Spending thousands of dollars on a pre-built automated home system and paying for installation (and possibly subscription) only to learn that the setup doesn’t make quite the fit you’re hoping for is a financial and logistics mess that is difficult to recover from. While home automation systems are trending for good reason, we’re still worlds away far from having a one-type-fits-all solution for all households. In fact, we shouldn’t expect one since each home is riddled with its own unique challenges and needs.

DIY home automation is often associated with practicality and alternative solutions, but there are some cases where it can rival or even outperform professionally installed smart homes. After all, DIY lets owners design a more elaborate and personal setup that directly feeds into their impulse and preferences, which are sometimes just too difficult to convey to third contractors.

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How Should I Get Started in DIY Home Automation?

If you’re looking to establish your own smart home automation system from scratch, then one of the first steps is determining what it is that you wish to automate. Is it just the lighting or entertainment system, or are you more interested in improving home safety by installing new security cameras or sensors to your garage door? Once you have your priorities in order, then purchasing and installing home automation devices can become an easier and more efficient endeavor.


Choose Your DIY Home Automation System

One factor that is often overlooked by homeowners when making their first purchase for their home automation system is their preferred ecosystem or platform. There are three main systems that you can use to control your smart devices: Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit.


There is also Samsung’s Smart Things and other open-source platforms that are worthy of consideration, but the big three tend to be more convenient and practical due to the sheer number of compatible devices that they support. Some of which might already exist in your household. Building on that, here’s what we think are the advantages of using one of the leading smart home platforms as of today:

Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa integrated device for home automationAmazon is a pioneer in home automation. As a result, they have the widest range of devices that are compatible with their system. They also haven’t rested on their laurels after establishing their place in the market. They continue to introduce upgrades in the form of new products or software updates for existing devices. Finding compatible products from third-party manufacturers is also rarely a challenge because the company literally has its own marketplace that hosts them.

Google Home

Google Home with compatible smart home devicesGoogle may not be able to match the influence that Amazon holds in the home automation systems market, but their Google Assistant does have an innate compatibility with Android devices, which just happens to be one of the most popular operating systems for handheld devices and entertainment systems. It’s a great choice if you already have existing Google-powered devices that need a control hub. Other than that, Google Assistant arguably has slightly better voice control and command processing, which is one of the coveted features in many smart home devices.

Apple HomeKit

Apple Homepod with integrated Apple HomeKitApple HomeKit is naturally the best option for users who are already accustomed to the manufacturer’s ecosystem. It’s also the top choice for anyone who’s concerned with data privacy since Apple seemingly collect and store significantly lesser user data than Google and Amazon. Apple also exercises tighter control over third-party certification which ensures smooth operation for supported devices. The trade-off is that the market of compatible devices for the platform isn’t as deep as that of its competitors.


Smart home devices for your kitchenWhile Z-Wave doesn’t have the market presence of the previous entries, it’s still no stranger nor a new player in the smart home market. Most notably though, it is a wireless communication protocol and not a control hub or ecosystem like the other entries on this list. What you can build instead is a network of Z-wave devices that uses a smart home central controller or an open-source cloud-free smart hub. The key advantage of Z-Wave devices is that they use low-energy radio waves to communicate with each other, allowing for greater power consumption efficiency and high level of compatibility.

Samsung SmartThings

Samsung Smart Things for your smart homeSamsung SmartThings had a rocky start to its campaign but has found its footing in recent years. SmartThings is perfect for anyone who is more comfortable in managing their smart home via app control instead of voice commands. It notably supports Z-Wave and Zigbee, improving its compatibility with a broad range of smart home devices from various manufacturers.



home automation ideas

Choose Your First Smart Device

There are tons of ways to automate your home which is normally a great thing since this means you can build a DIY smart home from many different ways. However, it can also be overwhelming since you can be lulled into making some unnecessary purchase. In general, we recommend starting with a couple of smart devices that are affordable, easy-to-use and truly address your immediate concern at home. You can also save money by building around your preferred smart home ecosystem early on. Some common smart home technology that can lead to interesting projects are:

Smart Lights

Smart lighting technology for home automationWe know a lot of people that began their own smart home journey with smart lighting as it is straightforward and inexpensive. You don’t even need to have an interconnected lighting setup across your home to see for yourself if it’s worth the full commitment. You can start with a lamp or an entire room and see how it goes. If you’re happy to take the next step, you can even add a smart light switch to your cart to make energy management more efficient and convenient.

Smart Outlets

Smart outlets for energy managementSmart devices are a little special since they can turn normal devices into smart ones. It essentially gives you the ability to set schedule and control the smart outlet or smart plug as you see fit, which is perfect if you are not yet prepared to upgrade some appliances or devices to their smart counterparts. You can also use it to feign occupancy when you’re away by using timers or schedules to activate lights and a few appliances.

Smart Door Lock

Smart doorbell and lock for your home security systemsSmart door locks uses technology (often sensors) to provide secure and convenient access to selected parts of your home. When connected to your Wi-Fi, you’ll also be notified if a door with smart lock on has been unlocked. If by any chance you left the door open, you can also remotely control the technology to lock the door via a mobile app from wherever you are as long as you’re connected to the internet.

Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistant enabled devicesVirtual assistant is the program that processes your voice commands in order to complete a task. You’ll likely recognize Alexa and Siri as two of the most well-known AI assistants, as well as Cortana (Microsoft) and Google Assistant. Voice assistants often take cue from voice command prompts but can also process and learn natural language through cloud processing technology. On top of its availability in most smartphones, tablets and computers, virtual assistants are available in standalone devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Security Camera

Smart security system for home automationHome security cameras are even better with a smart home setup for their ability to support remote operation. Wi-Fi connected security cameras are also coveted since you can view their input from your mobile or computer in a just a few clicks. Additionally, some cameras sport sensors that can detect moving objects from a fix distance, enhancing their ability to monitor your premise with little to no intervention.

Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostat to manage and monitor energy usageA smart thermostat is an advanced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) control device that uses technology and connectivity to can help you manage temperature and humidity levels in your home more efficiently. Even better, you can link them with your smart lighting system and smart security systems to create integrated automation scenarios.

Cost for Your DIY Home Automation System

Our own experience with DIY smart home technology is in line with Home Advisor’s estimate of about $100 – $3,000 one-time purchase depending on the level of security or functionality you’d like to enable for your home automation project. This is significantly more cost-efficient that subscription-based systems where you may be asked to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars just to keep the service running.


Connect More Smart Home Devices

The eventual goal of every smart home enthusiast is to have every enabled device connected in one central hub. For this to happen, it’s best if you can identify your preferred platform (e.g., Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa) early on before committing to a string of single smart device purchases. This makes every succeeding purchase of compatible devices innately valuable to your smart home setup.


Get Started with Your Simple DIY Home Automation System

DIY home automation is an exciting project since you’re not forced to make a heavy investment just to get started. As a matter of fact, it’ll always let you move at your own pace and make customization as you see fit.


With the right mindset, you should be able to easily veer away from wasting resources since you’re fully aware and in control of the parts of your home that will seemingly benefit most from automation. If you’d like to learn more about how this incredible technology can improve the overall quality of your everyday life, then check out our post featuring more home automation ideas and principles that you can integrate in your DIY project.


Click here to read up on the best robot and map vacuum to start you off with home automation.