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Smart homes. What was once a science fiction fantasy is now a limitless reality. If dialed in properly, a smart home can do wonders to conserve energy, lower utility bills, keep you safe, and make your life easier. It’s predicted there will be more than 300 million smart homes worldwide by 2023, according to some experts.
However, what some people might not realize is that smart homes are not apples-to-apples.
Truth be told, it’s surprisingly easy to get in over your head when upgrading to a smart home – and get lost in all the shiny details. Failing to do the proper research and planning can result in a painful amount of wasted time and money.
The biggest misconception about smart homes is that the upgrade process needs to be a sprint. While there’s nothing wrong with going all in, buying too much too fast can easily result in oversights.
In addition to this, we want to explain five show-stopping mistakes to steer clear of in the process of upgrading to a smart home.
Let’s dive in.
1. Juggling Multiple Vendors
Smart homes have many, many components. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that each piece of the puzzle should work as a vector. If you are sourcing certain pieces of equipment from different vendors, it’s going to cloud the process. There will likely be confusion over which vendor is sourcing what, and most importantly, result in equipment that is not compatible with each other.
The murkiness of using several vendors can easily result in wasted money, frustration, and maintenance difficulties.
You may find that one company specializes in entertainment devices, another in thermostats, another in security cameras, and so on. Don’t get too caught up in this. Set your priorities, then do yourself a favor and look for a full-service provider to manage everything for you. This will save you all kinds of stress in the long run. Trust us.
2. Placing Fancy Gadgets Before the Essentials
To reiterate, it’s all-too-easy to get wrapped up in the fancy gidgets-n-gadgets when upgrading to a smart home. Let’s be honest, this entire industry is built on “shiny-new-thing syndrome.”
The best approach to upgrading to a smart home is thinking of it as an upside-down pyramid. This would put the most important components at the top and the least important at the bottom.
Home security should be at the top of the list – followed closely by energy conservation, then convenience, atmosphere, and lastly, entertainment.
The Internet of Things provides a lot of capabilities to keep your home protected. To maximize these benefits, you cannot cut any corners – whether it be the devices or installation.
We asked Jaime Fraze, a security camera expert at SafeHome.org, for her take on smart homes and how to upgrade security features wisely.
“Security should be a cornerstone of any smart home,” said Jaime. “The process of setting up cameras, sensors, and monitoring systems is much more involved than many assume. There are all kinds of details that the novice would miss. To get the best bang for your buck, you are wise to have trained home security professionals to implement your system. Setting everything up without a firm understanding of home security will almost always lead to problems down the road.”
Setting up a smart home is all about priorities. Once you have security and energy ready to go, you can move onto the fun parts!
3. Prioritizing Cost Savings
This is a big one. To reiterate, you should never take shortcuts in upgrading to a smart home. To give you an idea, it can run anywhere from $5,000 – $12,000+ to turn a normal home into a robust smart home. This is very much a “go big or go home” type of deal.
Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a budget – or buy the most expensive device on the market. But sacrificing quality for a cut-rate will almost always come back to haunt you.
Instead of basing your decisions solely on price, take the time to read reviews – the great, the good, the not-so-good, the bad, and the ugly. See what people are saying about the longevity of the product. Are their needs similar to yours?
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Cheaper items usually end up costing more in the long run.
If you are on a tight budget for your smart home, it’s better to invest the money you have in fewer, high-quality items, rather than going the cheap route for the whole package. Even though it will take more time to get the smart home you want, it will last longer.
4. Not Thinking Long Term
Just like getting caught up in the fancy smart home features, it’s incredibly easy to get lost in the “now” when you are shopping for upgrades. Many of the components in a smart home are dependent on the layout.
For instance, the security setup, HVAC components, speakers, etc. will depend on how much space you are working with. That said, your investment needs to be planned for one, five, and ten+ years down the road.
- Do you think you’ll be moving any time soon?
- Building a home addition?
- Buying more valuable items?
Another thing to keep in mind is the area you live in.
If your neighborhood is getting developed and the community is seeing a lot of growth, you may consider investing more security.
Are summers getting hotter and winters getting colder? If this is the case, buying a more robust energy conservation system may be a smart choice in the long run.
The bottom line is this: smart components should grow with a home. There are countless variables to keep in mind. Do your best to look at the process from every angle – both now and in the future.
5. Trying to Do it All Yourself
YouTube videos and instructions tend to make things look a bit easier than they are. The good news is simply setting up the components of a smart home isn’t super complicated, even if you’re not very savvy.
However, unless you’re a tech wiz, having a professional guide the installation will ensure you get the most out of your setup. You can probably manage the entertainment aspects of your smart home by yourself. But for the more complex systems – like HVAC and security – it’s best to leave it to the pros.
Think of it like this: you are probably setting up a smart home for the first time. The experts do this every single day – and have worked with all sorts of homes. They know all the subtle details of making everything work properly and as a cohesive unit. Without a professional eye, it’s easy to miss things, meaning you’ll fail to maximize the system.
Over to You
Upgrading to a smart home is a big, expensive, and highly-involved process. The importance of taking a step back, making informed, calculated decisions, and staying grounded cannot be overstated.
There are a million mistakes you can make in the process of buying smart home components. While this post barely scratches the surface of all the potential mishaps, avoiding these five mistakes will do wonders to set yourself up for success.
Good luck and welcome to the future!