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What is smart home technology?
Smart technology refers to electronic devices that have smart capabilities including networking, communication, interactivity, and in some cases, AI and machine learning integrations. Smart home technology is a set of these devices that are designed specifically for home automation. Common smart home devices include smart versions of thermostats, appliances, security systems, lighting, entertainment and sound systems, and more. Typically, these devices have the ability to connect to wifi and you can often control them from your smartphone.
According to CNET, to be considered a “smart home,” your home must have at least two of the following features (Master Appraisal Services):
Smart HVAC system, fans, or vents
Smart outdoor plant sensors and watering systems
Smart fire/carbon monoxide detectors
Smart security locks, alarm systems, or cameras
Is smart home tech safe?
Since many smart devices connect to the internet, some homeowners have had doubts about the safety and security of the technology. Some top concerns include bugs, hackers, and privacy violations—but don’t worry. Smart home technology has advanced rapidly, and there are several ways to keep your information safe even when your entire home is online.
Start by keeping your device software updated. Software updates often include added and updated security measures against the newest threats—so if there’s an option to automatically update your device’s software, opt in.
Next, be strict with your passwords. It’s good practice to only buy devices that allow you to change the default device name and username and update the password regularly. Your password should be unique to that device only and complex enough that it’s hard to guess. You should also opt for multi-factor authentication when your device allows it.
Also—smart home or not—investing in a good router with a solid firewall will help prevent attacks on any device connected to your network. As an added security measure, consider keeping your smart devices on a secondary wifi network, sometimes called a guest network. On the off chance that one of your smart devices is infected, this will prevent the infection from spreading to your laptop, phone, and other devices that contain more private info.
How will smart home technology increase my home value?
Recently, the Forbes Real Estate Council singled out smart home tech as “one of the most desirable qualities in a home on the market.” Buyers want it, and in many cases, they’re willing to pay extra.
Smart homes stand out among the competition in any market, their convenience and modernity selling them faster and at higher prices than their non-smart counterparts. But the added value isn’t just for when you’re negotiating with a buyer. Smart home tech is actually factored into home appraisals and comparative market analyses these days, so you’ll see the value bump right away (even before you list!).
Here are some of the best smart tech investments you can make for your own enjoyment and for a higher price when you sell.
#1: Smart security system
Smart security for your home integrates multiple smart devices into a complete, integrated system. Smart door locks lock and unlock your home without a physical key, while a smart doorbell can alert you when someone is at your home and show you real-time video of who’s at your door. Smart cameras send you instant notifications when motion is detected on your property, while smart alarms can be armed, disarmed, and monitored from anywhere your smartphone works. Smart security systems are flexible, powerful, and put you in control—even when you aren’t at home.
#2: Smart appliances
Smart appliances work the same way as other smart devices in that you can usuall control them from your phone. For example, if you have a smart oven, you can turn it on and off and monitor and change the temperature, even if you aren’t home. No more wishing there was someone at home to turn the oven on for you, and no reason to worry about whether or not you left it on when you’ve already left the house
Similarly, smart washers and dryers let you start them remotely as well as monitor the progress of the cycle. Smart refrigerators can provide recipes and ingredient lists as well as integrating with grocery delivery apps on your phone, while smart dishwashers allow you to start, stop, and change the cycle remotely. You can also access maintenance advice to most smart appliances on your phone, which makes repair easier.
#3: Smart thermostats
A smart thermostat allows you to program your temperature settings based on your daily schedule, the weather, and more. You can operate them using your smartphone, adjusting your home’s temperature from anywhere, and many can utilize your phone’s location feature to make changes automatically. For example, when your thermostat detects that you’re no longer at home based on your phone’s location, it can lighten up on the AC to save you money on your utility bills. You can also program smart thermostats to run certain temperature schedules automatically, and many can be set to keep your home’s temperature within a range—saving money and conserving energy.
#4: Smart detectors
You should already have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, but did you know that smart versions can keep you, your house, and your household members even safer? Like their traditional counterparts, smart detectors make a loud noise when they detect a problem (like smoke or carbon monoxide), but they also offer a second layer of protection by sending alerts directly to your phone when you aren’t home. Smart detectors can also tell you where in your home the alert is coming from, and they’ll let you know if any unit is having a malfunction or needs a new battery.
#5: Smart lighting
Smart lighting is lighting that connects to your WiFi and can be operated by your phone, through a smart assistant, or programmed to work automatically. Some smart lighting systems are motion-detecting, while others can be turned on or via their proprietary app. Many offer color-changing or dimming features, and some are voice-activated so you’ll never have to reach for the light switch again.
#6: Smart irrigation
Smart irrigation technology reduces water waste and improves plant health and soil quality. This tech also makes your life easier by reducing the amount of work you have to put into your landscaping. Some smart irrigation technology uses soil moisture data to adjust your watering schedule each day. Others gather local weather data to do the same. Most smart irrigation systems can be accessed and controlled remotely, and all of them can be programmed to run with minimal input from you.
These smart technologies can add thousands to your home’s value, and they’ll also improve your quality of life while you live there. Not convinced? Pick the one or two that sound the most interesting to you, and go from there!