Smart Home Devices - Are They Worth the Investment?

Peace of mind can be an app or voice command away with today’s smart home automation technology, and the trend is only growing. Approximately 161 million smart home systems were sold between 2010 and 2016, according to IHS Markit. It’s predicted that technology sales will reach over 475 million smart home devices sold worldwide by 2020.

Nearly any home-based system can be automated: lighting, security and surveillance systems, television, even appliances. Automation systems can be programmed or learn to turn on and off, while some even adjust their settings at certain times of the day, like automatic sprinkler systems and home alarms.

This is your basic guide to the availability and cost of smart home systems, and how smart home automation systems fare in terms of value.

Smart Home Devices and Home Sales

Smart home automation systems can provide homeowners with three huge benefits: convenience, security and energy efficiency. When a system is installed – and especially when it’s hard-wired – it can serve as a strong selling point to entice buyers.

Millennials, the current main buying group, are leading the charge in smart home interest. One in four have at least one automated item in their homes with the intention of adding more.

A study done in 2016 by Coldwell Banker noted that about 45% of Americans had or planned to purchase at least one smart home automation product. The study also noted that the top three systems were automated lighting, security, and thermostat products.

Ease of Use

No doubt you’ve seen the ads showing people away from home using their mobile phones to activate a home security system, turn on lights, or even start the dishwasher. Today, many of the automation systems can work by using voice commands for a hands-free experience.

One popular item, the Amazon Echo, is a smart home device that is simply plugged in to a power source and a Wi-Fi connection. With just your voice, the Echo can be used to listen to music from a variety of sources such as Amazon Prime Music, iTunes and Pandora.

With a price tag of about $179, about 2.4 million units were sold in 2015. In 2016, that number more than doubled to 5.4 million.

Want your home controls even closer? Some automated home systems can be linked to wearable devices such as smart watches and fitness trackers.

If you have multiple devices, consider connecting them together using a smart home hub, which is a hardware device that connects devices on a home automation network and controls communications among them. Be sure to check that the hub is compatible with the automation systems you have before buying.

Can You Save Money?

A common question is whether smart home automation systems can save you money. There are a lot of devices available, and since many are still new to the market, the jury is still out on many of them.

Nest, makers of a learning thermostat, conducted two independent studies and one of their own to see how much energy their thermostat was saving. According to the results, “the thermostat saved about 15 percent on cooling and 10 percent to 12 percent on heating. For the average home, Nest found that its $250 thermostat would pay for itself in about two years.”

If you were to purchase a thermostat at Lowe’s, you might find an analogue unit for $24. Even with the energy savings spread out over time, is a learning thermostat worth the investment? If you like the idea of your home thermostat learning that you want the house to be sitting at 76°F when you get home from work, and automatically adjust to all your preferences, then it may be a valuable asset.

Find out how much smart home systems and installations could cost by checking out this guide on HomeAdvisor.

Helping Those in Need?

While Millennials are at the forefront of the automation movement, others can benefit as well.

Smart home technology might be useful for seniors living at home, or individuals with disabilities living independently. Aside from wired alert systems for safety, there are a variety of other options that seniors may find valuable.

For many seniors, it can be a challenge to have to remember to change the batteries in alarms. Sensors wired to the house rather than needing batteries could be a very valuable option. And this can be included on a range of detectors including smoke, carbon monoxide, and radon.

Seniors can also wear devices to help with their health and safety from medical alerts to devices that can keep track of heart rate and alert them when to slow down.

In the house, there are a range of useful automation systems for seniors or disabled homeowners. For instance, interior cameras help provide a sense of security.

Being able to set kitchen features such as slow cookers and specific appliances to turn on and off at designated times may be valuable. Thermostat and light settings provide additional security, and with automation settings, seniors don’t have to remember to change settings or turn things on and off.

Learn more about budget-friendly smart home devices and accommodations that can benefit seniors or homeowners with special needs.

Are Smart Home Systems Worth It?

Whether or not integration of smart home devices in your home is worth the investment depends on your situation. In many cases, the cost of the device and its installation can be pricey up front, but may pay off in home resale value or energy savings over time. In other cases, the convenience and safety that automated systems can provide make them well worth the initial investment.

Do your research, especially around new smart home systems being released on the market, to find out what works best for you and your home.