"Smart Home" Expenses - Pros and Cons
Smart devices can add convenience and the “wow factor” to your home, but are they worth the expense?
Technology has come a long way in recent years when it comes to home improvement. What seemed like science fiction when you were younger is now a reality, and is becoming increasingly common with the "smart home."
Having a smart home means that with a variety of devices, you can use your computer, phone, or even your voice to control various aspects of your home environment, save on heating, cooling, lighting, and much more. There are, however, pros and cons to upgrading your home, especially when it comes to expenses.
Technology will continue to improve.
If there's one thing time has shown, it's that technology will continue to advance, and that means a smart home should be capable of getting smarter as time goes on.
Device prices will likely go down as the market becomes saturated.
A lot of smart devices are already very affordable, but there are still plenty of high-end models that can get quite costly. The good news is that smart technology is as hot as ever, and the market will probably continue to become more saturated, driving prices down. Having a good-quality, affordable smart home should become more attainable as time goes on.
Smart thermostats can potentially save you significant money.
Smart thermostats can let you control the temperature in your home remotely, and many can even learn to adjust themselves to fit your lifestyle and keep your bills lower. Smart thermostats are among the most common smart devices used in homes today, and with good reason. They're relatively inexpensive at the outset, and they can lead to significant savings on heating bills.
Smart lighting can save you money in the long-term.
Similarly, smart lighting can also save you significant money on energy bills due to its energy-saving qualities. It is designed to make your home more efficient and can be automated based on conditions, including the amount of daylight available.
Smart plugs can turn "dumb" devices smart for relatively little money.
Smart plugs can be a great way to make your home "smarter" without having to buy several different smart devices. The plugs can turn some ordinary devices into smarter versions by letting you use an app to dictate their functionality. If it's a device that can be turned on and off using a switch, you can use the plug to turn the device on and off using an app on your phone. You can use it with a television, or a lamp, or your coffee pot, and other devices. You can set a schedule and hook it up to your security system. The best part is that these plugs are among the least expensive smart devices out there.
Simple smart security cameras are inexpensive.
While you can certainly spend a great deal of money on smart cameras if you choose, there are relatively inexpensive options. A smart security camera, according to IGI Global, is "a self-contained vision system with built-in image sensor, capable of capturing images, extracting application-specific information from the images, generating event descriptions, and making decisions."1
Smart cameras can operate independently if there are several hooked up for surveillance points. Some can be installed do-it-yourself, while others require professional installation. Cautions: Most indoor security cameras are not rated for outdoor use. Make sure that the clarity and night vision are good.
In some cases, you may need more than one of the same device.
Devices like Alexa and Google Home may require having multiple devices to place in different rooms so your voice can always be heard. While buying one of these devices may not break your bank, the cost can quickly add up if you have to buy several of them. Of course, having this functionality everywhere in your home is a matter of personal preference.
Virtual assistants may not be as useful as you think.
It's debatable how helpful virtual assistants (like Alexa) really are. Of course it really comes down to how you personally use it, but it turns out a lot of people who buy them don't actually get a great deal of use out of them. One survey2 found that about half didn't find them useful.
Smart lighting can be expensive up-front.
If you want to equip your home with smart lighting - especially throughout the entire home - up-front costs can get steep. Over the long-term, you can save some money on your energy bills, but it's an investment.
Smart locks aren't exactly cheap either.
Smart locks, which can allow you to lock doors in ways that are harder to penetrate compared to regular locks, may not be the most expensive smart devices, but compared to the costs of standard locks, they're not exactly cheap.
Smart blinds are also expensive.
The same goes for smart blinds, which are motorized blinds that can open and close based on lighting and temperature conditions. These will cost you hundreds of dollars per window, and if you have many windows, the bill can easily get into the thousands.
Really good smart vacuums can be pricey.
Smart vacuums, which are robotic vacuums with intelligent programming, come in a fairly wide price range, but if you want a really good one, you're going to have to fork over some money. Also, if you have more than one level in your home, you may want more than one.
High-end smart surveillance systems are expensive.
While you can get security cameras at low cost, a high-end surveillance system is another story if you want it to be a part of your home security system and have alarm monitoring.
As GearBrain explains, "Many security cameras require a subscription service to view the footage they record for more than a day or so afterwards. Nest, for example, charges between $6.99 and $19.99 a month, depending on how long you want to have access to recordings. Realistically, we can see a four-bedroom home having two cameras outside and one inside pointing at the front door. For this setup you'll want to budget around $300-$600 depending on which models of camera you opt for. We're now at approximately $13,000 for our smart home build."3
When it comes down to it, most of the drawbacks of a smart home are simply related to cost. If you have the money, and you're willing to spend a significant amount to "upgrade" your house, there could be more benefits than drawbacks. If you’d like financial assistance in upgrading to a smart home, consider a home equity credit line from Nevada State Bank.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC