Smart Homes: Focus on Security and Efficiency
Smart Homes: Focus on Security and Efficiency
Smart-home technology is becoming so popular that your clients are bound to start asking what they can do to prep their houses for Internet connectivity. Hopefully, you’ve kept up with the trend, because home automation isn’t only for the elite few anymore. Be prepared to advise your clients on the best gadgets for their homes — and if you need suggestions yourself, we’ve got you covered.
The latest crop of smart-home tools puts an emphasis on energy efficiency and security. Both are top of mind for the 46 percent of consumers who say they want smart features in their next home, according to a 2014 survey conducted by ERA Real Estate and HGTV. From apps that control locks, lighting, and appliances to light bulbs equipped with security cameras, these new products stand to save home owners a lot of time and money. And that makes you, as your clients’ smart-home adviser, look all the better.
Keep in mind, though, that the cost of smart-home features has been a hindrance to widespread adoption. That’s why many companies have begun creating products that work together in a suite of technological features rather than random individual devices that operate separately. Here, we’ll show you products that have the capability to operate in tandem with other devices that are likely already in many of your clients’ homes.
Now’s the time to get on top of technology trends, as you’re likely in the 64 percent of real estate practitioners who say customers are asking for smart features more than they were two to five years ago, according to a Coldwell Banker survey. And given that 33 percent say smart homes sell faster, you’ll surely want to be ready to help your clients become tech-savvy.
App-Controlled Garage Door
Open and close your garage door from anywhere using a mobile app. The Chamberlain MyQ Garage requires no extra wiring for installation. Users can monitor the open and closed status of the garage door remotely. Soon, the company plans to add geofencing capabilities, so when it senses the owner’s car near the driveway, the garage door will automatically open. It will close when it senses the car is parked safely inside. MyQ is compatible with most major-brand garage door openers manufactured after 1993.
Lose the Keys
This lock may look like any other deadbolt lock, but it doesn’t require a key — just a touch of your finger to unlock. UniKey’s Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock also allows owners to assign virtual keys permanently or temporarily, monitor entrances and exits remotely, and receive activity alerts, all via the Kevo app. The Bluetooth-enabled smart lock also has the ability to work with Google’s Nest thermostat to adjust the home’s temperature as a person comes and goes.
Lightbulbs With a Camera
This bulb offers more than just light. The Sengled Snap LED lightbulb features a wireless video camera built inside for security monitoring. The 25,000-hour LED bulb can be controlled via a mobile app. Place the bulb outside and the camera uses facial recognition to sort the difference between a family member and an intruder. The bulb boasts a 1080p camera, speaker, and microphone, as well as infrared night vision. The app can be set to alert you when it detects motion across a certain path. You can also turn the light off completely and still have the camera on.
Smarten Up the Light Switch
Replace your wall’s light switch with a touch-screen panel for greater control over everything from lighting to security. The Lucis Nubryte is a cloud-based smart-home lighting and safety console that offers automated lighting, home safety, and energy management. Use the touch-screen control pad or the iPhone app to set lighting controls for each room. A small built-in camera will automatically turn the lights on when you enter a room. Also, it has an integrated home security system that can flash lights on intruders or send alerts to your phone. The touch-screen panel also has an intercom and can display weather updates or even your calendar.
Price: $199 per unit
Talk to Your Lights
Gain greater control over your lights from anywhere. With the smart lighting package from Caséta Wireless, you can use the company’s Lutron app on your smartphone or tablet to adjust the home’s lights and temperature and to schedule lights to automatically adjust at a set time of day. Geofencing abilities also allow your lights to automatically turn on when you arrive home. The package is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit, so users also can use voice-powered Siri to say commands such as “lights off.” The company offers a starter kit to gradually begin smartening your lights. No new wiring is needed for installation.
One of the most popular devices of Google’s smart-home suite from Nest is the Learning Thermostat, which will learn the temperature you like in your home and automatically adjust itself. Also, when nobody is home, it’ll automatically turn the temperature down to save energy. The company says its thermostat can cut 20 percent from utility bills. Nest also offers the ability to control the home’s temperature from a phone, tablet, or computer.
Create a Command Center
Iris is a home-management system from Lowe’s that offers the ability to start gaining greater control over household devices, all from one central hub. The security feature allows you to receive texts or calls when motion sensors are triggered. A smart thermostat allows you to turn lights on or off and remotely control the thermostat to save energy. You can use the system’s smart plugs to control household features such as lamps. An Iris Starter Kit offers temperature and security features for connections.
Get extra security with more home automation. Icontrol Piper is a Web-linked security camera that features a fisheye lens to gather a 180-degree view of a room that can all be controlled via a mobile app. Piper can notify you via push notifications, e-mail, a phone call, or a text message if it detects any movement, loud noises, or changes in the temperature. It also has a built-in alarm that can be paired with a sensor so that you can have the device emit an ear-splitting noise to ward off instruders if it detects any movement. Further connect a home with its integrated Z-Wave controller, a chip that can remotely control Z-Wave–compatible devices, such as thermostats, door sensors, lightbulbs, and garage door openers.
Catch water leaks before it’s too late. WallyHome offers the ability to detect those leaks before they get too serious and costly. Attach its wireless sensors around water-prone areas such as sinks and toilets. If a drop of water falls, an alert will immediately be sent to your smartphone. The device also can alert you to important changes in humidity and temperature in the home.
Text Your Fridge
Start talking to your appliances. LG’s HomeChat offers the ability to send text messages to appliances such as your washer or refrigerator. With LG’s Smart Refrigerator, you’ll be able to text your fridge to tell it to make more ice. It features a wide-angle camera that takes a photo each time the door is opened so that you can pull up the image from your mobile device to see what food you have inside when grocery shopping. The smart refrigerator also allows you to track expiration dates and can even recommend meal options based on the ingredients in the refrigerator. It will be available in the U.S. later this year.