How To Make Your Home Smart Without Home Automation

exmachina-anigif_enhanced-12791-1428686992-21.gif(Source: Buzzfeed)

If you remember the house from Ex Machina, you might remember that it was a very cool house. More importantly, there was the disco scene that incorporated smart lighting to Get Down Saturday Night. Though there is plenty of smart home tech currently out there (connected home controllers, Amazon Alexa just to name a couple), a good number of us – like me – are still living in a more primitive 2017.

Smart home technology isn’t just there for the cool factor. Not only is it convenient, smart home technology can also beef up the security of a home and help save energy. However, there are also many products that make your home smart without using home automation technology.

Want to make your home smart without all the bells and whistles? Check out these products that incorporate automation and help you save energy!

Sensor Switches

TOPGREENER Motion Sensor Switch

Featured: TOPGREENER TDOS5 Motion Sensor Light Switch

You know those switches you see in offices or Starbucks bathrooms? Whether they are trying to squeeze every last penny of profit or want to reduce their carbon footprint on the world, you too can save with a motion sensor switch.

Sensor switches automate the lights by automatically turning them on when motion is detected and automatically turning them off when movement no longer occurs. Again, the key phrase is “automatically turning them off.” Sensor switches make sure lights, fans, or whatever the switch is connected to don’t stay on when no longer in use. A few arguments over who left the lights on may be saved too, just from installing a sensor switch.

Remember that one time you missed a step going down the stairs because it was dark, and you had to miss your company softball game because your ankle was wrapped up? What about the time you accidentally stepped on your girlfriend’s cat in the dark hallway and your girlfriend wouldn’t talk to you for a week after the incident? Again, all may have been prevented if a sensor switch had caught your movement and turned on the lights.

Get your motion sensor switch here.

Fail Aidy Bryant GIF by Saturday Night Live

There are more technologically advanced sensor switches, such as one coupled with ultrasonic technology to catch fine movements or another coupled with a humidity sensor for moisture control.

Countdown Timer Switches


Featured: Enerlites HET06-W Countdown Timer Switch

My neighborhood pool restroom had a spring-load timer switch that you wound back to set the lights on a timer, because management obviously couldn’t trust the public to turn the lights off themselves after using the facilities. It made a lot of noise, and quite frankly, the noise made taking care of business a bit stressful, like you were back in third-grade trying to race through your multiplication tables before the teacher’s timer went off. It got the job done, which is why you still see a few here and there.

However, if you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated for your home, try a push-button countdown timer switch. Fulfilling the same purpose as a spring-load timer, countdown timer switches typically have a number of preset time delays to choose from. To select a time delay, simply push the button corresponding to the time you want, and voila! Now your lights, fan, or whatever appliance you’re using the switch with will turn off after the selected time has passed. Most of these switches also have a snazzy LED light to indicate the time you selected. So much more sophisticated, wouldn’t you say?

I actually use a push-button countdown timer switch to control my bathroom fan, after I read somewhere that leaving the fan on for a few minutes after a shower helps prevent mold and bacteria growth (but more because I always forgot to go back and turn the fan off, so it was left running for a large chunk of the day). Not that I’m not inclined to test it out, but I would rather not succumb my bathroom to an eighth-grade science experiment or a frat house bathroom, for that matter.

Though the bathroom fan seems to be the most popular application for a timer switch, people have gotten creative and used it to control heated towel racks and water pumps, to name a few. Whatever the application, always make sure your appliance falls under the specifications of the switch, lest you have an accident in your hands.

Wrong GIF

Get your countdown timer switch here.

Programmable Timer Switches


Featured: Enerlites HET01 7-Day Digital Programmable Timer Switch

Another variation of the timer switch is the programmable timer switch. These switches also control lights or appliances on a timer, except they operate on a multi-day schedule that you have full control of.

Programmable timer switches offer more automation than countdown timer switches, in that lights do not need to be manually switched on. The user sets a schedule, usually on a 7-day week, and the switch will turn lights on and off according to that schedule.

This is handy when it comes to outdoor lighting, where you may need the lights on at night or when it’s dark to help you see or detract intruders. Speaking of intruders, many programmable timer switches have a “random” mode that varies your programmed schedule to give your house that “lived-in” look so your home looks occupied. Definitely a deterrent for unwanted visitors, right?

Home Alone Christmas GIF

Get your programmable timer switch here.

Though not all of us may have or want a home as technologically advanced as Nathan Bateman’s a la Ex Machina, there are plenty of products that automate basic functions in our home without home automation and are just as convenient and tech-savvy.


Want to get really hands-on? Do you have a ton of time on your hands? Don’t want your brain gears to get rusty? Fashion yourself a Rube Goldberg machine that turns on your lights, starts up a pot of coffee, and maybe turns on some Bach when you enter your home.

Don’t forget to like and share! Do you use timers and sensors? Comment your thoughts below!

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