Smart home guide
Enhance your home life

What is a smart home?

It seems like everything comes with a smart tag these days; but, if you’re not a gadget enthusiast, you may find the whole craze confusing. So what is smart technology and what does it mean to have a smart home?

Smart technology forms part of a worldwide trend called the Internet of Things (IoT). This trend is driven by the soaring number of devices, appliances and applications that can now communicate over a local area network or the Internet. The attraction of these technological advancements is that you can access and control devices and appliances from anywhere in the world. As an example, consider how much more you can do with your smartphone than you were never able to do with your older cellular devices.

The potential impact on the home is enormous as it gives you the power to access, manage, monitor and decide how you want items to operate in the home. Not only can this make your life more convenient, but it can also help you get a grip on your electricity and water use and costs.

Smart technology for your home

If you’ve ever had to turn around to go check if you turned the stove off or locked your front door, then you’ll love the convenience that smart technology can offer as well as the savings you’ll see in your home’s running costs.

The options for your home are endless and increasing every day. Currently, there are solutions available that allow you to control various elements in your home, including:

  • Home entertainment systems such as hi-fi, TV, gaming consoles, speakers and soundbars, monitors, radios, streaming media, laptops, tablets, PCs and smartphones.
  • Appliances including fridges, freezers, stoves, air fryers, slow cookers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, kettles, air purifiers, irrigation systems and even lawnmowers.
  • Electricity and water meters which enable you to effectively manage and monitor your usage and wastage as well as reduce your consumption and get accurate billing.
  • Geysers
  • Security systems including alarms, motion detectors, cameras, locks, video doorbells, smoke alarms and garage doors.
  • Indoor and outdoor lighting including options for motion detection, timers and dimmers.
  • Heating solutions that enable you to monitor, control and set rules for your home temperature and heating devices.
  • Air conditioners that are able to monitor room temperature and respond to rules for operating times.
  • Plugs that enable you to control power supply to non-smart devices and appliances.

Although many smart devices and appliances are able to be hardwired into your local area network, the greatest functionality and convenience comes when they connect to your home’s Wi-Fi and you can access them from anywhere in the world via the Internet. When your smart systems are accessible via the web, your smartphone becomes a universal remote for your home.

Approach with caution

While certainly attractive, smart home technology is not without fault.

To start with, smart devices and appliances tend to be far more expensive than their normal counterparts. That said, prices are declining rapidly as interest climbs and more providers enter the market.

You will also need to consider the impact on your internet access including the mode of access, broadband speeds and the capability of your router. Fortunately, internet access in South Africa is also becoming faster and more affordable.

Of greater concern are the security risks and the number of bugs that still need to be sorted out. While technology companies are mostly quick to release security updates, vulnerability fixes and improvements to functionality, homeowners need to prioritise cybersecurity before embarking on a smart spending spree. To keep hackers at bay, proper attention needs to go into the creation of strong passwords; the use of appropriate encryption; properly securing connections to public networks and only allowing trusted devices to connect to your home network. 

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