Five home automation accessories under $35 that work with Google Home Mini

So you've got yourself a shiny new Google Home Mini. Good for you. It's a great inexpensive way to get into the smart home game for less than $50.

But now that you've got the controller, you need some things to actually control. And it's real easy for things to get expensive real quick. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of dollars of connected ... stuff.

Or, you can dig deep and find the cheap stuff. And so we've dug deep. Really deep. Here's the best connected stuff we've found for Google Home Mini — all for less than $35(ish) each.

Belkin WeMo Mini

This is a great little connected outlet for about $35. (I know because I have one.) And it's great because it doesn't take up much space, leaving plenty of room left over for the second plug of a two-gang box.

What's it do? It turns your dumb plug into a smart plug. You can control it remotely and set timers, or other schemes.

And with the holidays coming up, it's the perfect little gizmo to control lights. Because nobody wants to hit the front porch in the their underwear when it's 30 degrees out.

SwitchMate Bright

This is great for those who don't want to do any rewiring. You just pop the $35 SwitchMate on top of an existing switch or plug, and it does all the work for you.

You can set timers for whenever — a fun one is to have the lights kick on in the morning so you're not stumbling through the house any more than necessary. And you an also set it to turn things on so the house is lit up when you arrive home in the evening.

Is it any easier than this? Probably not.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

APower SmartPlug

Here's another smart plug that plugs into your existing dumb outlets (because, yo, dawg, I heard your outlets like outlets) and smartens things up a bit.

I'm cheating a tad because you'll have to hit Amazon's "Other Sellars" to find this one under the $35 limit, but it's definitely doable.

The plug itself is a little clunky. But if you're looking to save a few bucks, sometimes you have to go that route.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

A basic smart bulb isn't nearly as expensive as it used to be. Sure, you can get white bulbs that can change their color temperature — more orange or yellow than white or blueish-white, or vice-versa. But those dollars start to add up pretty fast.

If you just want something basic, look for a dimmable light. This one from TP Link is just $20 and gives you basic functionality. You can turn it off and on from Google Home Mini. (Or, yes, from anything else.) You can dim it so it's not BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN all the time.

Is $20 a lot of money for a light bulb? Yes, it is. But it's not all that much for something connected.

Philips Hue A19 dimmable

Speaking of relatively inexpensive smart lights, this is another dimmable A19 bulb — this time from Philips Hue. It runs $30 — for two bulbs this time — and works through Philips' excellent connected system. (At some point I'd spring for the hub (opens in new tab), too, though that's another $60 and thus outside the scope of this post.)

Philips Hue bulbs really are a bit of a rabbit hole. Once you start down it, you're going to find it hard to stop.

So if you're going to do it, start with this inexpensive option.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Any others?

Let us know in the comments below!

Phil Nickinson
  • Don't the Phillips bulbs require the hub?
  • I'm pretty sure they do.
  • You can also use them with samsung smart things hub
  • Do any cameras work with home? Because that new Amazon cloud cam that works with Alexa and firestick are looking pretty good right now.
  • You can ask Home to show your Nest cam video on a chromecast
  • When will the site be renamed to Amazon Referral Code Central?
  • I've had a hard time deciding to move over to smart lights. It's so darn expensive. Just my living room fan has 4 lights on it, which sounds like it'd cost me $60 in Phillips hue bulbs, minimum. A smart light switch is easier to swallow, but harder to implement. I want it so bad, but can't justify the cost at all.
  • There's no going around it because they are expensive. The initial cost is what is going to suck the most because you have to buy the "hub" that most of these need. After that, its just a matter of buying one or two bulbs after a while. Once you get used to having the smart bulbs, especially with the added convenience they provide, its very hard to go back :)
  • I went all switches instead of lights for this exact reason. A combination of Belkin (no hub) and Lutron (hub required) depending on where the switch was and if there was a neutral wire. Haven't regretted it since....
  • Problem is I rent, and will be renting for a while (military). I don't know if I want to replace all the switches twice for each house... I guess that's the cost of admission though.
  • While I entered into the smart switch (GE zWave) thing pretty confidently as I am an experienced amateur electrician, I have to say the youtube videos and such freely available on the internet makes it pretty easy. Your average wiring noob could make it work pretty easily. One thing to check before spending any money at all is to open up the light switch or switches you intend on wiring and make sure you have a neutral or common in the switch box AND the light itself. If you don't, then you are looking at "pulling a neutral" which is beyond most home amateurs. I had to do this for a couple of my switches and it's a pain if you know what you're doing and approaches impossible for those who don't know what they're doing. If you have a relatively modern home, you should be good to go. Keep in mind I am speaking of U.S. homes as I don't know the wiring standards where you live. I have to say it's easily the most useful thing you can do in a smart home and is preferable to a "smart bulb" when speaking of voice control.
  • I need more smart switches.
  • Why do all the smart plugs just plug into dumb plugs? I'd rather just...replace the dumb plugs. It's so annoying, I don't want that stupid looking thing sticking out of my wall.
  • As someone who hates excess power bricks, cables etc. totally agree.
    But I imagine its because plugs are meant to be always on unlike switches. Do you really want to have to ask google to turn on the toaster, vacuum, or dryer after you plug it in. Smart plugs into dumb plugs let you choose what items need it and which ones don't. Which 9/10 are lights/lamps.
  • Hey Phil (or others) - can anyone point to confirmation that Switchmate works? Everything I'm reading says that it doesn't work. Assistant can "talk to Switchmate" which opens the Switchmate app (on a phone, not on the Mini) so you can control it from there. That's not a Google Mini control, IMHO.
  • I'll save you the headache as I just returned 5 of their products back to WalMart and left a review for the power outlet on Amazon as well. Here's the deal. If you do get it set it up you have to say "Hey google tell switchmate to turn off X" Switchmate has about a 50% success rate of actually doing, but will always say it was done. The easist way would be set a shortcut in the Home app for when I say Hey google turn off kitchen outlet = Tell switchmate to turn off the kitchen outlet.
    The real issue is this. In order to ask google to ask switchmate you must have...ready for this...Phone unlocked, with switchmates app running on your screen not just in the background, bluetooth on, location services on, wifi on. Only then will you be able to control it through Google home/assistant. I even tried for about 3 hours leaving a spare tablet with bluetooth,location, etc on to act as a hub and once the screen locks, switchmate no longer works. Even lock screen off it stopped communicating after about 45 minutes. But switchmates AI will say everytime that it was done. The company has said in statements that the power outlet is updated via firmware to act as a wifi to bluetooth hub for its products but thats bull. If it has, then it doesnt work. That's why you have to have your phone act as the bluetooth hub. They also promise a hub is coming soon but its kinda like why bother if your power outlet is supposed to do the same and can't deliver. Also its just kind of backwards to me. Launch a suite of products that are falsely advertised, and promise the hub that is needed to actually make it work is coming soon. Hub was announced like 8 months ago. My advice, buy it from a local retailer, play with it for yourself, then return it and wait to see if the hub ever actually comes out and repeat the process. Right now its false advertising of features printed on the box and controlling the switch/plug takes much longer and more effort than manually turning the item on/off. I had high hopes because I have 4 sets of lights that are controlled at 4 seperate locations. Dining/kitchen/living/hallway all have 4 switch plates in their areas and its the same four switches. Having this saves the rewiring but it's just not ready for primetime yet.
  • Thanks EricB85 - this is sort of what I thought and NOT the way I want to use Google Home/Mini. I'd rather pay more for a device that works more seamlessly. I have a few Wemo switches, and they aren't perfect, but they are at least simple to set up and integrate right into Assistant. I guess I'll continue down that path. My biggest issue is that I want to automate a few switches that are 3-way and I don't want to add a hub. That rules out a lot of the easiest options, but I think I'll just hold out as more products come to market.