artist rendering of smarthome automation control system
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Smarthome technology has come a long way. It still isn’t for everyone, but some of the common myths people use to avoid smarthome tech aren’t true. Smarthomes don’t have to be expensive, and they aren’t always listening to you, for example.

Myth: Smarthomes are Expensive

Modern rural home with outdoor lighting at night
Dariusz Jarzabek/Shutterstock

Smarthomes can be expensive—especially if you go for a custom build designed specifically for your home. But they don’t have to be expensive.

It’s easy to start small and then build out piece by piece from there. One great way to do that is to pick up inexpensive smart bulbs and see what you think. You could then consider adding a sensor or two. If you are more comfortable with electricity, you can install smart light switches to control several bulbs for a little more than an inexpensive smart bulb.

The best thing to do is to watch for deals. Voice assistants like the Echo and Google Home go on sale frequently. Even if the cost does add up, it’s easy to spread out that cost over time, so you feel less of the bite. You don’t have to buy every gadget, and you certainly don’t have to buy them all at once!

RELATED: How to Put Together Your First Smarthome (Without Getting Overwhelmed)

Myth: Smarthomes are Always Listening to You

Amazon Echo device in listening mode

If you become a Smarthome owner, or at least a Voice Assistant user, you’ll hear this frequently. But it isn’t true at all, at least not in the way people fear. Voice Assistant devices, like Alexa and Google Home, do always listen. But they are only listening for their wake word (like “Alexa” or “Hey, Google”).

This wake word is locally processed, and until the device hears those specific words, it sends nothing to Amazon or Google. As soon as they do recognize the wake word, they process the command that follows and then send it off for cloud processing. If these devices were recording everything they heard and sending it to the cloud, you’d see a drastic rise in network usage that would be easy to spot.

How easy? When an early Google Home mini review unit was malfunctioning and recording near constantly, the tech reviewer who had the unit realized fairly quickly. This was, of course, unintentional, and Google was quick to remedy the situation. But the point stands that near-constant recording is noticeable, even to someone who isn’t a security researcher.

Both Amazon and Google also let you view (and delete) every voice command you’ve ever given. Here’s how to view your history for the Amazon Echo and the Google Home.

Myth: Smarthomes are Easily Hacked

Hooded hacker at laptop computer

It stands to reason that every connected item is an additional avenue into your home for hackers. But the weak point of your home probably isn’t your smart hub or smart outlet. The weak point is probably your Wi-Fi Router. The key to any secure connected home is a secure Wi-Fi network. And nearly every vulnerability shown for smarthome devices has required physical access to the device, or at the very least remote access through your network.

If you can keep would-be bad actors out of your home and out of your network, then you will have gone a long way to preventing any trouble.

And always remember. People who want to do you harm or steal your stuff are likely to choose the most accessible path. Why hack a smart lock, after all, when you can break a window?

Myth: Smarthomes are Difficult to Implement

Stringify control panel showing complex smarthome automation routine

Once upon a time, there was a grain of truth to this myth. But Smarthomes are easier than ever to implement. You can get by with installing some Phillips Hue light bulbs and a voice assistant of your choice. If you’ve ever changed a lock, installing a smart lock is an almost identical process. If you have a little technical know-how, you can follow the instructions to install a smart thermostat like the Nest.

RELATED: How to Install and Set Up the Schlage Connect Smart Lock

And if you can change out a thermostat, the chances are good you can install a smart switch. Even if you aren’t comfortable with wiring a switch, a smart plug is dead simple to install. You plug it in and then plug your device into the smart outlet. A quick setup routine in a smartphone app and you’re good to go

Voice Assistants by their very nature are straightforward to set up and use. This is especially true if you get one with a display, like the Google Home Hub.

The key is keeping a smarthome simple is to start small and build up. Yes, as you add more devices and start thinking about routines and automation, things do get more complicated. But, you’ll also be growing more comfortable with the tech as you go, and expanding will become easier and easier.

Profile Photo for Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson is the Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code.
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