Inspired by a recent Lifehacker post, I wanted to write up one of my favorite hardware projects. (My less favorite hardware projects will also get written up…eventually.) Home automation is not cheap. The more robust solutions tend to cost $40-$100 per device or switch. However, most of what the average consumer really wants out of home automation can be done cheaply with off-the-shelf parts - security goes out the window, so this is great for lights and fans but not recommended for locks and alarms.