21 Essential Smart Home Projects for Beginners

Looking to make your home a little smarter?

Smart home projects range from basic to extremely advanced. If you’re just looking to get started with some home automation technology, these 20 smart home project ideas will keep you busy if you’re a beginner.

Smart Home Projects Around the House

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smart home projects


Set your coffeemaker (or grill, or lap or…) on an automatic schedule. Use Belkin’s WeMo Insight Switch to automate anything that plugs into an outlet. Set it on a schedule to turn on at a certain time each day, or connect it with Amazon Echo for voice controls. You can also see how much energy certain products use to figure out where your energy bill is going each month.

belkin wemo insight

Smarten up your sprinkler system. Meet Rachio. It’s the highly rated smart sprinkler system that works with Echo, Nest, Wink, IFTTT, and others. If you’re asking why you would need a sprinkler system, then think of it this way: if it’s forecasted to rain, Rachio won’t water the lawn to conserve water. In other words, Rachio is one of those smart home device that eventually pays for itself while making your life easier.

rachio smart sprinklers

Invent something smart! Whip out the littleBits Smart Home Kit to build your own garage door monitor, bark tracker, laundry alert, or literally anything else you can imagine. Yes, this might be marketed towards kids, but we are all kids at heart, especially when it comes to smart home projects this cool.

Little Bits Smart Home Kit

Monitor and secure your Internet. While Dojo is still only available for pre-order, we love the idea of a device completely dedicated to cybersecurity in the home. Dojo monitors your Internet so it can tell when something is different, such as a hacker trying to get into the system. It alerts you with in-app chat messages to help you squash any threats before they get into your network. How is this not already in every home?

Dojo Smart Security

 

Track Your Weight, BMI, Bone Mass, and other data with a smart scale. Fitness lovers and those looking to lose a little extra pounds should get the Easy@Home Bluetooth Smart Scale. Track your progress via the HealthKit app in the iPhone, which can automatically import the data into MyFitnessPal, a popular app for fitness that will motivate you towards health by working with friends and family.

Easy at Home Smart Scale

 

WiFi Light Smart Home Projects


Automate your lights. Using in-app scheduling or IFTTT (If-This-Then-That), it’s super simple to have your smart lights turn on everyday at 8 p.m., or when you walk in the door. If you feel like getting creative, have them flash your favorite team’s colors after a touchdown. LIFX and GE Link are great, inexpensive bulbs to get you started with scheduling.

lifx smart light bulb


Illuminate walls with colorful, smart lighting. 
Lighting determines the entire ambience of your home. Philips Hue Bloom is designed to illuminate walls to make your home’s vibe whatever you want it to be: exciting, relaxing, or anything in between.Philips Hue Bloom behind TV


Set up voice-controlled light bulbs.
“Alexa, turn the lights down to 10%.” “Alexa, turn off the kitchen lights.” Using Amazon Echo and smart light bulbs that are compatible with Amazon Echo like LIFX, you don’t have to fumble through a million apps on your phone or walk across the room to turn off the lights like the olden days. Voice commands are easier than ever.

Echo Dot worth it white backgroundlifx_a19_e267_etch
Get inexpensive motion-detection lights.
You may be shocked to know that you can get motion detection lights for under $20. XYMO’s battery-operated, LED motion-detection lights are perfect for stairs, restrooms, or other areas that need illumination at night. These aren’t technically “smart” since they aren’t connected to the Internet. For those, go with SmartThings sensors and compatible bulbs like LIFX or WeMo.

Zubu Motion Light

 

Use light strips to illuminate furniture and different areas of your home. This is one of my favorite smart home projects. Light strips add an entirely different dynamic to your home. With colorful, smart light strips like what is offered by Philips Hue, you can accent the unique features around your home with colors to match the mood–yellow in the morning to energize you, and cool blue in the evenings to calm you for some shut-eye.

Hue Smart Lightstrip in Kitchen

 

Smart Home Projects: Thermostats


Regulate your home’s temperature. With a smart thermostat like Ecobee3, you can install sensors in each room of your home to monitor the temperature and automatically adjust the energy usage for each room. This is a great smart home project solution to that annoying cold room in your house that usually requires several blankets.

ecobee3-smart-thermostat-sensor

Have your thermostat turn itself down when you leave. This feature will save you energy and money. You can also set up notifications if your home gets above a certain temperature and adjust the thermostat remotely with your smart phone.

Smart Thermostat Nest

Connect your thermostat to your lights. Once you teach your Nest Learning Thermostat your schedule, it can control more than just your home’s temperature. Connect Nest with Philips Hue lights so that when your thermostat is set to away, it tells the lights to turn off via IFTTT.

IFTTT Recipe: When your Nest is set to away, your lights will turn off connects nest-thermostat to philips-hue

 

Smart Cameras & Security


Download a free home monitoring app. How does a completely free smart home project sound? Manything (Monitor Anything) and Perch are two free apps that can turn a tablet or old phone into a security camera. You can even set up motion alerts and detection zones to get notified when movement happens in a certain area. They are both completely free, with optional upgrade plans for cloud storage and phone stands to hold the device in place.

manything-app-home-monitoring

Image courtesy: Manything

 

Monitor air quality and security in your home with one device. All-in-one home monitoring devices like Canary do much more than just monitor movement. Canary uses HomeHealth to check for gasses in the air. Piper monitors humidity and temperature. Both have 90+ decibel sirens to scare off any intruders.

canary all in one home security

Image courtesy: Canary

 

Automate your alarm so it arms when you walk out the door. Scout home security system, which monitors doors and windows and you can easily self-install, works with IFTTT can automatically arm when you leave for work. Canary also automatically arms when you leave and disarms when you arrive home.

scout smart security sysetm door panel

Image Courtesy: Scout

 

Receive motion alerts. You can’t stare at your security camera all day. That’s why setting up motion alerts is critical. Whether you’re making sure your teenager isn’t ditching class, or keeping an eye out for intruders, you can receive a variety of alerts including email, phone calls, notifications, and anything else you can think of. Even some of the cheapest security cameras have motion alerts, but you can compare all your camera options here to find the best one for your budget.

DropCam Security Camera Screenshot

Image courtesy: DropCam

 

Ditch your keys for keyless door entry. With August smart locks, you don’t need to fumble through your bag to find keys to unlock your front door. The smart lock replaces your current deadbolt and gives you complete control over who has access and for how long. It also can unlock when you walk up to the door for super easy, yet secure entry.

August Smart Door Lock

Smart Home Projects for Pets


Set up a camera that has a built-in laser to play with your pets while away at work. Yep, this actually exists. If you’re wanting to entertain your pets while you’re at work, IndieGoGo product iFamCare camera’s built-in laser pen is the smart home project for you. It can get your cat or dog running laps around the house for hours.

pet security camera with laser

 

Get a super cheap pet cam. When you’re just watching your dog during the day to make sure they don’t destroy your home, a simple, inexpensive camera will do the trick. The D-Link DCS 932-L is a great example of a cheap camera—it’s usually just $40.

dlink cheap security camera

 

Feed your pet with a smart feeder. I still haven’t decided if this is the greatest invention of all time or completely unnecessary, but either way it’s pretty awesome. Smart pet feeders take the guesswork out of feeding your pet by tracking the calorie intake. The Feed and Go feeder has individual feeding compartments to provide a little bit of food at a time for your pet. It even has a built-in camera to watch your pet munch away, if your day job really is that boring.Smart Pet Feeder

What’s your favorite simple smart home project? Comment below and maybe we’ll feature it in our next blog!

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