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Americans: Smart Homes Are Cool, But Too Expensive

Break Bread.

People like the idea of controlling their houses from afar, but aren’t interested in pricey retrofits.

Americans like the idea of smart homes, but when it comes to actually paying the bill for stuffing their houses and apartments with futuristic Internet of Things (IoT) tech and devices, they balk.

Just 27 percent of Americans have purchased a connected home device, although 71 would appreciate the ability to monitor their home while they’re away, according to a survey of 2,177 adults commissioned by home automation company Wink.

One reason for the disconnect? People think smart homes cost too much. Thirty-four percent of survey respondents estimate it would cost more than $5,000 to turn their abode into a smart home, while 9 percent put that number at $20,000. Of course, definitions as to how smart a home must be before you can label it that way vary widely; Wink notes that its basic automation hub suitecan be had for about $200.

For people who are enthusiastic about the tech but not the price, there’s also the possibility that insurance companies might foot the entire bill for home security and automation systems, either through rate discounts or by paying for the installation up front. (Homes with IoT devices like leak detectors are safer and thus cheaper to insure, the thinking goes). The insurance industry is gung-ho about that option, according to a recent surveyfrom analytics firm NTT Data, but just 16 percent of consumers surveyed said they’d be interested in home automation provided by their insurance carrier.

The upshot is that the connected home conundrum of the 1990s is still with us today: people like the idea, but not the expense or the installation hassle. So home automation is still largely the realm of geeky men with large disposable incomes, rather than something that the average homeowner would consider as necessary as the hot water heater. Fifty-seven percent of connected home product buyers are men, and only 20 percent of households with yearly incomes under $50,000 have bought a connected home product, according to the Wink survey.

Meanwhile, if you are thinking about making your home a bit more intelligent, our roundup of the best smart home devices is a good place to start.

By Tom Brant