Will cost kill the Smart Home? Or is it already destined to happen?
The Smart Home is a thing now. With Google Home and Amazon Echo Dot in my home, I’m acutely aware of Smart Home technologies and the promise and potential they offer. Nest, Phillips, Samsung, all of these technologies can make life so compelling. But there is a cost with bringing that technology to your home. Good grief is there a cost.
Sum is the operative word
The Smart Home is one of those things the whole is very much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s one of those experiences that can be really addictive and really hard to wait for. Fully investing in a Smart Home is not an insignificant project. Sure, it’s great if you can turn of the porch light when you get home after dark. But after you turn on the porch light, you want to turn on the hall light, and the living room light, and all the lights between the door and your bedroom. When you crash on the sofa you want to go into “movie mode” which dims the lights and closes all the blinds.
One component here or there is not going to do all that. So where do you start? And that’s the crux of the issue. Take a look at your home. Just look around and think about all the things a Smart Home can control: lights, curtains, outlets, TVs, garage doors, door locks. You know what all of those things have in common? In most homes (except the garage door of course) there is more than one. In fact, for most of those things, the number is in the dozens. You don’t have one outlet, you have 30 of them. Heck, from where I’m sitting in my kitchen I can see seven of them.
Where to start?
Ultimately, this is what is stopping people from adopting the smart home here and now. It’s not the automation, or the complexity. It’s dollar signs, plain and simple. When you want to turn on a light with Google Home, do you buy a smart outlet, or a smart light bulb? Light bulbs go out, so then you have to replace it with another $20 light bulb. But an outlet might not give you the kind of control you want. Plus, an outlet doesn’t travel with you.
It’s not like you can afford to get both. And so on. Which outlet do you convert? Which light? Sure, drop $100 and get five light bulbs. Again, I can see 13 lightbulbs from where I’m sitting right now. It’s an overwhelming thing to think about. Suddenly you have to prioritize your light bulbs. Be honest, when you were growing up, did you ever think you would need to prioritize your light bulbs? It’s this kind of paradox of choice that has prevented Smart Homes from becoming anything more than a niche concept.
But the last time I checked, time was moving forward into the future. That’s still the case, right? The fact of the matter is that yes, IoT is really expensive. But each purchase is a step in the right direction. Plus, there are things that can be bought over time. They can be adapted into your lifestyle one piece at a time until eventually, yes, you do have a Smart Home.
The obvious place to start is with the thermostat. Nest, Ecobee, and other smart thermostats offer benefits above and beyond just being able to tell Google to turn up the heat. They come with cost savings on your heat and electric bill, which is why such devices are usually the first into the home. As other smart devices offer benefits above and beyond just being cool, these pieces will start to fall into place.
Now, homes are being built with smart technology already in place. That is the next step in the evolution of the Smart Home. The cost of upgrading an existing home with smart devices is not insignificant, but if new homes are being built and those homes absorb the cost of the smart technology, that will make it more commonplace and accepted. We are marching into the future and our homes will start to reflect that.
Plus, consider that like all smart technology, costs will come down. All technology becomes easier and cheaper to produce the more it is developed. Pretty soon we’ll be seeing reviews for high-end and midrange light bulbs. Won’t that be something to see? Smart technology is here to stay, whether you buy it piece at a time, or all at once in a new home.
But what do you think? Is the Smart Home doomed by high prices? Smart bulbs cost a lot more than regular bulbs after all. Or is this already a thing that’s dragging us into the future whether we like it or not? Do you have any Smart Home devices? How do you like them? How did you decide what to upgrade first? Sound off below – we’re always looking for tips – and let’s see if we can figure this out.