Is smart home automation worth it? That’s the real battle right now. While there are plenty of enthusiastic early adopters out there, most people think smart home devices are little more than gimmicks. Maybe you think the same.
I’ll admit that gimmicky smart home devices do exist. It’s a new market and producers are experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t – and, inevitably, some of those ideas fail hard. Then again, some of those ideas end up being near revolutionary.
So, 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.
Energy efficiency is one of the most desired features sought after by modern homeowners. On the one hand, it reduces your impact on the global environment. But if you don’t care about being green, the other benefit is that it’ll shave dollars off your monthly energy bill.
Meaning, everyone should look into an energy-saving thermostat (assuming you live in a thermostat-compatible home, of course). You really can’t go wrong here.
Our foremost recommendation is the Nest Thermostat which is available for $249. This popular device not only learns your preferred temperature ranges, but when you prefer certain temperatures. It will also turn down when you’re away from home and allow you to control it remotely through your smartphone.
And that’s just the beginning. Here are several Nest features you didn’t know about that will instantly change your impression of the device.
If you don’t like the Nest for some reason, the Honeywell Lyric for $215 is a valid alternative with similar features. But don’t stop there. There are plenty of other smart devices that help save energy and most of them are quite affordable.
Proximity-Based Security Locks
Security is another big concern when owning a home. Everyone deserves to feel safe within their own walls, and while that can be achieved without any smart home automation, there are a few devices that can make it much more convenient for you.
My personal favorite is the August Smart Lock, which is available for $249. This device replaces your traditional entry door locks and allows you to lock/unlock using your smartphone’s proximity. No more fumbling for keys, no more accidentally locking yourself out.
Digital keys can be created and assigned to individual smartphones, and those keys can be revoked after a certain time. Fantastic for granting temporary access to guests or servicemen without having to clone physical keys.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out all of these smart lock alternatives to see which one fits best for your needs. All of them are great and quite affordable.
Note: The most common rebuttal is “What if an intruder disconnects the device?” While it’s possible, it’s not easy to do. Plus, anyone who’s willing to do that could just as easily smash a window or bash the door, so I consider it a moot point.
Smart Surveillance Systems
While we’re on the subject of security, what about surveillance?
If you don’t already have some kind of surveillance system installed for your home, you should look into that ASAP. It can be as simple as using a webcam as a security camera or setting up a security network out of old smartphones. For something cheap and effective, those solutions can work.
But if you want to kick it up to the next level, consider investing in a smart surveillance system like the all-in-one Canary Home Security Device for around $249. This thing packs a lot of punch for its modest price.
It comes with a built-in always-on camera that streams video in 1080p HD using a wide angle lens (147 degrees). It automatically switches to night vision mode when it gets dark, plus the audio quality is great. It knows when you’re home and when you’re away.
But wait, there’s more! Canary has motion-activated recording and an alarm siren that will scare away burglars. At the same time, alerts will be sent to your smartphone (in case you’re away). In addition, Canary has built-in monitors for temperature, humidity, and air quality.
Moisture & Humidity Sensors
Moisture and humidity sensors are incredibly important if you own your own home. Unexpected leaks can persist for months without your knowledge, eventually resulting in mold, rot, and big repair bills. Wouldn’t it be better to invest in preventative measures at a fraction of the cost?
The above-mentioned Canary device has this feature built in, but if you don’t get the Canary, there are other options out there for you to explore. In fact, these options might actually be better in the long run.
We recommend getting the SmartThings SmartSense Moisture Sensor for $49 or the cheaper Insteon Water Leak Sensor for $35. Install them on the ground near pipes, washing machines, etc. and they’ll trigger on unexpected contact with water.
To make best use of them — e.g. to receive alerts on your smartphone — you’ll need to combine them with a smart hub, such as the SmartThings Hub for $99 or the Insteon Hub for $115, respectively. On the plus side, getting a hub means you can start using several other sensor types as well (depending on which hub you get).
You’ll end up spending between $150 to $250 to prevent thousands of dollars in potential water damage. I’d consider that a net-positive investment, wouldn’t you?
Automated Home Cleaner
“Automated home cleaner” is just my fancy term for Roomba. This adorable little mini-robot has come a long way since its debut (did you know it turns 13 years old this year?) and is more effective than ever. If you’re tired of minor home cleaning jobs, Roomba is for you.
The only downside is that it’s relatively expensive when compared to the other devices we’ve explored. The model I’d go with — the iRobot Roomba 870 — costs about $510. Then again, if you really hate cleaning, that price could very well be worth it.
The Roomba 870 has the newest extractor system that maximizes cleaning performance and minimizes maintenance requirements. It also uses a newer generation of battery that lasts twice as long as previous models. The Roomba itself can be programmed to clean according to a schedule and will automatically return to its dock when finished.
And It Won’t Even Cost You Much
Relative to other home improvement projects you could undertake, smart home products are actually quite cheap. A basic renovation could cost as little as a few hundred dollars while a luxury transformation would top out at a few thousand.
For a frame of reference, a typical bathroom renovation in America costs somewhere between $9000 and $14,000. So, yeah. Smart home automation provides a lot of bang-for-your-buck. It ain’t just a gimmick.
What kind of smart home improvements are you looking to pursue? Do you think it’s worth the price or is it just too expensive? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Image Credits: Smart Home Options Via Shutterstock