Don’t try to deck out your entire home with smart tech at the same time. Focus on one room to start in, recommend Sumang Liu and John Torres of Mosaic, a startup making smart homes easy to control through text or voice. “Pick a place that you spend most of your time and build from there,” says Torres. “Start with lights, or a switch, even if it’s just turning on a lamp in the corner or turning on your TV. Then you can build your experience up from there and gauge how you like it.”

Courtesy of Philips Hue

Add a couple sensors to your home to start automating lights, your security cameras, and more

Nena Farrell

The best smart homes aren’t just about using apps or voice activation to make things happen. The truly “smart” home can take care of actions on its own, minimizing your routine tasks while you’re rushing out the door to work or getting the kids ready for bed.

 

The best way to do that? Add a few smart motion sensors to your home. There are a variety of options on the market, but we’ve rounded up four choices that can make your day-to-day easier, while keeping your budget low. Adding a few of these is an affordable way to upgrade your home’s smarts, while keeping set-up easy (most of these are battery powered for instant installation).

 

Let There Be Light

Courtesy of Philips Hue

Start simple with a sensor that works with one of the biggest smart lights on the market. The Philips Hue Motion Sensor ($39.99) pairs with your Philips Hue bridge to control any lights in your home. Place the battery-powered sensor in an ideal spot to track motion, and use the app to choose which lights will activate. You can opt to have lights dim before completely turning off, rather than going into total darkness in case you’ve just been sitting on the couch for too long. These sensors work solo with the bulbs, and the Hue system can connect to HomeKit, Google Home, and Amazon Echo.

 

Sense Nearly Anything

Courtesy of Samsung

If you’re a Samsung SmartThings hub user, then picking up a SmartThings Motion Sensor ($40) is an easy way to automate many actions in your home.  Add the sensor your kitchen to turn on the radio and coffee machine when it sees you walk in, or put it in your bedroom to trigger a space heater or thermostat in the morning. Take advantage of tons of possibilities with this little sensor and the larger hub.

Watch the Doors

Courtesy of GoControl

If you’d like sensors that can aid in home security, the GoControl Home Security Suite could be right up your alley. GoControl has motion detectors ($41.99) and door-window sensors (from $30), and an essentials pack ($69.99) with some of each. Install these to get notified when a window gets left open, or when someone walks through the door. GoControl even has a controller for the garage door ($89.99), so you can make sure it wasn’t left open without even having to get out of bed. Use GoControl with your Wink hub, which can also pair with smart speakers or be used as a solo home control device.

 

The Smarter Switch

Courtesy of Lutron

If you’d like automated lights but don’t have smart bulbs, try Lutron’s line of smart switches. If you’re looking for something you can control with your phone or connect to a larger smart home system, add the Caseta Wireless switches (from $55) to easily make your lights smart without needing new bulbs or fixtures. Or, if you just want your lights to turn on when you enter a room, no app required, try their Maestro switches (from $30), which have sensors that can detect whether a room is occupied. They’re ideal for rooms in which you might have your hands full, like a laundry room or playroom, or for less-used rooms, like a basement, to ensure the light never gets left on accidentally.