Zigbee network a theoretically unlimited range.
This is another popular protocol which has its own unique selling points. The Z Wave operates on the 908.42 MHz frequency. It has lower bandwidth but a very high range which makes it ideal if you have a big house.
The Z-Wave has a strict standard that devices need to comply to, making Z-Wave compatible devices a little bit more expensive than their counterparts. However, this strict compliance also means that Z-Wave devices are much more likely to work with each other.
The most important part of any home is the lighting. Good lighting can make or break the entire decor of the house. Traditionally, you were limited to just warm or cool lights but with the advent of smart lighting, the power of 16 million colours is in the palm of your hand.
Smart lights come in all sorts of types according to the specific needs of the user. There are some known brands and some important stuff to look out for to make sure that you get the most value for your money.
Philips is a brand that is well known to most people in Pakistan as it has a reputation for making good quality lighting fixtures. Philips introduced its hue bulbs back in 2012 and they have been steadily dropping in price. The best quality demands a hefty price tag and that is why Philips is still very pricy in terms of its smart lighting.
The only downside to a Philips hue bulb is that it requires a HUB which can add to it’s cost overall.
|Vibrance of colours||Moderate|
|Requires a HUB||Yes|
|Mode Of Communication||Zigbee|
Xiaomi is a brand that is known for its extremely good value for money products in Pakistan. It stepped into the smart lighting game very recently and did not disappoint. It offers good value for money and does not require a hub.
|Vibrance of colours||Low|
|Requires a HUB||No|
|Mode Of Communication||Wifi plus Bluetooth|
Okasha Smart Lighting
Okasha is an off-brand Chinese smart lighting brand whose quality is surprisingly good for the money. The bulbs don’t have a name printed on them to identify the source but are listed as Okasha Smart bulbs on its website which goes by the same name. These offer cheap smart bulbs which offer great value in terms of money to transform a room on a budget.
They offer compatibility with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa which gives makes it a no brainer at this price point. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of home automation and don’t want to blow your budget these bulbs offer a lot in terms of convenience and experimentation.
|Vibrance of colours||Low|
|Requires a HUB||No|
|Mode Of Communication||Wifi|
Smart Home Automation Speaker
There are primarily two choices when it comes to smart home assistants, Amazon Alexa and Google Nest (Also formerly known as google home). A smart speaker is necessary as it makes it a whole lot easier to operate your lights and switches because you do not have your mobile device with you at all times. Moreover, if you do have your mobile handy on you, opening an app quickly becomes cumbersome. A budget smart speaker is an essential item when building a smart home on a budget.
There are many variations of Google Nest and Amazon Alexa ranging from Rs. 6500 to Rs. 95000. We will primarily focus on the budget options. The echo dot 3rd generation and the google nest mini 2 both of which retail in the sub Rs. 10000 category. A smart home speaker also doubles as a speaker to play music so that aspect should also be considered before purchasing either of these devices.
Google Nest Mini
The Google Nest mini is the cheaper of the two options, but not by a large margin. Depending on when you buy the prices might be closer to each other but still worth considering if you’re on an airtight budget.
The google nest mini has three microphones and a good sounding speaker that has a loud and crystal clear voice. The google assistant support means that the speaker will constantly receive updates and be better. The home mini has a fabric-covered exterior with inbuilt LEDs which offer a more minimal aesthetic.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
The echo dot is an amazing piece of technology and usually edges out google on some points but the tables are turned in Pakistan as the amazon shopping feature is not available in the country. This makes the cheaper google nest a compelling option, however, there are four microphones for better audio recognition.
The speakers on the echo dot are marginally better but it’s not that big a difference to notice without someone telling you about it. The amazon echo dot has a ring of light around the speaker which allows it to light up during voice commands for an aesthetically pleasing design.
Turning Non-Smart Appliances Smart
The best part about making a smart home on a budget is that there are very neat tricks and tips to turn old no-smart devices compatible with your current smart home setup. You do not need to have a smart TV or air conditioner to be able to turn it on with a voice command. You just need a switch that’s compatible with Google Nest or Amazon Alexa and then you can plug in your legacy device and turn it on or off with a voice command or timer.
There are various brands out there with various standards so it’s better to do your research to avoid problems. Importing from abroad is a problem as it’s never sure to know if your switches are compatible with Pakistani electric standards.
This is a known brand and offers smart switches in Pakistan that are reliable and work without problems even during power surges. TP-link offers budget offerings and is available in stores without much hassle and online and is compatible with both Wifi and Zigbee protocols.
Okasha Smart Sockets
These smart sockets are relatively cheap and reliable with a very modern and minimalist looking design that accentuates modern homes and adds character to all other living spaces. Okasha offers a lot of modern automation solutions which are compatible with each other and communicate with each other effectively.
They offer compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Google Nest and IFTT which allows for precise and particular automation where you can time your charger to turn on at a certain moment in the night and turn off after your device finishes charging.
Wyze sockets are robust and offer great quality for the price. They are a little higher priced compared to the above-mentioned offerings but offer lots of functionality and features that improve quality of life along with a very pleasing aesthetic in matt black and white colours.
Smart homes are a fascinating concept and building a smart home on a budget is not that difficult as there are guides that classify all the relevant information for you to skim through. This guide is just a dip in the world of home automation and the sky is the limit. Today, almost everything can be automated in clever ways.
The Reward of building a smart home on a budget is a very specific kind of joy that one experiences rarely. For further guides and more automation guides and information visit Graana.com – Pakistan’s first online real estate marketplace.
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