How Much Will It Cost To ‘Smarten’ Up Your Home?
Mention a smart home and you’re probably thinking of Iron Man’s house. Snap your fingers to turn on the lights, TV turns on when you tell it to, and the air conditioning automatically cools the room to your preferred temperature.
In fact, the idea of turning your home into a smart home might have crossed your mind as well. But did you know that a smart home is more than just voice activated appliances? In this article, we’re going to explore what a smart home truly is, and just how much does it cost to turn your house ‘smart’.
What is a smart home?
One thing that not many people know is that the ‘smart’ in smart home is actually an acronym. It stands for Self Monitoring And Responsive Technology.
What this means is that smart devices are home gadgets that are capable of monitoring their environment and reacting to it. For example, your air conditioning unit knows when you’re home and sets the room temperature to exactly how you like it, or your lights turn on and off at specific times of day.
These devices are also often connected to the internet. Allowing you to control them from your phone or computer even if you’re not around. It’s very useful if you’re the type to wonder if you forgot to turn the fan off before you went out.
What are the advantages of a smart home?
Now that we know what a smart home is, what’s so great about it?
Well, here are the advantages of a smart home;
As you might already know, a smart home is very convenient. Having the ability to control almost all of your appliances through one device is very helpful, and smart home appliances will also allow you to get notifications from your device regarding any issues with your home.
- Energy efficient
Most smart home appliances are designed with energy saving features, which makes it more energy efficient than normal appliances.
- Disabled and senior citizen friendly
With the convenience that smart home appliances bring, a smart home makes life a lot easier for people with disabilities or senior citizens. Most smart homes appliances are fully automated, which takes a major load off their shoulders.
Are there any disadvantages to a smart home?
Now that we know what are the advantages of smart homes, the question needs to be asked, do smart homes have any disadvantages?
There are three major disadvantages of a smart home, which are;
Due to the fact that in a smart home, all appliances including security cameras and door locks are controlled by one device and connected by a network, it means that it’s susceptible to cyber attacks.
In 2016, an infamous bot named Mirai Bot gained access to interconnected devices of DVRs, cameras, and routers to bring down a host of major websites through a denial of service attack.
Hackings of home security camera systems are also quite common, so smart home owners might want to keep that in mind and protect themselves.
Another security concern that you might want to consider is the fact that smart hubs are also listening and recording everything you say.
True, this might be a feature, as the recordings are intended to help your devices learn your conversational tone to improve voice command functionality, it did land Amazon in a bit of a controversy when users started reporting that their Amazon Echo smart hubs can be heard randomly laughing. Now that’s creepy.
Smart appliances might sound easy to set up (because they’re supposed to be smart) but nothing could be further from the truth. Unless you’re prepared to buy everything from a single brand, you will find that some devices just won’t work with others.
Unless you’re very tech savvy, putting it all together and keeping it all working might be a bigger headache than it’s all worth.
Let’s not sugarcoat things. Converting your house into a smart home will be expensive. It’s a costly affair, and will probably set you back thousands, if not tens of thousands for the full smart home experience.
But just how much will it cost? Let’s have a look.
So how much does a smart home cost?
Now that you’ve learned what a smart home is and its advantages and disadvantages, and you’re still interested in installing a smart home system system in your home, let’s move on to the next question; just how much will it cost?
Before we can answer this question however, there’s one important thing for you to decide on; the ecosystem.
Choosing an ecosystem
An ecosystem is the main network in which all your appliances will be connected to. In general, there are four main ecosystems that you should be choosing from; Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, and Xiaomi.
The idea is that you will be able to control your entire household from a single app. Allowing you to centralise everything and not have to worry about having different systems for every single lightbulb in your house.
This is likely to be the biggest challenge you will face when setting up your smart home. So before you start shopping for any device, you should check if your products can be integrated with the ecosystem you’ve chosen.
However, don’t worry. Most products from major brands offer integration support with major ecosystems, so you don’t need to worry about pigeonholing yourself into one brand’s products. That said, they have many degrees of integration and some brands may be easier to get working than others.
What do you need for a smart home?
Here are the appliances that are typically included in a smart home system.
- Air-conditioning and heaters
- Wireless home entertainment systems/smart home hubs
So let’s have a look at the costs of all these items;
Wireless home entertainment systems/smart home hub
In a smart home, the wireless home entertainment system often doubles up as the hub for the smart home appliances, like how the Amazon Echo Dot 4 which is powered by the Alexa AI or the Apple Homepod.
According to a search on Lazada, one of the most popular smart home hubs, the Amazon Echo Dot 4 will cost anywhere from RM169 – RM259, depending on if you choose the version with a clock or no clock.
If you like Apple products, then I have bad news for you. Apple’s smart home hub, the Apple Homepod is not officially available in Malaysia. You can get it from a third party seller, and this will cost you around RM1,799 and as you are buying it from a third party retailer, caution is needed.
If you don’t fancy using voice commands for your smart home, you can also get a smart display instead, like the Amazon Echo Show.
Air conditioning and heaters
In Malaysia, thanks to our weather a heater is largely not needed, so let’s explore just how much a ‘smart’ air conditioner costs.
From a search in Lazada, the Hisense R32 Inverter Aircond will set you back anywhere from RM975 to RM2185. This specific air conditioner allows you to opt in to the app control functionality.
An alternative to this will be the Daikin Aircond Inverter R32, which also allows you to control your aircon using an app.
Another main component of a smart home, the security cameras. As important as the security cameras are, it is one of the cheaper things in smart home systems.
A security camera can cost you anywhere from a RM65-RM329.
As complicated as a wifi connected lighting can sound, it’s actually as simple as changing the lightbulbs. A wifi capable lightbulb can cost you around RM25 to RM45 per lightbulb.
Perhaps the most important parts of a smart home system, the smart lock is quite expensive in its own right. A very popular and trusted smart lock system, the ULTRALOQ U-Bolt Pro WiFi Smart Door Lock will cost you around RM865 according to Lazada.
An alternative to that is the Novalock NNM 9816 PRO+, however it’s a lot more expensive.
Although a smart refrigerator can sound a bit overkill, why not go all the way right?
A smart wifi capable refrigerator is quite expensive however, such as the Samsung RS62T5F01B4 660L Family Hub Smart View costing RM7599.
Another alternative to that is the 674L LG Side-by-Side Fridge, which costs you from RM6,499.29 – RM6,999.38
And finally, the robots. Most typically, the robots used in a smart home system are the robot vacuums.
How about hiring an expert?
But what if you don’t want to go through buying and installing each single component, and want to hire someone to just do it for you? Well the good news is, you can.
The bad news is that it costs significantly more. Depending on the type and brand of systems you choose, you should expect to pay about RM6000 just for the installation alone.
So in total how much will it cost to fully make a starter house with three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms a smart home? Here’s a breakdown.
|Product Name||Price (RM)|
|Amazon Echo Dot 4||169|
|Daikin Aircond Inverter R32 1.0HP (with installation)||1789|
|Xiaomi Mi Wireless Outdoor Security Camera||359|
|Mi Smart LED Bulb||36.90 X 5 = RM184.50|
|ULTRALOQ U-Bolt Pro WiFi Smart Door Lock||865|
|Samsung RS62T5F01B4 660L Family Hub||7559|
|Xiaomi Robot Vacuum||879|
*Disclaimer, unfortunately LED Smart Tubes are not available in Malaysia, so the smart lights functionality for this house is restricted to only the rooms.
Sure, the final figure might be a little daunting, but the best thing about a smart home is this; you don’t have to change everything at one go.
If you want the full experience, sure go for a smart everything. But if you’re working with a smaller budget, start with the smaller purchases. A smart fridge is nice to have, but not entirely necessary for a home to function.
Should you make the ‘smart’ move?
If you’re thinking about replacing some appliances in your home, then gradually shifting to a smart home system might be the smart option. However, you should also remember that using smart home systems comes with a steep learning curve, so ultimately you will need to take the time to carefully learn the system.