Vacation rentals are an ideal application for home automation. Precisely due to the distance most owners are from their property, the Internet of Things (IOT) provides peace of mind that the property is safe and secure by being able to monitor the property remotely.
Now, more than ever, technology can help remote owners’ manager their vacation rental as a VRBO without the use of a dedicated Property Manager. As a home owner, there are many systems and platforms available to use to manage and monitor your home systems.
If your home is professionally managed by a Property Management Company, you will typically have to use most if not all of the systems they use to allow them to manage all the properties from a central console. If you do not use a Property Management Company then you have more home automation devices to choose from.
Home automation can help your vacation rental stand out among the competition. Guests that don’t have automated devices in their home are curious to try out the technology and are likely to choose your home over an unconnected alternative.
There are several categories of home automation useful to the owner who manages their own property. Many of these are also useful to an owner occupied home. If you plan to automate several areas then you must select devices compatible with each other and connected to a hub, like Wink Hub2 or Apple’s HomeKit platform that provides voice control through Siri.
Keyless Entry – Smart Locks
A keyless entry system is essential. Your guests will appreciate not having to stop and pick up keys. You will appreciate the simplicity of generating a code rather than arranging delivery of keys for an after hours check in. Many of these systems work with wifi, so you should have reliable internet to avoid any Snafus (or a back up key for emergencies). A keyless entry system also allows you to control entry for cleaners, maintenance technicians and any other service personnel. Many will also create a log showing entry and exits. Smart locks are a more secure alternative then keys that go missing.
Smart thermostats will save you money. One of the leading products, available at big box stores, is Nest. These systems are designed to achieve the preferred temperature in the most efficient manner. You can set a range of values allowed to provide comfort to guests without exceeded a reasonable temperature. These systems allow you to turn down the setting when the home is not occupied and turn it up to welcome guests before their arrival. Many systems will monitor the humidity levels and allow you to check the status of the system remotely. No longer will you wonder if the cleaner remembered to re-set the thermostat once they finished cleaning. They can also prompt you to perform maintenance like changing filters.
Sensors are used to monitor a range of conditions. For example, a sensor on a doors or windows can trigger when left open to turn off the HVAC for heating or cooling. How often do renters leave the door open with the A/C running full blast? Often enough, that installing a sensor to tell the thermostat to turn off after x minutes of the door being left open can save a significant amount of money.
Sensors can also be used to detect flooding or freezing conditions to alerts you to the condition of the home after a storm or other event.
Some of these devices can allow you to monitor the noise levels, air quality and listen for smoke or carbon monoxide alarms. This could alert the home owner that guests were smoking in the home or having a wild party.
One advantage to smart lighting is being able to turn the lights on for guests who are arriving late. These systems also allow guest to control the intensity, direction, pattern and color of the lighting. One “gee wiz” feature is the ability to sync lighting to music. Personally, I don’t see a great benefit to smart lighting and the bulbs can be quite expensive; but, to each their own.
Home security systems allow you to protect your home while it is vacant. Crime and break-ins can be an issue during the off-season and having a security system can provide peace of mind. These systems usually require a hub and can also notify you when there is a fire, carbon monoxide leak, flood and other issues.
Vacation home owners who rent their property should use caution before implementing video. Many guests would object to being videoed while using the pool and other spaces. State laws vary, but most have some type of “video voyeurism” laws ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony. One option is to remove the cameras during the rental season and re-install during the off season.
The smart home or home automation trend is quickly gaining traction. New devices are coming to market every day with no end in sight. Chances are if you have a need there is already a device or will be shortly.
Smart switches can allow you to turn just about anything you plug into them to be “smart”. You will have to use IFTTT (If this, then that) to create the automation script for items plugged in.
There are smart devices for cooking, like the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker or the Char-broil digital electric smoker to the Perfect Bake Pro.
There are devices for cleaning. Robot vacuums have been around for a while. The Neato Botvac Connected allows you to control it from your smart phone. While the iRobot Braava Jet 240 will mop your floor.
There are sprinkler controllers, even lawn mowers, like the Robomow RS622.
Increasingly, when shopping for replacement items for your home, like garage doors, smoke detectors, or flood lights, you will be confronted with smart home options at almost the same price point as their non-smart counterparts. As the technology advances and artificial intelligence is integrated, our devices will learn to adapt to our needs and learn about their environment for even more efficient operation.
Interested in a smart home but don’t know how to get started? Contact Xpert Home Services to discuss your needs and explore your alternatives. From a few devices to a completely connected home, we got you covered.