Home automation is nothing new to most home owners, but it is to apartment owners, managers and dwellers. Smart homes include anything from lighting, appliances and locks, while home automation includes products that can be programmed to function automatically.

Smart home gadgets were designed to save you time, energy and money, all while making your day to day life easier. Wouldn’t you love to wake up to your coffee pot brewing, bathroom lights on and air temperature just right?


Vetting through options
There are many different systems right now for residential homes, but what about apartments? With so many options in the marketplace, it’s difficult to figure out what works best for apartments. Smart locks, lighting, thermostats and outlets are all available for apartment units to save residents time and money. While these systems are great individually, in an ideal scenario, the systems would all talk to each other, creating one smart home solution for the end user. Ease of accessibility and use of these smart products is key for both apartment managers and residents.

Since there are so many hardware options in the market, the decision on what product to install on a property can be difficult. There are companies that operate the back end system so that several products can run simultaneously through one mobile web system. These companies typically work with specific hardware, so it’s important to choose hardware that’s comparable.

Smart locks, smart thermostats, lighting and outlet controls seem to be at the top of the list of hardware choices for smart units. Will these products be around in a few years? Will they constantly need repair and updating? These are all considerations when selecting the actual product to install in smart apartments.


Cost and return on investment
Most smart products have a mobile app that residents use to control the product. Typically, these apps are free when you purchase the hardware. If you use an enterprise system, which would link all these products together, that will come with a monthly cost as well.

The hardware itself can have a significant cost—anywhere from $200 to $600 per unit on a bundle of products. This investment is considerable for new technology in the apartment industry. Can you get an upcharge on rent for these smart units? Does the owner purchase the product out right or lease the hardware? Will residents be willing to pay more for an apartment with these capabilities?


Managing hardware, residents and data
Once the hardware has been installed and set up, residents can begin to use the products. Managers will need to be trained on the hardware and software to sell these smart features to residents and to help with initial set up and questions. Questions and troubleshooting needs could become a problem for managers and their team if the product and software is not simple to use. What if the hardware doesn’t work? Will residents rely on management to fix and handle all issues?

These smart products, if linked to a back end system that management has access too, could create a lot of data. This data could be used to study resident behavior, monitor energy consumption and for many other things. Does this lead to privacy issues for residents?

Overall, the desire for smart homes seem to be on the rise. With the new generation of apartment dwellers, being connected is key. To ensure you make the right decision in regard to product and software, vet through your options and reach out to others in your industry for advice. 


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