This blog post is the final installment of our series on smart homes. In the first installment, we talked about smart home basics- what does it mean for a home to be “smart”? In the second, we covered outdoor smart tech, like the new smart sprinkler from Rachio. In the third, we discussed smart security systems, which are the #1 category of smart device on the market. In this final installment, we’d like to tie all of these pieces together and discuss what it means to have a truly connected home.
As you begin to integrate smart devices into your home, you may find that instead of simplifying your life, they begin to complicate it! A different app for each device, different protocols…what’s a protocol, anyway? Point being, it can get confusing. You’re not alone in thinking about this – that’s what the “connected home” is for.
Below, we’ve broken down the connected home, using some of the devices we’ve been talking about over the last few months as examples.
What’s a “connected home” again?
A connected home simply means that all your devices talk to each other to create “synergy,” or more simply put, convenience! If you have a smart thermostat, a smart security camera and a smart sprinkler, you want them to work together. When you leave the house, you want your thermostat to go into away mode, you want your camera to start filming and you want your sprinkler to turn off, but you don’t want to have to tell each of them separately. In a nutshell, that’s the connected home concept.
Don’t smart devices do that anyway?
Yes and no. Smart devices are designed to learn your habits and priorities, working behind the scenes to make your home more comfortable and efficient. However, unless you have a professionally installed system, they’re usually doing this independently. Connecting multiple devices together simplifies things and extends the capabilities of your existing devices.
Connected Scenario #1: In a connected home with a smoke detector, the hub can receive this information and send it to the sprinkler system, causing it to start wetting down the yard before the fire department arrives
Sounds cool…but how does it work?
To make this happen, you want a central device, or “hub.” One of the most common is the Wink Hub, a small device that allows a diverse collection of smart products to speak the same “wireless language.” Most smart devices you’re familiar with talk to each other through the Wink, offering a central place to control them. The best smart home hubs offer a smartphone app and/or wall control unit that allows you to control all your devices from one place.
Smart Tip #1: With the addition of a smart home hub, you can make nearly any smart device talk to another device, regardless of manufacturer
Do I really need one at my house?
The most important benefit of smart homes is the personalization, so if you don’t want to use a hub, that’s your prerogative! If you only use one or two devices, you probably don’t need one. But if you use several different devices, they can be really convenient. Never again will you pull up one app to turn down the thermostat, another to turn off the lights, and another to lock your front door.
Connected Scenario #2: In a connected home, a single push of a button can turn off the living room lights, turn on the porch light and dim the hallway light for those late night trips to the bathroom. Ready for bed!
That does sound convenient. Are there other benefits I should know about?
Home value! Yep, that’s right. The same features that make your connected home useful to you are valuable for potential buyers. Our research shows that one of the reservations potential buyers have about homes with smart devices are learning how to use them. During an open house, it’s much more impressive to demonstrate control of the home from a single app than to run through a different process for each feature.
Don’t forget about efficiency, either. When your devices talk to each other, they get smarter. When your door locks behind you, your thermostat turns down, saving you money. It’s little things like this that make your efficiency upgrades work the best, and remember, an efficient home will command a better market price.
Smart Tip #2: A smart home system can add 3-5% to the market price of the home when it’s time to sell- in addition to the monthly savings you’ll be enjoying on your energy bill!
Sounds pretty sci-fi. What if my internet/wi-fi goes out?
If your wi-fi or internet goes out, you’ll lose the smartness, but your devices will continue functioning. Everything remains under manual control until the internet’s back on. You’ll never lose control of your home, that’s just a sci-fi myth.
Okay then! Where should I start?
Do you already have smart devices? You’ll want to start by investigating what type of “languages” your current devices speak. The Wink supports the widest range of smart device connections, but other options exist, like the SmartThings hub.
If you’re just starting out, think about the big picture- What kind smart devices are you planning on starting with, and which do you think you might be interested in farther down the road? With any smart device or hub, it’s best to buy from an established manufacturer, one that’s going to be around for updates and support in the future.
If you have any questions, it’s always good to consult an expert- you might not always associate a real estate agent with smart home information, but no one knows your local home market better! Check with them to see what kind of trends they’re seeing and what the results they’ve seen from having these devices and systems in homes.