Don’t Buy Into Smart Home Technology Until You Read This

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Person on smart phone controlling house: Smart Home TechnologyIs your home smart enough? Can you have the lights dimmed, music on, and temperature set perfectly for when you arrive home? How handy would that be for a date night?

Article Overview

Whole-Home System Vs DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Components

Google Mini on table with iPhone, caption: Smart Home GuideSmart home technology has become so prolific that as a consumer you are able to piece together equipment from many different providers, install it yourself, and achieve almost anything you need. Head on over to our main smart home guide to learn about solutions for everything from locks, switches, and lights; to thermostats, sprinklers, and security cameras.

If you’d rather have one system control everything and a professional do the installation for you, we review customized whole home system providers below. Note however, that the solutions will be significantly more expensive and depending on the equipment, not necessarily higher quality or better performing than the DIY solutions.

Customized Whole-Home Smart Home Systems

The company is reviewed in this section specialize in professionally installed, customized whole-home solutions, so they offer all the bells and whistles.

Crestron Review

#1

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Crestron has been a big name in home automation since 1971. They have an outstanding reputation, which is maybe why they think it’s okay to charge such high prices.

However, their equipment is elegantly designed, which is why our readers love the look of their home with this equipment. The equipment is robust and reliable and it supports different touchscreens, remotes, and more.

Pros

Cons

  • Strong reputation
  • Great customer service
  • Equipment performs well
  • Variety of equipment available
  • Built-in voice recognition software
  • Expensive relative to DIY offerings
  • Only sold through authorized dealers
  • Changing your setup is time-consuming since you need a professional

Pricing

Contact Crestron for a quote for your home.

Control4 Review

#2

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Control4 has the best smart home technology features. This company specializes in home automation, however, it is also one of the most expensive services.

Once it is installed (by professionals), the system is relatively simple to use and most of the things you’ll want to do simply require the push of a button. When you’re going to bed, push one button and the shades will go down in your room, the lighting will turn off, the thermostat will adjust to nighttime temperatures and all the TVs will power off.

This comprehensive and customizable system allows you to control lighting, audio/video, garage doors, heating/air conditioning, and talk to one another all with a remote or an app on your smartphone.

Pros

Cons

  • Receive alerts to your smartphone
  • Easy use (once it’s installed)
  • Whole-home integration allows you to control many components, from audio-video to home security and lighting, from a single interface
  • Fully customizable to meet your needs
  • Voice control available through a third-party
  • Professional installation takes weeks (on average), versus hours to days for comparative DIY offerings
  • Expensive relative to DIY offerings
  • Many troubleshooting issues we encountered required a professional, and days to weeks of time, to resolve
  • The app interface experiences significant lag and doesn’t always connect reliably (Control4 OS 3)
  • The rechargeable remote control does not experience these lag times, but is expensive ($300 was our quoted replacement cost)

Pricing

Depending on which features you choose, pricing can be anywhere from $1,000 to more than $50,000. Control4 offers a la carte options, so each package varies based on the customer. You have to call Control4 directly to get pricing for your specific features.

Homeseer Review

#3

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HomeSeer is our third place winner because not only do they specialize in smart home technology, they also have everything you could possibly dream of to automate a house.

In addition, HomeSeer has voice recognition, so you can tell the system what you would like done, which many companies don’t offer. Finally, they have a huge list of available devices ranging from security cameras to lighting and thermostat controls.

Pros

Cons

  • Voice recognition capabilities
  • Compatible with most media players as well as both Mac and Windows
  • Customizable
  • Has a savvy interface on touchscreen devices
  • Great customer service reputation
  • Hard to set up due to lots of hardwiring vs. wireless for some of the competitors
  • Not compatible with Windows Mobile App and Blackberry smartphones
  • Expensive if you add a lot of features

Pricing

HomeSeer offers a la carte services so the prices vary based on the features you select. The software starts at $99.95 and can go up to $599.95, depending on the upgrade version.

HomeSeer does a great job of listing its prices online, so be sure to visit their website because the list is extensive.

Smart Home Via Home Security System

The providers we’re reviewing in this section specialize in home security, but have expanded their offering over the years to include smart home functionality. So if you’re in the market for both, this may be your best bet.

Vivint | Frontpoint | ADT | Savant

Vivint Review

Vivint logo

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Vivint offers the standard smart home technology features: lights, locks, and thermostats, in addition to its home security offering. Vivint focuses on being “green” to save you energy.

The downside is that it has to be professionally installed and is a little pricier than some of the other home security companies that also offer home automation.

Pros

Cons

  • Focus on being energy-efficient
  • Access to your system from a computer, smartphone or tablet
  • Easy to use and understand
  • No voice recognition software
  • Requires professional installation so higher upfront cost
  • Monthly fee

Pricing

Vivint offers three basic packages. Installation costs vary depending on your location. Pricing info is available in our full Vivint Review.

Read Our In-Depth Review Of Vivint

Frontpoint Review

Frontpoint logo small

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Frontpoint offers light controls, door locks, and thermostats. You can also plug small appliances into the wireless light control so you can turn them on and off remotely. Their smart home offerings are limited to Z-Wave controlled technology.

Pros

Cons

  • Inexpensive and easy to install yourself
  • Great customer service reputation
  • Known for home security, you get the added bonus of an alarm system along with your automation features
  • Control from a computer, smartphone, or tablet
  • No voice recognition software
  • Monthly fees
  • Limited whole-home integration options compared to competitors (Z-Wave only)

Pricing

Equipment Fee: $99.00

Monthly Fee:

  • Interactive: $44.99/month
  • Ultimate: $49.99/month

Read Our In-Depth Review Of Frontpoint

ADT Pulse Review

ADT Pulse logo

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ADT is a home security company that offers lights, locks, and thermostat controls with their ADT Pulse customizable smart home package. You control everything with your smartphone app and there is a home control touchscreen as well. You also have access to your motion sensors, thermostat monitors, and video on your smartphone.

Pros

Cons

  • The mobile app allows remote access to your home
  • 24/7 intruder and fire monitoring with email and text alerts
  • Not transparent with pricing, so hard to know how much you will pay until the installer is in your home
  • Reputation varies by location since ADT is operated via local dealers. Poor reputations of many regional dealers have given the larger brand a less than stellar service rating, so be sure to check the Better Business Bureau and talk to your neighbors who have ADT about whether it is a good choice in your neighborhood vs. other options

Pricing

ADT Pulse has four different packages available. Monitoring starts at $52.99/month. The equipment packages are free.

Read Our In-Depth Review Of ADT

Savant Review

Savant logo

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Savant is an easy-to-use home automation product similar to Apple products (not a security provider). But, its high price is pretty limiting. The Savant system syncs automatically with iOS and Android to bring automation to audio, security, climate, and lighting needs.

It includes an in-home communication system, so you can talk from your smartphone to the home’s intercom system. The energy output of your house is monitored and Savant suggests ways to cut costs, similar to Nest.

Pros

Cons

  • Enhances energy efficiency
  • With Savant’s Telephony technology you can access and control your smart home system from your mobile phone or with one of Savant’s desktop or cordless phones
  • User-friendly like an Apple product
  • Voice control
  • Expensive relative to DIY offerings
  • Requires professional installation

Pricing

  • Remote + Host: $499
  • Remote: $399
  • Lamp Control: $99
  • Host: $199
  • Blaster: $169

Video: What Is A Smart Home?

This video gives a great overview of smart home features in action and in all aspects of your day – from the moment you wake up to when you go to bed.

Your Home Might Be Smart, But Is It Private?

Google Home mini (caption: Smart Home Privacy)Are smart home devices invading our privacy? For sure, say most experts. Our smart speakers, TVs, security cameras, thermostats, and any other Internet-enabled device could be spying on us in our own homes.

Because many Internet of Things (IoT) devices have cameras and microphones that are always online, they’re a prime target for hackers. An added threat is that some of these devices collect and share data with the manufacturer and other third parties. But the good news is that there are ways to protect your privacy from your smart gadgets. Our experts run through the steps you can take to protect your home network and various devices in our smart home privacy guide.

How do you think smart home technology will enhance your life?

About The Author:

Kimberly is our home security expert and has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering everything from security systems and home automation to identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems, and more. She has personally tested hundreds of system components and interfaced with dozens of home security companies to find out what’s happening behind the scenes. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

In 2018, she had her first child, which opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family.

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing products and services.

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