Led by the popularity of the Nest Smart Thermostat, today’s connected home looks remarkably like a thing of the future. But is this technology ready for the mainstream?
While some of the following connected devices are certainly cool and useful, many come with a price tag that makes you wonder whether it’s actually worth it. Though these products promise energy savings, convenience, and peace of mind, these perks are tempered by the often high costs of installing new technology in your home.
So, which connected home technologies are worth it right now and which aren’t? Here’s my take.
Get it: Quirky’s Overflow Smart Water Sensor
Water damage can be very costly, especially because it’s not something you can always detect before the problem worsens. Overflow can help.
The Overflow water sensor can be placed anywhere jeopardized by water. The manufacturer notes basements and vacation homes as two places where you might want to put a sensor.
If the sensor comes into contact with water, you’ll be notified on your smartphone right away.
Skip it: GE WiFi Connect’s Dishwasher
One to file under “Nice to have but unnecessary” is GE WiFi Connect’s dishwasher.
Among its chief features is that it alerts you by smartphone when it’s finished washing dishes. So, what problem does this technology really solve? When I start my dishwasher before I leave the house, I expect that it will probably finish before I return.
Get it: GE WiFi Connect’s Wall Oven and Range
Of all GE WiFI Connect options, the wall oven and range seem to be the most useful.
The preheat feature can be nice when you’re heading home from work or the grocery store and want to pop something in the oven right away. Or, if you’re cooking while you’re away, you can check the status, too.
Skip it: Quirky’s Refuel
On the surface, Quirky’s Refuel smart propane tank gauge seems like a handy invention. After all, no one wants to unexpectedly run out of propane. But as a few shrewd reviewers on the product page have noted, the $49.99 price tag doesn’t make much sense. Why? Because you could buy a second propane tank for less than the price of this monitor.
Even CNET says that Refuel isn’t really necessary “if you’re comfortable just lifting the tank.” Save your money for other options on this list.
Get it: Quirky’s Ascend
The Ascend smart garage door controller from Quirky is much more than just a remote opener. It actually lets you monitor the status of your garage doors from your smartphone, no matter where you are. This means that you can receive alerts when the doors open or close.
What’s more, you won’t need a hide-a-key anymore. Opening from your smartphone lets you remotely let in friends or family who might otherwise be locked out.
While Ascend costs $100, it is compatible with most garage-door opening units, so you likely won’t need to purchase a new one.
Skip it: GE WiFi Connect’s Refrigerator
While a few smart technology options on this list aren’t useful, this one beats them all.
GE WiFi Connect’s refrigerator includes mobile alerts when the filter needs to be changed. Sure, it’s convenient to know when your water filter needs replacing. But do you really need to receive an alert to your smartphone?
Based on experience, many people I know aren’t likely to rush out and buy a replacement water filter within hours of its expiration. Since the filter will likely function just fine for a few extra days, you would probably do just as well to order a new filter once you get home.
Get it: Kwikset’s Kevo Bluetooth Deadbolt
Kwikset’s Kevo Bluetooth Deadbolt makes keys obsolete. While you can continue to use real keys, Kevo technology lets you easily unlock doors from your smartphone. Several reviews have noted that this device allows hands-free entry, which is far easier than fumbling for keys.
Need to give others access? Just complete an in-app purchase to send additional eKeys to others.
If you’re away from home, you’ll be able to check the lock’s status from your smartphone, too. The peace of mind from this feature can make the $200 price tag for this lock a little more worthwhile.
Skip it: Belkin’s WeMo LED Lights
While the idea of being able to control lights in your home via WiFi seems like a great option, it’s hard to justify the need for Belkin WeMo LEDs right now. Simply put, the $99.99 price tag for two light bulbs is excessive.
With regular LED bulbs selling for less than $10, you’re unlikely to see any energy cost savings from controlling lights remotely that outweigh the cost difference. While these light bulbs do have some interesting features, you’ll need to find a better reason to buy them instead of saving money.
Get it: GE Link LED Bulbs
The battle over turning lights on and off in your house might be a tough one. Add to that the light timers you use to boost security when you’re not home. Now, however, with GE Link Connected LED bulbs, you can control your lights remotely.
These bulbs allow you set a schedule for your lights that you can adjust from your smartphone.
At $25 a piece (plus a $50 hub, sold separately), the cost is still high. Yet, the premium price in this case could be worth the energy savings and convenience.
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