How Much Does a Smart Home Cost?
One of the barriers for many people when it comes to smart homes, or home integration, is the fear of cost. “How much does a smart home automation system cost?” and “How much does it cost to build a smart home?” are also some of the most challenging questions to answer!
The size, age, style, and materials used in the home all weigh in on what is possible with an existing home. In new construction, the same is true AND you have so many more choices to make that impact the long-term value you get from your home, not only in resale—but in lifestyle. Some equipment is more value-driven and some, more design-centric. Oftentimes, a ‘simple’ experience requires a level of sophistication on the back end. Sometimes that’s not the case, depending on what you deem as ‘simple’.
At Integration Controls, it’s our mission to understand what you mean by wanting to ‘make technology more simple’ and yet, it all comes at a cost. That’s why we’re putting down on paper (ok, in this digital blog)—for the first time ever—how much to budget when planning for a smart home automation system. We’ve broken it down into systems and concepts, including the home network, indoor/outdoor motorized shades, smart lighting, home entertainment, and home automation. You’ll also find a few tips to help you scale over time.
These tips and budgeting guidelines will help you understand more about the smart home, design options, quality considerations, and more. When the time is right to discuss your needs, please reach out!
Planning Your Home Networking Budget
Let’s start with home networking as it is the most crucial part of your home automation system because it’s the highway that keeps everything moving. If that highway is in gridlock, your experience will be subpar.
Many people consider adding wireless mesh extenders to act as a single network, with many points of connectivity around the home instead of just a single location. Because mesh networks broadcast from each point around your house rather than from a single location, they provide good coverage for simple networks in our local St. Louis homes around 2,500 square feet. For something like this, you should expect to pay $3,000 to $7,000, installed and configured for basic home needs. *Something to note: mesh extenders can only boost or extend the quality of the signal they receive. Receive three bars / extend three bars.
Say it’s summer and you work from home. Your kids are downstairs gaming heavily and your house guests are streaming Netflix. You may have more bandwidth needs than the average Joe. Likewise, if your home is simply larger, or adorned with higher-end interior finishes like metal and stone, you will need additional wiring for better network support. Sound like you? If so, budget for a more extensive network including a wired backbone from $10,000 to $20,000.
Budgeting for House-Wide Indoor and Outdoor Motorized Shades
Motorized shades and window treatments (sometimes called smart blinds) are one of the most requested features in today’s smart home, after a home network update. Shades and drapes that are intelligently connected and motorized will control glare, protect your art and furniture from sun damage, offer ambiance, privacy, and more!
Shades can also extend outdoors to make spaces more comfortable as a natural extension of your home. “Wall-to-wall” outdoor shades can create a “room” outside, keeping harsh glare and insects at bay—perfect for surrounding an outdoor kitchen, enclosing a patio, or creating a cozy, glare-free outdoor media space. (Read our blog on how to Extend Your Missouri Summer with Patio Shades to learn more.)
So, how much do smart motorized shades cost? The simple answer is $1,500–$5,000 per installed shade. This sounds like a wide range until you consider all of the factors that weigh in: the size of the window, the fabric chosen for the shade, whether it’s a single or dual shade, wireless or battery operated, and whether it has particular design details.
As a certified design partner of the Home Technology Association, we’d like to share this great article, “The Top 9 Ways Motorized Shades Can Make Your Home Better,” which has some nice insights when it comes to your shade options and schedule a shade consultation today!
How to Budget for Smart Lighting
Lighting is one of the most important home features to get right in a home for optimal comfort, ambiance, and wellness—especially if in the middle of a redesign, remodel, or designing a new home. With LED lighting as the forerunner for architectural recessed lighting, options like color temperature, shape, aperture, finish types, and more are design options to consider.
From a $200,000 home to a $3,000,000 home, you want something beyond what you traditionally get when working with an electrician and a lighting showroom, where every room gets the standard “four cans and a fan.” (Read our blog Lighting Design Unlocks the Beauty of Your St. Louis Home for more on how lighting design can enhance your life and home.)
How much can you expect to pay for LED lamps and fixtures? Some smart bulbs or lamps are smarter than others, and have varied wireless connectivity protocols, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-wave, Zigbee, and radio frequency (RF) signals. With a wide range in performance levels, a good rule of thumb is to budget $100 to $250 per smart bulb.
This doesn’t include the ceiling and wall fixtures that house the bulbs, or lamps, themselves. For the best recessed integrated lighting fixtures, budgets start from $250 per fixture and extend up to around $1,000 per fixture. Just as with smart bulbs, intelligence varies greatly as does behind-the-scenes technology and wiring. Comparing fixtures can be daunting as high-quality lighting fixtures are not a one-to-one comparison. No recessed fixture that costs $20 would ever compare to one that costs $1,000 / fixture when it comes to design, performance, dimming, color temperature, color rendering wiring, control, and beyond.
How you control your lighting—lighting control—is also a big factor. Existing homes can replace existing switches for ‘smart dimmers’, keypads, and more from $100 to $500 per switch location, plus the cost of installation. (Read more about lighting control in the Spring 2023 issue of St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles.)
Good lighting design considers the quality of light, placement, and control which often balances out the overall cost. If you struggle with lighting issues in your home, let us know how we can help bring more comfort to your life. Schedule a lighting consultation, today!
Home Entertainment: Budgeting for TVs, Media Rooms, and Home Theaters
The place we call home should not only be a place of comfort, safety, and convenience but also one of entertainment and joy, whether a simple television and soundbar, a stylish media room, or a dedicated home theater.
Single-room television installations are relatively straightforward. They include a TV, hidden sources, simple control, and supported audio. For a simple media setup like this, you’re looking at $7,000 to $15,000, installed.
Media rooms built for entertaining are a bit more involved. They open up to other areas in the home, include multiple zones of audio and video, and are easily controlled through an app or control panel. For a fairly straightforward media room system, you can expect to budget between $20,000 and $60,000. Need some inspiration for your Media Room? Visit our project gallery.
For the ultimate in home entertainment, consider a dedicated home theater. A dedicated home theater (home cinema, if you are fancy!) is a controlled environment that optimizes performance and comfort. These rooms are equipped with seating for multiple people in an enclosed area with the primary goal of immersive surround sound and larger-than-life video, both of which draw the audience into the story. Dedicated cinemas let you recreate a theater experience that outperforms any local movie theater, all from the comfort of your own home.
As should be expected, the sky's the limit when it comes to designing a dedicated home theater. A well-appointed, high-performing home theater can be between $75,000 and $250,000, mostly depending on the size of the room. Highly technical and accurate home cinemas, meant to hold a large number of people, where sound and video are expected to perform to the highest standard are commonly over one million dollars.
For the ultimate inspiration, read this post from renowned home theater designer, Lisa Slayman: Home Theater Design Trends.
Home Automation Budgeting Guidelines
Finally, it’s time to bring it all together with a home automation system which ties together lighting, shades, entertainment, and more, allowing you to live in your home without having to access all of the individual controls.
Everyday routines, such as ‘sleep’, ‘away’, and ‘morning’ are simplified into scenes that enhance daily living as well as for more festive, special events. Imagine a ‘party’ mode that sets your lights, music, shades, security, and heating/cooling just as your guests arrive. With a system like this, your smart home subsystems work in concert to create outcomes that suit your lifestyle…and it all happens automatically, with a simple touch on a panel, through voice, keypad controls, or whatever YOU find simple.
Similar to networking, budgeting for home automation largely depends on the size of your home and the vastness of connected systems. For homes 4,000 square feet or smaller with mostly integrated technologies, nice finishes with nothing too “over the top,” budgets can range from $100,000 to $400,000.
For higher-end homes that are larger than 12,000 square feet and include a variety of unique and refined architectural finishes throughout, you can expect to spend anywhere between $400,000 and $750,000. To see an example of home automation in a high-end historical home, visit our blog Historic Home Renovation Series: An Exceptional Quincy, Illinois, Historic Home Brings Designer Collaboration.
These guideposts should set a good direction to budget for your smart home automation system. Interested in simplifying your life? Let us know what matters most and we will collaborate with you to maximize your investment through the lifespan of your home!
Tips to Get the Most of Your Home Technology Budget
Going through the smart home system by system, room by room as we have done here can be a bit overwhelming, and the limits of the smart home are truly as boundless as your own budget, imagination, and timeline. While it all may seem complex, this is what we do at Integration Controls every day in homes throughout St. Louis and beyond.
One of the best pieces of advice we can give those embarking on a smart home automation project is to contact a home technology professional as early on as possible in the process of designing or building your new home. If a technology integrator is involved from the blueprint phase, it is invariably less expensive and keeps projects on target. Not only can we plan the proper spots for technology and wiring before drywall, we can optimize the design, layout, and overall value so the technology works for you, not against you, in your home.
The beauty of planning well for your smart home is that it can be accomplished modularly over time. Start in one or two rooms with what matters most to you, from an updated Wi-Fi system for $3,000 to $7,000 to a lower-level basement media room from $25,000 to $75,000. Plan for your ‘dream home’, complete with wish-list items for home technologies and build your infrastructure, spending where it matters when the time is right, which is during design, construction, or remodeling.
Now is the time to simplify your home technologies so you can enjoy a more fulfilling life at home, outdoors, and away from home. Contact us today and let’s discover more about you and your project!
- Tags: integration controls | smart home cost | st_louis