What should you consider before buying your next smart home device?

Virginia Brown
Virginia Brown

Oct 21, 2019 — 3 min read

Because you really need to do more than just say, “OK, Google, what do I need to know before I make my next purchase?”

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A smart home device is supposed to make our lives easier, right? When fully researched and understood, it can offer single-use perks — automated light switches, thermostats or doorbells — and even holistic household management. Overall, they’re meant to increase our efficiencies and enhance our quality of life.

But just like with any new gadget, understanding is key. Will the new device sync well with other gadgets you already have? Does it match the current aesthetics in your place? Are there any privacy concerns? Doing the research before you buy can save you headaches down the line. So before you hop on that next sale, here are a few things you need to know.

Compatibility is key

When considering a new smart home device, you want to make sure it plays well with others you already have. So, there are a couple of things to think about. A single-use device, such as a thermostat, is different from a full ecosystem hub, which is one place to help you control many different devices.

Google Home, for example, is a speaker. Inside, Google Assistant is the voice that, when prompted, honors requests like playing music, researching virtually anything, checking the weather, finding out sports scores and controlling your other smart home gadgets. Compatible brands for light switches, dishwashers, cameras, clocks and other items include Nest, Phillips, Netgear, GE and Lenovo, among others.

Alexa, which started in the Echo speaker, is popping up in a growing list of smart home devices now, too. For Apple loyalists, recent iPhones or iPads provide access to HomeKit and can control gadgets using Siri or the Apple Home app.

Dozens of global brands offer Siri compatibility, but you always want to check before you buy.

Design compatibility matters, too

Sure, when it comes to technology, it’s what’s inside that counts. But the exterior — color, aesthetic, finish — is another important factor to consider when buying a new smart home device. Are your other devices all white? If so, you might want to stay within the same main color scheme. Consider the finishes and colors you already use in your home and go with the looks that fit best.

And since we’re on the topic of aesthetics, let’s talk about cords. Long cords running across the countertop or dangling down a wall will ruin the appeal of any gadget, no matter how fancy. Google Home, for one, operates wirelessly through a network, but like any smartphone, it needs juice to keep working. Battery bases help solve this problem by charging the device, making it easily portable from room to room.

For peskier wire configurations, bundle them with cable management kits and sleeves to help streamline your space.

Consider your privacy

While Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, among others, offer high potential for improving efficiencies in the household, they also could expose you to privacy risks. Think about it: These devices are programmed to be on alert, listening continually for a voice command. They then convey that information to a third party.

Read your device’s privacy policy and do your research. First and foremost, you need to understand how the device may use (and store) your data. Are you able to delete stored data when you stop using the device? Most devices also have a “hard off” function, allowing you to turn off the ever-present speakers’ ears when you don’t need to use them.

From functionality to privacy, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying a new smart home device. Do your research beforehand and you’ll set yourself up for a more efficient, well-integrated home.

For more insights into which smart home device should be next on your wish list, stay connected to our Resource Center or follow our experts on Facebook and Twitter.