My home is smarter than your home

You’ve heard the phrase “smart home” – what does it really mean?  The phrase refers to the use of technology in/around your home, ostensibly making your home “smarter”.  Remember “The Clapper” product that allowed you to clap your hands to turn a light on or off?  That’s basically it, but these days there’s a LOT more sophistication.  Overall, a smart home has devices that are networked together to allow us to control the environment remotely or via voice. 

Some gadgets that are pretty common? How about the Roomba, a robot vacuum cleaner, or a doorbell system like Ring (a video camera activated by your doorbell) or a thermostat that you control with your smartphone.  You can get keyless entry and security systems that unlock your house via your cell phone, lightbulbs that respond to voice commands, and showers that    monitor water leaks.  Many times the product will integrate with voice-activated internet services such as Alexa by Amazon.

Buying or selling a home that has smart home technology can be tricky.  Sellers should remove all tech that they intend to take with them before the home is shown or inspected.  Selling agents should know how the value of the remaining embedded systems can affect a home price and should be able to explain the gadgets and how they work. Buyers’ agents should understand the security and privacy issues that can arise.  Performing a factory reset on the tech that stays with the home will go a long way toward protecting the new buyer. Each device’s settings (including the router) should be reviewed and personalized.

Major home builders now offer smart home packages to new owners, which can include network wiring throughout the home.  Most technology becomes obsolete long before the home will change hands, so good network design and product selection is important.  For most homes, though, integrating technology happens one product at a time.  While some products are more difficult to install for a DIY user (such as thermostats integrating with older HVAC systems), many gadgets are marketed specifically as being VERY easy to install.  Once you have several devices, you might consider working with a technology professional to up your game and install a whole-home controller system. 

Keep in mind that while voice-activated devices are really cool to use, that device is ALWAYS listening, waiting for you to give a command it recognizes.  Devices that connect to the internet to communicate can be vulnerable to hackers, and they can be relaying your personal information back to a corporate server.  ALWAYS read the privacy policies for these products and use the security settings to make your home as secure as it can be.  So, stay on the sofa and turn that music up with your cell or voice command; you might find out that integrating tech into your home is fun!