Will I have to pay a monthly fee for home automation?
For some types of smart gadgets and home automation systems, manufacturers may charge you a monthly fee. Often, you don’t really pay for the use of the device. You pay a monthly fee for the use of their cloud service.
Here’s how it works:
- Home security systems that are offered by some companies are like TV cable subscriptions. The company looks over your needs and then recommends a set of devices that will enhance your security. In some cases, your monthly fee covers the cost of the various devices. In other cases, you have to buy them yourself, and you have to buy them from the security company.
These systems generally include home security video cameras, which are often equipped with motion detectors and night vision. They’re accompanied by lights which can turn on as scheduled so burglars are led to believe the house is presently occupied, and which can also illuminate dark areas where potential intruders may try to hide. Other common elements of the home security system are alarms, smart door locks, an intercom system, sensors that can detect if someone breaks the window glass, and even a device that closes the drapes.
- In many cases, the security company is in charge of the installation. This offers a lot of advantages for you, besides saving you the effort of installing them yourself. The professional installation guarantees that the various smart devices that make up your home security system can work in tandem.
- Now when a potential intruder tries to break in, the lights may illuminate the area brightly and the alarms go off. At the same time, you’re also be notified via SMS, so you can use your smartphone to see what’s going on. You can see a live stream of the current action, and you can also review the various video recordings.
- Like most smart devices, these systems use a cloud service to communicate online. The hub and the devices send data to the cloud service, and then you use the app to check out the data in the cloud. But in this case, your data may involve large files. These things occupy a lot of space in the company’s servers, and for that you often have to pay.
- Most of the time, you’re not allowed the option of local storage for the videos your security camera records. They’re all sent to the cloud. And most companies only allow you a few hours to view or download the videos before they’re erased. In a few cases you’re not even allowed to download the videos at all.
So to keep those videos intact and in the cloud, you’ll have to pay. The fee is often dependent on the period of time you want these videos to stay in the cloud. A few days or a week may cost you a few dollars. If you want them saved for a year or so, it may cost you a hundred dollars or more per year or even per month.
But for the most part, you don’t need to pay a monthly fee for stuff like smart lights and outlets.
How can I save energy with smart home automation?
Energy conservation is one of the more renowned benefits of home automation. Everyone has bills to pay, and wouldn’t it be nice if you can significantly cut down your electricity bills? Here’s how smart home automation can help you conserve energy use:
1. You can turn appliances off no matter where you are. Let’s say you went to your office and you left the lights on in your home. That’s about 10 hours of unnecessary energy consumption. Now that may not be much, but if it happens often then the accumulated waste for a year can be considerable.
But even a single instance of leaving an appliance running can be a very expensive disaster. For example, what if you’ve left the heating or the air conditioner on, while you are away for a tw0-month vacation? Now that’s a big waste of energy.
With your app, you can tell when your smart devices are running or not. And with your smartphone, you can turn them off.
2. You can schedule your appliances to turn off at certain times. That’s another point of home automation—you don’t have to switchappliances on or off manually. They can turn themselves on automatically, according to the schedule you’ve set. So if you forget to turn your appliances off, there’s nothing to worry about.
Automation doesn’t even have to be about the time. It can be about your presence in a room. You can set up your lights to turn on when you enter a room, and then turn themselves on when you leave. This can be done by using the GPS on your phone or with Bluetooth.
3. You can find out just how much electricity you consume for each appliance. Knowledge can be a very good thing for energy conservation. If you know just how much energy you use for certain appliances, then you may not use it as much or refrain from using it for trivial reasons.
This is also true when you use a certain setting feature in your appliance. When you know how much your energy usage jumps with that particular setting, you may not want to use it all that often, or at all.
Knowing these things can change your daily habits and help you develop new ones that lead to energy conservation. For example, a smart thermostat can tell you how much energy you’re using when you set the temperature to a certain level. But when you realize the energy savings you get with just a single degree lower or higher on your settings, you may then want to endure just a little bit more cold or more heat.
4. You can even replace the appliance. When you’re very much aware that your appliance consumes too much energy, then it may compel you to replace it with a more energy-efficient model such as one with an Energy Star label.
Energy conservation is a built-in feature of most home automation devices. And it can help you develop a mindset for energy conservation as well.
How can a home automation system help me save money?
It’s always a concern just how much smart devices can cost, especially when compared to their more conventional “dumb” counterparts. But what you need to realize is with the right choices of smart devices, you can save money—enough money that you can recoup your expenses in a year or two (depending on what smart appliances you buy).
So how can you save money when you have a home automation system? Here are some ways:
1. You can change your habits regarding appliance use. This is perhaps the most far-reaching way of saving money. You can reduce your energy usage simply because you’re made aware of how much certain appliances and settings can cost you. A smart outlet can tell you much energy a certain appliance consumes.
With a device such as the Neurio Home Electricity Monitor, you can even monitor the energy usage of each and every appliance of your home. And that means you can examine each one of them, and see if the convenience they bring is worth the amount of money you pay towards its use of electricity.
2. You can turn them off from afar. This one is quite self-explanatory. You can save money, obviously, on your energy bill. But if you’re on vacation and you’ve left your air conditioning or your heating devices on for that long, you may lead to their wear and tear, and you’ll have to replace them much sooner than you ought.
Plus, some appliances are just too dangerous to leave on for too long, and they can cause fires that can cost you a lot of money.
3. Your smart devices can tell you when something is wrong. One simple example of this is a smart smoke detector. When it detects smoke in your room, it can notify you about it. If you have smart security cameras in the room, you can confirm that it really is a fire so you can call your local fire department even when you’re far away from home.
4. Home automation can keep burglars away. Just how much can a burglar steal from you? Take an inventory and see. Your watches, your jewelry, and even your TV are all vulnerable. How much would it cost you to replace them?
And some of these criminals may be bent on just destruction. They may even hurt people in the house.
With a home security system, you can prevent all that. Smart lights, video cameras, door locks, sensors—these can all discourage burglars and warn you of intruders even when you’re not at home. Your lights can automatically turn on to make burglars think that you’re home even when you’re not. Automatic smart deices can close your window drapes, locks can prevent people from coming in, and your motion detectors can raise alarms to frighten intruders away and give you time to call for the police.
These are just some of the ways you can save money with home automation. You can even save money from not having to hire a personal assistant, because a home automation system can do many of the things that an assistant can.
Are these smart home systems affordable for the average homeowner?
In some cases, outfitting your entire house with a smart home system in just one go can be a very expensive proposition. That’s like buying all the furniture pieces you need into an empty house. But that’s not really the right way to do things. Just start small and slow so it can be a very affordable process.
Here are some tips to keep the cost down:
1. Start with one type of device first. It all depends on your budget or your needs. Smart switches are great examples, because they’re generally very cheap, but you’re able to get a lot of smart automation benefits. You’re able to turn conventional appliances into smart gadgets, you can use these devices to help you conserve energy, and you can practice with remote control and with setting schedules for these gadgets.
2. Pick the devices which suit your needs. Some people find smart light bulbs useful, but if you don’t then you may want to use your money for some other type of smart device. If you have an HVAC system at home, a smart thermostat will probably offer great value for your money. Though they may cost several hundred dollars, you can recoup your investment within a few years and you get lots of convenient features in the meantime.
3. Choose smart devices that are easy to install. Hiring a pro installer or an electrician can add to your expenses.
4. Check online for price comparisons. Once you pick a type of device to get, such as a smart outlet or a light bulb, you should then go online to see which brands offer models that fit your budget and your needs. You can compare the cost of different brands, and you’ll also find that some sellers may offer great discounts.
When you’re checking the price, don’t forget to check the delivery charges. Other sellers may also offer more discounts when you buy more items.
5. Consider starter kits. These are usually setups from a particular company, with a hub plus some basic devices such as lights. A starter kit is usually a cheaper buy than purchasing the various devices piecemeal. In addition, you’re saved the hassle of trying to find various devices that work together. Starter kits are expressly chosen because they can work worth each device in the kit.
6. Read reviews and consider brand reputation. What you’ll want to focus on is durability. It can be very expensive for you in the long run if you keep buying cheap smart light bulbs that wear or break down within a month or two. And it can be very aggravating as well.
So read the reviews, especially the updated reviews. Pick the models with updated reviews which say that the smart devices work a year or more. Avoid the smart devices with lots of complaints regarding parts breaking down. Check out the later reviews more closely. Some companies can improve their various smart devices with upgrades and app updates after they receive poor reviews right after their launch.
Are home automation systems realistic for the average homeowner?
At first glance, it does seem like a home automation system is the stuff of fantasy and science fiction, doesn’t it? While such a system has always been possible even in the 1970s and 1980s, it’s usually only for the rich and famous. They’re for Bond villains and rich superheroes like Batman and Ironman, as well as for legendary historical figures like Hugh Hefner. They’re not for regular folks. But that was then, and this is now.
Today, these things are actually realistic for most people. If you can afford to own your own home (or even if you just rent your place), it is quite possible for you to benefits greatly from smart devices. And it doesn’t even have to be all that difficult.
All these things are reasonable because of certain developments:
1. They got cheaper. A significant drop in prices for high tech technology is mandatory for greater sales. All through history we’ve seen proof of this. Every home had PCs because they dropped in prices, and it’s had a similar effect for LCD TVs and smartphones. And now smart devices have become much more affordable than ever before.
2. Most people already have the basic requirements. Aside from a modest budget for the smart devices, people only need to things: a smartphone and a decent Wi-Fi Internet system at home. And these days these things are common in many households.
3. They’ve become more reliable. Most of the time, advanced technology only becomes more popular when they can be counted on to work most of the time. Consider the venerable electrical system in your home. When you flick a wall switch, you expect your lights to turn on right away and every time.
This wasn’t always true of home automation. Once upon a time they’re somewhat iffy in terms of actual reliability. They may work, or they may not.
But now they’re actually working as advertised. There are still a few issues left especially with devices failing to work together properly, but now the home automation industry is working on proper certification so that you’ll know when two devices can work together without any issues. You won’t have to rely on getting all your smart devices from a single company.
4. They’re easier to install. In the old days, most people didn’t really know how to install these devices themselves. Even the ones who did have the knowledge and the practical ability to install such devices found the work tedious and time-consuming. That’s because in the old days these home automation systems were wired.
But now for the most part you don’t need to have a pro install these things for you. With some notable exceptions (such as smart thermostats and breaker panel electricity monitors), you can install these things yourself. The only level of knowledge you need is being able to use a smartphone and to connect devices to your router and your hub, and these smart devices come with apps that offer explicit instructions.
5. People have realized their need for these devices. The advantages are very obvious. People have remote control, the ability to program the devices to work on a schedule, and you cut down your utility bills. These benefits are what average folks are looking for, and they’ve made smart devices much more popular than ever before.
Which home automation systems seem the most practical?
It’s obvious that smart devices are, by its very nature, extremely cool. They’re trendy and high tech, and they’re very fun to use. But they’re not always very practical. For example, quite a few people think that modern yet conventional lighting systems work fine just as they are.
But some home automation devices are actually very practical. It means they’re affordable, they’re very easy to use, and the benefits they provide are obvious. They’re not just cool gadgets with gimmick-y features. They actually satisfy a very real need among consumers.
So which of these devices are the most practical? Here are some of the top choices:
1. Smart thermostat. This is a single device that offers a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a thermostat, but its features are way beyond that of a conventional one. While its features do depend on the brand and model you get, in general it offers lots of useful abilities, it’s easy to use, and it can really save you a lot of money so that it pays for itself in just a few years.
A good smart thermostat isn’t just programmable so that it adjusts the temperature of your home to the level you want. It can sense people inside the house so if it’s empty it will recognize that there’s no more need to set the temperature to a level that’s fit for human comfort. It can track your location and get a feel for your habits, so that it activates before your arrival. When you come home, your temperature is already at the level you prefer. And it can even set a schedule for you when it has learned your habits and preferences.
2. Home security devices. These gadgets work in tandem to watch over your house and protect your possessions from intruders and burglars. You can have camera monitors inside the home, while outdoor cameras can keep an eye with their night vision and motion sensors. The cameras can alert you to the presence of intruders, and you can watch a live stream to see what’s going home at home. You can also have videos of the events.
These systems can work with alarms, automated lights that can give the impression you’re home even when you’re not, smart door locks which you can lock from the office if you forget, and even window sensors too. You may even have automatic devise that close window drapes so that people from the outside can’t look inside your home.
3. Smart outlets. These are often the devices that convince people to opt for home automation. These plugs offer you smart features for your conventional appliances, so you can monitor to see if they’re working from even outside your home and you can turn them on or off at any time. You can even monitor their energy usage.
There are several other practical smart devices, such as robotic vacuum cleaners and automated pet food dispensers. But you should always start with smart outlets, and then go with thermostats and security systems to cover your most basic needs.