The world is more connected than ever before, and the rise of the smart home is just one of the many signs. According to recent statistics, there are an estimated 300 million smart homes worldwide, with over 60 million smart home devices being used in the US.
It’s estimated that by 2023, home industry automation will be over 50%. The smart home market will likely be worth over $80 billion in 2023, and most Americans are willing, even eager, to see the technology proliferate in their own homes.
So what’s all the fuss about when it comes to smart homes, and what are some of the advantages and drawbacks of smart home technology?
What Is a Smart Home?
Simply put, a smart home is an outgrowth of the Internet of Things (IoT) — a home with a variety of Internet-capable devices designed to enhance and improve the home living experience. Smart homes are also frequently automated, taking the burden of mundane maintenance tasks out of your hands so you can concentrate on other things.
Advantages of a Smart Home
One of the major advantages of a smart home is convenience. With smart home technology, you can control multiple functions such as lights, temperature, music, and more through your smartphone or a home automation assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. No more having to move to another room or even get out of your chair to adjust the thermostat or cue up your favourite playlist.
Another major advantage of smart home tech is being able to access certain home functions remotely. If you forgot to leave your lights on at home (or if you want to turn them on), smart home technology lets you handle that through an app on your phone. Some smart home thermostats will even start warming up the house when it detects you’re getting close to coming home.
There’s a reason why younger homeowners, especially those conscious of climate change, love smart home technology. Programmable thermostats can lower energy usage significantly, and smart home detection systems can alert you to water or gas leaks before they become a major issue. That can lead you to get big discounts on your homeowners’ insurance, especially if you inform your insurer and compare home insurance quotes for the best deal.
Smart home technology is highly flexible and customizable — not only can you create a smart home environment that meets your needs and budget with the products you purchase, and set them up in a way that best suits your lifestyle.
Disadvantages of a Smart Home
While high-tech, internet-connected devices can offer a lot of conveniences, they also have one weakness that more traditional homes don’t: a disruption in your internet connectivity, either from a bad router or your ISP going down, can make it difficult or even impossible to carry out certain functions. A power surge could potentially cause irreparable damage to some of your devices.
While smart home tech can go a long way toward making your home more secure, it also comes with certain vulnerabilities. Many users don’t practice good security hygiene such as changing the default password on their devices, and that can leave you vulnerable to hijacking of your smart home devices.
If you happen to have smart locks, poor security could even lead to a hacker gaining access to your home. In addition, many users have raised concerns about privacy and what happens to the personal data that are monitored by smart home technology. It’s wise to be aware of just what information your tech will share and let that inform your purchasing decisions.
If you’re not a “digital native” or sometimes struggle with using technology, you might find dealing with your smart home a bit of an uphill battle. While manufacturers do their best to ensure their devices are easy to use, there is still a learning curve involved — your smart home thermostat, for example, is going to be a little more sophisticated than turning up the dial on a manual thermostat — but the benefits will be worth it in the end.
While thermostats, automatic lights, and leak detectors can save you a lot of money in the long run, a full smart home suite can be very expensive in the short run. Depending on how elaborate your system is and what features you’re looking for, a smart home overhaul could easily run you into the thousands of dollars. As with any other home renovation project, it pays to shop around and look for the best deals you can.