Based on location and financial situation, not all ideas and tools discussed in this site may be within reach of all readers, therefore I made this page to try to help making this type of project affordable. If you have suggestions you think should be added, please drop me a line!
Part 1: where to buy stuff
- Look for sales: it sounds silly, but do this. Your country may have a website or two for deal tracking, in Canada we have RedFlagDeals and before buying anything I usually take a peek there. Also the “big names” have their own scheduled and/or seasonal offers like Amazon’s Prime Day where their products usually get a decent discount.
- Employee perk programs: some regions/countries have third party organizations handling “employee discounts” as an employment benefit. In Canada we have Perkopolis which is worth looking into if your employer is a member. In Canada Lenovo, HP, Apple, Dell, and many more are member companies who offer discounts and deals. Check with your HR team!
- Discount sites:
- Shopping plugins: look for browser extensions for automated coupons like Honey. Plus some offer a percentage back into points into their store. The Camelizer tracks historical pricing on Amazon. Tons more here.
- Global “wholesale” shipping sites from manufacturers or “close to” like AliExpress. DHGate or Wish.com can be interesting. Fair warnings on these sites:
- Be patient as your order may take a while to arrive. Not days but weeks.
- Sometimes you can find as good pricing locally if a retailer bought in large quantities
- Amazon has the same products usually, prices are not always as good but shipping times may be better but always look at the estimated time to delivery before buying
- You might have to pay some customs and duties
- Many “sellers” sell the same items so shop around to get the best deal
- Second-hand products: why not? Depending of the item type, sometimes you can get a good deal. Just make sure you can protect your purchase by looking at reputable sellers on eBay, Facebook Marketplace and others. Do make sure to do a “factory reset” before using the device (you need to anyway but clearing the previous owner’s stuff is critical. My cable modem for my ISP was found on Facebook Marketplace.
Part 2: some tech shopping tips
- You don’t need the “latest and greatest”, if it works, it works. If you have it, use it. A good example is to use an old iPad for HomeKit, you don’t need a new ones, just make sure it’s powered at all times and hidden so no one uses it. Same with the Amazon Echo products, a previous generation speaker with ZigBee should be just fine.
- Sometimes you get what you pay for and what you save financially you spend in frustrations. Also key items like smart locks, personally, I’d go for tried and true products. Like my cousin says “I’m too poor to be frugal”.
- Take a look at Ikea! Some of their devices are quite good AND affordable!
- Sometimes “discount” brands are just as good as the big names, look at Sonoff and ThirdReality for affordable things which will work but read reviews first.
- The Tuya ecosystem: we mention it in the hubs section here and overall good stuff can be used under this platform. A few things worth noting:
- In my experience, this is the most affordable ecosystem out there and you can buy this via the AliExpress-type online stores and Amazon.
- Compare Tuya pricing with others, like for power plugs I can get TP-Link WiFi ones here in Canada for less than the Tuya ones on AliExpress. Same with the Sonoff products.
- Privacy could be a problem as some data *could* be sent to servers to analyze stuff, but in this context do you care? I’ll let you decide I don’t wander into the privacy debate, just bring to light that some users are concerned.
- Look for “Works with Tuya” wording on products, they are usually quite clear on this, BUT their ZigBee products only work with the Tuya hubs (which can be connected to others don’t worry) and read dreaful commnents on their WiFi products.
- Sample Tuya device pricing I found on AliExpress when writing this page (including shipping fees to Canada which is far, far away):