Mar 172015

Guest post by Dane O’Leary

Home automation is all the rage. Over the past couple of years, this relatively new gadgetry has grown from a subset of consumer electronics into an extensive and thriving tech industry. Part of what makes home automation so popular is its promise of convenience, security, and its ability to streamline what, until recently, had been disparate, incompatible technology throughout your home. It doesn’t hurt that home automation has become more affordable with many of the available options being versatile, compatible with most products on the market, and just plain cool.

Many home automation systems are based on the Linux operating system. In fact, many of the earliest mainstream home automation systems — like CorAccess Companion and Control4 Home Controller — were developed based on a Linux variant. Today’s models offer built-in processors and much more power, but with a much more accessible price tag. Here are some of the best Linux-based home automation systems that $300 or less can buy.

Wink Relay

Whether you’re new to the scene or a seasoned home automaton, you’ve surely heard of the Wink Relay, a product of Qwirky Incorporated. Although it sits firmly at the upper limit of our budget at $300 from Qwirky, Home Depot, and other retailers, the Wink Relay is definitely a crowd and critic favorite.


Via Qwirky Store

The system is essentially a 4.3-inch touchscreen tablet embedded in the wall in place of any light switch, giving you comprehensive control of your home’s gadgetry. Via the wall-mounted Relay or remotely with the accompanying app, users can adjust a smart thermostat, lights, and door locks. Users can even control and monitor energy usage thanks to the Wink Relay which can sense temperature and humidity. The control center is stylish, user-friendly, and has potential for more features with future updates. In fact, there’s an update that’s expected very soon that will provide an intercom too.


While Home Depot offers Wink, Iris is the Lowe’s version and another Linux-based home automation system. Iris is available in three bundles at two price points: $80 for either the Safe & Secure or Comfort & Control Kit, and $200 for the Smart Kit that offers the full package.

Via Lowe’s

Via Lowe’s

The Iris Smart Kit consists of the hub, sensors for motion and points of entry, a keypad, smart plugs for outlets, a smart thermostat, a range extender, and a window decal that says “Monitored by Iris.” The system is also compatible with additional home automation tech such as smart deadbolts and electronic blinds from companies like Kwikset, Schlage, General Electric, Honeywell, and many others. Iris can be controlled via the web app or by downloading the free iOS or Android apps. Described as being simple, user-friendly, and functional, Iris is a lower-cost, effective Linux-based home automation system that offers convenient bundles to supply you with whichever components you want or need.


Although it’s not yet been released, the ALYT — Affordably Link Your Things — Smart Home system promises power and some rather unique, innovative features. The pre-order launch price is $199 for the ALYT Starter Kit, which ships in April and includes the smart hub, a motion sensor, and a door sensor.

Via ALYT Store

Via ALYT Store

The ALYT system is unique in that it combines home automation, surveillance, and energy management with super-intuitive algorithms that allow the system to learn from both your interactions with the system as well as your daily lifestyle. In short, the system was designed to anticipate your needs by learning your habits. With appropriate components, ALYT offers voice recognition and control, facial recognition, motion detection and gesture control, sensors to measure air quality and humidity, HD camera surveillance, night vision, and even a siren for security breaches. It hasn’t yet been released, but preliminary reviews have been very positive and indicate that ALYT could revolutionize home automation.

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  One Response to “The Best Linux-Based Home Automation Systems for Under $300”

  1. Thank you very much for the opportunity to be a guest writer. I hope that you and your readers find this piece valuable and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a great spring season.

    Dane O’Leary

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