Smart home technology is growing in popularity, prompting many homeowners to wonder if they should invest in home automation. It’s true that there are a lot of benefits to owning a smarter home, including the possibility of a boosted home value. Consumer Reports notes that dwellings with smart home features sell for as much as 5 percent more than nearby homes.
However, if you don’t do your research, you could end up spending money on incompatible devices or tech that’s obsolete in a few years. Use this advice to ensure you make wise choices.
For some, smart home products are just another high-tech gadget to play with. But most homeowners buying smart home technology are looking for products that make life easier. The right smart technology can save energy, make a home safer against intruders and fires, and add convenience to everyday tasks. As Facing Disability explains, smart home products also improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
However, making your home smarter takes money. While home automation is more affordable than ever, it’s still possible to spend a hefty sum when purchasing and installing devices. And not all homeowners find the tech user-friendly; if you’re not tech-savvy, managing your home’s functions through an app could be more frustrating than freeing.
Finally, there’s the issue of overdoing it. Certain smart devices have achieved broad appeal, but others are gimmicky or simply not on the average person’s radar. If you over-improve your house with smart technology, you risk scaring away future buyers who don’t want to deal with learning to use a fully automated home or updating outdated technology. That’s not to say you shouldn’t invest in a smart home system — you just need to be very careful about the products you choose and how you install them.
There are a lot of companies entering the home automation market. As a consumer, you should understand that you can’t always mix and match devices from different manufacturers. Different devices use different wireless network protocols to communicate. You can learn the specifics at Newegg, but the important thing to know is this: If you want to manage all your smart devices through a single app, it’s best to buy products from the same ecosystem or brand.
Then, there are wiring and connectivity issues. Some products, like smart light bulbs, are plug-and-play, but others require accessing your home’s wiring. Homeowners who aren’t comfortable with wiring — or who want to spare themselves the frustration of troubleshooting connectivity issues — should opt for professional installation. Some companies will include installation with their products for an added cost, but if you’re buying a system without this option, look for local professionals. The growing home automation market means many local electricians are knowledgeable about installing this sort of technology.
When first researching smart home improvement, stick to the basics. These are the most popular products in the home automation market:
- Smoke detectors: With a smart smoke detector, you don’t have to be home to be alerted to an emergency. The device sends a notification to your smartphone when smoke is detected, no matter where you are.
- Smart lighting: There are bulbs that can be set to turn off at a certain time. This is great for when it’s time to go to bed, or if you need a push to leave your home office at the end of a workday.
- Locks: No more worrying you forgot to lock the door. With smart locks, you can lock and unlock doors remotely and issue single-use codes to visitors.
- Switches and plugs: Smart outlets and switches allow any light or powered device to be controlled remotely.
- Thermostats: Smart thermostats take programmable thermostats to the next level by learning your routines and automatically adjusting the temperature.
- Security cameras: Forget downloading footage after the fact. Smart security systems allow you to monitor cameras in real-time and alert you of suspicious activity.
- Speakers or hubs: A hub is a central device for controlling your smart home. Most smart speakers can function as a hub, but a dedicated hub offers more features.
Still feeling unsure about smart home technology? You don’t need to commit to a fully automated home to test the water with this new tech. Give a device like a smart plug or thermostat a try and expand later if you enjoy the perks of a smarter home.
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