Your whole home controlled with just a few swipes on your phone – that’s the grand promise of the ‘smart’ or connected home. From heating that warms the house when you’re on your way back and adapts according to the weather forecast, to front-door locks, lights and security cameras that you can control and check from afar, it certainly sounds promising. But how much will it cost you, and is it really worth it?
You may have heard the term the ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT in relation to smart home automation. This is the buzz phrase many manufacturers are using to mark the rise of connected products – everyday household gadgets made ‘smart’, usually by using your wi-fi to connect to an app on your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to control them remotely.
Many items around the home, from lighting to heating, are now being built with smart capabilities. This includes:
- Appliances, such as ovens, washing machines and fridge freezers
- Energy and lighting, such as thermostats, radiator valves, and light bulbs and switches
- Security measures, such as cameras, motion sensors and alarms
- Health products, including fitness trackers, bathroom scales and air purifiers
New smart gadgets launch almost daily, but sifting out the genuinely useful developments from those that are over-priced and ultimately useless can be tricky. There’s a lot of competition in this relatively young market, and that can mean a rocky ride for the customer. Buy too early and you may end up with an expensive toy with a short shelf life.
Here, we talk you through what kinds of smart home products are out there, what the benefits and drawbacks are, and whether they’re worth splashing out on. You can also click on the links above to look at specific areas and products to learn more about how they work.