The term “smart” has been applied to our cell phones and our cars. Most recently, it is being used to describe houses. These so called “smart houses” are wired for technology at every turn, with new products and services coming out all the time. Here are a few key technology terms and some great features and products to add to your existing house or new build.
• Smart home or smart house – A home with wired and wireless technology that allows products within it to “talk” to each other to perform tasks, such as shutting off the coffee maker remotely or turning on the lights via an app on a smart phone.
• Protocols – Several companies have developed protocols, or fundamental technology, that allows products (like garage door openers or alarm systems) to be controlled remotely. You must have a protocol device in your home for any of the smart systems to work. Manufactures have incorporated these protocols into their products so that they will work within your system. Some of the protocol makers are X10, Z-Wave, Insteon, and ZigBee.
• Smart devices – Devices and products with built in technology and web servers that can be controlled remotely. These devices transmit and receive signals over a protocol, so be sure that your devices all run on the same technology to ensure smooth sailing.
o Trash cans – Smart trash cans will alert you through an app when your garbage needs to be taken out.
o Desk – A smart desk can adjust to your sitting or standing height automatically and even perform administrative tasks like scheduling meetings.
o Thermostat – One of the most popular home automation systems, a smart thermostat can learn your behaviors and adjust the temperature accordingly.
o Washer/Dryers – Your laundry can now be smart, with washers that can be programmed remotely and dryers that will delay their start to lower energy use times, thus saving you money.
• Installation – While you could install the system yourself, it may be worth it to hire a professional if you’re not super-tech savvy. There are numerous companies in the area that can do this for you and are well worth the price. After the base system is installed, adding new devices is almost as simple as plugging them in (or screwing in a light bulb).
Despite all of these cool new advances, one must consider if the convenience factor outweighs the frustration factor. As with any new gadget, there will be bugs and things to figure out. Is it worth it to you to be able to adjust your thermostat from the couch? To be able to view your security cameras from a hotel? If not, wait a little while for the technology to mature. But if you’re an early adopter and are anxious to get in on this new trend, now is a great time to try out some of the surprisingly convenient ways your house can be “smart.”