A “smart home” is the name for a home network that uses the internet to connect your appliances and devices and control them with a smartphone or tablet. Any appliance or device that uses electricity can be connected to a wireless or hardwired smart home system.
A smart home system is most often used to run basic lighting, home security, a thermostat, and home theatre and entertainment systems. However, the sky is the limit for many other uses.
Here are just a few things a smart system can do:
Smart home technology allows you to conveniently control your appliances and devices using a smartphone or tablet from wherever you are, inside or outside the house. You can also keep track of what’s going on in your house through notifications and updates while you’re away.
When appliances and devices are set up with timers and schedules to turn them on and off, they become more energy-efficient and cost-effective. Lights can be set to turn off automatically when no one is in the room, and heat or air conditioning can be adjusted for the people in the room at any given moment. Some smart devices can track how much energy each appliance uses and adjust power-hungry appliances to reduce energy consumption.
Smart technology promises tremendous benefits for an elderly person living alone in their own house. Smart technology could remind them when it's time to take medicine, alert a hospital if they fall, and track how much they’re eating. If an elderly person is a little forgetful, the smart system could perform essential tasks like shutting off the water before a tub overflows or turning off the oven if they wander away from the kitchen.
Smart technology could also allow adult children living elsewhere to participate in the care of their aging parent by receiving notifications and updates. Similarly, these automated systems could provide benefits to people living with disabilities or a limited range of movement.
Security risks and bugs continue to be a problem for smart home technology. There is the potential for hackers to gain access to your home internet network and turn off alarm systems and lights or turn devices on and off rapidly, which could ruin some electronics and possibly cause a fire. In order to mitigate these risks, you should use a strong, encrypted password and only connect trusted devices to your network.
Sometimes a smart home system is too complicated or frustrating to be very useful. The technology requires a significant time investment to learn how it works and to keep it working efficiently or properly, which might negate any convenience you might hope to achieve with it.
If you build your smart home system gradually, perhaps starting with a basic lighting system, you might only be spending a few hundred dollars. However, if you are considering a sophisticated system, the costs can run anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a wireless system to tens of thousands of dollars for a hardwired system.
Because there are so many brand-new technological advances in this area, there's still no standard system for automating everything. Without universal regulations, many consumers wonder if they're buying products that will become obsolete or unusable in a few years.
Explore the different components of the house.