Home Security and Smart Homes: Is the Technology Worth It?

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Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: July 29th, 2020

Guest Post by Dan Matthews

Roughly one out of every three homes in the United States is using smart technology these days, while half that number use security systems of some sort or another. In other words, smart home tech and security are common but not ubiquitous.

As smart systems trend upward in popularity, consumers continue to grapple with the basic question of whether or not they’re worth the time, money, and management skills required to set up and maintain them. Is it worth bothering with smart tech and home security systems?

Smart home and home security defined

The concept of a “smart home” versus a traditional home is akin to the difference between a smartphone and its predecessor, the flip phone. At its core, a smartphone performs many of the same functions that a flip phone has nearly always done. It can make phone calls, send texts, and tell you the time. However, in addition to those basic abilities, a smartphone connects to the internet and can run numerous applications, which equips it with an impressive array of additional capabilities like checking the weather, measuring distances, watching movies, etc.

The same comparison holds for smart homes and their traditional counterparts. While both are homes in their essence (they have roofs, rooms, furniture, etc.), a smart home takes things to the next level. It is equipped with a number of different gadgets that enable it to perform various additional functions on its own or at the remote command of its owner. Typical smart home features include the following:

  • Smart light bulbs that can dim and turn on or off remotely
  • A smart thermostat that can adjust the house temperature on its own
  • An array of smart, energy-efficient appliances
  • Fully integrated smart entertainment systems that can run throughout the home
  • Advanced intercom capabilities

In addition to the more functional elements of a typical smart home, there are the added features that come with a smart home security system. This, in essence, “plugs into” your existing smart home setup, providing tools to improve awareness and safety, whether you’re in bed, on the couch, or out of town. The average smart home security system includes things like:

  • Sensors installed in order to detect when doors and windows are opened
  • The use of smart locks for the doors
  • A central smart alarm system or keypad
  • Smart, motion sensor-enabled cameras
  • Smart doorbells with a video camera and microphone

While these are the standard features typically found in smart homes and security systems, many other components find their way into some of the more fully automated models. For instance, things like smart faucets, electric-controlled smart blinds and shades, and even smart toilets are becoming the norm.

In addition, many wealthy people are customizing their smart homes. Take, for example, Oprah, who has a smart heating system that “melt-plows” her driveway when it snows. Consider Mark Zuckerberg, whose home is operated by his personalized AI system named J.A.R.V.I.S. All of this goes to show that the sky's the limit on the future capabilities of smart home technology.

Is a smart home or a home security system worth it?

While there’s no blanket answer to the question of whether this technology is worth your investment, here are some of the pros and cons that each homeowner should consider when making the decision:

Pros

  • Safety — Keeps your home safer and serving as a deterrent for crime, as well as informing you of any doors and windows being opened.
  • Keeping track of your family — Allows you to observe who’s visiting your home, what time the kids get off the bus, when a package has been dropped off, etc.
  • Monitoring access to risky areas in the home — Enables you to safeguard important items, like gun safes or liquor cabinets.
  • Savings — Generally provides monthly savings on electricity and heating. For instance, LED lightbulbs, which comprise most smart home lighting, have become very affordable and can last as much as 15 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • Lower insurance costs — Potentially lowers homeowner’s and renter’s insurance.
  • Increase the sellability of your home50 percent of buyers claim that they want a programmable thermostat and a wireless home security system in their new homes.

Cons

  • The setup cost — Installing a high-end system can be costly. However, top-rated providers such as Protect America offer affordable security options with a variety of home automation capabilities.
  • Long term costs — Many reputable services charge monthly fees that can cost dozens or even hundreds of dollars per month. This is why you need to carefully determine which security company is right for you, as many providers may overcharge. Check out our top-rated home security companies to find which companies you can trust to give you an affordable price point and quality service.
  • Frequent turnover in new models — Systems can become dated quickly.
  • Batteries — The added cost and hassle of changing out batteries in multiple devices on a regular basis.

Time to evaluate your needs

Whether you’re a brand new millennial homeowner, a Gen Xer humming along with life, or a baby boomer who has owned your own house for decades, it’s important to take your own specific needs into account when considering a smart home or security system. If you do decide to take the plunge, many different providers are available. The important thing is to map out what you want for your home and then gather quotes from competitors before committing to one specific option.

Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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