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Got $100? Get some great smart home gear

Image of inexpensive smart home gear. L-R a smart color changing light bulb, an Amazon Fire TV Stick, an Amazon Echo Dot and a Google Crhomecast

The smart money’s on the smart home idea sticking around.

There are a lot of options for smart home assistants, smart cameras, smart lights, smart switches and so on. It can all feel a bit overwhelming. Instead of looking at smart home as a whole, let’s set a budget to narrow our focus. Say $100. Here’s a look at smart home stuff that will give you the most bang for each of those 100 bucks.

First off, fast, reliable internet access is the backbone of the smart home. Fiber to the home is the fastest, most reliable internet access. It just so happens, that’s exactly what Ting Internet offers.

A smart home assistant

If you’ve already got a smart home speaker and aren’t looking to upgrade, jump down to the section on other useful gear.

While Apple’s full-sized HomePod or anything with a big screen is out of range, $100 can buy you the newest Amazon Echo ($99.99), the spherical fourth-generation of Alexa-sporting assistants. It’ll also afford you a Google Nest Audio ($99). Both are capable of filling the room with sound when playing music from Spotify or whatever your go-to music streaming service may be.

In this range, you can also find previous generation or smaller screened assistants like the 7-inch Nest Hub ($89.99), the second-generation Nest Hub with more powerful speakers ($99.99) or the 5-inch Amazon Echo Show ($89.99)

Whichever one you choose, you’re getting a hub to take control of any smart home devices you may already have or just have your eye on.

Mini smart home assistants

The major players in smart home assistants—Amazon with Echo, Google with Nest and Apple with its HomePod line—each offer a mini version of their flagship smart home assistants.

If you’re just getting started, a couple of mini assistants may be a better investment than a single smart home speaker.  

The 4th generation Amazon Echo Dot in white. A spherical device with a speaker grille covering the top and a blue light ring on the bottom.

For $100, you can snag a single Apple HomePod mini ($99.99). You could have two or, if they’re on sale, perhaps even three Amazon Echo Dots ($49.99). Or opt for two Nest Minis with Google’s smart assistant ($49, also often on sale).

You’ll sacrifice on streaming audio quality but you’ll gain on convenience.

A smart home bundle

If you want a little more to get started, a bundle may be the way to go. Prices and promotions change but Amazon’s Echo bundles are a great place to start. Get a smart light bulb and/or smart plug bundled with an Echo Dot for usually only about $10 more than the price of the Dot on its own.

You can also check electronics stores like Best Buy to see what bundles are on offer. 

Streaming TV

Turn any old TV into a smart version of itself. Streaming TV sticks and set top boxes don’t just unlock a whole world of entertainment options, they also integrate nicely into a smart home. 

Apple’s newest Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV Cube are out of reach with our $100 budget but the Chromecast with Google TV ($49.99), simple Chromecast ($29.99) or Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa voice remote, ($49.99) are well within reach.

Chromecast with Google TV - A white HDMI dongle and small white remote with buttons for YouTube, Netflix and voice assistant

If your TV offers HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) you’ll also be able to turn the TV on or off with voice commands or as part of a routine. For example, “Alexa, movie night.” Most TVs made in the last five years offer CEC, though different manufacturers may call it by another name.

Light bulbs

Controlling the lights with your voice is a handy (not to mention cool) feature of a smart home.

Smart light bulbs come in a few different varieties from least to most expensive: simple on/off, dimmable and color/temperature control. 

For example, this 6-pack of Sengled dimmable bulbs is just $35. Or this 4-pack of dimmable, color change bulbs for $39.

Image of four LED smart bulbs with a rainbow color indicating the color can be changed if desired

With your $100, you could replace just about every simple bulb in the house with a smart version thereof.

With your smart home assistant’s app, you can create routines and group smart light bulbs by location. You can also create schedules so the lights turn on when you come home.

Smart plugs

Turn just about any appliance into one you can control with your voice or in an app. Turn your old school crockpot into one you can turn on or off from anywhere. Turn on the oscillating fan with a voice command. With some smart plugs, you can create schedules so appliances turn on automatically. Think a basic coffee maker in the morning or a lamp when you’re on vacation.

Image of the Wemo Smart Plug

There are less expensive options but the Wemo Smart Plug V3 ($24.99, $49.99 for three) works with any smart home assistant and the Wemo app is well designed and offers a bunch of useful tools to put you in control. 

Cameras

A security camera near your front door is a game-changer and many cameras come in under the $100 mark.

With a smart security camera, you can ask your smart home assistant to show you the view from the front door and see it, via your streaming TV solution, on the big screen. You can call up a camera feed anytime and from anywhere. You can set a field of view where if motion is detected, recording will start and/or you’ll receive a notification.

Image of the Wyze Cam Pan

For example, the Wyze Cam Pan ($29.99) features all the above-mentioned features as well as two-way communication so you can speak to a caller before opening the door. You can pan and tilt the view from a phone or tablet to watch as the porch pirate that just made off with your package of new smart home gear runs down the street. 

Smart homes need great internet

To truly get the most out of your smart home, you need the best internet connection. 

With a Ting Internet fiber connection, you have the speed and reliability you need to keep your smart home running smoothly.