An Overview of Smart Home TechnologyPhillip Mandel
After having been in the custom home building business for 40+ years, we at Barrister have seen fads come and go: from track lighting and velvet wallpaper to avocado green mixers and beaded curtains. But one trend we’ve seen in recent years that we think is never going away is the application of smart technology to the home. So-called “smart” appliances have made life more convenient and easier for tons of homeowners in New Jersey, and for the most part, we love putting in as many smart devices as possible in new homes.
But not all smart technology is applicable, or even beneficial, to everyone’s situation. We like the “Internet of Things” — or IoT — just as much as the next custom home builder in New Jersey; however, we believe it is crucial for the NJ homeowner to understand what these new technologies are and how they work. There are many upsides to using smart home technology, but it does come with potential downsides. It’s important to know which smart home technologies are worth it, so you don’t spend valuable time and money on smart tech that doesn’t bring you any value.
Apps and Automation
Much of the smart home industry is focused on using apps to automate certain aspects of the way we live our everyday lives. For example, you can use apps to control your lighting and other fixtures inside the home. There are smart refrigerators and other kitchen appliances, smart keys, antennas, and of course, smart TVs, phones, and watches that everyone knows about. This technology relies on your home network and the cloud, so keep in mind that you may lose access to some or all of it if the Internet goes down.
Technology for Controlling Lights
One of the most popular smart home technologies is also one of the simplest. There are multiple ways for you to automate turning your lights on and off. The most common methods involve using a voice command, which is then relayed through a voice assistant to the smart lights. This is usually the entry point for most people into smart home technology.
There are many ways you can automate your entertainment options. For example, you can use automation to control your television, and it can even be done with your music. Alexa is an example of this kind of device, or Google’s Nest. It’s convenient, but we don’t think it’s by any means necessary–especially if you have privacy concerns, as we’ll discuss below.
Robotic Vacuum Cleaners and Cleaning Equipment
Practical applications for smart home technology are usually the areas where it shines. For example, many robotic vacuum cleaners offer tremendous value for busy professionals. You can also have the option to automate your laundry, dishwashing, and even your trash. While these are more expensive and complicated, they offer great value for people looking to simplify their lives. An example of what you can expect from robotic vacuum cleaners is the iRobot Roomba.
For all the talk of convenience and ease, we think security is perhaps the most important part of this new paradigm. Many automated smart home security solutions make a lot of sense for the majority of people. These devices ensure that you always know what is going on inside your home. It does most of the work by deterring potential attackers, but you might occasionally have someone try to break in, and this is where you see the value of these items. One example of a smart security solution is the Ring line of devices, which has a doorbell that syncs to your phone so you can view who is at your door when someone comes to the front of the house. (And what’s even better is that these devices have motion sensors, so the video will begin recording and you’ll be alerted of their presence even if they don’t ring the bell.)
Potential Privacy Concerns
As noted above, an important thing to talk about when we discuss how great and convenient the Internet of Things can be is one major potential downside; that is, what makes smart home technology work may also be its biggest drawback. Smart technology requires constant connections to the Internet, which may lead to a privacy concern for many people. For example, with many of these technologies, you are essentially inviting multiple different listening devices into your home. In addition, if the internet goes out, your smart tech may not work properly. Finally, if you are always connected, you may be opening yourself up to getting hacked, or other privacy concerns. Thus, if you are majorly focused on privacy, you may want to think seriously about which of these products is worth it, and which aren’t.
Making Smart Choices
Not every smart home technology is worth the effort and money, especially when it comes to privacy concerns. You have to prioritize so that you don’t end up spending extra money while getting little benefit in return, but it is clear there are some truly great options out there these days, and the tech is always improving.
As you begin thinking of how to use smart technology in your home remodel or custom house project in New Jersey, give us a call to discuss at (201) 754-5302. We’re looking forward to chatting with you!