What Makes A Smart Home... Smart?

Story by Liesel Schmidt

Photography Courtesy of Tranquility Smart Homes & Security



For all of us who remember the days of car phones whose portability was limited to the actual car and computer systems so clunky that they could not be moved without the help of three men with good muscles, the concept of smart homes is pretty far-fetched. Today, you can control your temp, your sound system and your laundry all with an app. In fact, it all seems downright Jetsons-esque. And yet, it’s happened. But what actually makes a smart home “smart?"

“The term ‘smart home’ can be a very open and loosely interpreted concept,” says CEO of Tranquility Smart Homes & Security, Nick Grillo. “We consider a residence to be a smart home when we see three or more permanent style devices installed in a home or business. However, this can be a wide range of things, such as security systems, lights or even thermostats.”

Really, the whole point of a smart home is to add whole-home convenience to your life at the touch of a screen. Need to adjust the thermostat? There’s an app for that. Forget to close the garage door or lock the back door? There’s an app for that. There are apps for everything from turning on locks, to setting the pre-heat function on your oven and even turning on the washing machine. Doorbell cams can be monitored. Systems can be programmed. If you think it, chances are, it has been re-conceptualized with smart home technology. It’s the epitome of modern living.


“Smart homes provide incredible flexibility and convenience,” Grillo notes. “Each item we install allows our clients accessibility to their home from anywhere. That can be something as simple as customized automated lighting all the way to being able to check your security cameras and alarm from anywhere in the world. These items can greatly set your home apart not only from an aesthetics feel but also in terms of increasing your home’s resale value.”

With all the pros to having a fully integrated home, surely there must be some cons? “Technology can be pricey, but the return on investment vastly outweighs the cost,” Grillo contends. Keeping your systems secure from hacks may also be a concern weighing on the mind of anyone considering a smart home system, but such issues can be subverted and prevented through proper security and the use of password protection.

SMART HOMES PROVIDE INCREDIBLE FLEXIBILITY + CONVENIENCE. - NICK GRILLO

For those of us who consider ourselves technophobes, Luddites or just inept, smart home systems can be surprisingly user-friendly—especially when you have an expert on hand to walk you through them. “We set our clients' minds at ease by explaining every step of the process to them,” Grillo says. “Due to the fact that a smart home is very subjective in and of itself, we really look to tailor our services to our clients’ needs. We provide a post-installation tutorial where we not only automate the system but also show the client how to make adjustments as they see necessary, to increase or reduce certain parts that may not be needed.”

In getting the most bang for your buck, Grillo has some recommendations. “Some of the best bang for your buck items we recommend are smart internal alarm systems such as the Ring alarm, mesh internet systems such as Amazon Eero, smart thermostats such as Nest or Ecobee or smart under-cabinet and outdoor lighting. These are items that we have found draw the most ‘wow’ factor while keeping the out-of-pocket expense to a minimum.”

In terms of creating a system that is serviceable for homeowners who don’t need absolutely everything to be integrated into their smart home, Grillo and his team at Tranquility have solutions. That customization, essentially, is the beauty of a smart home and the technology it utilizes. “We build everyone's home or business by design,” he says. “This starts with a free in-person consultation where we discuss what it is the client is looking for and what products we can use to deliver that end result, whether large or small. This allows us to get the full scope of the project and then come back to the drawing board to plan it out in its entirety. While a lot of our solutions are considered a ‘want,’ our primary intent is to discover what that client actually needs to make their life more convenient.”

All the bells and whistles aside, there are a number of ways to integrate a house, apartment or entire property into a smart ecosystem. When done correctly, a smart home should not create more work. The experience of living “smart” should be dependable and actually feel truly smart.