Smart homes are rising in popularity pretty rapidly. With statistics showing that 42.2 million homes in the US are smart (representing a yearly rise of 21.4%), it’s clear that they’re a key choice for many. It’s easy to see why they’re so popular: from the convenience with which you can turn on lights to the simple tools that they provide for controlling room temperatures, life with a smart home system is infinitely better than life without one.
However, they’re also vulnerable to all kinds of problems. Like all technology, they’re at risk of breaking down – and they can also be damaged easily by kids, spillages and more. And with hackers also looking at breaking into smart systems to protect your personal data, there’s a lot to bear in mind. This article will share some top tips on how to avoid the smart home pitfalls.
The first set of problems that smart home systems face is accidental damage. Just as is the case for your laptop and your mobile phone, your smart meter, smart kitchen equipment, smart television and more are all at risk of being dropped, spilled on and knocked over, etc.
In order to prevent these things from happening, it’s worth auditing your household and your lifestyle to see where any vulnerabilities might lie. Say you have kids in the house: if that’s the case, then placing the smart meter on a high shelf where it cannot be reached and played with is a good move. While smart kitchen equipment is often reinforced to deal with a kitchen’s inevitable spills and stains, it’s important to be sure that you clean it properly and put it away to avoid it becoming damaged accidentally over the long term. Small devices, such as “dot”-style smart speakers, are at particular risk of going missing or being submerged – so they too should be kept separately, perhaps in a dock.
If you’ve ever had a central heating system or a boiler installed in your property, then you will know that the risk of technical breakdown is a significant one. Adding an extra layer of technology (smart technology) to that can improve it in many ways, but it can also cause additional technical problems in others! Smart heating systems, for example, have been known to have sensors that are too overactive: heat from an upstairs flat, for example, can sometimes trigger unwanted air conditioning in a downstairs flat, or vice versa.
One report from Britain said that over two million smart meters (which constitutes a significant minority of the total installed) in the country as part of a rollout simply do not work. As a result, using home warranty companies to protect your items is useful: choosing the best company may take time, but it’s worth doing if you want to save on smart home repairs in the future.
The risk of hacking
At least with traditional home systems such as gas ovens and thermostats, the only significant information flows are those controlled by people who are physically present in front of the device, perhaps turning knobs or pressing switches. With smart systems, the whole of the internet can potentially connect to a device – and this makes smart systems vulnerable to hackers, who are often more well-versed in exploiting access points than the users themselves.
However, there are some steps you can take as a smart homeowner to defend yourself against this problem. You can, for example, educate yourself about the potential security pitfalls. That way, you identify which of the many smart home security techniques out there (such as firmware updates or rigorous user authentication processes such as two-factor) will work best for you. However, it’s usually down to your chosen installer to ensure that the system you invest is in one that you can trust, and one that won’t let you down – so be sure to read reviews and ask for recommendations first.
With hacking, technical breakdown and accidental damage all known for posing risks when it comes to smart homes, there are plenty of reasons to take extra steps to prevent problems arising. From keeping items well out of the way of kids and damage to investing in extra layers of security to slash the hacking risks, you can enjoy a smart home without having to worry about the pitfalls.