Remember being a kid and watching the cartoon the Jetsons?
Judy Jetson could get her home to do just about anything, just by asking.
It seemed so futuristic that it was hard to imagine that there would ever be a time that you would have a home you could talk to.
The modern smart home is pretty darn close to the futuristic home of the Jetson family.
Here we are, it’s only 2020, and you can give your house simple commands and make things happen. It almost seems too good to be true.
For some people the smart home is the greatest thing ever, however, some families prefer to do things the “old fashioned” way.
That is until they discover how amazing a smart home can be, and how easy it can make their life.
Of course, just like any other technology or really, any product on the market, there are benefits and disadvantages to creating a smart home, and incorporating home automation technology into your life.
What Can a Smart Home Do?
Before you can fully understand smart home benefits and what it can do, you need to have a better understanding of what a smart home is.
A smart home incorporates a variety of technologies to allow a homeowner to monitor their home, incorporate safety measures, improve efficiency and control basic home functions, remotely or by using a centralized control system.
Central control systems can include your smartphone or tablet, smart speakers like Alexa or the Google Home, or a variety of other control systems that are available on the market.
Smart homes can do a lot of things that you may not be aware of an somethings that may be pretty obvious.
Here’s a shortlist of some of the great smart home benefits to make your life easier.
A smart home can help you keep your home safe by allowing you to control things like lights, door locks, doorbells, security systems and garage doors from any place on the planet.
Adjust your lights when you’re not home, to give the appearance that you’re home, even when you’re not.
Answer your doorbell even when you’re on vacation. Your smart home allows you to secure your home easily, even from a distance.
Save money and resources like energy and water with your smart home.
A smart home will allow you to remotely adjust your heater, air conditioner or will learn your patterns for the greatest control and comfort.
Your smart home will also allow you to shut down your sprinklers if it’s raining, even if you’re not home, saving water and a bit of cash in your pocketbook.
It might be a bit over the top, but many of today’s refrigerators know when you need to go to the store.
Sync your fridge to your smart hub, and build a grocery list from your desk, the airplane or even the beach.
Talk to Your House
Turn your television on just by asking, play music with a simple request, shut down your kid’s electronics before dinner, dim the lights for a romantic evening.
Smart hubs, smart electronics, and even smart plugs and smart light switches, allow you to control the basic features of your home, with just a voice command. Now we can all be just like Judy Jetson!
In reality, there are so many ways that you can automate your home so that it has the features that you’re really going to need and use, instead of a “one size fits all” configuration.
That’s one of the best things about creating your smart home. You can have as many features as you want, it just depends on how comfortable you are with the technology.
5 Smart Home Benefits
Sometimes, it is easier to make a decision on something big, like adding home automation features, if you know the pros and cons.
We’ve compiled a list of 5 smart home benefits and the advantages it creates.
In the next section, we’ll follow-up with some disadvantages of these systems, allowing you to make a sound, educated decision on whether home automation and smart home are right for you and your family.
Safety & Security
For many homeowners, safety and security are a deciding factor for installing home automation features.
With crazy things like home invasions, package thieves, and burglaries on the rise, throughout the country, it makes sense to add some features to your home, which makes it a bit less inviting for criminals.
The great thing about these home automation features, it that unlike the security features of the past, you don’t need a third party to monitor your home for you.
You can keep a close eye on your home from the comfort of your sofa or from your smartphone.
Of course, you can still rely on a third party to assist you with home security, and for some homeowners, this extra set of eyes, to help when there is a fire or a medical emergency can provide an extra sense of security.
Do make sure, however, that if you use a third-party security firm for home security features, that they are compatible with other smart features in your home, like televisions, smartphone apps, and smart hubs.
From the standpoint of safety, there is nothing more reassuring than knowing that there is an easy way to reach emergency services should you encounter a medical or fire emergency.
This alone is one of the greatest advantages mentioned by long-time smart homeowners. For many of these folks, creating a smart home environment for aging parents is a priority.
Most smart home safety and security features are easy to install and fairly easy to use, making them a great trade-off for the family that wants to keep aging relatives safe and connected, but not in a retirement home or nursing home.
Once upon a time, home automation was a package deal. You hired a company to come to your home and add a bunch of features that would make your life easier.
The ability to customize exactly what you wanted, in the early days of home automation was limited.
Today, smart homes are as unique as the people they assist.
Some people just want enough to turn on their lights before they get home, and stream music without having to turn on a computer. Other homeowners want all the bells and whistles.
And even for the folks that want all the gear, there are a ton of options on the market, to make even the most high-tech home, highly customized for the family that is using it.
One step further on the matter of customization is cost. Home automation doesn’t have to be a huge cost.
Many homeowners start small, with simple features like a smart hub (the new 4th Generation Echo Dot is inexpensive and easy to use), a few smart lights, and maybe the new Ring Video Doorbell 3.
These few little features cost less than $500 and are easily accessible to any consumer.
What do you want to save? Money? Time? Energy? Water? Take your pick, there’s a home automation option for you.
One of the great things about smart homes is that they really do improve your home’s overall efficiency.
Devices like the Nest Smart Thermostat can learn your patterns and are adjustable from your smartphone, so you aren’t wasting energy or money running a heater or air conditioning when no one is home.
What about saving on Water? Smart sprinkler timers help you save water by knowing when it’s rained, or allowing you to stop a cycle if it starts raining, even if you’re at work.
These little tweaks can substantially save you money on your water bill and reduce your overall water consumption.
Water and energy savings are awesome, but how about time savings? Smart appliances can help you cook dinner, grocery shop and clean your house.
These are tasks that many people just don’t enjoy, so if you can scratch them off your list, and let your house take care of the work, you’ve got more time for the fun stuff in your life.
Ease of Use
The home automation options of the past were, well frankly, not that easy to use. Today’s smart home gear is pretty easy to use, especially for those of us that are tech-savvy.
Making home automation easier, there are not plenty of home automation options that easily sync together with little more effort than a push of a button.
Sure, there are some complicated options on the market, but for the consumer that really want to find products that are easy to use, so that their smart home is accessible to their whole family, there are tons of great options on the market.
Families today, are like the Jetsons of cartoon fame. Everyone is busy and everyone has something going on.
A smart home is really a great tool for simplifying life and adding a little extra convenience to life.
With refrigerators that will keep track of your groceries, a smart hub that will talk to your fridge and send you a grocery list and doorbells that let you see who’s standing on the porch before you have to get off the couch, your life is just a little easier.
Plus, you have the convenience of everything being in one spot, tied to one central control, so you don’t have to worry about relying on different service providers and a variety of gadgets just to keep your home tied together.
5 Smart Home Cons
Of course, no matter how much we want it to be, nothing is ever perfect.
You can easily find flaws in even the most useful ideas. Here is our list of smart home cons and the disadvantages that you need to consider if a smart home is on your wishlist.
This is a big disadvantage for many homeowners that are not only concerned about physical home security, but also home cybersecurity.
There are ways around home cybersecurity concerns, but the reality is unless you’re very tech-savvy, or you’ve got a good IT support firm that can help, there are plenty of easy ways that your smart home can be hacked.
It’s also important to be aware that many of your smart home devices aren’t even equipped with basic home cybersecurity offerings like anti-virus or anti-malware protection.
If you really want to secure your smart home, you need to take steps to make sure that you’ve got the right protection installed.
This also means that you may need to spend extra cash to get more advanced products that include built-in home cybersecurity features.
However, if you aren’t ready to spend a ton of money, at the very least, make sure that your WiFi network is secure and encrypted with WPA2.
No one loves dealing with customer support. Customer support for your smart home is going to be a challenge.
For those people, that just can’t tolerate dealing with either online or telephone customer support, if you encounter problems with a device or two, you’re going to be stuck in customer service Purgatory.
Here’s the scoop. Unless you can manage to outfit your entire home with devices from one single company, you’re going to have a number of different customer service companies to deal with.
If you have a problem connecting a device to your smart hub, you’re likely going to need to contact customer support for both the device and the smart hub, and depending on the company, this could be a good experience, or it could be a mess.
While we love home automation, and all of the cool gear, we just don’t love having to deal with different customer support modes and people. It’s frustrating and inconvenient.
Our suggestion is to do your research, make sure your gear is compatible and that you’re going to be comfortable using it.
This will limit your need for customer support when something really goes wrong.
If your internet provider is subpar, or if your WiFi router is ancient, you’re going to be challenged with home automation.
Here’s the deal, most of your smart home devices are going to rely on your WiFi, and a good internet connection, so if one or both of these aren’t reliable in your home, your devices aren’t going to work well.
Before you jump into the smart home world, and you spend a bunch of money on devices, make sure your internet and WiFi are up to date and will handle the new strain on data and bandwidth.
Give your kids anything tech, and they are going to figure it out. Give your parents the same tech, and well, you’re going to be doing some teaching.
Even if you are relatively comfortable with new technologies, there is going to be a substantial learning curve at some point in your home automation process.
You can reduce your learning curve by selecting devices that are simple to use, or have good, easy to follow instructions.
This learning curve is especially important to keep in mind if you’re setting up smart home devices for a parent or elderly relative or neighbor that may not be as comfortable with new technology.
Make sure that devices you select are easy for them to use, and have the smallest learning curve possible.
I know we mentioned earlier that you could get some basic smart home devices for a fairly reasonable cost.
However, most people who are interested in a smart home with ample automation options, are looking for more than a couple of lights and a video doorbell.
The reality here is that home automation isn’t cheap.
To do it right, and to make the most of what home automation can offer, you are going to spend a fair amount of money.
Not to mention that even some of the devices that are considered “basic” can be pricey.
No, you don’t have to drop a bunch of money all at once, but over time, to have a truly smart home, you will need to make a substantial monetary investment.
The smart home pros and cons aren’t much different than the pros and cons of any other type of technology.
What may work great for you, may not be the best option for your neighbor or your elderly parent. Home automation really can make life safer and easier for most of us.
However, it is important that you remember to do your research.
A little bit of leg work before you shop will minimize those problem areas and help make turning your normal house, into a handy smart home.