Getting started in DIY home automation is easier, and cheaper, than ever, especially if you’re looking for a DIY home automation system. Today, many smart home systems begin with a gateway or hub, which includes all the smart home technology such as Z-Wave, Zigbee and WiFi radios for communicating to the various devices around your house.
A good smart home system usually includes more than one kind of wireless protocol, though some, such as Insteon, rely only on a proprietary system (and there are pros and cons for that). Most of the home automation software for configuring your smart home system lives in the app downloaded to your mobile device (a smartphone or tablet), so the process of integrating devices and linking systems is easier than ever.
Check out these DIY home automation starter kits and smart home hubs designed to get you on your way to a more integrated home. Also, check out the links to some of our home automation reviews.
This Smarter Home Starter Kit from SmartThings includes one SmartThings hub, which communicates via Z-Wave, Zigbee and IP (for networked systems like Sonos). There are tons of devices you can add to the system, and lots of creative ways to integrate them. In addition to the hub, this kit includes 2 door/window sensors, one wall outlet adaptor, one motion sensor and one presence sensor. With those devices you can monitor doors or windows, be alerted if motion is detected, and turn on a lamp. $299. Read our SmartThings review here.
Wink is a new smart home system from the Internet of Things company Quirky. Wink is sold at Home Depot and other places, including online. This A19 GE Lighting Kit includes a wall or table mounted Wink Relay hub ($300 when purchased by itself) that includes a color touchscreen display. Also in the kit are four standard A19 style LED light bulbs (around $15 each when purchased individually) that communicate wirelessly to the Wink hub. The kit is $288, so it looks like a pretty decent deal. If this package is still too pricy, you can get the standard Wink Hub (about $50) and buy the GE Link bulbs on their own.
Lutron Smart Bridge
The new $150 Lutron Smart Bridge and companion smart phone app connects to a home’s existing WiFi router and sets up in less than 30 minutes. The mobile app turns your smartphone into a control device, from which you can operate a variety of Lutron products and systems, including Caseta Wireless dimmers, Pico remote controls, Serena motorized window shades, as well as other third-party products like some Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostats.
The Piper is a pretty cool device because on the surface it’s a very good DIY security camera, but built into the Piper is a Z-Wave radio, making it a Z-Wave controller for your smart home system. You can then add other Z-Wave devices, such as window and door sensors or light controllers to turn the security camera into the foundation for a whole DIY home automation system. The app is pretty easy to use too. See a review of the Piper here. The Piper+Z-Wave pack includes the camera plus your choice of three Z-Wave accessories for $339.
The Insteon smart home system has been around longer than any of the other companies here, but this Insteon Hub (and the Insteon iPhone app) is new. The system communicates via the Insteon protocol (which is both wireless and wired by powerline), so all your additional devices have to come from Insteon. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because Insteon offers a wide assortment of smart home gadgets, and it even claims some compatibility with 3rd party devices like the Nest thermostat. The Deluxe Insteon Home Automation Kit includes the Insteon controller hub, 2 wall dimmers, one motion sensor, one LED light bulb, one mini remote and some accessories. $199. We reviewed the Insteon system here.