Not all that long ago, it would have been the stuff of science fiction to envision a home where your every whim and preference could be ordered up like a fast food restaurant from a portable hand-carried device. Yet that’s the reality we enjoy today, where we’re able to control virtually all of a home’s systems from our smartphone. Every aspect of your home’s environment—lighting, temperature, music, doors, appliances, locks, alarms, and more—can potentially be managed efficiently through an app with just a few taps or even voice commands.
All that convenience and efficiency don’t come without a cost, though. As with any technological development, smart home tech offers both benefits and drawbacks. It’s important to understand those pros and cons before you begin to transform your home into a smart one.
Pro #1: Enhanced Accessibility and Convenience for Your Lifestyle
Smart home technology means you can perform lots of home-related actions and tasks from a central location, simplifying things considerably for folks with mobility challenges or other accessibility concerns. That can be particularly reassuring for seniors, caregivers, and families with small children.
Even if you don’t face mobility issues, you’ll appreciate the convenience smart home devices can offer. Enjoy a more frictionless home experience all day long, from the moment you wake up with an automatically and gradually brightening bedroom light to having your preferred room temperature, lighting, and music choices already loaded the minute you open the front door at the end of the day.
Pro #2: Cost Savings on Utilities, Insurance, and Other Key Expenses
While the cost of the technology isn’t insignificant, a strategic and carefully planned implementation can produce cost savings as well. With an automated system carefully monitoring and adjusting your home’s environmental settings, for example, you may well enjoy reduced utility costs for heating and cooling. You may also be able to lower electricity costs by adding smart plugs to lighting fixtures and appliances. Moreover, you might be able to take advantage of government tax credits, subsidies, discounted insurance premiums and other incentives to offset those upfront costs.
Pro #3: Increased Security for Your Family, Home, and Personal Property
With the right devices and proper installation (and use), smart home tech can keep your home, your property, and your loved ones safe and secure from a host of potential dangers. Cameras, smart locks, motion-sensing technology, and real-time alerts all help you keep a sharp eye on your property even when you’re not at home. That in turn deters bad actors and helps increase security and safety.
Pro #4: Adds to Your Home’s Resale Value
A well-designed smart home that strategically uses technology to make life easier and more efficient is a home that’s more attractive to potential buyers. Whether you sell your home to a home investor directly or choose to list your home with a real estate agent, you’ll probably find a bit of increased interest and a raised positive profile when you highlight your home’s smart technology.
Con #1: IoT-Powered Smart Home Devices Aren’t Cheap
Smart homes don’t come cheap, unfortunately. The cost of the technology itself plus the costs associated with installation of your new device can lead to a substantial upfront investment, but that’s just the start.
You may have to modify your home and perform upgrades to accommodate the new technology. It’s not uncommon to find out you’ll need to rewire or relocate electric outlets in order to give new devices sufficient space in which to rest, charge, and work. You may also have to pay ongoing service charges through accompanying SaaS packages or add-ons for things like monitoring and response capabilities.
Con #2: Security and Privacy Concerns
Increasingly, artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing consumer technology. Added to a high degree of connectivity and data-gathering that’s both broad and deep, this can pose some personal safety and privacy risks. That’s another reason why it’s important to ask a lot of questions before you buy.
For example, some smart home devices such as voice assistants (think Alexa from Amazon or Siri from Apple) must constantly be “on” to listen for important command words. Might these devices accidentally record private conversations? What happens to those recordings? And will all that data being collected stay secure or wind up in the control of third parties without your knowledge?
Con #3: Possible Connection Conflicts and Complications
Given the astonishing array of styles, technology, and companies involved in manufacturing and servicing smart home devices, it’s probably no big surprise that all that variety might lead to some compatibility challenges. Conflicts are not unheard of, and you’ll probably need to put in additional work to troubleshoot and manage multiple devices. You can help sidestep this to an extent by researching before you purchase.
Time to Get Smart?
As the underlying technology continues to evolve, smart home devices will become more popular and prevalent, giving homeowners increased options and flexibility. Only buy and install smart home devices after carefully considering both the pros and the cons, remembering that when you’re ready to sell your home, you’ll enjoy the boost in your home’s value. And until then, you can relish the many benefits smart home tech offers and the way it makes life sweeter and far more enjoyable.