What Is a Smart Home?

Deyan G.
Deyan G.

Updated · May 10, 2022

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Wouldn’t it be nice if robots did most things? This way, you wouldn’t have to lift a finger. It sounds like a pretty futuristic idea, but in reality, the world is steadily moving in that direction.

Have you ever heard of a “smart home”? If you haven’t, you might be surprised to find out how common of a concept it is. In fact, by 2023, the smart home industry automation in US households will be 53.9%.

Actually, even if the term sounds unfamiliar, you’re probably aware of the practice itself. There’s also a strong possibility you already apply some of that tech in your own home.

Let me tell you more about what a smart home is:

What Is a Smart Home?

It’s a setup of internet-connected devices in your house that can be monitored and controlled remotely. These home appliances are automated and linked with each other. They’re often managed using a smartphone or tablet.

The elements you need are a router, through which the connected devices can communicate, and, well… devices. Here are some examples of what a smart home system could include:

  • Smart light bulbs: you can control them through your smartphone and set them to turn on and off at certain times. They’re also able to sense whenever people are present and adjust the lighting.
  • Smart security cameras: they help homeowners monitor their property while away. These cameras use sensors to tell when there’s any suspicious activity and inform authorities if needed.
  • Smart locks: they can be locked and unlocked remotely. The smart lock can also detect whenever a resident is near the house and unlock the door.
  • Smart TV: it can connect to the internet and access applications. It could also include voice control and gesture recognition.
  • Smart thermostats: Through them, users can schedule and remotely control the home’s temperature. They can also automatically adjust their settings throughout the day after learning the residents’ behavior.

Plus, some kitchen smart home electronics:

  • Smart coffee maker: can make a cup of coffee at a set time every morning.
  • Smart refrigerator: can alert residents when a product’s about to expire and create shopping lists.

Intelligent homes may be a great idea for technically competent people. However, if you’re not so tech-savvy, you might struggle with such systems. Obviously, if you find controlling the setup too hard, then it all becomes counter-productive.

On a different note, it can be life-changing for elderly or disabled people.

How It Works

There are four protocols smart home technology can run on:

  • X10

This is the first one, and it works for older devices. Through the home’s electrical wires, X10 allows compatible technology to communicate.

Transmitters (remote controls) send signals to the system whenever a user tries to control a device. The software then gets an identifying number for the appliance in question and a code with the command. The device itself is the receiver.

  • Zigbee

This protocol for smart houses uses radio waves instead of going through electrical wires. It has a range of 10 meters. It’s a mesh network — there’s more than one way for a message to be received. Zigbee creates a hierarchy between devices — ones that function fully and route messages and ones that don’t.

  • Z-Wave

Another mesh network protocol that uses radio waves. Its range is 30 meters and is considered less complex than Zigbee. The hierarchy between devices exists here as well.

  • Insteon

With Insteon, appliances can communicate through both radio and electric wires. If one method fails to work, this protocol switches to the other.

All appliances in a smart house should use the same or compatible protocols. Otherwise, you’ll need a bridging device.

All technologies in intelligent home systems are controlled by a hardware device called a smart home hub. Examples of such hubs include:

  • Amazon Echo
  • Google Home
  • Samsung SmartThings

Benefits

Here are some ways that smart home technology can improve your life:

  • Comfort: Through remote control and automation, many things around the home can be done while you’re relaxing.
  • Total Control: You can easily manage your smart home through a mobile phone. Adjust lights and temperature. Lock and unlock doors. Check if every device is turned off when you’re away. These are just a few of the possibilities.
  • Accessibility: These systems can majorly improve the lives of people with disabilities, giving them a greater sense of self-reliance and independence.
  • Money-Saving: Even though setting up an intelligent house system can be pretty expensive, you can actually save quite a bit afterwads. This technology allows for energy and water usage control, preventing heating and lighting devices from working unnecessarily.
  • Security: Smart cameras and locks let you control and monitor your home anytime, from anywhere. In case of a break-in, you and the police can be quickly notified.

Challenges

Integrated home systems come with some disadvantages as well:

  • Costly: As mentioned above, even though they save you money, the initial investment is quite steep. Assembling a smart home from scratch can take $10,000 - $250,000 out of your pocket. If that price isn’t within your means, it’s best to start small.
  • Energy-dependent: Everything is well until the power goes out. Or the internet. In that case, most of your smart devices become useless. Thankfully, you can always use the important ones the old-school way.
  • Cyber Security: Unfortunately, intelligent technology can be vulnerable to cybercrime. Even one device with weak security can open the door for hackers to access all connected ones.
  • Data Privacy: Intelligent devices and their manufacturers can collect users’ data to provide better services. However, many people are worried about what else their personal information can be used for.
  • Slow Network: Your network might not be able to handle all the connected devices, and, as a result, it could slow down your internet.

Wrap Up

Intelligent home systems will continue to rise in popularity. People’s houses are slowly transitioning into automated havens.

There are pros and cons to these systems. If you know how to use them, though, they’ll undoubtedly make your home life more comfortable and convenient.

If technology is your thing, then turning your house into a smart one could become your next goal. If it’s not, however, it’s perfectly okay to stick to the classic, manual way of life.

FAQ.


What is considered a smart home?

A smart home system is a network of internet-connected devices that can be automated and remotely controlled. These gadgets can communicate with each other and share consumer usage data among themselves. This way, they can adapt and adjust to the homeowner’s lifestyle and preferences.

Can a smart home be hacked?

Yes. If there’s a weak device in your network, it’ll be vulnerable to malware and hackers. If cybercriminals manage to get into your system, they can take over and control it the same way you can.

How do I secure my smart home?

Here are some ways you can secure the smart technology for your home:

  • Create strong passwords and change them frequently
  • Choose devices with security features and good reviews
  • Use two-factor authentication
  • Don’t use public or other people’s Wi-Fi
  • Update your devices

Are smart homes a good idea?

It is! However…

An intelligent home can make your house more comfortable, efficient, and safer. The biggest downside, though, is the cyber security threat. You need to keep it in mind and take necessary precautions against it. When that’s done, you can enjoy all the system’s benefits.

Feel free to check out our comprehensive article on what a smart home is, plus its pros and cons.

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Deyan G.

Deyan G.

Techjury.net's manager. Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.

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