A networked home is a happy home. But how much will it cost to make your home a smart home? Surprisingly little, or surprisingly a lot. It depends on whether you take baby steps or go whole hog.

You can make a home network based on the existing wiring in the walls or use wireless options. No cost for infrastructure there. Is it as powerful as an installed system? No, but for many it will do the trick. Alternatively, you can install a whole system from scratch. The cost varies, just like the cost of building a house. The more you put in, the more it costs.

The following table shows you some of the rough costs for networking your home, with reasonable expectations. These are the costs of the components and the installation — you'll have some additional ongoing costs for services such as Internet and cable TV and for your computing hardware.

Expense Area Low Midrange High Obscene
Wired infrastructure $1,000 $2,500 $4,000 $6,000
Wireless infrastructure $50 $150 $200 $500
Home theater (TV + surround) $1,000 $3,000 $25,000 $200,000
Whole-home audio $1,000 $2,000 $6,000 $30,000
Phone system $150 $500 $1,000 $2,000
Intercom system (standalone) $100 $500 $1,000 $2,000
Data system $50 $150 $500 $1,500
Security system $200 $500 $2,000 $20,000
Home automation $50 $1,000 $10,000 $30,000
Total $3600 $10,300 $49,700 $292,000