Are Smart Homes right for you and your family?

Photo: Christopher Chitty / The Visionaire

Gone soon are the days where you’ll be hunting for one missing remote controller or the other. Smart home systems centralise the control and management of these appliances through a smartphone application.

Now, more luxury residential properties are integrating these smart features into their units. It’s a selling point for interested buyers eager to become early adopters of such technology. Touted as “homes of the future”, these residential units feature pre-installed sensors as well as compatible appliances that can be managed in or out of your home.

If you’re still debating whether to go for these smart homes, here’s a breakdown of its benefits and some of its potential drawbacks.

Ease of set-up

Having the basics pre-installed in your unit saves you the hassle of setting these up on your own. After all, wiring an entire system on your own is a skill not many possess. You’ll have to do research on the different smart home systems available, get the sensors and controls installed, and match these with compatible devices – all of which can be quite confusing.

With stuff pre-installed, homeowners begin with the basics built in by the developer, which typically include smart lighting, air conditioning, and door locks. These appliances can respond to movements and temperature changes, and is controlled remotely through a smartphone application.

The Visionaire

The Visionaire

Other optional features include automated controls for window blinds, surveillance cameras and an entertainment system that can be purchased and added at a later stage.

Such smart home systems include Samsung SmartThings Hub (featured in The Visionaire) by Korean electronics brand Samsung, and the ABB-free@homesystem (The Wisteria and Victoria Parks) by Swiss electric engineering company ABB.

Energy efficiency and convenience

These smart features can improve how your home consumes energy. Lights will automatically switch off when there is no one in the room, for instance. A mini flood or fire in your home may be prevented too, if the sensors detect that there is a water leak or a temperature increase; a timely alert will be sent to you via the app so you can make calls in advance to the relevant persons to fix the problem.

Most of these smart home systems come with sensors and smartphone apps that can monitor and manage the power and water usage of your household. Some of the smart-appliances also come with sensors that alert you when servicing is due.

It’s also hard to beat the convenience of having these controls centralised within an app, rather than controlling each device manually. Some condominium developers have included services unique to the property, within these home system apps as well. Corals at Keppel Bay for instance provide extra functions like facility booking, along with arrangements for delivery and transport services which are available via the Habitap app.

Added costs

Although these smart home functions come bundled into the price of your new home, the costs have been added in. Residents can choose to opt out of these features and receive a price deduction in the process, depending on the unit type and size. For instance, buyers of units at Visionaire can choose to forgo the smart home functions and get a deduction of $6,500 to $8,000 from the unit price.

The Visionaire 3BR CoSpace living area

The Visionaire 3BR CoSpace living area

Do keep in mind that you will have to use compatible devices, to match with the smart home system that’s been installed in your home. Other potential costs include the maintenance fees. Like with any electronic device, these sensors and smart appliances may need servicing too, when the need arise.

Security concerns

A security and surveillance system that can be controlled remotely provides homeowners with added assurance of home safety, especially if you’re away for extended periods of time. The sensors can detect unexpected movements within your residence, whether from an intruder or an accident at home.

On the other hand, these electronic systems may be prone to malicious viruses or hacking attempts too. As the technology is still relatively new, experts warn that some smart devices may contain security flaws that can be easy for criminals to breach. While the onus is up to the manufacturer to fix these security flaws, homeowners should watch out and report any irregularities immediately. They should also keep good tech habits to prevent these smart home systems from being exploited by others.

The Wisteria 3BR living room

The Wisteria 3BR living room

Even so, the smart technologies currently available show much promise. Think of these as part of a long-term investment, as more companies and brands roll out smart devices and hone the infrastructure for such systems. For home buyers keen on this smart home trend, residential units that come with such built-in functions are an attractive way to start.

Are you intrigued by these futuristic additions to your home? Read more about condominiums that feature units equipped with such smart home features.

Christopher Chitty, Senior Content Specialist, edited this story