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We’re truly living in the future now, and the advent of the smart home is only one of many developments propelling us forward. Unfortunately, because smart homes are new territory, many folks have misconceptions about what they are and why they exist.

For those who don’t know, a smart home is just a regular home What Is A Smart Home? What Is A Smart Home? We recently launched a Smart Home category at MakeUseOf, but what is a smart home? Read More that incorporates devices that have some level of connectivity. For example, thermostats that you can control with your smartphone or lights that shut off when you walk away from them.

These devices are called smart home products, but they’re no different than most other gadgets — and that’s only one of the many misconceptions that people have. Let’s clear up a few others!

1. “Smart Homes Are Just Gimmicks”

Any time there’s buzz around a new technology, it’s good to be skeptical. It’s good to show a bit of restraint and caution, mainly because so many interesting trends never actually amount to anything. They remain nothing more than gimmicks

And it’s true: some smart home products do exhibit signs of gimmickry. We’ve already covered a few smart home products that you should ignore Don't Waste Your Time Waiting For These Smart Home Gadgets Don't Waste Your Time Waiting For These Smart Home Gadgets There are plenty of smart home products that sound great but simply aren't feasible or have taken too long to develop. Here are a few that you shouldn't waste your time waiting for. Read More and aren’t afraid to speak out when certain products are a waste of money Robotic Vacuums Are a Waste of Money and Here's Why Robotic Vacuums Are a Waste of Money and Here's Why The appeal of smart vacuums is undeniable. But they’re not for everyone. You should think long and hard before buying one. Here’s why. Read More .

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But just because some smart home products are worthless doesn’t mean all of them are. In fact, a lot of them are intensely practical and well worth the investment.

Need examples? Start with the Nest Thermostat, which can drastically cut your energy bill 7 Nest Automation Tricks to Cut Your Heating Bill in Half 7 Nest Automation Tricks to Cut Your Heating Bill in Half If there were a Nest thermostat in every home, it would have the biggest single impact on energy consumption in history; and it could save you more money than you might imagine. Here's how. Read More . There are all sorts of reputable smart home products 9 Reputable Smart Home Brands With Products You Can Trust 9 Reputable Smart Home Brands With Products You Can Trust The modern world is moving toward all kinds of smart home automation, and the longer you hold out, the more difficult it's going to be when your day of conversion finally comes. Read More that actually provide tangible benefits.

Not to mention that you can integrate many devices with IFTTT Clever IFTTT Smart Home Integrations For Your Life Clever IFTTT Smart Home Integrations For Your Life The future of the smart home is now. And thanks to online websites like IFTTT, creating a smart home is easy and more impressive than ever. Read More , which opens up thousands of additional possibilities for improving day-to-day life. Remember when smartphones were gimmicks? Smart homes are on the same path.

2. “Smart Homes Are Too Expensive”

At face value, a lot of the smart home products that have come out over the past few years have some steep price tags. I mean, getting started with Philips Hue lights 4 Ways Philips Hue Can Push Your Lighting to the Next Level 4 Ways Philips Hue Can Push Your Lighting to the Next Level Without Philips Hue, however, the smart home concept might never have gotten off the ground. Here are some cool ways to make use of them. Read More can cost $200 while a Belkin WeMo smart plug Which Smart Plug Is the Best One for You? Which Smart Plug Is the Best One for You? Even if you aren't into the whole smart home automation trend, you really should get yourself a few smart plugs. They're one of the easiest smart home products to use. Read More can cost about $50 per plug.

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Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Nest saves energy by automatically turning itself down when you're away Buy Now At Amazon $234.99

This obviously isn’t cheap — and nobody ever said that smart homes would be cheap. But if you think about it, it’s actually NOT that expensive, relatively speaking.

Not long ago, we explored how much a smart home would actually cost How Much Does a Smart Home Really Cost? How Much Does a Smart Home Really Cost? A smart home could change your life – freeing up time in your day and regulating your routine so you don't have to remember what needs to be done. But how expensive is it, really? Read More to implement if you only focused on the most practical items and stayed mindful of a budget. What did we find? Just over $1,000 for a full setup, up to $4,000 if you splurged for luxury options.

smart-home-expense-dropcam

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There are plenty of affordable smart home options 6 Types of Home Automation You Can Actually Afford 6 Types of Home Automation You Can Actually Afford Are you ready to join the smart home revolution but worried that it's beyond your budget? Smart homes aren't that expensive, and there are plenty of components that the average homeowner can afford. Read More out there. You just have to be smart about which ones you need. To compare, new windows can cost over $500 each and a bathroom remodel can easily cross the $10,000 threshold.

How do you keep from overspending? Just look into these important smart home features worth buying Attention Homeowners: 5 Smart Home Features Worth the Extra Cost Attention Homeowners: 5 Smart Home Features Worth the Extra Cost Which smart home features are worth it? Which ones can be safely tossed aside and ignored? Let's take a look at a few that are actually worth the money. Read More .

3. “Smart Homes Are Too Technical”

The phrase “smart home” might conjure up images of complex panels and circuitry, all requiring a healthy level of expertise to even start. As it turns out, most smart home products are way easier than you’d expect.

Yes, certain smart home products may involve some technical proficiency — such as the Nest Thermostat, which needs to be hooked up to your climate control system — but most other products are as easy as plug-and-play. That is not an exaggeration.

Now, if you want to get really futuristic and start controlling everything in your house with only your voice 7 Ways to Control Your Home Using Voice Commands 7 Ways to Control Your Home Using Voice Commands One of the coolest advancements in home automation is the growing integration of voice control with all kinds of smart devices. Read More , then of course you’ll need to get down and dirty. But that’s all optional. Worst case scenario, you can just hire someone to do it for you!

4. “Everyone Needs a Smart Home”

On the opposite side of the aisle from skeptics, we have the fanatics — those who have discovered the greatness of the smart home and now endeavor to convert everyone else to join them. None of this is malicious, but it can be misguided.

The truth is that while smart home products can be amazingly useful, not everyone actually needs them.

smart-home-not-everyone

For example, it makes more sense to smarten up your residence when its a house that you personally own. If you’re renting an apartment or condo How to Avoid Apartment and Condo Rental Scams How to Avoid Apartment and Condo Rental Scams More and more people are finding their next place to live through online services, and scammers have learned to take advantage yet again. Don't become the next victim. Read More , hooking up a Nest Thermostat could violate your lease. It’s also a nuisance to undo everything when you move out.

Bottom line: If you find a smart home product that you think might come in handy, go for it. If you look around but nothing suits your fancy, then forget about it. In the end, if you don’t need a smart home, then why force it?

5. “Smart Homes Make You Safe”

Smart security devices Safe and Sound: 4 Great Smart Home Security Devices Safe and Sound: 4 Great Smart Home Security Devices Read More are growing in popularity, and if you haven’t seen one with your own eyes yet, just give it another year or two. This is one trend that’s brewing up a storm and is set to explode soon.

But for the skeptic, one question sits at the forefront: do smart security devices actually improve home safety?

And the answer is… it depends, but in most cases, not really.

We’ve highlighted some cool stuff before, like these smart door locks Buy One of These Electronic Door Locks and Ditch Your Ancient Keys Buy One of These Electronic Door Locks and Ditch Your Ancient Keys One area where smart home technology shines is home security. And while security cameras and motion sensors are great, neither has more of a wow-factor than an electronic door lock. Read More that can sense your presence and lock/unlock accordingly, or these clever home setups that can stop intruders 9 Clever Gadgets That'll Stop a Home Intruder Cold 9 Clever Gadgets That'll Stop a Home Intruder Cold In days gone by, the concept of home security meant locking your doors, securing your windows, and maybe even installing an expensive, wired home security system. How times have changed. Read More . In fact, if you get creative, you can even use LED bulbs for home security 4 Ways a Smart LED Bulb Can Keep Your Home Safe & Secure 4 Ways a Smart LED Bulb Can Keep Your Home Safe & Secure Did you know that a few LED bulbs could be the difference between a home robbery and peace of mind? Sounds weird, but it's true. Read More .

But a lot of these methods can be done in non-smart ways, and some of them don’t actually increase security — they just offer peace of mind and the illusion of safety, which can still be worthwhile. Ultimately though, no smart home security system is foolproof.

6. “Smart Homes Have No Privacy”

A lot of folks who are against smart homes often claim that smart home products can compromise your privacy. And you know what? Technically, they aren’t wrong.

Not long ago, news broke that certain smart TVs were monitoring users Your Smart TV is Watching You - and It's Not the Only One! Your Smart TV is Watching You - and It's Not the Only One! Are Vizio smart TVs capturing information about you and transmitting it back to Vizio without telling you about it? And if so, is this something you should be worried about? Read More , and smart TVs aren’t the only culprits. Other devices can potentially spy on you — and send your data to the NSA Your Smart Home Works for the NSA, and You're Being Watched Your Smart Home Works for the NSA, and You're Being Watched It seems that the worst fears about the Internet of Things and smart home technology are being realized. Now director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has declared that IoT devices are being used for surveillance. Read More ! That’s only one of several common smart home security concerns 5 Security Concerns to Consider When Creating Your Smart Home 5 Security Concerns to Consider When Creating Your Smart Home Many people attempt to connect as many aspects of their lives to the web as possible, but many people have expressed genuine concerns over how secure these automated living spaces actually are. Read More .

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But just because some smart home products can violate privacy doesn’t mean that all of them do. Or in other words, it’s possible to smarten up your home using only products that preserve your privacy.

As long as you avoid anything with a camera or microphone, you should be good to go. Of all the ways your privacy can be tracked How Much of Your Personal Data Could Smart Devices Track? How Much of Your Personal Data Could Smart Devices Track? Smart home privacy and security concerns are still as real as ever. And even though we love the idea of smart technology, this is just one of many things to be aware of before diving... Read More , video and audio records are indeed the worst. But how much harm can a smart thermostat, smart sprinkler, or smart light bulb really do?

7. “Smart Homes Are Consumer-Ready”

Smart home technology is exciting. As we’ve explored time and time again, a lot of interesting things can be done with it — and while some of the products coming out are silly or ephemeral, many of them are productive and helpful.

But smart homes are far from becoming mainstream. We explained up above how these products actually aren’t that difficult to set up and incorporate, but they aren’t a walk in the park either.

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The truth is that the smart home industry is still young. Very young. Sure, the idea of home automation has been around since the 1980s — perhaps earlier — but these consumer-ready products haven’t even been around for five years yet.

The industry has a lot of growing pains left to go through, such as the struggle to agree upon a single standard If These 4 Things Happen, Every Home Will Be a Smart Home If These 4 Things Happen, Every Home Will Be a Smart Home In just a few years, smart homes have entered the mainstream consciousness. For the first time in ages, smart homes have a real, mass-market promise. But there's still a long way to go. Read More rather than flooding the market with dozens of protocols. It’s nice to have so many smart home hubs Which Smart Hub for Home Automation Is Best for You? Which Smart Hub for Home Automation Is Best for You? For a while, people thought of the idea as nothing more than a gimmick, but recent product releases have shown that smart home automation is starting to live up to its promises. Read More to choose from, but it’s also overwhelming and unnecessary.

Do You Have a Smart Home?

We’re fully aware that the smart home industry is ever-evolving, which means some of these myths and misconceptions may no longer apply next year, next month, or even next week. But this is the state of the smart home as of this writing.

Hopefully we were able to clear up any confusion or questions you may have had. If you’re still unclear about anything, feel free to ask about it below.

Which smart home products do you own? Are there any other myths and misconceptions that we missed? Do you disagree with anything above? Let us know by dropping a comment!

Image Credits: Apartments via Shutterstock, Smart Home Mobile via Shutterstock

  1. Bryan Wolfe
    May 21, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Lots of great stuff for smart home users. It's been my experience, however, that there is a learning process. Some people simply won't take the time to learn what these things can do. On the other hand, there are definitely a lot of gimmicky products out there too

    • Joel Lee
      May 27, 2016 at 1:37 am

      Yes, definitely a learning curve. Some are harder than others, but I think even the smallest learning curve can scare away a lot of users. It's always intimidating to try new things. The "unknown factor" is really strong and I don't know if smart home products have overcome that stigma yet.

  2. Michael Burton Sr.
    May 11, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    I'm going to go wayyy back. I've had X-10 for I guess 20 years, it has never been the best but it's has provided primitive home automation for years. Now it's time to upgrade the system but Z-wave and the others are to dam expensive, so until the prices come down I'll stick with my old technology.

    X-10 filed bankruptcy years ago and the new owners have not stepped up to the plate as of yet, and maybe I'm hoping they do, but the IoT are always changing but I made my choice to be part of the industry a long time ago.

  3. Richie
    May 9, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    To me the in-secure part of a smart home, is the ability to hack into thermostat and find the times it is in a setback mode. A burglar would have a good bet that the house is unoccupied. Thermostat setbacks of a week duration would indicate someone is on vacation

  4. Robert
    May 6, 2016 at 10:53 am

    And your pilot light could go out when you're out of town in the winter and you come home to burst pipes. The same follows for the rest of your "possibilities". Things fail, sometimes at the worst possible moment. Having your Nest hacked and your pilot light going out at the most opportune moment are just as likely, not very. Unless of course you're using a weak password for your Nest account.

    Internet of Things (IoT) devices can be secure, however, there are a lot of companies that do not think about security. Using the same key or password for all of your products is a bad idea.

    Part of the IoT security is on the user. My IoT devices, (Nest thermostat, Ring doorbell, Amazon Echo and Tap) are on their own wireless network with a unique random 16 character password. Any password to access any of those devices is a unique random 16 character password.

    Don't be afraid of what might happen, even if your home isn't smart disasters can strike. Take the proper steps to isolate and secure your smart home devices and enjoy.

    • fcd76218
      May 6, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      I guess you're right. I was going to ask what chance does an individual user have against hackers when large corporations have their security breached by hackers on a regular basis. Then I realized that large corporations and their data are prominent and juicy targets. Since an individual smart home owner is a low profile target, security by obscurity works in his/her favor. A hacker has very little to gain by targeting individuals, other than the satisfaction of having cracked the security.

  5. fcd76218
    May 5, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    "But how much harm can a smart thermostat, smart sprinkler, or smart light bulb really do?"
    If they are hacked, you'd be surprised.
    You go on a business trip in the middle of a winter. A hacker turns your Nest off. You come home to frozen or burst pipes.
    In the summer, a hacker turns your Nest up to 90-95 degrees. Your A/C is working super overtime using energy like there's no tomorrow.
    Your smart sprinkler is hacked, turned on full force. You come home to a flooded basement and a super high water bill.
    A hacked smart toaster can either short circuit or overheat causing a fire. Your smart home is reduced to a stupid pile of ashes.

    Many smart devices are hackable, causing anything from nuisance damage to destruction of the smart home.

    AFAIC, an automated home using hardwired sensors and controls - any time. A smart home using WiFi - not until WiFi security is ironclad.

    • Robert
      May 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Some parts of IoT fall into the same place as large corporations. Amazon, Nest and Ring all have Internet based accounts that can be hacked and are out of your control. The best you can do is use a good unique password on the account.

      Putting your IoT devices on their own wireless network prevents access to your computers and data should an IoT device be hacked. Using a strong wireless password prevents people from easily accessing your wireless network.

      Like everything else in life there are many things that are outside of your control that can cause you, your devices, and your data to be compromised. Ease of use is the enemy of security.

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