How to set up an affordable smart home

June 24, 2021
4 mins read

Everyone wants a smarter home, but smart equals expensive. PAT PILCHER looks at some great smart gadgets that won’t break the bank.


Setting up a smart home is a lot of fun, but you can also pay a tonne of money for not very good smart home widgets that’ll create more problems than they solve.


Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.


In the interests of finding the best gear (and where possible saving you some hard-earned cash), we at Witchdoctor made it our mission to seek out decent and where possible, affordable smart home gear. As a result, we’ve found a bunch of nifty widgets that’ll not only increase the IQ of your home but will save you some money too. Here’s what we’ve uncovered.



The super smart Google assistant – The Google Nest Mini

Google Nest Mini



Use your voice – Amazon’s Echo Dot

Echo Dot (4th Generation)


The beating heart of any smart home is a smart assistant/smart speaker. Voice-controlled smart speakers from Amazon and Google can answer questions, set alarms, give you weather forecasts, play music, and so much more. But, most important of all, they can drive all the smart home widgets reviewed here. You can buy smart screen versions for both Amazon and Google. Still, if keeping costs down is your priority, we suggest you aim for the more compact and more affordable Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini.



See who’s there, The Ring Video Doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell Pro


If I were only allowed one smart home gadget, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro would be it. Not only is it more affordable than the Ring Video Doorbell 4, but it’ll also allow you to answer your door from anywhere. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro can send alerts to both Google and Echo smart speakers as well as your smartphone. This handily means you can both hear and speak to visitors, even if you’re away from home. If the Ring Video Doorbell Pro detects motion, it’ll also alert you. Advanced motion detection means you get motion alerts from within pre-set motion zones, so the number of false positives is close to zero. Another nice feature is that the Ring Doorbell will connect to existing doorbell wiring, so you don’t have to fart about with recharging batteries.



Any colour, any brightness – The GLEDopto Smart Lights

GLEDopto Smart lights

$45.74 (per bulb)

Having smart lights almost feels like magic. Not only can you turn lights on or off using nothing but your voice, but brightness and colours can be tweaked too, allowing you to completely change up the atmosphere of your home with a simple voice command. Because the bulbs use LEDs, they’ll last 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb and use a fraction of the electricity. Philips HUE bulbs might be the smart lights of choice, but they command a steep price premium. A more affordable option is the GLEDopto smart lightbulb from They are fully Hue compatible yet can be purchased for around half the cost of an equivalent Hue bulb. That said, you’ll still need to factor in the price of a Zigbee wireless Hue Hub. This is so the bulbs can connect to your network and be controlled with Alexa or Google Assistant devices or the Hue app on your smartphone.



Add smarts to dumb appliances! D-Link Smart Plug

D-Link Smart Plug


Fancy gizmos that are Google or Alexa compatible are nice, but what about older not-so-smart gear? No problem! With a D-Link smart plug, you can turn appliances on and off with voice commands or with a smartphone app. The D-Link smartphone app can also tell you how much electricity the plugged-in device is drawing, allowing you to work out how much it costs to use.



Ditch the keys! Yale Smart Door Lock

Yale Assure Smart Door Lock


Fitting Yale’s Assure smart lock to your front door is a lot like using a rear-vision mirror, in that you’ll never look back. It features a touch screen keypad, so there’s no need for keys. This handily means that you can’t lock your keys inside the house. Being a smart device, it also offers a bunch of nifty features. Each member of your household can have their own 4-digit entry pin, so you can track what time they’ve entered or exited. You can also create temporary access pins for visitors. Adding an additional wireless module can connect the Assure to your smart speaker so it can be locked/unlocked with just a voice command.



Logitech Harmony Elite Remote

Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control


If the price seems a tad steep for a TV clicker, consider this. The Harmony can banish that teetering pile of remotes in your lounge, replacing them with a single rechargeable remote. Because it is a universal remote, the Harmony not only controls your TV but can control a tonne of other gear around your home. The Harmony is both Alexa and Google compatible. This means if I say “Alexa, turn on the TV”, this sees the Skybox powering up, the TV switching on and changing to the right HDMI input, and the sound mode of my speakers switched to whatever setting I’ve chosen. It is also highly customisable, and a Windows/Mac app allows you to use channel logos as channel buttons on its colour touch screen.



Swann Enforcer Video Surveillance

Swann Enforcer Outdoor Video Surveillance System


The Swann Enforcer system’s sticker price might seem steep at first glance, but it is actually amazing value for money. This is because it not only consists of 6 HD cameras, but you also get a whopping 2TB recorder which keeps a local copy of all captured video (which can also be uploaded to online storage). The setup can also connect to a mobile app for remote viewing. As you’d expect with smart home gear, Google Assistant and Alexa are also supported, allowing footage to be viewed on a TV with a connected Chromecast.


Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Give a little to support Witchdoctor's quest to save high quality independent journalism. It's easy and painless! Just donate $5 or $10 to our PressPatron account by clicking on the button below.

Witchdoctor straight to your inbox every 2nd week


Advance Paris - Designed with French flair. Amplifiers, Streamers, CD players and more
Previous Story

The man who fired the Sex Pistols

Next Story

New world in the morning

Latest from Buyer's Guides

Go toTop