In a smart home, many devices automatically communicate with each other and thus relieve residents of annoying everyday decisions. Ideally, however, not only does the heating adapt to the weather and the light of the time, but security is also increased and energy saved. In addition to the many advantages of a smart home, there are also some disadvantages that interested parties should be aware of before installing it. We present an overview of all Smart Home benefits and risks.
Smart Home: How a networked home works
When setting up a networked home, it is not enough to install a Universal Smart Home App or bring a language assistant into the house. Not all intelligent devices speak the same language or communicate via the same radio standard. The ZigBee and Z-Wave (Plus) radio standards are frequently used, for example, and KNX is also used for permanently installed Smart Home systems.
WLAN and Bluetooth, on the other hand, are used more for gadgets or individual devices (e.g. WLAN lamps), as they might otherwise be slowed down too much by the data stream of a complete Smart Home. However, there are also some combination solutions: The language assistant Alexa offered by Amazon is installed on many loudspeakers (e.g. Echo Dot 3) and receives data updates from the Alexa cloud via WLAN. Such ‘Smart Speakers’ are able to communicate via APIs with the control centers of other devices and to control their components. For example, Philips Hue luminaires can be remote controlled either with the manufacturer’s app or via Alexa voice commands.
To find out which Smart Home systems are particularly popular and proven, we explain them in detail in our Smart Home System Comparison with Purchase Advice.
What are the advantages of a Smart Home?
In order to understand the advantages of a Smart Home, you first have to get away from common prejudices: Networked homes are no longer the domain of quirky hobbyists with extensive programming skills. Anyone can set up a Smart Home and thus increase their comfort. The following brief overview of all Smart Home Pro arguments shows why this can be worthwhile:
More convenience: When setting up a Smart Home, everyone can delegate everyday tasks that they do not want to perform themselves. Making coffee in the morning, vacuuming and wiping the floors, cleaning windows, mowing the lawn and much more. Our list of Alexa-compatible appliances shows just how large the selection of smart appliances for every area of life already is.
Better entertainment: The search for a remote control has come to an end with immediate effect, because in the Smart Home the operation of TV or music system is very convenient via app or voice command. Anyone who has installed a language assistant like Alexa can even ask her for advice on film selection. By the way, there are smart entertainment offers for children – such as the Cozmo toy robot, the Ravensburger kNOW! Quiz game with Google Home Mini connection, tigerbox TOUCH soundboxes or mini e-cars.
- More security: A Smart Home increases security because networked security components can “warn” each other. For example, a triggered motion sensor simultaneously activates the alarm siren and surveillance camera, while the owner is informed by the central alarm system via push message.
- Age-appropriate living: Even physically handicapped people receive a significantly better quality of life with intelligent devices. If they fall, for example, so that they can no longer reach their telephone, they have the option of calling for help via a smart loudspeaker with a voice command. In addition, injured people or their relatives can issue an access authorisation to the rescue service in emergency situations via an electronic door lock via voice command or app.
- Lower energy consumption: Most intelligent devices are programmed to consume as little power as possible. Some WLAN thermostats even use the geofencing method to detect when their owners are absent and automatically lower and raise the temperature again in good time before their return. In addition, most systems offer the option of setting a timer and specifying when, for example, the lights should automatically go out. This means that even distracted contemporaries do not risk their forgotten lamps staying on until the end of the day. Last but not least, power guzzlers can be detected using smart metering (e.g. WLAN sockets with energy consumption measurement).
For whom is a Smart Home particularly recommended?
The Smart Home applications already presented can be adapted to any age group. While the little ones sleep peacefully in the next room, supervised by a baby monitor and a suitable app, slightly older kids can be occupied with intelligent gadgets, such as children’s tablets with audiobook subscriptions. In addition, parents can start window cleaning, suction or mowing robots via an app or start the WLAN washing machine with a voice command if their hands are full. Dishwashers, ovens and even faucets are also available as smart variants. Alexa owners even have the option of buying food online via voice control.
But not only the everyday duties are completed faster by a networked home, also the comfort is increased: In the Smart Home, morning muffles can be awakened, for example, by slowly dimming up the light, while the roller shutters automatically raise.
Security-conscious people can network their surveillance camera with motion sensors, sirens or smoke detectors and use an app to check their rights at home at any time.
In a time that is becoming ever faster, the working age group in particular has less and less time for themselves. If you have some, you don’t want to waste them on profane things like mowing the lawn or vacuuming. A Smart Home therefore relieves its inhabitants of many small things in everyday life, which add up to enormous time savings and increase comfort at the same time.
In addition, older people can also benefit greatly from a smart home. Especially for people with physical disabilities who find it difficult to walk fast enough to the door before the parcel carrier has left or who have trouble reading the small numbers on the TV remote control, the Smart Home is a great relief. You can now control almost all household tasks by voice.
What disadvantages, risks and costs does a Smart Home entail?
Two factors can quickly deprive smart home fans of the fun of their networked home when planning badly: high costs and security risks. However, both can be avoided with a little preparation.
So that the costs don’t explode, it’s worth preparing a needs analysis beforehand and calculating the purchase prices of the individual components. This can be done simply by answering a few basic questions:
- Scope: Are some gadgets such as suction robots or selected smart lamps enough for me or do I really want to network all electrical devices from toasters to underfloor heating?
- Control: Is the operation of the devices via app sufficient for me, should voice control also be possible or should as much as possible run automatically?
- Costs: How much do I already have to spend on my Smart Home? Here you can find concrete calculation examples of which acquisition costs are realistic: What does a Smart Home really cost?
In addition to the smart home costs, which should not be underestimated, any networked device can also be hacked and externally controlled purely theoretically. This is particularly true if only very banal passwords are assigned for apps and WLAN systems. At the same time, the WLAN network used by smart home devices to communicate can be set up as a guest network so that hackers cannot gain access to sensitive data in the home network. Some insurance companies are therefore already offering smart home policies to mitigate the consequences of this disadvantage.