Does high-tech have you running for the hills? Blogger and TV personality Carley Knobloch is no stranger to skeptics, and she’s here to highlight some simple tricks that’ll hook even the most tech-challenged among us.
Whether appearing on “The Today Show,” HGTV’s “Smart Home,” or CNN, a big part of Knobloch’s mission is conveying to consumers that home technology is for everyone — regardless of income.
“I’m always surprised, because I guess I’m so inside the industry that people think smart home systems are for wealthy people, that you have to shell out a lot of money,” she said. “You can start a smart home system by buying one product for under $200 or $100.”
Even home security can be achieved without massive cost and complicated installation. One example Knobloch offers are peel-and-stick door and window sensors that connect to a central hub. Since they can be removed and reused, they’re a perfect solution for renters who can’t permanently install a home security system.
Another easy-to-use, high-tech home security tool Carley loves is the smart lock.
“Based on different combinations that I can set for different members of my family, I can be away from home and know that a child just arrived or a child is just leaving,” she explained, “and get alerts specifically about the different people that are coming and going, like the dog walker or the housekeeper.”
Keeping it clean
The mother of two focuses on the health and safety inside her home with a Molekule air purifier, which rids the air of micro-pollutants.
“Everybody’s always very focused on air pollution outside the home,” she points out, “but actually, sometimes your home can be more toxic than the outdoors.”
With a simple companion app, Knobloch can consistently monitor her home’s air quality.
In this example and many more, apps present a handy (and handheld) way to operate and track devices and, Knobloch points out, you’ll almost always need one for initial setup of smart home tech.
But apps can also limit, rather than ease, access to devices around the home. That’s why the gizmo guru is so excited about the increasing availability of voice control, which she says “democratizes” the smart home.
An app is great for the one or two family members who have it installed, she argues, but “it makes it harder for the rest of the family, especially young children, or visitors, or grandparents to turn off the lights. With voice control, anyone can just shout out a command.”
Let’s say your smart home tech doesn’t have voice control, or you just noticed a new model of some device hit the market. Does that mean you’ll need swap out those possibly pricey recent purchases — and drop even more money — for the latest and greatest? Knobloch says that’s not a huge concern.
“They’re always innovating,” she said. “(Smart home tech) is always going to be advancing. It doesn’t mean that your old things will stop working.”
Recently, her family wanted to add a couple of speakers to an existing Sonos system and wondered if they needed to replace the whole lot.
“No,” the company assured her. “Our hardware, if it’s still working, is the same hardware, for the most part, that we’ve had since Day 1. We’ve just been increasing the capabilities with software and firmware updates.”
Many product lines are going modular, meaning it’s more about adding as your budget grows, rather than replacing.
“I see the trend as more adding different pieces to the system,” Knoblach said. “I think people can invest relatively comfortably in this stuff. Is (a smart thermostat) going to become more outdated faster than a dumb thermostat? Probably. But it’s also going to save you money in the process.”
Tip of the day
If Knoblach could recommend one device that’s not only underrated, but could potentially save you thousands, it’s a leak detector.
“They’re so inexpensive,” she said. “You can put them under any hot water heater, laundry system, any sink.”
These small but mighty gadgets are a solid piece of evidence in Knobloch’s case that building a smart home isn’t a self-indulgent, superfluous pursuit for people who don’t want to get off the couch to turn off a light. Rather, the right devices get your home working for you, saving you money, time, and worry.
“If one of your pipes burst, you’ll end up with all of your childhood memories floating in a soup, or have damage to your basement,” she said. “There’s so many thousands of dollars of damage that can be avoided just by putting one of those little leak detectors in one of those places and avoiding that whole thing.”