Imagine a world where your daily schedule is waiting for you in the morning, your home lighting and thermostat are set for maximum comfort, and your washing machine sends push notifications of possible trouble to your phone before it starts acting up.
The developers of IoT have been trying to make everyday life a little more efficient and convenient. Still, sometimes the contraptions we acquire to make our lives easier end up being nothing but trouble.
Take smart home appliances, for example.
The idea of coming home to the ideal ambient temperature and a fully automated kitchen is nice. But, what happens when your networked appliances and systematic controls don’t work as expected, or worse, stop working altogether?
The Benefits of Owning Smart Home Appliances
With all of us leading busier, more complicated lives than in previous eras, smart home technology is here to help conserve energy, improve home efficiency, and prevent waste.
These appliances may cost a little more initially, but they are an investment that will pay for itself within just a few months of installation.
In the wake of COVID-related lockdowns and remote work, sales of smart home systems and networked wireless appliances have risen dramatically.
In 2017, there were approximately 27 billion IoT connected devices in operation. Since COVID, the sales of smart home systems and appliances have increased 30 percent over the past year.
Even without a pandemic to spur sales, the use of IoT and related technologies is expected to increase by 12 percent per year leading up to 2030.
That’s a lot of automation for the average person to manage.
As of now, smart home devices are only as smart as the manufacturers who make them. The core of the tech revolves around its ability to connect to your home network and basic voice operation. That is expected to change as AI evolves and becomes more commonplace.
Although many current smart home appliances are plug-n-play and require little tech knowledge to set up, sometimes hiring a contractor to install them can alleviate the most common issues.
For those who prefer a DIY approach, we take a look five things that can go wrong with your smart home appliances and some simple solutions.
Problem One: Bad Connections
Your home WiFi setup may be perfectly fine for connecting your laptop, PC, and other similar devices to the internet. However, adding more hardware to the network can slow your connection and affect the performance of everything connected to it.
There are several possible solutions to this problem.
The easiest is to move the appliance closer to your router or vice-versa.
You can also check for interference from smart TVs and other devices that use a lot of bandwidth. If that doesn’t work, consider talking to your ISP about a stronger connection or more favorable package.
Many internet companies are offering bundled services and stronger signals that can accommodate more connections.
You could also try segmenting your network to place a limited number of appliances on each line. This is also an IoT security best practice, which we will cover in a little while.
Connections and performance can also be strengthened by making sure that your battery is fully charged and conservation measures are put into place.
Problem Two: Internal Errors
Of the 16 technologies powering Industry 4.0, the most common are familiar to us at least by name.
We know that robotics are instrumental in keeping production facilities humming, and anyone with a smartphone has a working knowledge of voice assistants and GPS.
AI and Big Data allow companies to collect, process, and disseminate information at speeds and amounts that no human could ever match.
It’s that kind of technology that gives companies detailed information to tailor and personalize customer experience, while also allowing your appliances to retool and perform to user preferences.
However, sometimes internal problems will result in error messages that are frustrating to figure out. Think back to how annoying paper jam signals are when the office copy machine starts acting up.
Often, the problem can be corrected by rebooting or restarting the appliance or device. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, write down the error message and search your owner’s manual or the internet to find the cause and solution.
Problem Three: Surprise Activation
If your dishwasher suddenly starts out on its own accord, or your lights turn themselves on at odd times, it’s more likely to be a glitch than a ghost in the house.
Many times, the issue can be traced back to improper setup or programming.
The simplest solution is to change the words you use to turn on voice-activated appliances so that they’re less likely to be switched on accidentally during casual conversation.
You could also use a different activation word or phrase for each appliance.
Problem Four: Lack of Compatibility
What can you do when your appliances don’t play nice together?
The culprit in this case is likely to be dated networks or components. Each time you bring a new device or appliance into your home, you run the risk of incompatibility with older or unsupported technology.
The easy fix in this situation is to make sure that your software or firmware is updated regularly and patches or fixes are installed as soon as they’re available.
If possible, replace any old or obsolete components.
Problem Five: Security Concerns
Every advance in technology comes with more opportunities for unscrupulous people to invade your privacy or steal your information.
Implementing a few security best practices will keep your connections safe and provide you with peace of mind.
- Use strong passwords and change them frequently.
- Segment your networks. That way, if one is breached, it will prevent taking your whole setup down.
- Control access via two-factor authentication.
- Turn off or disable devices when possible.
- Install a VPN on your router, network, and all connected devices. Go for an inexpensive plan that allows multiple connections rather than a free plan, which will still leave you vulnerable to breaches and third-party info sharing.
These simple solutions require nothing more than diligence on your part.
When you’re busy upgrading your home, a little education can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a technophile to get the most out of your newly installed smart appliances.
Our goal is to alert you to common issues with smart home technology and provide you with easy solutions. All that’s left for you to do is reap the benefits.
Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.