The Internet of Things (IoT) provides a way for people to make their home living smarter and easier. However, incorporating IoT technology into your home can be cost-prohibitive since a smart home system can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
But turning your living space into a smart home does not need to be expensive – it just takes a little know-how, a little time, and a suitable microcontroller board. Just follow the guide and you will see how easy it can be to build your own smart home. Here are 4 DIY IoT smart home projects that software hackers, hobbyists, and beginners can build to turn your house into a smart home.
1. Raspberry Pi Smart Mirror
A smart mirror is a two-way mirror with a built-in computer. Think of it as a window on your wall that can display whatever you want — calendars, news, weather, family photos, YouTube videos, etc.
Smart mirrors make living at home more convenient since it displays useful information, and it also looks really cool. However, they can be expensive – ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Follow this guide to build your own DIY smart mirror using Raspberry Pi and the open-source MagicMirror2 software ecosystem. It shows weather, time, calendar, and any of the other hundred available open-source modules. The smart mirror also has built-in LED strip vanity lighting.
A Raspberry Pi 3 or 4
Power supply, Power strip, HDMI cable
Keyboard and mouse (can be disconnected after up and running)
An old computer monitor or other HDMI display
Two-way mirror glass
Pocket hole jig, bit, and screws
LED strip (optional)
2. 3D-Printed DIY Nanoleafs (Alexa Compatible)
If you’re into indoor mood lighting, you’ve probably heard of Nanoleaf – the company that specializes in innovative, colorful smart lighting products. Nanoleaf makes beautiful custom lighting kits, but a starter kit can be quite expensive starting at around $199. So why not DIY your own fully customizable LED lighting?
This 3D-printed DIY Nanoleafs guide by Lorenz Nimmervoll walks through how to customize a modular LED lighting system that is Alexa compatible using an ESP8266 board and LED strip. The project requires access to a 3D printer, read our guide on where to find local makerspaces that offer free or affordable 3D printing.
1x Wemos D1 mini (or other ESP8266 variant)
WS2812B LED Strip IP30
1x 3.3V to 5V Logic Level Shifter (optional, required if LEDs “glitch”)
1x Female Power Jack
1x 5V Power Supply, Note: 100 LEDs draw around 4A
White PLA is recommended
3. Smart Doorbell/Video Intercom System
A smart doorbell is a video intercom system that sits outside your front door and allows you to see, hear, and speak to visitors via an app on your smartphone. Having a smart doorbell and video intercom system makes answering your door more convenient and secure, and you can have more control over package deliveries and letting guests in when you’re not at home. However, as with all smart home devices, smart doorbell systems can be expensive. You can easily build your own smart doorbell and intercom system with a Raspberry Pi and a few sensors such as a microphone, speaker, and camera.
Hacker Shack created a guide to build your own smart doorbell with a Raspberry Pi that allows you to set up a virtual meeting room at your front door. You can see who is at the door, chat with them, and control the security settings yourself.
Right Angle Micro USB Connector
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
Flash Memory Card, MicroSD Card
Momentary Button with LED
Raspberry Pi LCD Screen
Raspberry Pi Camera
STEMMA Speaker w/ Amplifier
JST 3 Wire Connector
Female/Female Jumper Wires
Machine Screw, M4, M2, M2.5
4. Smart Home System with Arduino
If you’re just getting started with incorporating IoT devices in your home, the best project to start with is building a smart home system that monitors your home temperature and other helpful information. A DIY smart home system can save you money on your energy bills, and help keep you informed with data that otherwise is unobtainable.
Nikodem Bartnik created a guide on how to build a simple smart home system using an Arduino and a few different sensors. This system shows the temperature inside and outside the house, whether the window is open or closed, detects rain, and makes an alarm when the PIR sensor senses motion.
Ethernet module ENC28J60
Thermometer DS18B20 x2
Resistor 4,7k Ω
Tools (soldering, screwdriver)
If you’re trying to make your home smarter, there are plenty of smart home IoT gadgets and appliances available on the market today. But there’s much more out there than just the latest IoT smart home devices —there are also plenty of DIY IoT projects that are pretty straightforward and can be built by hobbyists with some basic electrical knowledge. With a little initiative and some imagination, you can turn your house into a smart home in no time. Time to get making!