Smart devices can add a whole new level of convenience, enjoyment, and security to your home. But with all the demands we put on our internet connections these days, you may be wondering if your network is up to the challenge of powering a connected home.
Good news! Smart homes aren’t as demanding on a network as you might think. Let’s explore what a smart home is, how much speed you need to power one, and ways you can get the most out of your connection and enjoy the benefits of smart technology.
What Is a Smart Home?
A smart home is a fancy way of referring to a home with internet-connected appliances. Typical smart devices tie to security, energy conservation, and convenience, and many can be controlled by smart speakers that feature digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa.
With enough of these devices, the various features of your home can start to work together in amazing ways—you can have your lights turn on and your thermostat set your ideal temperature right before you arrive home from work, for example. And you can even enjoy these benefits in rural areas or places without high-speed cable, thanks to technology like satellite internet and mobile hotspots.
Types of Smart Home Tech You Might Want in Your Rental
There are several types of smart devices that can be added to a rental without needing to make major modifications. Lightbulbs are easily replaced, and smart speakers are pretty much plug and play. For devices like cameras or thermostats, though, you probably want to get approval from your landlord like you would for any larger modification to the home.
Here are some of the most popular types of smart devices to include in your home:
- Video doorbells
- Door locks
- Smoke detectors
- Smart speakers and digital assistants
How Much Internet Speed Do You Really Need?
Here’s the million-dollar question: what kind of impact will you see on your home network with all these added devices? Well, for the most part, not much. Most smart home devices don’t require a terribly fast connection. Thermostats and lightbulbs really only need to access the network to receive commands from your phone or control panel, so there’s not a lot of continuous data transfer going on.
There is one big exception to this rule, though: cameras. Doorbell cameras and other smart cameras that upload photo or video files are going to eat up a large chunk of bandwidth. The popular Nest Cam can use as much as 4 Mbps to upload 1080p HD video. If you’ve got a couple of these uploading at once, you can quickly max out a slow connection, leaving no bandwidth left for other activities.
Even without cameras, you should consider the total number of devices active at once in your home, including smartphones and computers. Although smart devices don’t necessarily use a lot of bandwidth individually, in large numbers they can put a dent in your connection and slow down other devices like your smart TV.
Speed: As a general recommendation, add about 5 Mbps to your internet plan for every ten or so smart devices, and another 5 Mbps if you’re planning to install cameras. This should give you a good starting point, and you can adjust from there.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Connection
One way to mitigate the internet usage of your smart home devices is to turn down the amount they use the connection. You can set cameras to record lower-resolution video, which can make a big impact. Other devices often have settings to tune how frequently they access the internet.
If you don’t want to compromise on your smart device usage, you can always give your ISP a call and try to get a deal on a faster speed. Providers sometimes have special offers available that don’t get advertised, but if you call and ask, you might be surprised. They may also be willing to negotiate your rate if you approach the matter respectfully. And if you have other options available, you can always switch to a new provider that offers faster speeds for a better monthly rate.
Whether you’re just looking to add a couple of Amazon Echo devices or want to turn your rental into a fully connected home of the future, you’ve got plenty of options. And with increasing internet speeds and the relatively low requirements of smart devices, it’s never been easier.