Common Smart Home Myths Debunked
The future of homes is the smart home. By offloading some of our daily tasks and optimising them, smart home automation makes our daily lives that little bit more manageable. All the heavy hitters of the digital world - brands like Apple, Google, Samsung and LG - are all creating smart home gadgets. Even brands not normally associated with computers, like Philips and Yale, are beginning to create smart home versions of their popular products.
However, as with all emerging tech, smart home systems aren’t immune to the rumour mill. You may have heard that smart home security is lax, that the benefits aren’t worth the cost, or even that Big Brother is always watching… but not all of what you’ve heard is true - and that’s what this blog is all about. We’re busting five of the most common myths that surround smart homes right here, right now. Let’s get started!
Smart home systems are too expensive for me
This is probably the most widely believed myth about smart homes. The idea that smart home automation is only for the rich and famous is probably down to the assumption that any new kind of technology must be expensive, along with the admittedly high cost of some standout smart home devices.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage on your home to pay for smart home systems. The key to creating a smart home on a budget is to plan ahead and expand your system slowly. Once you’ve got a smart home hub to connect your devices together and a smart speaker to control them, you can pick and choose which devices you add. Want to concentrate on smart home security? Install a video doorbell first, and later you can upgrade your system with a smart security camera. Do you want to save money over time? Grab a smart thermostat starter kit. Unless you want to automate every household task right away, it's easy to spread out the cost over time.
It’s easy to hack smart home devices
Security is top of the list of concerns about all kinds of technology. There are plenty of news articles out there about hackers exploiting system weaknesses to steal people’s data or cause havoc. Because smart home automation means that a lot of everyday appliances are connected to the internet, including really important things like smart locks, doesn’t that mean they’re especially at risk?
Simply put, no! In reality, smart home security is actually pretty tight. While smart home devices are connected to the internet, almost all of them connect through your wireless router, rather than directly to the net. Provided you configure your router correctly with a strong password, there’s little to fear from hackers. Most other smart home security risks require physical access to the device itself. This means that a hacker would have to break into your home before even thinking about cracking your system, something which smart security devices are specifically designed to prevent. All in all, you can rest assured that you, your loved ones, and all the things you hold dear are very well protected when you opt for this modern method of security - it’s the smart thing to do, after all!
Smart home gadgets are spying on me
So smart home security is pretty tight, but what about privacy? It’s one thing to stay safe from hackers, but what about the companies that make your smart home gadgets? The biggest privacy concern that most people have is the idea that their smart home speaker is always listening and recording everything you say.
This is one of those myths that’s based on a grain of truth. Smart home speakers are always listening, but they don’t record everything you say. This might seem confusing at first, but it’s necessary for voice-activated commands to work. If your speaker’s microphones weren’t always on, they wouldn’t be able to hear you when they needed to.
Smart home speakers only start recording your voice when they hear their ‘wake word’ (‘Alexa’, ‘okay Google’ and ‘Siri’). Once they’ve heard your entire command, your voice recording is sent to the company’s cloud servers where it’s automatically translated into smart home automation instructions. Typically, it’s really obvious when a smart home system is recording your voice. Either the device glows a different colour, or the speaker makes a tone when it starts recording. Most use a combination of clues to keep you in the loop.
Many of the top smart home manufacturers have taken these privacy concerns on board and made their devices more transparent and deliberately privacy-conscious. For example, the latest versions of Amazon Echo and Google Nest speakers both have physical mute switches that completely disable the gadgets’ microphones. You also delete all your voice recordings with a simple command.
Smart home automation is hard to use
Some people think that they need a degree in computer science to understand and use smart home systems, but this is yet another myth! The makers of smart home gadgets know that not everyone is as tech-savvy as they are, and they work hard to make their creations easy for everyone to understand.
Adding a new smart home gadget to your home is almost always a breeze. Instructions will be provided in the box that tell you how to set up the device and connect it to smart home systems. Usually, this is as simple as a few button presses. After that, you can control the device from an app on your smartphone. Even if they have to be installed, many devices are a simple DIY job. For instance, the August Smart Lock Pro is designed to fit your existing lock. All you need is a screwdriver to install it!
The only exception to this rule are smart thermostats and other devices that need to be wired directly into your home’s electricity grid or plumbing system. For these sorts of smart home gadgets, you’re much better off hiring a professional to install them for you than trying to do it by yourself.
I should install a bunch of smart lights at once
Smart lights are one of the most sought-after smart home gadgets, particularly for newcomers to smart home systems. The opportunity to set the lights to automatically dim and change colour at your will is an exciting opportunity. However, before you whip out your wallet, it’s important to manage your expectations.
Many smart light systems are hard-wired into your home and will need to be installed by a professional electrician. If your smart lights need a lightswitch to work (and many do), then you’ll need to install one for each room you want to have smart lights in - the costs can quickly spiral.
If you want to experiment with smart lighting, it’s best to start out small. Something like the Philips Hue Starter Kit is a great choice. This starter kit includes a selection of smart LED bulbs that screw into normal light fixtures, like desk lamps and overhead lights, and a wireless bridge unit to connect with the rest of your smart home. Without a hard-wired light switch, you can set these up yourself in no time. Once you’re familiar with starter kits such as this, it’s time to move on to more complicated smart lighting setups.
Smarter than ever
That’s five of the most common misconceptions about smart homes thoroughly debunked. If you’ve found this blog has helped sway you towards investing in smart home systems, we recommend reading our list of smart home buyer’s guides. Each one tackles a different area of smart homes, from top rated smart thermostats to brilliant video doorbells. And, if you’re a complete smart home beginner, we recommend checking out how to make your home a smart home, which is a great introductory course.
You’ll also certainly want to see what smart home gadgets you can purchase at OnBuy, too! We have tons of dedicated smart home categories for you to browse through. Looking for smart vacuum cleaners? Give our smart appliances selection a try. Or if you want help staying in shape, our smart health category contains all sorts of amazing fitness trackers to help you meet your exercise goals.