Some of us have a love/hate relationship with technology. We love how convenient it is for increasing efficiency and the many ways it helps power our lives. On the flip side, we fear things like data breaches, identity theft, and hacking exploits.
In most cases, the downside can be neutralized by taking a few basic precautions.
The same can be said for smart home technology. We love the luxury of having our indoor environment managed to our preferences, 24/7 security monitoring when we’re asleep or away, and the cost savings that comes from conserving resources through automation.
Like every form of technology, there is an upside and a downside.
Before we get into those, we’ll provide a brief definition of smart home automation and tell you a little bit about how it works.
What is Smart Home Automation?
Smart homes and smart home automation are not quite the same thing. The terms are often used interchangeably, and they’re closely related.
However, Smart Home refers to the networked devices that can be controlled via your home internet connection from anywhere. Home automation is the technology that makes it possible to connect and control these devices.
You’ve no doubt heard of the Internet of Things (IoT)? This is part of it.
Home automation is what allows you to network and configure devices that control the temperature in your home, start your car on a cold day while you wait inside all cosy and warm, and coordinate your indoor lighting, stereo, and many other home electronics with little input or effort from you. You simply set a schedule or scene, and the automation does the rest.
The extent to which it can do this depends upon how it is set up and configured, which devices are connected, and how they’re programmed to interact with other devices.
Smart Home Automation works by programming a hub or multiple hubs that you can then activate from your phone or via voice activation. The most common proprietary home assistant is Alexa, but there are great open source systems, such as Home Assistant, that some consider to be more private and secure.
The difference is that the first is a premium, cloud-based home automation platform and the second is local. Home Assistant is free and open source, but you can add a cloud component for a subscription fee, which would convert it into a hybrid service.
Now that we know a little more about smart home automation and how it works, let’s take a closer look into whether it’s worth it to install or a dangerous capability that you should avoid.
5 Advantages of Having a Smart Home
Do you remember the days when you would need to take a day off from work because a repair technician was coming to install your cable or replace a major home system? With smartphone automation, you can let them in your house from nearly any physical location and use an app on your phone to monitor what’s going on inside your home while you’re away.
Setting up a smart home is remarkably easy and requires no in-depth tech knowledge, though it can be a bit pricey, to begin with. However, keep in mind that it’s a small price to pay for the benefits of remote access and 24/7 visual monitoring of your property. These are just a few advantages of venturing into smart home technology. Here’s another 5 listed below on why you should seriously consider smartifying your home
1. Energy Efficient
Did you come from one of those households where the parent(s) were constantly walking through every room and turning off the lights or complaining when the utility bills arrived in the mail? Smart home automation eliminates this problem by allowing you to configure lighting, thermostats, water, and even your light bulbs to turn on or off on a set schedule. You can also configure and coordinate systems by season, occupancy, time of day, and other metrics in order to conserve precious resources and cut consumption.
That means greater efficiency and lower bills.
Another money-saving feature is built-in sensors that tell you when it’s time to change a filter, service your system, or that you might need a repair. This is a much more sensible solution than waiting for a breakdown or inefficiency that puts strain or wear on your home appliances and systems.
2. Hands-free Convenience
With voice activation, you can tell your home assistant to preheat the oven, record your favorite show, turn on the lights, or even fill the tub. This feature is also great for those times when your hands are full and you need to multitask.
3. Enhanced Security
From remote monitoring to round-the clock surveillance, smart home technology offers enhanced security. You can set your door locks and alarms or see who’s at the door while you’re away. If there’s a problem with your stove or furnace, it can shut down automatically and send a service request straight to the plumber or HVAC technician even if you’re on a business trip or vacation.
4. Save Time With Automated Tasks
Wouldn’t it be great if you could program your home to have the indoor temperature and lighting set to your preferences before you arrive home from work? No more fumbling for your keys at a darkened doorway or bumping your shins on the end table while you feel around for the lights.
Whatever compatible devices or preferences you need can be automated and customized to save time for things that really matter.
5. Access control
This not only saves money and alerts first responders when there’s a fire, medical emergency, or break in attempt, it also makes homes and home systems more accessible for the elderly and disabled.
The Downside of Smart Home Technology
”People assume that the smarter your home, the better your life. But in reality, technology so often gets in the way of leading a good life.” ~ Joe Gebbia, Designer
Of course, for every advantage, there are certain disadvantages. The trick is to determine if the benefits are worth the risk.
To our minds, these are the main liabilities you face when installing smart home automation and how to minimize those risks.
Security and Privacy
Anything that’s connected to the internet or has remote access can be hacked. There’s no way to make home automation 100 percent impenetrable, but there are things you can do to minimize risk.
First of all, don’t connect all systems and devices to the same network. Most modems will allow you to segment your networks, so you can have one connection for computing, one for visitors, a separate network for security monitoring, home appliances, and your furnace. Check with your IP service for more information about setting up your network.
Although it’s becoming more common, the technology is still out of reach for some people. First, determine if the savings offer an ROI that offsets the cost. You could also implement more critical features, such as a remote doorbell or video monitoring first, and then add technologies or devices as your budget and requirements change or increase.
Setup and Configuration
Sometimes, even someone who’s tech-savvy can have a difficult time setting up or configuring devices. Many companies offer tech support and installation/setup assistance. Even if there’s a small fee attached, it’s worth the price to avoid improper configuration and hassle.
Do the Advantages Outweigh the Risks? Final Thoughts About Smart Home Automation
When precautions are put in place and it’s properly installed and maintained, smart home technology offers many advantages. In fact, it’s projected that by 2025, global home automation investment will reach $133.2 billion. By that point in time, it’s estimated that there will be more than 30 billion active IoT connections or networked devices.
In other words, this technology isn’t going away any time soon. The automation will also become more affordable and secure as it evolves, diminishing several of the disadvantages.
Our best advice to you is to evaluate your own needs and budgets to determine how – and how many – smart home capabilities will improve your life.