Smart Home Devices – Are They Worth the Investment?
The smart home of the future is no longer a pipe dream – it’s been here for a while, and it keeps getting smarter and cheaper. Soon, super-smart homes won’t be confined to the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk but will become normal for the average joe. And it all starts with smart home devices that improve people’s lives in both big and small ways every day.
But what do these devices do, exactly, and are they really worth the investment?
Setting up a smart home can be expensive and complicated, depending on how many devices and features the homeowner wants to make use of. But approaching the smart home concept with a budget in mind can be a great way to update a home without spending too much.
Here’s a quick look at smart home devices, the benefits they provide, and whether those benefits are worth the price tag attached.
Consider everyday use
When it comes to updating a home with smart devices, the key element to consider is everyday use. It’s meaningless to add fancy new additions to the house if they don’t make sense for the household. People aren’t all the same, so they won’t want to get the same use out of their smart devices.
Choosing the right devices, as well as considering ease of use, is therefore very important. The “ease of use” idea is just as crucial, too. Having a state-of-the-art smart home is pointless if the people living there can’t properly use everything.
So, try to strike a comfortable balance between necessity, ease of use, and budget when shopping for smart home devices.
Don’t forget security
One important aspect many new smart device owners tend to forget – or just aren’t informed enough – is security. Smart devices form part of a system of connected devices called the Internet of Things (the IoT).
Needless to say, there are plenty of security concerns regarding the IoT, and it would take a whole separate discussion to get through all of those. But the main concern for homeowners is rogue agents getting access to their devices through poor network security and poorly configured device security.
The former is easily solved by installing a VPN on the home’s WiFi router. A virtual private network service encrypts a network connection for it to be safe from hackers. Installing a VPN prevents hackers from finding devices on the web (they can do so if you don’t know how to hide your IP) and also from hijacking the connection and stealing data or spying on people in their homes.
The latter is solved by considering security when choosing devices and following best security practices. These would involve such measures as changing the default passwords on your devices and updating their firmware regularly as new security patches are rolled out. Choosing a device whose manufacturer takes security seriously is a bit tougher, however.
Below are some tips on which smart home devices are worth shelling out cash for.
Smart home devices worth buying
Energy saving: smart lights, plugs, and thermostats
Energy conservation is probably one of the biggest selling points of smart devices. And not just because it’s better for the environment but also because it cuts down on bills. Some smart lights and thermostats can be programmed to turn on when people are in the room through sensors.
Others, including smart plugs, can be programmed to turn on or off during certain times. Smart thermostats are particularly proactive in this regard as they can automatically regulate temperatures for optimal comfort and power saving.
Security: smart doorbells, locks, and cameras
Smart devices open up a whole new avenue of home security possibilities. Pairing smart door locks with smart doorbells means owners can let people in even when they’re at work or on vacation. The same goes for smart cameras that can alert owners to movement or let them keep monitoring their home from far away. Many smart cameras come with added features like night vision and face tagging, which lets owners tag family and friends.
Convenience: smart appliances
Convenience is inherent with almost any smart device – even those geared toward energy saving or security. It’s easy enough to say “Alexa, turn off the lights” instead of having to get up to flip the switch. Some smart devices, however, exist solely for the purpose of convenient use.
For the most part, these are smart versions of common appliances like ovens, washing machines, TVs, and even coffee makers. Imagine telling the coffee maker to start making coffee before climbing out of bed, or getting the washing machine to do a load while commuting back from work.
Back at home, it’s possible to tie everything together into one system via a smart home system like Alexa or Google Assistant. The ability to let devices work remotely or even communicate with each other is not only convenient but saves on time.
Smart devices are getting better and less expensive by the year, making smart homes more accessible to all. There are many benefits to upgrading to smart devices, with the caveat that it’s done with some consideration and forethought.
While it’s always exciting to see all these new gadgets flooding the market, not all of them are worth their hefty price tags. Some also pose significant security risks if owners aren’t careful.
So, with that in mind, are smart devices worth the investment? Absolutely. Just make sure to choose (and spend!) wisely.