Choosing a Smart Home Starter Kit – Best & cheapest way to get your home connected

Thinking of installing a smart home system? With so many good value packages around, each with different configurations and functions, it is worth shopping around.

Systems with functions that do not overlap such as controls and switching, security and lighting can complement each other. This meant that you are not restricted to a single manufacturer as often the different systems can in fact talk to each other. Even if they do not, all smart home systems come with its’ own companion app and therefore can be controlled from the same smartphone or tablet anyway.

The 5 Main Categories for Smart Home Products

With so many different smart home appliances and gadgets, it is worth finding out what they do before diving in. The following are main categories of smart technology for the home that lets you control the things that matter to you.

  1. Smart Temperature Control (Heating or Cooling) – smart thermostat for home that lets you control the central heating from your tablet or smartphone remotely. It also lets you create custom schedule to tie in with when there are people at home. Overall, it makes your energy usage more efficient and get warm up your house ready for when you or your family gets home.
  2. Smart Home Monitoring, Automation and Power– motion sensors, magnetic sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide detector, moisture sensor, temperature sensor, vibration sensor and smart power outlet or smart plugs are some of the modules in this category. Together with Smart Home Cameras and CCTVs, this offers a complete wireless home security and safety system without the monthly bills, complete rewiring or the home or ugly cabling.
  3. Smart Lighting – create ambiance to suit your moods, time your lighting in different rooms for when you are in our out and control the brightness, colour and lighting of each room with a range of smart connected bulbs and lamps.
  4. Smart Home Cameras and CCTV – this is probably the most popular category for smart homes. While there are security systems out there, smart home cameras and CCTV includes sound and motion detection as well as cloud reporting, so you get notification, video footage and audio or remote live access wherever your are on your smartphone. A monitor camera is sometimes included as a package with sensors, siren and smart plugs. This offers both home monitoring, automation and power controls as well as remote video monitoring (category 2 and 4) to form a new category or smart gears for home, the Smart Home Security and Safety. However, you can also find standalone security cameras and door bells cameras that are easy to install and setup.
  5. Smart Home Voice Control – Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Tap and Google Home falls under this category. These are essentially voice activated assistance that manages basic to complex tasks like setting alarms, timer, add reminders, create your shopping list, check your schedules, streaming music, play Internet radio, give you your custom news briefing for the day, traffic report, weather and answer questions. In the case of Amazon’s Echo, you can add third party ‘skills’ to do things like check your bills, order take out, book your ride, play audiobooks and eBooks and more. It also works with some of the smart home gadgets such as smart lighting, power automation, monitoring and switching above so if you need to switch the light on all you have to do is ask. It is likely that Google Home once released will have the same or similar functions.

We do not list Smart Home Security and Safety as a main category as this is essentially made up of Monitoring, Automation, Controls and Home Cameras and CCTV. There are starter kits out there that are sold as Security and Safety Kits that covers both functionalities.

5 Best Smart Home Starter Kits at Affordable Prices

Why starter kits, these are what manufacturers put together to entice you and to get your started on your journey to building and configuring your own smart home. You can decide on one with the right amount of kit to suit your needs.

For small homes, apartment and flats, the starter kit may just be what you need. These starter kits are also cheaper to own and more cost efficient than buying the individual items.

Working out the sums, those configuring a big setup may even be better off getting a couple of these and make them work together.

To make your selection easier, we have included the categories described above for each of the starter kit and list the components that make up each of these kits.

1. Samsung SmartThings Home Starter Kit

samsung-smartthings-starter-kit

Categories: Monitoring, Automation and Power

Monitor, control and secure your home from anywhere in the world. This Samsung SmartThings Home Starter Kit also includes a presence sensor, a key chain or key tag that you can use to track you or your family’s presence at home. Use it to know when people, pets or cars arrive or leave home and trigger connected lights or use it to track keys.

No of modules: 4

What’s included:

  • Hub
  • Motion Sensor
  • Multi Sensor – door or window, temperature and vibration sensor
  • Presence Sensor
  • Power Outlet

Works with Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Alexa


2. Panasonic Smart Home Starter Kit with HD Camera (Smart Home Monitoring & Control Kit)

panasonic-smart-home-monitoring-and-control

Categories: Monitoring, Automation and Power + Camera and CCTV

There are three different starter packs offered by Panasonic. The KX-HN6012EW is the only one that includes the indoor camera. To make this a complete security and monitoring system at least the siren and possibly some motion sensors. The siren and motion sensor is available individually as separate purchases or in Panasonic’s other packages (see below). As with almost all smart home systems, the Smart Hub is the center of the system by connecting to the modules wirelessly. It also records footage from the Smart Home Camera onto a microSD card. The kit uses standard DECT wireless as a safer alternative to WiFi. DECT is more stable and has interference free range that is invisible to regular consumer products with range of up to 300 metre (open space).

No of modules: 4 (not including hub)

What’s included:

  • Hub/Base
  • High quality indoor camera
  • Door Sensors x 2
  • Smart plug

Works with Android, iOS

Different package configurations are also available below:

Panasonic Home Safety Starter Kit Plus

panasonic-home-safety-starter-kit-plus

Categories: Monitoring, Automation and Power+ Security & Safety

No of modules: 3 (not including hub)

What’s included:

  • Hub/Base
  • Door Sensor x 1
  • Motion Sensor
  • Siren

Works with Android, iOS

Panasonic Home Safety Starter Kit

panasonic-smart-home-safety-starter-kit

Categories: Monitoring, Automation and Power

No of modules: 2 (not including hub)

What’s included:

  • Hub/Base
  • Door Sensor
  • Motion Sensor

You might also want to consider the Panasonic Access Keypad to complete the security system.

panasonic-kx-hnk101ew-access-keypad


3. D-Link mydlink DCH-107KT Smart Home Security Camera

mydlink-dch-107kt-smart-home-security-camera-kit

Apart from Panasonic’s Smart Home Monitoring and Control Kit above and Insteon’s Home Kit, here is another starter kit that includes a camera. Not simply any camera but a HD 720p resolution with night vision. Using mydlink Home app you can get live feed on your smartphone or tablet with the ability to zoom in without losing fidelity. As with most security cameras it is also equipped to detect movements or sound and can be set to push notifications to your device. The door and window sensor also doubles as a room temperature monitor to alert you of sudden change in temperature caused by fire. This is also the second starter kit that includes a Home Siren with six sounds to choose from and sound level that can be set up to 100db. Using the app, you can decide the type of sound alerts for different triggers or events. Finally, the Home Hub which is the heart of the system bridges your existing WiFi network with any mydlink modules.

Categories: Monitoring, Automation and Power + Cameras & CCTV + Safety & Security

What’s included:

No of modules: 3 (not including hub)

  • Home Hub
  • HD Monitor Camera with Night Vision
  • Door/Window Sensor
  • Siren with optional battery back-up

Works with Android, iOS (mydlink app)

ALSO: D-Link mydlink DCH-100KT Smart Home HD Starter Kit

d-link-mydlink-home-smart-home-hd-starter-kit

A smaller starter kit that does not include the siren and hub is also available. The mydlink DCH-100KT includes a smart plug, a motion sensor and HD Monitor. This starter kit connects straight to the WiFi network at home using the mydlink home app with a simple wizard. It does not have a Home Hub like the bigger kit above. The motion sensor can detect movement up to 8 meters and set to notify you should there be any movement. The HD 720p Monitor Camera has night vision capabilities and can be configured to detect motion and sound. Use the app to cook up different rules and alerts based on triggers. You can use the motion sensor to pick up movement and switch on a light or other appliances connected to the smart plug.

Categories: Monitoring, Automation and Power + Cameras & CCTV

No of modules: 3

What’s included:

  • Smart plug
  • Motion sensor – Passive Infrared (PIR) sensor covers 8m distance (100° horizontal / 80° vertical)
  • HD Monitor Camera – with night vision, motion and sound sensor

Works with Android , iOS (mydlink app)


4. Insteon Home Kit 2244-244 Home Automation Starter Kit – MOST COMPLETE

insteon-home-kit-2244-244

Insteon Home Kit is easily the most complete starter kit that lets you control lights and appliances remotely, set schedule for devices, receive email alerts when doors and windows are open or close, remotely control your thermostat and look at what goes on at home through the WiFi camera. The advance camera also pans 300-degrees and tilts 120-degrees so you can look around. It also has a built-in microphone to let you hear what is going on.

No of modules: 5 (not including hub)

What’s included:

  • Hub
  • Motion Sensor
  • WiFi Camera
  • Thermostat
  • On/Off Module
  • Open/Close Sensor

Works with Android, iOS, Alexa.

ALSO: Insteon Starter Kit 2244-234

insteon-starter-kit-2244-234

The smaller Insteon Starter Kit comes with two plug-in on/off modules and a hub. You can control two plug-in lamps, automate with schedules that run based on time of day, day of week and local sunrise/sunset times and build a convenient lighting scene. It is also compatible with other smart devices so you can control lights with Amazon Echo, Apple Watch, Logitech Harmony remotes and more.

No of modules: 2 (not including hub)

What’s included:

  • Hub
  • 2 x Dimmer Modules

Works with Android, iOS and Alexa

Other modules available: Outdoor On/Off Module, On/Off Switch, Motion Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, Smoke and CO detector and WiFi Camera.


5. Philips Hue Smart Lighting Starter Kit

philips-hue-smart-lighting-starter-kit

Categories: Lighting + Automation and Power

A good starting point if you are looking to have smart lighting at home. The Philips Hue Smart Lighting Starter Kit comes with the Philips Hue Hub and two high quality dimmable white light. Use the app on your smartphone or tablet to connect and control the lights. There are other combinations or Hue lights available. Bayonet type fitting also available.

No of bulbs: 2 (not including hub)

What’s included:

  • 1 x Hub Bridge 2.0
  • 2 x 9.5W E27 Hue White Bulbs

Works with Android, iOS and Alexa. Apple Home Kit Enabled. Supports Alexa Voice Service

ALSO: Philips Hue White and Colour Ambiance Wireless Lighting Starter Kit

philips-hue-white-and-colour-ambiance

No of bulbs: 3 (not including hub)

What’s included:

  • 1 x Hub Bridge 2.0
  • 3 x 9W E27 Hue Richer Colour Bulbs

OTHER:

HIVE Connected Home Starter Kit

Control all the HIVE modules from the smartphone, tablet or computer via the Hub. Use the Hive Active Plug to turn on the heating before you get home, receive notifications when any doors or windows are opened with the door sensor or keep track of anyone entering your home with the infra-red motion sensor. To start, pair the modules with the Hive Hub via wireless, add more sensors and/or plugs later and set your controls or alerts with the app. Those who have Amazon Echo can also use it to voice control the Active Plugs via Alexa Voice Service.

hive-connected-home-starter-kit

Categories: Monitoring, Automation and Power

No of modules: 4 (not including hub)

What’s included:

  • Hub
  • Motion Sensor
  • Active Plug x 2
  • Window/Door Sensor

Works with Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Alexa