6 Smart Home Lessons You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way
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Smart home products are supposed to make our lives easier. Despite this lofty expectation, these products aren’t for everyone. Before considering bringing even one smart product into your home, there are a few important points worth considering.

In this article, you’ll learn six crucial lessons about owning smart home gadgets. After reading this, it’s our hope that you’ll be much more likely to have a successful installation!

Lesson 1: You Need a Reliable Internet Connection

How many devices in your home rely on an internet connection? Is that connection fast enough to handle all of those devices at the same time? Now imagine adding more accessories, which is what happens when you introduce smart products to your home.

The first step in having any successful smart home installation is making sure your internet connection is good enough to handle it. If you’re already having problems with your connection, things aren’t going to improve once you add more devices to your setup.

Therefore, at the minimum, you should look into ways to improve the connection Fix Your Internet Speed With These Windows Tweaks Fix Your Internet Speed With These Windows Tweaks If you're dealing with a slow internet connection, you can try a number of largely unknown Windows tweaks to relieve unnecessary data usage. Read More without making a hardware change. I would also suggest using a free online tool, such as HighSpeedInternet.com, to determine how much speed you will need given your situation.

What’s the downside? A slow internet connection isn’t good for anyone. If your smart products can’t talk to each other correctly, they aren’t worth the investment.

What’s the solution? Internet speeds tend to increase each year. If you haven’t upgraded your internet service in the past two to three years the odds are pretty high a change may be necessary. Check with your internet service provider for more information.

Lesson 2: Understand Compatibility

When the smart home craze first began, compatibility (or lack thereof) between devices was a significant concern. However, as the industry has matured, incompatibility has become less of an issue.

Many devices now support multiple protocols, Therefore, during installation, you have a choice. Software solutions such as IFTTT, meanwhile, have made it far easier for various devices to talk to one another—even if they use a different protocol.

What’s the downside? Ideally, you want all of your smart devices to talk to one another. If this isn’t possible, you’re likely to miss out on some key features.

For example, products like the Nest Learning app work brilliantly with lighting products such as Philips Hue so that bulbs will turn on and off depending on your location. If there’s incompatibility, this wouldn’t be possible.

What’s the solution? Check hardware and software compatibility on manufacture websites and at retail locations such as Best Buy. Doing this step will save you a lot of time and aggravation. Look for products that support the same hub (like Samsung SmartThings) or protocol (Apple HomeKit).

Lesson 3: Sometimes There Are Extra Costs

Security cameras are one of the most popular smart home products on the market. When correctly installed, these cameras can alert you whenever there’s movement in your home.

Before discounts, manufacturers have priced most home security cameras at around $200. At that price, you typically get real-time video monitoring, plus motion-triggered video recordings. It’s on that last point where it’s best to read the fine print.

While most companies provide video recordings at no extra cost, those clips are only available for a short period, usually 24 hours. Want more time? It’s probably going to cost you.

What’s the downside? Regardless of the type of smart home product you’re considering, check to see if there’s a monthly fee required to access premium features.

What’s the solution? Increasingly, smart home product manufacturers are using premium features to generate monthly fees. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re okay with this or not. Is the price of admission worth it for your situation? Will you be okay with a basic subscription?

Lesson 4: You Must Be Willing to Learn

Out of the box, there’s a lot a smart home product can do. However, with some learning on your part, you can get it to do a lot more.

At the minimum, for example, most smart bulbs can be turned on/off using a smartphone. However, with a little bit of training, you can program your lights to sync with your music, TV, and games. Some lights will even adjust based on the time of day.

What’s the downside? You should expect to pay more for smart home products versus their dumb counterparts. To avoid buyer’s remorse, make sure you spend some time to learn more about these products before and after installation.

What’s the solution? To fully appreciate the smart home experience, you should look beyond the instruction manuals and hop online. Sites like MakeUseOf and others can help you push your products to new levels. All you have to do look.

Lesson 5: Manage Your Expectations

There’s a little secret the smart home industry doesn’t want you to know. Despite possible claims to the contrary, these products aren’t perfect.

Like all technology product, with automation gadgets, you should expect to see the occasional bug or undocumented enhancement pop up that could cause you frustration 5 Times Smart Home Technology Went Terribly Wrong 5 Times Smart Home Technology Went Terribly Wrong There are some risks (like security and privacy) that all smart home owners know to consider. And then there are these five problems that no one saw coming. Read More .

To increase the odds of a successful smart home installation over the long term, consider the following two points.

First, keep your device’s software up to date. Most times, this is as simple as keeping the software on your smartphone current. Occasionally, you’ll be asked to update the firmware on your device. Check the app for your device for more information on updates.

You should also be sure to change the password for your Wi-Fi connection on a regular basis. By doing so, you can stay one step ahead of would-be hackers who would like to hijack your connected devices to cause havoc.

What’s the downside? Smart devices not properly maintained could be slower and more susceptible to security flaws over time. Who wants that?

What’s the solution? Keep your software updated; it’s that simple.

Lesson 6: It’s Okay Not to Switch

Finally, perhaps the most important lesson you can learn about smart home products is that they aren’t for everyone. Like with early computers and smartphones, smart home gadgets are still in the initial stages of development Future Smart Home Trends and the Products You'll Be Using Future Smart Home Trends and the Products You'll Be Using It's time to jump into your time machine. You’re about to uncover what could be the biggest trends in the smart home industry in 2021 and the products you might be using. Read More .

As such, you can expect to see the product lines evolve considerably over the next few years. Because of this, your best decision might be to wait and not jump on board, at least for the time being.

If you’re not convinced you have the time or resources to fully embrace a smart home lifestyle, don’t do it. Future smart home products will almost certainly become less expensive and offer easier setup and maintenance. Therefore, waiting might be best.

What’s the downside? Cutting-edge products aren’t for everyone. There’s no downside to waiting for others to fix the bugs before joining in on the fun.

What’s the solution? Even delaying your smart home product purchases by a year could help you avoid headaches.

Smart Home Lessons Learned

Bringing smart gadgets into your home can be a rewarding experience. It can also cause you unnecessary problems if you aren’t careful. Go into the experience wide-eyed and enjoy.

Image Credit: ikostudio/Depositphotos

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  1. Richard
    March 5, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    Seriously?? Security never even gets a mention even though that is the #1 problem with smart home and other IOT products.
    It is bad enough that there are so many consumers out there that do not have any idea what to do from a security standpoint. Writing an article like this and not even mentioning it is just plain irresponsible.

  2. csm2
    March 5, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Lesson 0 or Lesson 1a must be "How Secure Is Your WiFi?" With most , if not all, of your SmartHome devices being connected wirelessly, a secure WiFi is a must so that nobody but you is controlling them.