Devils Advocate: Smart House

Some Things to Consider

Devils Advocate: Smart House
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The idea of an automated “smart house” sounds more like something out of a sci-fi movie than real-life suburbia. Imagine a voice-controlled oven in your kitchen, a TV that doubles as art, or an indoor garden that practically manages itself — you can have your own part of the future in any room of your house. Before you begin installing smart devices throughout your smart home, there are a few things to consider:

Brains
Communication
Cost
Security
Brains

The primary concern when creating a smart house is fragmentation — when your smart devices refuse to follow one “leader.” Without smart planning, you could end up with a house full of advanced electronics all working at only a portion of their potential.

Even with the fragmented issue, the growing popularity of smart devices like Google Home ($99 at Walmart) and Alexa, as well as services like IFTTT, are helping to fix the language barrier between different devices and services.

The best way to make your smart home “shatter proof” is to get a good brain, like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Apple’s HomeKit or Samsung’s SmartThings. After you have decided on the brain, the best option is to only purchase smart bulbs, locks, cameras, and other accessories or appliances that are compatible with it.

Communication

The point of a smart home to not make your life more difficult, so your other consideration in building an automated abode is the system’s ease of use.

Smart home products need great support from third-party services like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s HomeKit. These services help to keep the communication open between the smart devices; the more that your devices talk to each other, the easier your home will run.

Successful cross-compatibility of your smart devices will allow you to create a solid routine in your home with automation or simple commands that make controlling your home easier and faster. Another thing to remember is that more is not always better — you may want to keep your smart speaker count to a minimum in your house.

Cost

Smart gadgets can be amazingly efficient, time-saving aids for your home; however, smart technology is not cheap and there is a definite difference in the cost of these devices over their standard “dumb” counterparts.

For example, a smart light switch that is voice/remotely controlled (like the Lutron Caseta) is $100 — $130 more expensive than even the fanciest non-smart dimmer switch. If you decide to outfit your entire home with these bad boys, you are looking at spending a few thousand dollars just on light switches.

Think you need a smart fridge? You will spend a minimum of $1,500 for that technology. The price tag can jump as high as $6,500 — for something that keeps food cold. Dacor makes a very fancy refrigerator for almost the cost of a small car.

What about the savings? It honestly depends on what you are upgrading. You may find that the savings in energy and dollars do not outweigh the hefty price tag.

Security

The final concern when creating a smart home is security. TV shows like “Mr. Robot” and “Black Mirror” highlight potential nightmare situations regarding smart houses. Even though smart security systems are now less expensive than standard security systems ($47 at Amazon), any system that operates through a wireless connection is still ultimately susceptible to flaws and break-ins.

In the end, your smart security is only as strong as your WIFI password. You can better protect yourself by frequently change your WIFI password. You may also consider adding an additional layer of protection by giving each smart device its own unique password.

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