For under $300, Lowe's can get you started in home automation with their Iris system.
Considering trying home automation, but uncertain what to try and worried by the extremely high costs of many systems? You may want to look into Iris, a new system offered by Lowe's. For under $300, you can get a full starter kit that can handle things as basic as home heating and cooling, to stuff as unusual as a pet door that will allow one animal to go outside, but keep another one in (based on RFID identifiers worn on their collars).
It's an integrated plug-and-play system that can all be controlled through a consolidated app on your smartphone or tablet.
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Hosts, Cali Lewis and John P.