Connected homes are fast becoming more and more popular and chances are if you are reading this feature, you're either interested in making your home smarter, or you want to know what is available to help you do it.
There are hundreds of products out there that will smarten up your house in some way or another and they vary significantly when it comes to cost. Just because they are expensive doesn't mean they are the best though, and while the pricier options might offer more features than a cheaper alternative, creating a smarthome doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg.
Lots of devices can contribute to a connected home from heating and lighting, to music, appliances and security. If you're joining the smarthome game from scratch and you don't have a spare couple of thousand sitting in the bank then it's worth starting in a few key areas and expanding as and when your budget allows you to.
We have rounded up a few products to get you started that will tick off a couple of these areas including lighting, heating and home monitoring. It might be that you would rather have a connected speaker over a smart camera, or more connected light bulbs instead of an app-controlled plug, but we have put together five starter products that combined will make your home smarter for just under £500.
Honeywell Single Zone Thermostat
Honeywell has a couple of connected heating options including its EvoHome system that allows you to control individual rooms from an app on your smartphone. There is also a connected thermostat that is essentially a single zoned version of the EvoHome and it will let you control and schedule wireless heating from an app or the thermostat itself. It is also compatible with IFTTT so you can create recipes to control it too.
The Honeywell Single Zone Thermostat is a fully programmable seven-day thermostat that will work with the company's Total Connect Comfort app, available for Android and iOS devices. It doesn't have an intelligent sensor to monitor where you are or how you are using it like Google's Nest does, but it will allow you to control the temperature in your house whenever and wherever you are.
Belkin WeMo LED Lighting
Belkin's WeMo LED Lighting is a little cheaper than some of its connected lighting alternatives and while they don't give you the colour spectrum that Philips Hue does, you can create schedules, as well as dim and control them from wherever you are using the smartphone app.
The bulbs are said to last 23 years and you can link up to 50 of them on the same WeMo Link, which is the device that connects the bulbs to your home Wi-Fi network. The starter pack includes two bulbs and the WeMo Link and you can then purchase individual Smart LED bulbs depending on how many rooms you want to equip with smart lighting.
PRICE: Starter kit £79.99, individual bulbs £24.99
Belkin WeMo Switch
The Belkin WeMo Switch is a modular system like the WeMo LED Lighting so you can control as much or as little of your home as you want to. The idea of the switch is to give you wireless control over home appliances and electronics, for example a lamp, fan, TV or coffee machine.
You plug the WeMo Switch into an outlet in your home and plug any device or appliance into it. The Switch then needs to be connected to your home Wi-Fi network, which you do through the Android or iOS app, and after you complete the installation instructions, you'll be able to turn whatever you have plugged in on or off from anywhere using your smartphone.
PRICE: £39.99 per switch
Withings is a company perhaps better know for its health and fitness devices but it also offers a smarthome camera that will not only enable you to see what is happening in your home while you aren't there live through the app, but it also monitors the air quality and allows you to interact through it.
A 5-megapixel CMOS sensor capable of streaming 1080p video at 30fps is on board, along with a 135-degree wide angle lens, 12x zoom with auto enhancement and night vision. The Withings Home also has a speaker that you can play a lullaby through, a night light with a huge colour spectrum, and two microphones so you can communicate to those in your home from the app.
Belkin WeMo Maker
The Belkin WeMo Maker is a device that makes it possible to control low-voltage electronic devices using your smartphone or tablet. It can connect to nearly any device controlled with a DC switch and once connected, you'll be able to turn them on or off, put them on schedules or connect them to different sensors.
The customisation possibilities are endless with the WeMo Maker as it works with IFTTT, which is a service that enables you to create connections based on the statement: If This Then That. This means you could connect a WeMo Maker to a pet door and create a trigger to open the pet door at sunrise for example. You can find out more about recipes and triggers in our IFTTT explained feature.