4 Steps to Choosing the Right Smart Home Device
You’ve done it. You’ve finally made the choice to take a dive into the world of the smart home. Now comes the fun (and tricky) part: Choosing the right device. Should be easy, right?
Well, yes and no. This is a very different process than, say, buying a new TV or smartphone. The stakes are higher when your whole home is involved. But there are also more great options than ever before. So what should you know as a consumer before you purchase your first smart home device? We break it down for you so you can make the right choice.
Picture Your Dream Smart Home
Step 1 is about far more than fantasy. It’s about considering everything you’d like your smart home to be capable of from the start. Why is this so crucial? Because this ties into all of the following steps. A smart home can work in many different ways, and you need to know what you want to get out of it before you start buying.
For example, you may want to focus on replicating a sci-fi film with everything from light switches to blinds accessible at the touch of a button. Or, you can focus on a few key devices to simply make your home safer and more efficient. Either way, have a clear idea of what you’re looking for from day one. If you’d like some dream smart house inspiration, try exploring the CNET Smart Home or the posts on The Wirecutter.
Think Long Term
True, whenever you’re making a major purchase of anything from a car to a refrigerator, you need to consider whether the manufacturer is going to continue supporting that product in case it needs a repair or other support. But those concerns are compounded when you’re talking about smart home devices.
This is because some consumers have learned the hard way that a company pulling support for a smart home device can leave you with something unusable. The good news is that the industry is waking up to this concern and pushing for more open source platforms to fix those problems.
Still, in the meantime, you need to carefully consider the track record of the company whose smart home products you’re buying. If the company is a startup, check to see if it has some serious financial backing. If it’s a larger company, see if it’s pulled support from products before.
Remember when we mentioned that you should start by envisioning your dream smart home? Here’s where that comes in handy. While the smart home industry is beginning to address compatibility issues and coalesce into a few core product ecosystems, you still need to think about compatibility before you buy your first smart home product. Are you going for Google or Samsung? What about Amazon?
If you decide later that you’d like to invest in something like smart fans, but find that the home system you purchased doesn’t support it, then you’re out of luck. Think of it like buying an Android smartphone and then later deciding you really want an app that’s only available on ios. Even if you won’t be able to afford all the products you’d like straight away, begin by mapping out what you’d like in your smart home and then find a system that will be able to work with all of those products.
Time Your Purchases
Lastly, one of the most exciting things about the smart home industry is how quickly it’s evolving and improving. Each new generation of a product seems to bring more and more awesome features we can’t wait to try out. But this also means that it’s really worth trying to buy shortly after a new product generation is released.
Yet again, imagining your ideal smart home comes in handy here. Considering few consumers ever buy all the components they’re looking for in a smart home all at once, you can plan out when you’ll buy various components based on when a new version is released. Perhaps you’ll start with a smart home thermostat or smart water leak detection equipment before moving on to a smart refrigerator.
Fortunately, the industry is old enough now that most products have a fairly predictable lifecycle.
Smart Home Shopping: Planning Is Key
If there’s one takeaway here, it’s that choosing a smarthome device means careful planning and thinking. This is not an area where impulse buys pay off. Start by considering your ideal smart home and before you know it, it’ll be a reality. Just make sure to invite us over to gawk a bit.
Want more great tips on smart home devices, home maintenance, and water leak prevention? Check out LeakSmart’s blog for weekly articles and insights.