Smart home products are some of the hottest items for homeowners and renters, with the market set to top around $40 billion dollars by 2020. Using a home’s WiFi network, products from coffee makers to light switches to mattresses can be controlled via devices like mobile phones or laptop computers.
The biggest tech companies in the world all have Internet of Thing-controlled merchandise like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home, allowing most customers to control just about any third-party I.o.T. product from major devices.
Smart home technology promises more productive use of users time and money, both by automating routine jobs, but also by using patterns and data to improve efficiency. By far the most common type of smart home technology utilizing both of these benefits is thermostats, like those from well-known companies such as Google NEST and Sensi.
But with any new tech, there can be products to be careful with: a recent viral piece in Gizmodo covered some of the worst stories like brands that only worked with very specific devices, sensitive data that wasn’t properly secured, and worse.
There are plenty of common smart home products with safe and secure records that can be helpful to your monthly budget, and those you should probably steer clear of no matter how fun they sound. Here are three you need, and three you probably don’t.
The best 3 smart home upgrades you need today
Smart thermostats are definitely the most prolific Internet-of-Things utility in use today. Heating and air bills are one of the the average homeowner’s biggest expenses and a more efficient scheduling of your HVAC system is one of the best ways to save your paycheck month to month. Brands like NEST and Sensi are tested and trusted products that offer security and generally safe usage of your home network. Smart thermostats can be installed in under and hour and can be used by just about anyone.
Smart thermostats can regulate the temperature in your home via your family’s exact patterns, but most can only affect the air quality indirectly. A great add-on to any smart thermostat system is an air purifier that works with your existing software or hardware. Products like Footbot work with major systems like NEST and can monitor the real-time air quality of your home and adjust your HVAC system accordingly. Most work with barely any user input at all, just set and breathe cleaner air.
Home surveillance camera
Whether to keep tabs on the kids or make sure the family dog hasn’t chewed through its pen, home cameras are affordable and useful for just about any home. Most systems can be connected to mobile devices for remote monitoring, or recorded for long term use and storage. The LG Smart Security Wireless Camera is a great product that allows for wire-free placement.
Honorable mention: sprinkler controller
In August 2017, the city of Stockton passed regulations against watering your lawn between 11 am and 6 pm, or within 48 hours of rainfall. With that in mind, a Rainmachine or Rachio sprinkler controller is a relatively cheap way to make sure your sprinklers are staying on schedule, instead of earning you fines.
Three smart home upgrades to avoid
One set of internet of things products to stay away from entirely is niche items that only work with specific devices or other products. Not only does this limit your potential usage, but customers can find themselves locked-in to a specific line of items they may or may not be satisfied with long term. The Eight Sleep Tracker works with your mattress and can set your coffeemaker running as soon as you wake up: but only if you have a WeMo coffeemaker.
A company called Insteon was famously hacked in 2012, allowing users’ home systems to be tampered with via Insteon’s unsecured servers. Anyone could access their customer’s homes right down to their lights and locks. No system will ever be perfectly impenetrable, but homeowners should work with trusted brands they know and have heard of for years.
There are some aspects of your life that simply don’t need to be connected to the internet. Toilets, mattresses, mirrors: these things can be left in the analog world. Stick to common products like thermostats and home monitoring systems with highly-rated reviews. You won’t catch us recommending the Kohler “smart” bathroom mirror or Kohler Veil “Intelligent” toilet (price tag $4,700) any time soon.
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