I made my girlfriend's bedroom smart for under $100 — here's how

 Smart bedroom with smart plugs and lights.
Smart bedroom with smart plugs and lights.

It was a little over a month ago that I rocked my girlfriend's world — in the smart home sense, that is. The more time I'd spent at her place, the more I'd noticed time-consuming habits that could be eliminated. For example, she'd constantly have to jump out of bed to manually turn off her lights just as we got comfortable. As someone who tests the best smart plugs and smart home hubs for a living, this just couldn't fly.

After taking mental notes, I've slowly upgraded her bedroom with some of the best smart home devices. My goal was simple: I would streamline her everyday routine from the minute she woke up to the second her head hit the pillow at night. I just wanted to do this as quick and easy as possible while keeping the total under $100.

Her new smart bedroom wakes her up to a gradual light change and to her favorite Lana Del Rey songs each morning. But more than that it heats up her bed, kicks on her TV, and lets her know if there's smoke present. Read on to see how.

Echo Dot 5th Gen — the brains of the operation

Echo Dot (5th Gen): was $49 now $27 @ Amazon
The 5th Gen Echo Dot is one of the best value Alexa speakers you can buy. It's sphere shape produces rich, room-filling sound with built-in Eero Wi-Fi as well as a room temperature sensor.View Deal

I had to start from scratch since this bedroom was as dumb as they come. The first gadget I bought was an Echo Dot that was on sale for just $35. This is one of the best smart speakers and a perfect foundation to act as a daily command center. My girlfriend normally used her iPhone for alarms, laptop for commute info, and YouTube on her Roku TV for music as well as green noise at night. Adding this little sphere to her desk freed up all of those devices for other things. Now she can wake up to a daily briefing, control all of her smart home devices, and listen to white noise before bed from one place.

Echo Dot 5th Gen sits on white desk
Echo Dot 5th Gen sits on white desk

As a music nerd, she was floored by its room-filling sound for high quality audio connected to her Apple Music account. More than that, she now receives vitamin reminders with push notifications sent to her phone, sets her morning alarms to her favorite music, and receives both traffic and weather info automatically. Best of all, she can control her new smart devices using just her voice. One of those gadgets are her new smart plugs.

Smart plugs for enhanced controls

TP-Link HS1032P smart plug (2-Pack): was $20 now $14 @ Amazon
Connect your existing outlet-powered devices like lamps or string lights to this plug to control them from anywhere using your phone or voice.View Deal

You can turn your existing outlet-powered devices smart by connecting them to a smart plug and then the wall. This devices connects to your Wi-Fi so you set a schedule or control the connected appliance remotely even while you're away from home. I opted for these two Kasa plugs for the string lights over her mirror and her bed's heating pad. By plugging the lights into a smart plug, she can now turn them on and off using her voice. I even taught her how to automate them with a routine. Every weeknight they turn on from the hours of 8PM and 11PM as she winds down for bed.

Mirror string lights connected to a smart plug
Mirror string lights connected to a smart plug

Although I like to tease her about keeping her blanky at 25, I have to hand it to her—the lady knows how to make a room cozy. One of the ways she does this is by preheating the bed with a heating pad. Now that this pad is connected to a smart plug she can turn it on as she leaves work or grabs dinner without even being home. For someone who refers to their bed as their "restorative chamber," you can imagine just how much of a game-changer this has been. These two smart plugs ran me just $15, which brings our total to $50 so far. With some wiggle room in the budget I grabbed her some smart light bulbs for her main light fixture.

Wake up to a sunrise with smart lights

Lightinginside Smart Light Bulb with E12 base (2-pack): was $28 now $21 @ Amazon
These color-changing smart light bulbs have a smaller E12 base for Candlebara fixtures like older ceiling fans and chandeliers.View Deal

The room's primary light source is two small light bulbs encased within a ceiling fan. While most fixtures take an A19 bulb, we ran into a niche case where we needed a smaller base for a Candelbara connector. While I'd never heard of Lightinginside, I took a chance on the brand and have been impressed by their brightness and responsiveness thus far. I used the app to connect them to her Wi-Fi network and link her Alexa account. Now she can wind down for the night from her Alexa app, gradually ramp up the light brightness in the morning to wake up gently to a natural sunrise effect, and ramp down gradually during her night routine before bed. Plus they change colors for mood lighting.

Ceiling fan with E12 smart lights
Ceiling fan with E12 smart lights

When it comes to automating your own existing light fixtures you can simply swap in bulbs or replace your existing wall switch with a smart light switch. The switch is a great option if you have several overhead lights like in a kitchen or living room. Plus, switches let you automate fan controls and some can even detect motion to turn on your lights when you walk into a room and automatically turn them off when you leave.

Roku Smart TV controls

Luckily, my girlfriend happened to have a Roku Smart TV already. If you have a Roku TV, you can simply add the Roku skill to your Alexa account to control it with your phone or voice. After a long day of work, it's nice to hop into bed and have your TV turn itself on and off as you wind down. Her budget Insignia Roku TV lacks the voice controller, so this has been a godsend for looking for specific movies and videos.

Roku City displays on bedroom smart TV
Roku City displays on bedroom smart TV

Monitor your room with a smart smoke detector

X-Sense Smart Wi-Fi Smoke Detector Fire Alarm: was $40 now $19 @ Amazon
Instantly receive notifications on your phone and smart speakers if smoke is detected in a room of your home.View Deal

With exactly $20 left to spare I upgraded her existing smoke detector with a smart one. That way she can know if smoke is detected in her room even when she's away from home. If you don't feel like swapping out your existing model I've gone over 3 cheap ways to make your existing smoke detector smart. Here's what my girlfriend had to say after installing all of these upgrades.

"I am very particular about my room since it's my cozy space, however making it "smart" has taken it to a new level that's even better than before. I didn't realize how much the smart lights in particular would make a difference in making my life so much easier. Now I don't have to worry about if I left a light on or get up to flip them off before I go to bed.

Plus I've always wanted an Alexa smart speaker to play music while I get ready, so I'm happy with how great th Echo Dot sounds. Truth be told I had no idea what smart plugs were. Now I feel like I could use at least three more to control things like my salt lamp, scent diffuser, and desk light. It has also been fun to learn about all the cool different things I can do with Alexa when playing around with the app."

Adding smart home devices to my girlfriend's bedroom has saved her precious time each day. She already has plans for more automations like swapping out her fabric blinds for smart blinds. You don't need to put a ton of time and effort to get started.

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