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Angie's List: Smart Homes Have Technology Ranging From Practical To 'Wow'

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- From door locks you open with your phone to refrigerators that tell you when you need more eggs, smart home technology ranges from practical to "wow." And these gizmos aren't just for the rich and famous. You probably have at least one smart tech device in your home.

You don't have to be a technology genius to live in a smart home.

"Smart home features are – from a DIY perspective – exciting today because you can go buy a door lock that you can get an app for. You can get a security system that has an app for it," said home automation professional Tom Wilburn.

"Prices are really across the board. They can average from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars or anywhere in between," said home automation professional Robert Haecker.

So where do you fit in? A recent Angie's List survey of 5,000 consumers found that smart TVs are the most common product – found in 41 percent of homes across America. They're followed by smart thermostats, home alarms, refrigerators and audio systems.

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"As you can see, the icons on the handheld remote are the same as the in-wall panel, so everything is very consistent and easy to use from room to room," Haecker said.

Installing a thermostat or security camera is fairly simple, but incorporating a variety of smart products into one system can be tricky and usually requires a pro.

"Just like hiring any contractor, you want to be sure you do your homework on hiring your home automation installer. Check their credentials, how long they've been in business. They may also be a member of the CEDIA, which is a professional association which requires special insurance and licensing," said Angie's List founder Angie Hicks.

While it would be great to automate your whole house at once, that may not work in the budget. But it's now getting easier to tie all your devices together.

"They're really all getting highly integrated, so you don't have to have the same products throughout the entire home. It's nice. It gives you a lot of design flexibility," said Caryn O'Sullivan, a window treatment professional.

The Angie's List survey also found that the top reason we buy smart home products is to impress our friends followed closely by a desire to increase security and, third, to save money through energy efficiency. What city has the most smart homes? Baltimore, according to the survey. Austin, Texas, came in second and San Jose, California, third.

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