How to DIY Your Own Smart House (That Won't Cost You a Fortune)

Everything controlled by apps (even your morning coffee)? It exists!

Turning your home into a smart house doesn’t mean you need to get it all rewired or spend thousands of bucks. These days, there are some really easy, DIY options for upgrading your home to ensure it works more efficiently. And most of the time, all you need is a smartphone to get started.

We've rounded up some of our favorite plug-and-play smart home devices that can quickly help you get up and running, whether you live in a house or a tiny apartment. Plus, many of our picks even work together once you set them up. Almost all of these items will help you run your home in a smarter and more efficient way, so fire up your phone, download some apps and buckle up — it's time to get "smart" at home.

Philips Hue

Photo by: ©Philips Lighting

©Philips Lighting

Philips Hue LED light bulbs are a great way to connect and manage all of the lighting both inside and outside your home. Hue light bulbs can be controlled with an app on your phone and managed wherever you are in the world. You can also set timers for your Hue light system so, for example, exterior lights can go on every evening at 6 pm and off every morning at 6 am. They come in a variety of colors and styles and are also dimmable.

Amazon Echo

Photo by:

It's difficult to explain everything that the Amazon Echo home assistant does, but it does a lot. It's an immersive speaker that can play Spotify, Pandora or even the music on your phone. You can set timers and reminders by simply asking "Alexa," the voice that controls your Echo. You can sync it to control your lights, fans, thermostat, garage door and more. It can also read you the news, fill you in on sports scores or even play your Audible books. More features are added each week, so it's fun to keep up with its expanding capabilities.


Photo by: Sonos


Sonos allows you to create a wireless sound system in every room in your home. You can play music, TV, movies and video games through your Sonos system, and it doesn’t require any pre-wiring. There are a variety of different types of speakers depending on the size of your home and each can easily be connected to one another. So, for example, you could play one Pandora station in one room of your home where a Sonos speaker is set up or in every room in your home where Sonos speakers are set up. Plus, everything is easily controlled with an app on your phone.


Photo by: Arlo


Arlo is a simple Wi-Fi security system. It's weatherproof, 100-perfect wire free and allows for 24/7 cloud video recording. The system is completely flexible, so you can set it up in as many spots as you need, then access live views from a simple app on your phone, tablet or computer. There is even two-way audio, so you can hear what's going on at all times.


Photo by: Ring


Ring combines the convenience of a security camera with the functionality of a doorbell system. You can mount it next to your front door and use it in place of a standard doorbell. A tiny camera and speaker allow you to get Ring alerts on your phone, so you can respond to anyone at your door no matter where you are. So, if you get a package delivery, you can respond directly through your phone and tell the delivery person to leave the package by your front door. Genius, right?

Nest Protect

Photo by: Nest Labs

Nest Labs

Nest's smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is a breath of fresh air if you’re used to those old-school, chirping smoke alarms. The alarm is able to test its batteries and sensors (over 400 times a day) to ensure that it's working properly. Plus, it can be controlled from an app on your phone and will last up to 10 years. The alarm also has a friendly human voice that warns you at the slightest sign of smoke or carbon monoxide.


Photo by: Sensibo


Much like Nest products, Sensibo allows you to control your heating and AC unit from an app. But Sensibo works with any remote-controlled AC or heating unit (not just central air like Nest). The system learns your habits and defaults to operating in the most energy-efficient way possible for your home. You can control one unit or multiple units at once and also set timers.


Photo by: Belkin


This smart plug can help you make any item in your home "smart" by allowing you to control it with your WeMo plug. Through an app on your phone, you can turn items on or off and carefully manage your energy usage.

August Smart Lock

Photo by: August Smart Lock

August Smart Lock

Designed to be installed over your existing deadbolt lock, the August Smart Lock basically allows you to turn your phone into a virtual key. You can lock and unlock your door, create "keys" for guests and carefully track who's coming and going into your home. The lock syncs up with Siri, Alexa and Google Home.


Photo by: Awair


This unit actually monitors the quality of the air in your home. If you or anyone in your family suffers from allergies, asthma or other issues, Awair can actually track the levels of toxins and chemicals in your home and give you personal recommendations on how to fix it. Based on the readings, you can make any needed changes you need to your space and take control of your family’s health.


Photo by: Petcube


If you're dog or cat crazy, you're going to love the Petcube. This is an easy, at-home camera that allows you to monitor your pet through an app. You can even talk to your pet through the cube, soothing them with the sound of your own voice. The folks at Petcube even have a new offering that will allow you to give your dog a treat remotely.

Surely you know about our very own HGTV Smart Home, right?

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