Are Smart Home A Good Idea

What does it mean to have a smart home? What are the benefits and drawbacks of smart home systems? Which are common smart home applications? What should you look for while selecting a system? Our comprehensive smart homes guide page contains the answers to these and other questions.

What exactly is a smart home?

The term “smart homes” refers to systems and processes that network and automate technology, household appliances, and consumer electronics in homes. This increases comfort because the devices no longer need to be switched manually or less frequently.

Innovative smart home technologies are also commonly employed in-home monitoring and security. Sensors, for example, can be used to monitor doors and windows in order to build up an alarm system in this manner. When doors or windows are opened when inhabitants are not present, sirens and lights are activated, and residents are notified of the break-in via their cellphones.

More effective energy consumption is another use that is becoming increasingly relevant in light of growing power and heating expenses. Heating expenditures, for example, can be decreased with a smart home system by automatically lowering the heating temperature while no one is in the house. “Smart” control of home electronics can help save electricity expenses, especially when combined with a photovoltaic system. When the PV system produces enough electricity, the system will automatically turn on the washing machine, for example.

In addition, while the phrase “smart homes” is now widely used, there are various labels for comparable or, in some cases, identical systems and products. Initially, analogous systems were referred to as “home automation” solutions, “house automation,” or “building automation.” Some service providers also use marketing slogans like “Connected Living,” “Smart Living,” “Intelligent Living,” and “Connected Home.”

What smart home systems are available?

As previously said, as the number of devices in your smart home increases, so does the complexity – and hence the number of apps. This can rapidly become irritating and difficult to manage.

The operation is greatly simplified by the integration of your smart devices in cross-manufacturer smart home solutions. Control is done through a central app or voice assistant in this case. Apple, Amazon, and Google have all triumphed in this arena. Other manufacturers, such as Bosch, also provide strong solutions.

Google’s smart house

The Google Assistant is the heart of Google’s smart home system. It controls your home and assists you in your daily life as a voice assistant and app on your smartphone, tablet, and smart display.

The Google Home app is used to connect your smart devices to the Google Assistant. More than 10,000 goods, according to Google, can currently be incorporated into the in-house system. This is always feasible if the product’s maker offers the so-called Google Home Actions. The devices are then controlled by a voice assistant or the Google Home app. The app is accessible for both Android and iOS devices.

Googles smart house

Google’s solution does not require any additional hardware because it operates without its own control center. Because networking is done through the Internet, you can operate all linked goods while you’re on the go.

HomeKit by Apple

Apple’s equivalent is known as Apple HomeKit. HomeKit does not require its own control panel for basic operations. You can find everything you need to get started on your iPhone, MacBook, iPad, or Apple Watch. We’re not talking about Siri, which is also available on the Apple HomePod. Rather, you use the Home app to manage and control your smart home system.

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The integration is accomplished with a HomeKit code, and the control is as simple as a few clicks. Automations and scenes, on the other hand, are only available through a HomeKit control center. The same is true for the operation of. This is best done with a fourth-generation iPad, an Apple TV, or a HomePod. The control center must be linked to the Internet at all times.

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When it comes to suitable gadgets, Apple HomeKit supports significantly less. The incorporation within the Apple universe makes it all the more compelling. The devices are easy to use, and Siri provides extensive voice control.

Alexa from Amazon

Amazon Alexa, with the same-named voice assistant, is also one of the most popular smart home solutions. Alexa is also available for use on your smartphone or tablet. Amazon also has a variety of smart speakers with built-in voice assistants. Some of the Amazon Echo series speakers also include a Zigbee hub. This means that Zigbee-compatible devices can be linked without the need for a separate control center. This saves some smart home gateways in addition to the apps.

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Amazon Alexa, like HomeKit and Google Home, leverages the control centers of the manufacturers. Your smart home gadgets are integrated using the well-known Alexa Skills, which provide Amazon access to the devices.

At a glance, the benefits of smart homes systems

– Control of devices from several manufacturers via a single app – Automation of devices from various manufacturers in a single system – Voice control

How is the smart home managed?

A smartphone app is used to set up smart home systems. The following automation can be saved in the app:

Every day between 08:00 and 23:00, the heater should heat the rooms to 22 degrees. If there is no one at home, set the temperature to 18 degrees.

The alarm system and surveillance cameras should be activated automatically when all residents are absent.

If it is raining and the windows are still open, residents will receive an alert on their smartphones.

Once configured, the networked devices can be controlled via the app, wall buttons, or voice commands given to a voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. To control the smart home, tablet PCs or small wall-mounted screens are typically employed.

Advantages of Smart Homes

A connected house can improve comfort, lower energy expenses, and increase security. An outline of several possible examples:

A higher standard of living and life.

Smartphone apps, digital voice assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri), or timers can manage shutters, lighting, and heating. Many systems additionally have a geofencing feature that switches devices when homeowners leave or return home.

Furthermore, many activities can be coupled to form so-called routines. With the flick of a wall switch or a similar voice command in the evening, the lights can be turned off, the alarm activated, and the shutters automatically lowered.

Security against intruders

Many systems can also function as (basic) alarm systems. Doors and windows, for example, can be monitored using appropriate sensors. In the event of an alarm, lights and sirens can be activated, and inhabitants can be notified through text messages on their smartphones.

A smart lighting system can also be utilized to imitate people’s presence. When it gets dark, the lighting is turned on and off at random.

Furthermore, surveillance cameras such as the Netatmo Presence or the Arlo Ultra can be used to check on the status of your house at any time using a smartphone app.

Stores also sell networked intercom systems like the Ring Video Doorbell. When a movement is detected at the front door, these devices notify occupants by smartphone messaging. Because of the integrated camera, you can verify on your smartphone whether a visitor is wanted or unwanted – even if you are not at home at the time.

Lowering energy costs

The heating temperature can be automatically adjusted depending on the time of day using appropriate smart home technologies. If no one is at home during the week, for example, the temperature can be decreased automatically to save on heating costs. If the windows have sufficient sensors, the system can also automatically lower the radiator thermostats whenever a window is opened for ventilation.

Using smart homes to cut heating expenses

Smart home: networked radiator thermostats can help you save money on heating.

Some systems, such as Tado, additionally include a geofencing capability. In this case, the system uses the GPS data from the connected smartphones to recognize whether or not inhabitants are at home and adjusts the heating temperature accordingly (see also our Tado test report). Electricity usage, in addition to heating costs, can be lowered, for example, by automatically shutting off the lights when all inhabitants leave the house.

With equivalent solutions, we were able to minimize heating expenses by roughly 20% in our experiments. However, the potential savings are dependent on a variety of particular conditions, such as the type of heating or the house’s design.

As a general rule, if all occupants leave the house on a regular basis, an investment in a smart heating control system is more likely to pay out because the system can lower the heating temperature during these periods. In most circumstances, a system for heating control is more beneficial to working people than to retirees who spend the majority of their time at home.

Disadvantages of Smart Homes

What are the drawbacks of having a networked home? The following counter-arguments can be summarized:

Concerns concerning data privacy and security in the smart home.

When do residents return home? When do which devices in the home get used? A system collects a lot of data on residents and must ensure that this data is securely protected – this is especially true if the device performs vital activities such as alarm systems and surveillance cameras.

The legislature has now set pretty clear restrictions for data gathering.

If the producer of a networked refrigerator or a smart smoke detector desires to gather personal data, it must also inform consumers about the collection and processing of this data.

Data protection violations can result in harsh fines.

Many people are hesitant to use networked speakers with digital voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Because these “smart speakers” are outfitted with microphones to accept voice commands, detractors frequently refer to them as bugs.

Although the manufacturers emphasize that the speakers do not permanently record conversations and that voice commands are only processed when the corresponding code word (“Hey Google”, “Alexa”) is said beforehand, many consumers are still uneasy with the systems, especially given the possibility of these systems being compromised by hackers.

As current events have demonstrated, these fears were justified: Apple, Amazon, and Google have recently revealed that their workers manually examined some of the speech commands captured by the digital assistants in order to improve voice recognition.

Following widespread criticism from consumer groups and legislators, the three providers intend to communicate more transparently about how voice assistants work in the future and provide tools that can be used to disable the manual interception of recordings.

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However, critics of voice assistants should be aware that every smartphone, landline phone, and even many television sets and automobiles now have microphones built.

Homematic, KNX, Zigbee, Digitalstrom, Z-Wave, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit are too many standards. Anyone looking to purchase a smart home system must finally choose a standard and accept its limitations: Residents with Android smartphones, for example, cannot control a smart house created with Apple HomeKit.

At least some businesses and projects promise to improve things in this area.

Although the cost of a smart home has decreased significantly in recent years, if all electronic devices, heating, and lighting are to be controlled by a smart home system, the necessary investment can quickly amount to a thousand or even several thousand dollars (euros) – especially if the house is larger with numerous radiators, etc.

To begin, it is best to automate sections of the house electronics, such as heating control, using a comparable system. The system can be upgraded over time to accommodate more features as needed. In addition, many components can be acquired and used on Amazon, lowering expenses.

Technically, it is not yet mature.

Anyone researching this system today will soon realize that many of them are not yet completely developed. Cloud-based solutions, in particular, which rely on the manufacturers’ technological infrastructure, encounter issues from time to time, such as when their own Internet connectivity breaks or the provider experiences technical difficulties.

Such a failure can be especially dangerous when integrating security-related services into the smart home: The networking of door locks or the oven should be carefully planned.

Another problem with cloud-based systems is that if the manufacturer goes out of business and shuts down its technological infrastructure, the acquired system would be rendered inoperable. In this regard, it is preferable to rely on large, recognized organizations when selecting a system.

Reliance on the provider

Many systems are cloud-based, which means that the control software is hosted (at least in part) at the provider’s data center. In this situation, the user expends less effort on system maintenance and administration while becoming overly reliant on the provider: If the company goes out of business, the system and possibly the hardware will be rendered inoperable.

This danger can be mitigated by using an open-standards-based technology, such as Z-Wave or Zigbee. This ensures that the hardware may be used even when the cloud is turned off,  with a new control panel.

Examples of smart homes applications

A networked home has numerous applications. We demonstrate the benefits of smart homes in everyday life with application examples.

– Lowering energy costs: When all occupants leave the house in the morning, the heating temperature is automatically adjusted. Using GPS data from smartphones, the system detects when the first occupant returns home and immediately raises the temperature. When a window is opened for ventilation, the system automatically reduces the heating in the associated room so that heating does not “go out the window.”

– Increase security: When inhabitants are not there, the system randomly turns on and off lights in various rooms to imitate the presence of humans. When surveillance cameras detect movement or doors/windows are opened, the system will sound an alarm.

– Increase comfort: The system turns lights or other electrical devices, such as a fan, on and off at predetermined periods or when a command is issued (by voice command).

– Household cleaning: Vacuuming and mopping robots take over some household chores by cleaning the floors. In addition, a robotic lawnmower can be employed to eliminate the need for time-consuming mowing. Integrating domestic robots into a system boosts convenience even more: For example, the robots do not begin working until all residents have left the residence.

– Assistance in elderly age: Smart home technologies enable older people to stay in their homes for extended periods of time. For example, if there are no people in the kitchen for an extended length of time, the system can automatically turn off the stove. Another example: if the resident falls, the smartwatch immediately contacts 911. Video intercoms or video doorbells can also be of great assistance, avoiding the potentially time-consuming visit to the front door.

– Improve your health: Sensors in smart homes continuously monitor air quality and notify occupants when a room needs to be aired. If the humidity level rises above a specified threshold, a dehumidifier is activated to prevent mold formation.

How to Choose a Smart Homes System

Careful planning should be the first step toward a networked house. You and the other occupants should determine how you want to utilize the smart house and which characteristics are most important:

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How should a smart house be run?

Although all systems may be operated with a smartphone, it is frequently more convenient to utilize traditional wall switches in ordinary life than to constantly go for the phone. Should the system be operated by voice commands as well? Then, while making your selection, ensure that the system is compatible with your favorite voice assistant (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple Siri).

It is critical to understand: that Siri is only compatible with Apple’s HomeKit technology. This technology, however, cannot be operated by Android cellphones.

What devices should be included in the system?

Do you want to network your entire house or simply certain aspects, such as heating and lighting? Consider specialized solutions like Philips Hue for lighting or Tado for heating control.

Should the system be wired or wireless?

Both options have benefits and drawbacks: Radio-based systems are much simpler to set up. If you decide to leave, you may simply take the system with you. Cable-based systems are more resistant to interference and can consistently cover big residences, but due to the additional cables required, this option is only appropriate for new construction or restorations.

Are there any other costs?

Many smart home companies charge a monthly fee in addition to the one-time fees for the devices and components.

Is data security guaranteed?

Another critical feature is the system’s data protection and security. Examine the provider’s privacy policies ahead of time and conduct Internet research to see whether the company has a history of security flaws or inadequate data protection.

See our buying a smart home system guide for more information on selecting a system.

The connected house’s future: smart homes trends

In recent years, smart home systems have gotten much less expensive and more capable. This tendency is expected to continue, making the linked home more appealing to even more people in the future.

We anticipate that the following trends and innovations will influence the future smart home:

– Improved compatibility: Amazon, Google, Ikea, and a number of other corporations are developing the new industry standard Matter. The matter is designed to connect the devices and systems of multiple smart home suppliers. Customers would no longer have to select a system.

– Artificial intelligence: The networked home is meant to boost comfort and save time, but it now begins with a lengthy setup process: people must be added to the system, procedures must be saved, and gadgets must be trained. In the future, artificial intelligence and self-learning algorithms will do some of this work for us. For example, the system will automatically learn when inhabitants generally leave the house, eliminating the need to laboriously set up time profiles for heating control and the alarm system. Artificial intelligence can also detect odd occurrences in the home (for example, the clink of a glass pane) and sound an alarm.

– Intelligent interfaces: Home automation systems are currently generally operated via smartphone, voice command, or wall switches. The smartphone is not always available, a voice command can bother other occupants (or wake up the little child), and a switch can only do a limited number of programmed functions. Other control choices will be added in the future to complement existing options. The desired brightness of the lighting, for example, might be set easily with a hand motion recognized by appropriate sensors. Fibaro already has a solution for gesture control of Z-Wave devices, such as Fibaro Swipe.

– The need for a networked home is not always consistent with aesthetic requirements: The smart house is still commonly characterized by cumbersome sensors at the window, control displays, or intermediate plugs at the sockets. The good news is that sensors are shrinking in size and networking capabilities are being built directly into devices. Relevant information, such as the weather or a live image from a surveillance camera, may be projected onto the wall or displayed in the “smart” mirror in the future.

Decision-making:

The most crucial question to consider is, of course, the intended usage. For example, if you require a security camera with a built-in floodlight, some manufacturers will be unavailable.

Furthermore, a rough selection of the system is critical from the start. Because it influences subsequent decisions. If you want a smart video doorbell from Ring, for example, your options are limited to Amazon Alexa. You don’t want to make a decision straight away?

Then select the products that are the most compatible. Even if no voice assistant initially settles in with you: Cooperation with Siri is, of course, vital if you own an iPhone.

Begin with starter sets.

Starter sets are an excellent way to get started by making one section of your home smart. They are typically made up of a control panel and one or more smart products. You may get started right away with no additional gear. The installation is usually relatively simple using the manufacturer’s apps. The same is true if you integrate your beginning set right away into an Apple, Amazon, or Google smart home system. Simply launch the Apple Home, Google Home, or Alexa apps on your smartphone.

FAQ

Are smart houses necessary?

Smart home assures you conserve energy and minimize your power and water expenses. Often it is noted that lights stay on owing to the laziness of rising up and turning them off. A smart home will enable you to switch off lights and other electrical gadgets even while you are in bed and going to sleep.

How will smart homes transform our lives?

The number of smart homes is predicted to expand and approach the 350 million level by 2023. Smart speakers are the most widely-known market category, of which roughly 320 million were in use in 2020. The size of the installed base is anticipated to double by 2024.

Do smart houses save money?

Smart home gadgets don’t simply make it easy to lock the garage door or safeguard your house. They may also help you save energy and money if you utilize them appropriately. And knowing how Americans spend $130 billion a year on wasted energy, folks should use all the aid they can get.

A new survey from Cinch Home Services has indicated that a majority of consumers have basically accepted the notion of smart home technology and have good emotions about it. Specifically, 77 percent of the 1,013 persons questioned have embraced the more widespread technology.

What are the 5 reasons for a smart house?

5 Reasons To Opt For Smart Home Technology Comfort and convenience. … Energy efficiency. … Safety and security. … Flexibility and personalization. … Home management insights.

What’s the best smart home system?

The greatest smart home gadget you can purchase today Amazon Echo Dot with Clock. The greatest smart home gadget overall. … Nest Cam (battery) (battery) The finest smart home gadget for safeguarding your house. … Ecobee SmartThermostat. … Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit. … August Wi-Fi Smart Lock. … Nest Doorbell (battery) … Wemo WiFi Smart Plug. … Nest Protect.

What proportion of Americans has a smart home?

From smart doorbells to thermostats and light bulbs, the smart house has become popular all over the globe. It was anticipated that roughly 37 percent of homes in the United States had a smart home device in 2020, the highest forecast smart home penetration rate globally.

How much does a smart house cost?

To completely automate a typical 4-bedroom, 3-bath house, you may spend up to $15,000. Luxury fully-connected residences range $10,000 to $150,000. Labor to install wired systems costs $85 per hour. Home automation includes lighting, security, locks, thermostats, and entertainment.

How do I safeguard my smart house?

How to Help Protect Your Smart Home from Hackers Understand your smart home gadgets and their weaknesses. … Use only reputed smart home technology companies. … Protect your Wi-Fi network. … Use unique passwords for everything. … Secure your smart home gadgets. … Be Safe and Save Money.

Can smart home automation be hacked?

Yes, smart home automation can be hacked. In most situations, this is due to human mistakes and ignorance. Hackers may get access to home automation systems owing to weak security mechanisms or obsolete software.

Why are some people frightened about smart homes?

Surveillance concerns. Perhaps the most apparent source of opposition is a concern for privacy and the idea that smart gadgets may trespass on our personal life.

What is the greatest threat to the smart home?

A 2021 research study indicated that ordinary smart houses are susceptible to a significant amount of data threats. Reported incidents of smart home assaults have included hackers remotely manipulating smart lighting and smart TVs, opening IoT-enabled doors, and remotely turning on and streaming footage from smart cameras.

How will smart houses affect our lives?

The proper smart home features may make our lives more pleasant and easy, offer safety and peace of mind, and boost our overall sentiments of well-being. For these reasons, it’s no wonder most people assume moving into a smart house – or making their current home “smarter” – would lead to a better life.

Do smart houses listen to you?

A majority—68 percent—of respondents indicated they think smart home gadgets listen to you while you aren’t aware and share the data with the corporations behind the products: Amazon, Google, and even Facebook, for those who purchased a Portal. The remaining 32 percent of respondents don’t feel smart home gadgets listen to them.