Home Automation Cost

The average cost of installing home automation is $5,000‚Äč.

In this guide

How home automation works
Where to automate
Pros and cons
What to avoid
Planning
Parts of a smart home
Hubs and controllers
Singular software platform
Gadgets
Professional home automation systems
Protocols
Professional installation cost
Wiring
How to start
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install home automation?

Smart homes and home automation were once thought to be something for the distant future, but are now a reality for many. In fact, many younger home buyers want to see home automation in the properties they purchase, making this a good update for resale.

A smart home is defined as a property that has its lights, appliances, security, and HVAC system, amongst other things, controlled remotely through computers or automatically through timers. There are many different home automation systems; it’s possible to include just one or to use multiple systems in one home. Most systems can help make your home more energy efficient, comfortable, and secure, making this one of the more popular home improvements.

The average home automation system consists of remote monitoring, smart thermostats 1 and lights, and security features such as cameras and smoke detectors 2. Most people end up paying roughly $1,000 per room in their home that they automate, offering a lot of customization.

How home automation works

There are many different types of home automation and smart home devices, each with its own method of operation. In most cases, home automation works by setting devices to take care of certain tasks automatically, such as smart thermostats 1 that adjust the temperature of the room based on previously made settings or lights that can sense when you are in the room and turn on accordingly.

Some smart home devices work remotely. This includes things like cameras, security systems, and in some cases also thermostats 1, lights, and appliances. In these instances, an app or program you access through your smartphone or computer can allow you to control areas of your home when you are away. So, while you are at work, you can monitor your front door, unlock it for your children coming home from school, turn on the thermostat 1 to warm the house before you arrive, and turn on any security lights around the home. Many of these apps also include video feeds that can allow you to monitor your home from afar at the same time.

Where to automate

Nearly any room of your home, and your home’s exterior, can benefit from automation. Many things throughout the home can be automated, such as:

It’s possible to include at least one kind of automation in every room of your home, however, most people end up picking and choosing a few things that they will use the most, such as a smart thermostat 1 and sensor 2 lights, as well as video monitoring.

Pros and cons

Most people who invest in smart home technology do so because they feel that it will make their lives easier. Essentially, having automation eliminates worry about such things as how much electricity you are using or if you remembered to lock the front door. Most people who use automation agree that doing so:

  • Can help make your home more secure.
  • Can reduce energy bills by using appliances more efficiently.
  • Can free up your time and make your days more efficient.

However, there are some drawbacks to automation as well. The first is the expense; having automation comes at a steep price tag of thousands of dollars to fully automate a home, as well as monitoring fees for many systems.

Automation can also fail if it’s dependent on things like wi-fi, which can sometimes be down for extended periods during storms or company maintenance. For this reason, your system may cease working temporarily, and some appliances may not have manual overrides.

Automation appliances and apps may also become out of date over time, needing frequent updates and support. Eventually, each piece of automation will need to be replaced, at further expense.

What to avoid

It’s possible today to automate nearly your entire home, which can lead to some homeowners getting more automation than they actually need or will use. It’s also possible for homeowners to fall into certain pitfalls as they try to create DIY set-ups. If possible, keep the following in mind when considering home automation:

  • Evaluate what you would truly benefit from, versus what you would like to have. For example, a smart lock on the front door coupled with remote monitoring is a good idea for families with kids who come home alone from school, but not really necessary for an empty nest couple. If you’re setting up automation on a budget, be sure that you give a lot of thought to your needs.
  • Don’t use a single-point control system, such as wi-fi, for your set-up. In the event of a power failure, your system could cease to work. Make sure everything has a manual override if necessary to ensure you can still use it even if wi-fi fails.
  • Evaluate the use of monitoring as well. Many companies will set up your home for you, and add in home monitoring for a monthly fee. While this is encouraged for home security systems, it isn’t always necessary for every home. Avoid using monitoring and apps that charge money for things that you can do yourself.

Planning

The first step to creating a home automation system is planning and it needs to be done carefully and thoroughly before beginning. While there are some DIY home automation appliances that you can purchase one by one and install yourself, full smart home set-ups need to be fully thought out and planned for a few reasons.

The first is to ensure that each piece that you add to your home is something that you will need and use.

Next, the location of each device needs to be well thought out. If sensor 2 lights are used, the sensors 2 need to be situated where they can best detect someone’s presence in the home. If an automatic garage door opener is desired, then a map of the driveway needs to be done so that the sensor 2 can detect the remote.

Third, you will need to determine what level of automation you desire. While it is possible to automate nearly every area of your home, you still have options for the level you desire. For example, you could set up DIY devices in each room of your home. You could also invest in a company to fully automate and monitor each of the areas and devices within your home. You could have a mixture of both, by using a small automated device that connects to a network like the Nest smart thermostat 1 or an Alexa from Amazon, but no other monitoring.

When planning you may want to not only research the devices that are currently on the market, but also the companies that supply them, and those that set up and monitor. Speak with at least three companies to find out what their rates are for set-up and monitoring, as well as what services they offer to find the best fit for your needs.

Parts of a smart home

Every smart home is capable of having a different set-up according to the homeowner’s needs. However, there are generally a few specific types of set-ups to be considered:

  • A hub, which is used to control most, if not all, of the pieces of your smart home.
  • The various devices you use, such as lights, appliances, cameras, and locks.
  • IFTTT (If This Then That) programs that help you get more out of automation. For example you could set your automatic lights to turn on according to the light outside, rather than a time of day.
  • Sensors 2.
  • A wireless or wired system for controlling and linking the devices.
  • Apps for controlling and monitoring.
  • A monitoring system.

Hubs and controllers

Hubs are slowly disappearing from the smart home industry, but may still be needed and found in certain systems and set-ups. Essentially, a hub is the central controlling unit or device for your entire system. Through a hub, you can control all the various pieces of your automated system. However, more and more smart home devices are beginning to have integrated controllers, which either use an IFTTT device to link to or have a built-in 3 app that lets you control that device individually from any others. Hubs cost between $80 and $100 each, although many may not control every device you have, requiring you to purchase more than one.

Singular software platform

Singular software platforms are a type of hub that allows you to control all the various devices in your home remotely through voice commands, an app, or a device. There are several to choose from, although not all of them work with all the devices on the market, so it’s important to do your research and make sure that if you choose this type of platform as your hub, that the devices you desire for your home will work with it.

There are a few different platforms to consider including:

  • HomeKit: made by Apple, HomeKit has a large array of items that can work with it. You will need Apple TV or an iPhone for it to work. You will also need to choose from the partners paired with it for devices such as Philips, Honeywell, and Haier. Costs start at $150 to $250; this will go up very quickly from here as you pair the various devices with it.
  • Echo: the Echo and Echo dot from Amazon use the voice recognition program Alexa to control paired devices. Alexa and Echo work via bluetooth, connecting devices within the home one by one. In some cases you may need to engage bluetooth first, then make a command, while other devices may hold their connection better. The Echo retails for $50-$200 depending on the model.
  • IFTTT: If This Then That is not really a platform, but rather a collection of free, web based services that you can use to help control your smart home. If you don’t want to use a hub,  you can download an IFTTT onto your computer or smartphone, and control things from here. Again, not everything will be compatible with the system, so you may find that you need to search out specific devices to match the platform you use.

Gadgets

There is nearly no end to the number of ways that you can automate your home. The following is a breakdown of the most popular types of home automation devices.

DeviceTop ManufacturersAverage Cost
SpeakersiHome, Jam$30 - $60
SwitchesGE, Belkin$50 - $55
Bedroom AlarmsiHome, Sonic$50 - $130
BlindsBudget Blinds, MySmartBlinds$50 - $150
LocksAugust$50- $200
PlugsiHome$80
Coffee MakersCuisinart, BrewGenie$80 - $100
Garage Door OpenersChamberlain, LiftMaster$130 - $210
Thermostat 1Nest, ecobee, iHome, Honeywell$130 - $250
SprinklersRain Bird, Lono$100 - $250
Security SystemSimplicam, Nest, D-Link$150 - $1,000
LightsLutron$230


Professional home automation systems

While it is possible to create a DIY home automation system, those who truly want a smart home will likely go with a professional installation. Professional home automation systems involve a representative coming to your home and reviewing your needs.

You select the type of plan that you want, including the level of devices and their desired location. This is installed by the company, and in many cases there is ongoing monitoring as well. For example, if you use a smart security system, which includes things like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 2, these will be linked to the monitoring center. In the event of an emergency, the monitoring company would be able to send help.

There are several companies that offer home automation set-ups. Each has its attributes and its price point. It’s recommended that you contact at least two or three to find the one that will offer you exactly what you need. Prices start at around $500 for basic set-ups, and go as high as $10,000 for fully automated homes with monitoring.

CompanyWhat They OfferAverage Costs
ADTSecurity systems,lighting, and thermostat 1 control$30-$50/month for monitoring of existing devices ($1,000)
BelkinA full range of smart products for the home$30-$500 for products
MONISecurity system with automation$39/month for monitoring of your existing devices ($1,000)
VivantFully monitored home automation$39/month for monitoring after purchase of various devices ($1,000)
URCComplete automation from one remote control$50 for device
NestThermostats 1, cameras, smoke detectors 2$100-$300 for devices
SamsungAn app and hub that allow you to control separate devices$200-$250 for devices
CrestonFull systems for complete home automation$500-$3,000 for devices and installation
Control4Full home automation systems$500 - $40,000 for devices and installation
RTIRemote control-based lighting, security, and automation services$2,000 - $5,000 for devices and installation
SavantPersonalized complete home automation systems$4,000 and up for devices and installation
ElanSecurity, communication, and full automation$10,000 - $150,000 for devices and installation


Protocols

Every smart home system has its own language that it uses for the hub and software to speak to the various devices. This is known as the protocol, and it can be as simple as the method that you use to link the various pieces of your system together.

There are several different protocols available, but not all of them will be compatible with every system or with every home. A basic overview includes:

  • Wi-Fi: most homes have wi-fi, which makes it a natural fit for singular devices or for beginning automation.
  • Ethernet 4: if your home is already set up with a ethernet 4 system, you can use this to connect your various devices. This has an advantage over wi-fi, as it’s more reliable.
  • Bluetooth: many devices work via bluetooth, linking together wirelessly. This can drain your network, however, if you do not have enough bandwidth 5 to support it.
  • X10: X10 is a dedicated powerline system that is used for linking home automation devices together. It is becoming obsolete, however, due to some issues and poor reliability.
  • ZigBee: this is a low-power protocol that works well with limited devices, but isn’t sufficient for larger systems.
  • Z-Wave: Z-Wave is very similar to ZigBee and has limited use or scope with fewer devices.
  • UPB: UPB is a powerline system that is designed solely for linking together home automation devices. It’s extremely reliable and fast, as well as compatible with wi-fi, although not with X10.
  • Insteon: Insteon can be used to add wi-fi to an existing X10 protocol, making it more reliable and easier to use.

Professional installation cost

The cost of installation varies tremendously from system to system and provider to provider. It depends largely on the number of devices, whether or not your home is already wired for ethernet 4 or other cables, and whether or not you are getting monitoring services.

The majority of companies charge approximately $1,000 per room for set-up, as well as monthly monitoring fees of anywhere from $9 to $50 a month. It is possible, however, to purchase your own hub and devices for around $500, setting up your own system manually, and saving on installation costs.

Wiring

Every system operates differently. Many are completely wireless, depending on Bluetooth or wi-fi to communicate between the devices. There are drawbacks to this, however, which is why some companies offer hardwiring services for around. Installing ethernet costs around $1,000 for 10 lines, and you may need more than this to run both your smart home and your other devices. Regardless of what system you use, many will require at least some connection to the internet in order to allow you monitoring both on your smartphone or hub as well as professionally.

How to start

If you’re not ready to go fully automated, there are many small ways that you can begin automating your home. Some small automated areas that do not require professional installation include:

  • Smart lights that sense when you enter a room and shut off when no movement has been detected for a set amount of time.
  • Programmable thermostats that allow you to shut off the HVAC system when you aren’t home automatically to save energy.
  • Coffee makers that can be set to turn on automatically in the morning before you awake
  • Smart blinds that will open automatically in the morning and close in the evening, or that will shut when the sun hits them to keep the internal temperature down indoors
  • Garage door sensors 2 that open when your car enters the driveway
  • Smart door locks that you can open from an app

Enhancement and improvement costs

  • Smart home theater systems are available that can give you a better experience with sound. The packages start at around $300 to $600 for the speakers and hub, and require you to have some type of Bluetooth or internet connection as well as a TV or screen.
  • If you are disabled or are aging in place, there are also home automation devices that can assist you, such as faucets that turn on automatically with sensors 2, as well as doorways that can open when you step up toward them. These costs begin at around $600 per device.

Additional considerations and costs

  • It is possible to automate nearly every area of your home; your budget is the only restriction or limit you may find.
  • It’s best to involve the company you intend to use at the start of the project to get the most optimized system.
  • Always ask about your data’s security with the company you hire before signing a contract. Be sure to find out if your information is ever shared.
  • Contact the CEDIA to find a member to answer your questions and help you design a system that meets your needs.
  • Always ask about the warranty on all devices you purchase. You may find that many have limited warranties of just 1 to 5 years.
  • Converting to automation can help you lower your energy costs by as much as 60% for lighting and 10%-30% for heating and cooling
  • Make sure that all of your devices are compatible when adding on. Not every system will work on the same protocol or hub, so double check before adding.
  • You can always add on later; a scaled back approach works best in the beginning as you determine what works best for you.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about how to set up your own network, consider investing in a small computer like Raspberry PI, which is designed to help you learn coding. Or, you can invest in Arduino software to program and build your own automated devices as well.

FAQ

  • How much does it cost to build a smart home?

The average cost of a smart home is $1,000 per room, with most homes having an average of 5 “smart rooms” added.

  • What is AC bus system?

A system bus is a single computer that links all of the devices within a home or network, such as a hub.

  • What is a smart home?

A smart home is a residence that has integrated, automated technology to be more efficient and easier to use.

  • How much is the smart car?

Smart Cars have an average cost of around $14,000.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Thermostats: A device that senses and regulates temperature by turning heating and cooling devices on and off
2 Detectors: (Also known as Sensor) Device that responds to a physical event or change in the environment by emitting an output signal
3 Built-in: An item of furniture, such as a bookcase or set of cabinets, that is built directly into the structure of the room. Built-ins are therefore customized to the room and not detachable
4 Ethernet: A system used to connect computers to form a local area network (LAN). A LAN allows computers in the same area to access shared data. It is also used for metropolitan area networks (MANs), such as for an entire city or campus
5 Bandwidth: The amount of data that electronic communications systems can send and receive within a certain time period. Bandwidth is measured in bps (bits per second)

Cost to install home automation varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Brookhaven, MS
-33%
Carrollton, TX
+14%
Carson, CA
+9%
Carson, VA
-19%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Collegeville, PA
+44%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Cumming, GA
+2%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Duluth, GA
+16%
East Hartford, CT
+23%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Frederick, MD
0%
Frisco, TX
+23%
Germantown, TN
+25%
Hampton, VA
-18%
Hatboro, PA
+29%
Hattiesburg, MS
-4%
Houston, TX
+24%
Idaho Falls, ID
-30%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Kent, WA
+9%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Littleton, CO
+2%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Lubbock, TX
-22%
Madison, WI
+13%
Marlton, NJ
+16%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
Miami, FL
+1%
New York, NY
+77%
Oakland, CA
+36%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Peoria, AZ
-2%
Pittsburgh, PA
+9%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
South Richmond Hill, NY
+35%
Stamford, CT
+47%
Sunnyvale, CA
+31%
Tallahassee, FL
-14%
Tampa, FL
-2%
Tucson, AZ
-19%
Washington, DC
+23%

Labor cost in your zip code

Last modified:   
Methodology and sources