Whether you’re looking to boost your home’s security, shave a few bucks from your energy bills, or simply make your life a little easier, smart home upgrades are always a great investment. If you’re not sure where to get started, check out this list of recommended smart home upgrades for any Philadelphia rental property.
1. Best Smart Locks for Rental Property
Smart locks are a popular security upgrade that also provide easy ways to enter your home when you don’t want to fumble with keys. Some manufacturers offer entire lock replacement sets while others provide a conversion kit that can turn your existing lock into a smart one. Each has their pros and cons, so you’ll have to weigh your options carefully before making a decision.
A full replacement is just as it sounds: you remove all the hardware your door currently has and replace it with an entirely new unit. These also tend to come with extra features such as a numeric keypad that allows you to enter a code rather than using a key to unlock the door. Some even offer functions that allow you to operate the lock from the inside by simply touching the lock to operate it.
Conversion kits typically leave the outside features of your lockset the same while adding mechanisms to lock or unlock the door from both sides. For example, some conversion kits provide smartphone features for your door and because there are fewer choices and features on the market, they tend to be less expensive. There are also various types of connections to consider as most of these smart features require communication with a smartphone or your home’s smart network. Some are simple and only need a Bluetooth connection to your phone to operate the lock, while others need specific hubs for total integration.
Your best bet is a device that provides the right security with the most straightforward setup. For example, Kwikset smart locks such as the Kevo provide touch-to-enter and smartphone features and do not require a separate hub. Plus, you can choose the conversion kit that won’t require changing out your entire lockset–ideal for rental properties. This model does not come with a keypad or a digital lock, so it’s easy to simply replace the key instead of the entire lock.
While the keypad feature is convenient and seems like the ideal choice, keep in mind that the batteries could die at any time, and they’re not as easy to replace as a key would be. So, it’s important to consider each model and pick the one that best fits your lifestyle.
2. Smart Thermostats for Smart Homes
Smart thermostats are designed to keep your home comfortable while keeping your energy bills to a minimum. They go beyond programmable thermostats that allow you to set a schedule for your HVAC system and instead “learn” about your home and your habits to optimize your living areas for less.
There’s a reason that Nest dominates the smart thermostat landscape. The primary benefit is how easy it is to use. Many smart devices require programming and interaction, but the Learning Thermostat is designed for you to interact with it less as time goes on. Forget complicated schedules or continual changes for unpredictable lifestyles. As you carry on with your daily activities and periodically adjust the thermostat for comfort, the Nest learns what you’re doing and then predicts your small changes until you no longer need to.
The Learning Thermostat also comes with smartphone integration. Not only can you use your phone away from home to warm up the house before you arrive, but the thermostat can also use your phone’s location data to determine if you’ve left and adjust to a more energy-efficient temperature while you’re gone.
With little to no fuss when it comes to complicated schedules, seasonal changes, and other factors, the benefits of smart thermostats outweigh those of a programmable thermostat any day.
3. Smart Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
It might seem like standard smoke alarms and CO detectors are effective, once you’ve learned what a smart detector can do, you might change your mind. Starting at the most mundane, smart detectors can test themselves and the batteries can last for several years. That means no more monthly testing of your devices (yes, as a property owner or landlord you should be checking your smoke alarm monthly and any new smoke detector laws) and no need to follow the daylight-saving schedule of changing batteries.
One of the most irritating problems with a standard smoke detector is the false alarm: is it burning toast or is the house on fire? With a model like the Nest Protect, smart features help the device determine the possible source and offer more information beyond a screeching beep that disrupts the entire household. Not only will it deliver detailed information to your smartphone and then connect you to the fire department if necessary, but the devices actually speak to alert you to a potential problem (“Heads up, there’s smoke in the kitchen.”) or a bonafide danger (“Emergency! There’s smoke in the living room!”). Plus, they’re all connected so your upstairs devices will let you know what’s going on downstairs.
The Nest Protect also has built-in carbon monoxide detection so there’s no need for a separate unit. If you’re tired of a steamy shower setting off your smoke alarm, annoying beeps at 3:00 a.m. from a dying battery, or wish you could shush an alarm without having to get a stepladder (the Nest Protect can be shushed from your phone!), it’s time to upgrade to a smart smoke and CO detector.
4. Smart Home Lighting
There are many smart home lighting systems available, but most of them require replacing bulbs and fixtures throughout the home–a project that can be daunting once you consider the specialty bulbs and decorative fixtures that may not even be available. The Lutron system works by changing out your wall switches–something that’s standard in just about every home and only requires a few extra steps. You can also add lamp kits at the outlet which is as simple as unplugging your lamps and plugging them back in.
The complexity of your system depends on your needs and willingness to dig in. You can go all-out and set up the entire home or start with a single lamp in one room. The only extra equipment you’ll need is a smartphone and the smart bridge that’s fully compatible with other smart home brands such as Nest, Alexa, and other home automation devices.
Everything is controlled by an intuitive app where you can operate lights as needed or create a schedule that works for you. Set up all the lights to dim at 9:30 p.m. to remind you to unwind for bed or set up a randomized schedule to confuse burglars while you’re on vacation. Forget to turn the lights off after you’ve left? No problem, you can do it anywhere from your smartphone. The hub can support up to 50 individual devices, and you can add on as you go.
If you’re looking for more features, there are plenty. There are two different options for dimmer switches, one will work well in older homes and the other is ready to go in modern homes. You can even control several bulbs and create a favorite setting for when you get the dimmer just right. And if you want options for guests who don’t want to install and configure a smartphone app, try the Pico remote that offers on/off and dimming control from anywhere in the home. Plus, the switches, plates, and remotes are all available in white, ivory, light almond, and black so you can match the other devices and decor in your home seamlessly.
5. Solar Panels
Solar panels are one of the most significant smart home investments, but they also have the potential for the biggest payoff. Not only will you be able to cut back on your electricity bills, but in some cases, you can actually make money if you produce a surplus of electricity.
Solar panels are designed to last at least 25 years. Once you’ve paid for your investment with the energy savings from the first few years, everything after that is gravy. Plus, you’ll be generating and using clean, renewable energy. That means a smaller carbon footprint for you and a happier earth for everyone.
There are many incentives, rebates, and tax benefits for different areas. In some cases, you can get some of the cost paid back to you. In others, you may reduce your taxes and the overall amount that’s due. In return, you’ll enjoy a higher home value and if you ever need to sell your home, it’s likely to sell a little quicker than a similar home without solar panels.
Smart Home, Smart Life
This list of smart home devices and upgrades provides a range of opportunities for anyone in the Philadelphia area–from a simple plug-in lighting adapter to a major upgrade like solar panels, any option can help improve your Philadelphia rental property or home. With a variety of options you can decide what’s right for your home and your budget and enjoy the best that technology has to offer.
Not sure what rental property upgrades are good for your Philadelphia property? See what the experts think and contact a property management company like Bay Property Management Group, today!