Tag Archive for ‘Smart Devices’

‘Smart’ Homes Are Dumb ➝

Matt Hauger:

I don’t really understand why anyone would install a semi-permanent smart device in their house.

On the one hand, there’s the “faux-convenience” factor. With many smart home gadgets, you’re trading a device that’s simplistic but predictable for one that’s “advanced” but finicky. Consider: if a dumb light switch stops working, there’s a very limited number of things that could have gone wrong—basically, either the wiring came loose or the circuit breaker blew.

But with a smart light switch, you have those potential problems, plus many others. Maybe the device’s firmware is buggy. Maybe the manufacturer hasn’t updated their app for your new phone hardware. Maybe the smart home platform itself is half-baked. Maybe the trigger service (e.g. IFTTT) is offline. Perhaps the automation you programmed failed to anticipate the fall time change. The list of potential troubleshooting steps goes on and on.

This is exactly why I’ve been very cautious to add these devices to my home. The nerd in me wants to replace every light switch and power outlet in my house with HomeKit-compatible replacements, but that just isn’t practical and could cause countless headaches at some point down the road.

So far, I’ve purchased two iDevices Switches and an Ecobee3 lite. If anything goes wrong, the switches are easy to remove, but the thermostat purchase was a bit more risky. If there’s a security flaw that Ecobee decides not to fix or it’s not able to connect to some future router I buy with a yet-to-be-conceived version of 802.11, I’ll have to replace it with something new.

It’s a bit frustrating that we have little control over how long these devices will function compared to the near-bullet-proof traditional models with no smarts, but a large helping of reliability. If you do decide to dip your toes in the smart home waters, I highly suggest sticking with reputable brands that work well with platforms like HomeKit. It’s no guarantee, but doing so will give you the best chance at a long life span for your devices.