Choosing the right smart home devices can quickly take up a lot of your free time. The problem here is that there are countless details to pay attention to.
Various factors play a role, such as appearance, feel, power supply and integration capability. Depending on the priority, individual users attach particular importance to different factors. In everyday life, it is not uncommon for the visual appearance to play a major role so that the right smart home devices can simply be integrated into one’s own home. On the technical side, however, the focus is very much on the integration capability and the associated options for integrating the device into the existing infrastructure.
In this article, we take a look at the various factors and illuminate the extent to which they influence a decision in favor of the right devices.
The optical factor
When designing our own home or rented apartment, we leave nothing to chance. Curtains are matched to the wallpaper color and even the sofa must fit into the room in terms of color. So it’s clear that we pay attention to various different details when it comes to interior design.
This factor also plays a big role in choosing the right smart home devices.
Thermostats, which are used for smart control of heating, should be able to be inconspicuously integrated into the room. When entering the room, they should not come directly into focus, but discreetly do their work.
It is usually the case that the visual factor is one of the first things we look at when making a selection. In various online stores or comparison portals, many pictures are offered on which we can gain a first impression. This first impression decides whether we pay further attention to this device or look for an alternative.
Despite our strong focus on the looks, however, we must not forget that the devices to be used are a piece of technology. This technology consists of much more than just a fancy look.
The haptics factor
Haptics basically describes everything that falls under the area of touch. We are used to holding our various products in our hands on a regular basis and often decide on the quality of the products.
In times of online shopping, it is of course very difficult to make a statement about the haptics – and thus the workmanship. This is often a point that is strongly neglected or completely ignored during the purchase.
In order to gain at least a basic impression of how the haptics of the products are, various measures can be used. One of the best-known measures is reading different reviews, which are usually directly linked to the product in online stores.
However, it is also possible to get an idea of the haptics outside of the online stores. Bloggers and YouTubers often give a comprehensive overview of individual aspects and can address exactly these factors through their concluding conclusion.
If that is not enough, you should look for a direct line to those who have tried out the product. In the age of social media, Twitter, Facebook and the like offer us extensive opportunities to get in touch with testers.
The factor networking
Once you have decided on a smart product, you need to do some more research. The focus here is on the networking options offered by our device.
If the smart home device is not active alone in the home, it should be able to interact with the existing devices. For this, it is important to know how the device is controlled and whether it can be integrated into existing smart home systems.
A good example of this are various ZigBee devices, which can often be connected to the Philips Hue system. In this way, you save yourself and your home the use of another control panel and can directly link the existing devices with the new device.
On the other hand, if a new central unit is used, this is no reason to exclude the device. Various smart home systems, including ioBroker, connect control panels from different manufacturers and allow the creation of comprehensive automation in the home. This makes it possible, for example, for the lamp to be switched on as soon as a window is opened.
Often underestimated: data protection
In addition to all the factors listed, there is another that is often underestimated. This is data protection, which is strictly regulated within the European Union.
But even if the smart home devices meet all the requirements for this, it is worth taking a look at how they work and how they deal with data protection.
Many users are not aware that a large number of devices communicate with the manufacturer’s servers at all times of the day and night. In the process, sensitive data may be exchanged that one would not like to disclose in everyday life.
In the case of robotic vacuum cleaners, this includes the map of the surroundings that is created and thus the floor plan of the apartment. In the case of smart door locks, it is the various activities, such as unlocking and locking the apartment door. Anyone who attaches great importance to privacy and does not want to transmit this data to the manufacturer must pay attention to the corresponding data protection settings.
Important questions here are whether you can operate the devices completely offline or at least deactivate transmission in the settings.
The more the components intervene in our everyday lives, the more important the data protection factor becomes. An indoor camera that transmits its images to the manufacturer without security should therefore only be used if the user is aware of the risk and accepts it.
If you have any problems or uncertainties, it is usually worth contacting the manufacturer or talking to people who have already used the device.
Particularly inexpensively produced smart home devices usually suffer from a very short lifespan. This applies to both physical use and the supply of (security) updates.
In physical use, it is the quality of workmanship that matters. It determines how durable the product is and whether it quickly refuses to work under heavy use.
If we look at the stress, it quickly becomes clear that some devices in the smart home are used more frequently than others. The robot vacuum cleaner, for example, does its work every day and is therefore physically used more often than, for example, a socket for the Christmas tree.
But there is also the longevity factor in the virtual world. The supply of updates, especially security updates, should be ensured for a certain period of time. It often seems that expensive products have the edge here and cheaper products only have a short lifespan.
However, this is very difficult to say in general and depends on the respective manufacturer. If possible, you should therefore check when the desired device received the last update and whether there is an update history from which the lifespan can be derived. Some manufacturers publish a document that shows the improvements in chronological order.
It is common for electrical devices to have various certifications and markings. An example of this is the so-called CE marking, which, however, is not a seal of quality. The CE marking indicates that the manufacturer complies with all applicable requirements that apply within the European Union. As soon as a so-called notified body verifies and confirms this marking, the product receives a number in addition to the CE marking. This number reveals the particular body that has performed and confirmed a verification.
Other markings for the products are the Geprüfte Sicherheit (GS), European Norms Electrical Certification (ENEC) and the TÜV mark.
Particularly in the case of inexpensive products, some markings are often missing, as a certification process is correspondingly time-consuming and cost-intensive. These costs would, in turn, increase the price of the devices, which means that they can no longer be offered on the market at such a low price.
Therefore, it is always advisable to take a close look at the manufacturer’s markings and specifications. For electrical products, a certain level of safety must be standard, as this in turn is related to insurance coverage. Anyone who is unsure at this point should therefore ask at appropriate places and, if necessary, contact their own insurance company.
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