Ask LH: How Can I Automate My Home?

Ask LH: How Can I Automate My Home?

Dear Lifehacker, home automation and fancy voice controls are always cropping up in the movies. What steps would be involved in getting something like this set up in my home? Is it best left to professional installers or can anyone do it? Autobot

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Dear Autobot,

The answer depends on the level of sophistication you’re looking for. A truly ‘smart’ home that can sense temperature, lighting, et al will obviously require a considerable amount of technical expertise. However, if you just want a simple automation setup controlled entirely by voice commands, it’s possible to build an affordable solution with a little programming know-how.

In this video, DIY hacker Doug Gregory shows off his voice-controlled home which was created using a Nexus 4 smartphone, a handful of plugins and some cheap Home Automation equipment.

The setup is capable of controlling home lights on a dimmer, the TV, and even XBMC from a smartphone. If you’re comfortable creating Tasker profiles and don’t mind searching through some home automation forums, you should be able to set up something similar on the cheap.

Also be sure to check out the Inspect My Gadget website which has in-depth tutorials on how to set up similar voice-controlled solutions among many other home automation projects.


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  • ALDI have remote control power points this Saturday for $25. Add some basic electrical components and a raspberryPI and you have yourself a decent starting point. I know i’ll be one of the customers standing out the front waiting for them to open.

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