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The 8 Best Smart Home Devices That Won't Break the Bank

These affordable gadgets can help you control everything from lights to mood music.

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Upgrading your home on a budget used to mean finding an affordable source for furniture and home decor. But thanks to new technology, your place isn't fully modernized unless it has some smart home capabilities. The latest gadgets simplify things around the house, controlling everything from lighting and temperature to multimedia and security. And if you're hoping to bring your home into the 21st century, you can fortunately still do so without spending too much. Read on for the best affordable smart home devices, according to retail and tech experts.

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TCL Smart TVs

A TCL large screen TV with a football player on the screen

Over the last decade, our home TV sets have transformed from screens that required scanning through channels to unparalleled entertainment devices. The most up-to-date units can stream your favorite shows and movies on demand in crystal clear definition—not to mention act as gaming hubs. And while it's becoming easier to find high-quality sets at much lower prices, one brand in particular stands out for its value.

"When it comes to televisions, if you're on a budget, you can't beat TCL brand TVs," says Jason Fischbeck, president and owner of Automated Environments in Mesa, Arizona. "These televisions come in various sizes and have two different user interfaces to choose from: Google TV and Roku TV. Both interfaces are easy to learn and use. It all depends on preference."

He says that part of the reason TCL is a rising star in the television world is high-quality screens such as QLED and mini QLED, which offer high-quality viewing for everything from sporting events to visually stunning movies—all at a lower price tag than traditional brands like Samsung or Sony.

"These televisions also offer gaming features for those who want to connect a gaming console and allow for downloading applications such as Netflix and Prime Video, plus many more all-in-one devices," he adds.

Yale Approach Smart Lock

A Yale Smart Lock set, including keypad

Traditional locks and keys have been in use for centuries, but that doesn't mean they've gotten all that much better over time. Homeowners are still forced to fiddle with them whenever they get home, and a missing set of keys can be a major headache. But one new smart home device can simplify your entryway.

"The new Yale Approach smart lock is an excellent and affordable way to get a smart lock that will work even for most renters," says Christian de Looper, consumer technology expert at HostingAdvice. "It's a retrofit lock, so it will only replace the interior portion of a lock—meaning that you and your landlord's key will continue working on the exterior side. This is hugely helpful for those who don't want a full lock replacement."

The current model also includes a keypad that can be used to open the door, making it easy to let in guests when you're not home—or for you to get inside if you've managed to lock yourself out.

Google Nest Mini

A sky blue Google Nest Mini

Anyone trying to make their home smarter will need a decent hub to help connect all their devices. But even if you haven't started decking out other appliances, one affordable gadget can be a helpful addition in and of itself.

"If you're comfortably ensconced in the Google ecosystem, this $49 speaker is an excellent addition for dipping your toe into the smart home waters," says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with "Even if you have no other smart home products, the Google Assistant and this little speaker can still do plenty: Use it to track timers, set alarms, play music and audiobooks, answer questions, and much more."

Philips Hue

A Philips Hue smart bulb set

Home lighting is no longer limited to just on, off, and dimmed. The Philips Hue lineup has everything from lightbulbs to LED strips that allow you to pick whatever color in the rainbow you'd like—all controlled from your smartphone or via voice command through your smart home hub. But there are other neat additions that can really set the vibe.

"To get the best cinematic experience from your television, consider using the Philips Hue Play Smart LED Bar Lights," suggests Fischbeck. "They come in two packs and you can connect them to your television. You only need to download the app to change the color of these lights when viewing your favorite shows or use them as ambiance when guests come over."

He also says that adding an additional connector box can allow them to sync with your television and really enhance the viewing experience.

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Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Plug

A Wemo smart plug

Upgrading to smart devices doesn't mean you have to replace all of your favorite fixtures and appliances. According to Ramhold, the WeMo Wi-Fi Smart Plug can work as the perfect gap technology.

"You can pick one up for just $49.99 and use it to make some items in your home work like smart products instead of having to buy smart iterations of those things," she says. "For instance, you can plug holiday lighting decorations in and control when they turn on and for how long, which can keep your electrical bills from climbing too high during the winter holiday season."

And since it supports all of the major smart home ecosystems, it's easy to integrate with the rest of your smart home. "There are tons of cool things you can do with it, especially once you get into automation," says de Looper. "Schedule a lamp to turn on when you enter the room, make it easy to turn on many devices at once using a power strip, and so on."

Amazon Echo

A close up of an Amazon Echo Pop smart home hub

Google's Nest isn't the only smart hub option available to homeowners. Amazon also offers a pared-down version of its own that is as capable as it is affordable.

"This sleek-looking Alexa speaker is normally $39.99, but it can often go on sale for as low as $19.99," Ramhold tells Best Life. "Even if you have to pay full price for it, though, it's a reasonably priced piece of smart home equipment and allows you to embrace the Amazon ecosystem. This one comes in a variety of colors, so you can pick whatever works with your decorating scheme. And it boasts great sound in a smaller package!"

Wyze Thermostat

A Wyze smart home thermostat

Being able to control your heat from wherever you are can come in handy, whether that means warming up the room without having to leave bed or turning things down after you've gone for the day. But while it might seem like an expensive addition, de Looper says one option does it all for less than $100.

"The Wyze Thermostat is stylish and easy to use, plus it works with both Google Assistant and Alexa for wider smart home integration," he says. "It could even help you save money with its usage reports and energy-saving tips!"

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Ring doorbells

ring doorbell mounted outside home

It's always good to keep an eye on your home when you're not around. Whether you're dealing with package and mail theft or just checking to see who's stopped by, Fischbeck says Ring cameras can be a surprisingly affordable choice for smart home security.

"They simply have high-quality products and customer service, and it's easy to install and set up," he says. "Ring doorbells have good-quality video even at night and clear audio." He also adds that recent upgrades now provide even better views in the dark.

And don't worry about it synching up with your other devices. "Many Ring doorbells also allow for Alexa integration, so if you are an Amazon household, you are already prepared," he says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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