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Smart Home: Definition, Benefits And The Best Smart Home Devices

April 24, 2024 9-minute read

Author: Sam Hawrylack

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Have you thought about making your home a smart home? You may assume it takes thousands of dollars to have a smart home and wonder what it entails.

The truth is, any smart device added to your home makes it a smart home, whether it's a digital assistant, thermostat or state-of-the-art home security system. Any automation you add to your home may increase its value and make your life more convenient.

Here’s everything you must know about smart home devices, how they work, and some products to consider for your home.

What Are Smart Homes?

A smart home has appliances and systems you can control with your smartphone or other smart devices. All devices in the smart home connect via the internet, allowing homeowners to control things like the home security, thermostat, lighting, and other smart home devices from anywhere they have an internet connection. By 2025, 57% of households are predicted to have at least one smart device.

Why would you consider a smart home?

Not only are smart homes convenient, they’re also safer. They provide homeowners with an incredible piece of mind and convenience, allowing them to handle almost any task required to run a household or ensure a home's security from their phone, tablet or even smartwatch.

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How Does A Smart Home Work?

All devices in a smart home are connected to a central hub. The smart hub can be a tablet, smartphone or laptop. Most smart appliances self-learn to learn the household’s patterns and adjust operation as required.

The one thing that all smart devices have in common is they need an internet connection. You'll need strong and secure WiFi in your home for smart devices to work to their fullest potential, but with great internet, you can control your entire home with your phone.

A smart home uses the following to run:

  • Smart hub: This is the brain of the operation and where everything is controlled.
  • Smartphone application: The application is the program you go into on your cell phone to control your smart home devices.
  • Smart device: Any appliance or home system with automation and an internet connection you control within the smart hub or on your phone is a smart device.

How Much Does A Smart Home Cost?

The cost of adding smart technology to your home will vary by device, brand, and location. However, as smart home devices become more popular, there will be greater demand, more manufacturers, and, eventually, lower prices.

On the more expensive end are home security smart systems at $2,500+, like the Vivint Home Security Premium package, plus a monthly fee for monitoring the system, or the GE Profile Smart Refrigerator for $3,000.

Don’t worry; not all smart devices cost thousands of dollars. You can get a Google Nest Thermostat for under $150 or a Ring Doorbell for under $200.

Funding Your Smart Home

If you want to automate many devices in your home, you may consider financing options, such as a home equity line of credit or home equity loan. They can make upgrading to a smart home much more affordable, allowing you to have convenience and security without breaking the bank.

Apply for a Home Equity Loan online.

The Rocket Mortgage® online application is simple and secure.

What Are The Advantages Of Smart Home Options?

Despite the cost, a smart home has many advantages, including convenience, security, and possibly saving money in the long run. Many people do a cost analysis to see what they would get out of upgrading to a smart home to ensure the initial investment makes sense.

Here are the advantages of smart homes.

Convenience

You are always aware of what's happening in your home and can control many aspects of it, even while away. From being able to turn off smart light bulbs upstairs from the comfort of the couch to checking the home's security system while hundreds of miles away, smart home devices make it much easier to manage a home.

You don't have to worry about bothering a neighbor or getting up after going to bed and realizing you left the lights on downstairs. You can control everything with your phone in the blink of an eye.

Peace Of Mind

With your home's security at your fingertips 24/7, you'll always know when something is “off.” A smart doorbell can notify you when someone is at the door, and security cameras and other smart home security devices can immediately alert you if someone breaks into your home or even takes a package from your doorstep.

Having peace of mind is the key to living life to the fullest. No one likes wondering if their home is safe while they're away on vacation or bothering neighbors to check in on it for them. With smart security cameras, you can do it all yourself from anywhere in the world.

Safety

Smart home devices, such as smart locks or garage door openers, always protect your home. You could be hundreds of miles away and lock or unlock your doors to let someone in or check that the garage door is shut after you leave and need help remembering if you closed it.

This eliminates the need to share garage codes or give away spare keys to your home. Your home security system can alert you when they've arrived at your home, allowing you to unlock doors or open the garage door from your phone, allowing them in and then locking it when they leave to ensure its safety.

Saves Money

If you install energy-efficient smart devices, you could save money by not using your utilities as much. For example, a smart thermostat gets to know when the family is home and when they aren't, decreasing energy usage when no one is home and saving you money on utility bills.

You can also set your own schedules to ensure your family's comfort, but knowing that the thermostat understands when to shut things down to not waste energy can greatly decrease your utility bills.

Higher Home Value

Smart homes are often worth more than similar homes without smart devices, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. In addition, many buyers are willing to pay more for smart homes, even if other areas of the home are outdated.

We could all use a higher home value because that means more equity and profits when you sell. Investing in a smart home could provide an incredible return on your investment.

What Are The Drawbacks Of A Smart Home?

As with any changes in a home, there are downsides to smart homes you must consider. Weigh the pros and cons when deciding if it’s right for you.

Upfront Cost

Investing in smart home technology requires a hefty upfront investment, depending on the type of smart home devices you install. Some devices, like a thermostat or Google Home device, may be inexpensive, but most smart home devices are a large financial undertaking.

If you need to borrow money to upgrade your home, you’ll pay interest and increase your monthly liabilities. While you’ll get convenience and safety, you should ensure you can afford the higher payments.

Risk Of Being Hacked

Any system connected to the internet runs the risk of getting hacked. It's important to have strong Wi-Fi security to prevent this from happening to your home systems.

If you are hacked, changing all passwords and increasing your internet security as quickly as possible is important to prevent further damage.

Learning Curve

Getting used to smart home devices can take some time. Some devices have a learning curve themselves as they get to know your household's habits, but learning to manage things like a smart light, security cameras, automated locks, and a smart thermostat takes time.

Compatibility Issues

Not all manufacturers products work together. You might purchase smart home devices that don’t work together, causing problems in the home.

Internet Outages

If the internet goes out in your home for a long period of time, it can greatly affect your home if most of your devices are connected to the smart hub. Create a plan ahead of time on how to handle your systems if the internet is out for a while.

How To Make A Smart Home

You can upgrade to smart home devices in different areas of your home, automating your home and increasing its energy-efficiency and security.

Lighting

Wouldn't it be great to control your lights from anywhere? No more getting out of bed or driving back home because you left the lights on. You can control smart light bulbs from anywhere using your smartphone app.

You can put lighting on a schedule or manually turn lights on and off from your app. Some smart lights even have voice control allowing you to turn lights on and off just by telling them to do so. No more worrying about full arms or entering a dark room.

Heating And Cooling

Make your home energy-efficient with a smart thermostat. You can let it program itself based on your household habits or control it from your smart device to ensure you aren't using the HVAC system when it's unnecessary.

For example, the system can lower the heat when everyone is asleep for the night or increase the home’s temperature in the summer during the day when everyone is gone so as not to waste energy.

Sound

Consider smart speakers if you are a music-loving family or love to play surround sound on the TV. You can play music on demand, control the volume, and even change the tune by speaking to the system or using your app.

Appliances

Add smart home appliances to your house, and never feel uneasy about leaving the coffee pot on again. A smart refrigerator can make meal planning, list making, and grocery list writing a cinch, and control your smart oven from your phone and never burn dinner again!

Smart appliances have the largest learning curve and may even feel a bit over the top, but they are a great way to make life easier and more fun!

Home Security

Home security is one of the most important components of smart homes. You can add security cameras or monitoring devices that you can monitor 24/7 from your home and receive instant alerts whenever anything is amiss.

Some security systems have a monthly fee for monitoring, but if they provide you with peace of mind knowing your home is safe, they are well worth it.

Digital Assistant

Add an Alexa or other digital assistant to your home and speak your commands whenever you need help. For example, “Alexa turn on the lights,” or, “Alexa play my favorite song,” and instantly, the task is done for you!

The Best Smart Home Devices

The market for smart home devices is growing every day, but here are some of the best devices on the market to consider.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo, a smart speaker, does more than play music. It's also a digital assistant that can spew out facts you need without searching Google yourself, remind you of ingredients you need for a recipe, or control the smart devices in your home.

Amazon Echo devices range from $40 to $100, and there is no ongoing monthly fee to use the device. Amazon Echo is very easy to use and is quite convenient when you get the hang of how it works.

Ring Video Doorbell

It's frustrating when the doorbell rings right after you sit down to relax, right? What about when you're home alone and not keen on answering the door to a stranger? The Ring Video Doorbell makes it easy to see who is at the door and speak to them through the camera's microphone without opening the door.

The Ring Doorbell requires an annual subscription to get a continuous feed of the activity outside your home, and you can also use the footage as evidence should any suspicious activity happen in the area. Ring Doorbells start at $64.99, up to $220, plus the annual fee for monitoring.

Ecobee Smart Thermostat

The ecobee Smart Thermostat can help you save up to 26% on your heating and cooling bills by effectively using your heating and cooling systems. They cost from $149.99 to $249.99. You can control the thermostat from your phone or smartwatch; with the highest model, you even get built-in Alexa. The thermostat can sense your family's habits and automatically set temperatures, or you can control it from your phone.

Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug

The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi plug makes any appliance a smart device. Simply plug the Wi-Fi plug into the wall and plug in your appliance. The plug's app lets you control the device from anywhere with an internet connection. You can get smart plugs from $14.99 to $100.

Wyze Bulb Color

The Wyze smart light bulb brings 16 million colors to your home! They are easy to set up and control and can even be set up for sleep routines, vacation mode, or be controlled by voice. They are a little on the pricey side for lightbulbs at $22.99 for two, but they offer incredible convenience and fun.

The Bottom Line

A smart home is a great way to increase your home's security and convenience. It may feel a little futuristic or unnecessary, but once you use smart home devices for a bit, you'll see how easy and efficient it makes your life, and you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner!

If you want to upgrade your home to a smart home or purchase a new one, start your mortgage approval online today and enjoy today's technology in your new home!

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

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Sam Hawrylack

Samantha is a full-time personal finance and real estate writer with 5 years of experience. She has a Bachelor of Science in Finance and an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She writes for publications like Rocket Mortgage, Bigger Pockets, Quicken Loans, Angi, Well Kept Wallet, Crediful, Clever Girl Finance, AllCards, InvestingAnswers, and many more.