vacation rental home automation

Avoiding Disasters In Your Vacation Rentals

The Internet of Things is quietly making its way into our homes, and in just a few years our houses will be saturated with connected devices aiming to make our lives easier, more streamlined, and less stressful. The smart home that’s been featured in so many movies and works of science fiction is becoming a reality, and aside from being super cool and futuristic, it’s going to increase our quality of living in a way that we can’t even comprehend right now. Here at Parakeet, we are very interested in how the Internet of Things will effect the role of vacation rental property managers and how they can use technology to provide a better experience for their guests. In this post, we will explore some of the ways the Internet of things is impacting vacation rental properties.

One of the most exciting applications of home automation is the ability to anticipate and prevent disasters like floods, fires, and freezing in addition to enhanced security systems that will hinder burglaries and the like. Problems like these are obviously troublesome for every homeowner, and even if your insurance covers all of the damage, it’s takes a lot of time and headaches to get everything back to normal.

These issues can be so easily prevented with the help of connected devices that tons of companies are jumping in to develop products in this space, giving consumers ample options to choose from. Each one offers slightly different features, making it easy to find the setup that fits your specific needs. Something to keep in mind when choosing a product is ease of setup. IoT devices range widely in terms of setup time and complexity. Some require a lot of technical know-how, while others can be set up by anyone, requiring just an outlet and network access.

Let’s get into the problems that can arise as a vacation rental property manager or homeowner, and how to prevent them with the Internet of Things.

Fire
Fires can be devastating, and even when you have insurance there’s a possibility of losing everything you own, in addition to being incredibly dangerous for everyone inside the house. Of course smoke detectors exist, but they can be so annoying that a scary amount of people have disconnected them completely — 20% of homes in the US don’t have a working smoke detector. The current smoke detectors on the market are far from smart.

That is, except for the Nest Protect, the smoke and carbon monoxide detector from the guys who brought you the Nest thermostat, one of the first IoT products that went mainstream. The fact that you can silence it from your phone is nothing short of a miracle to those who have experienced the shrilling sound of the smoke detector as you try everything you can think of to turn it off.

It’ll also warn you when smoke levels are rising so you can get an early jump on your burning toast — or be alerted of a fire before it becomes uncontrollable. It can tell if a fire is fast or slow-burning, information that is key for firefighters.

But perhaps the most reassuring thing is that this can all happen when you are not at home. Imagine a fire starts in your house, and no one is there to call the fire department. If your phone is connected to a smart smoke detector, you can alert your fire department before things get out of control.

Water Usage, Plumbing, and Frozen Pipes
Products that fall under this category are useful to everyone: in cold climates, freezing pipes is a constant hazard; while in places where droughts are wreaking havoc, like California, monitoring water usage can both save money and help you do your part in preventing the drought from getting worse. And of course, everyone has plumbing problems sooner or later. A burst pipe can be disastrous, so keeping an eye on pressure and leaks can be the difference in thousands of dollars of damage.

With the right product, you can monitor all three, or you can get a product that fits your specific need. One of the most exciting devices in Parakeets platform are our freeze/flood sensors. Our system allows you to place sensors around the property in places you would like to monitor, think next to washer, dishwasher or water heater. It will alert you via text message or email to leaks and changes in humidity and temperature immediately. If the temperature drops significantly, your pipes could be in danger of freezing you’ll be alerted fast enough that you’ll have time to fix the issue before it causes extensive damage to your rental.

If you have a garden or plot of land that needs watering, there are a few irrigation control systems out there that can save you a lot of trouble, especially from turning your sprinklers on and off when it rains. (Not really a problem in California these days!) Rain Machine is a really cool product that adjusts the water flow based on the weather so you don’t have to worry about over or underwatering. Rachio Iro is also a slick product, and claims to understand your yard and adjust water usage appropriately. Man, we really are living in the future, aren’t we?

Security
Ah, the big one. Many people have a home security system, but most don’t know that there are plenty of better options out there. Imagine being able to monitor your home 24/7 from your smartphone. Connected security systems come with all sorts of different feature sets, so it’s not hard to find the perfect fit.

If you’ve had trouble with break-ins, have a lot of valuables in your house, or just want to keep your family and guests as safe as possible, you could consider getting something like Nest Cam (formerly called Dropcam) or Canary, a simple camera setup that’ll stream to your phone and alert you if anything is awry.

Note: Before installing a camera system, make sure you consider the security risks. For all of these systems, hacking remains a possibility, meaning someone can get into your feed and watch video of your house.

One of the cool things about Nest Cam is that it monitors your home for you, so you don’t have to constantly check your phone. Motion sensors will detect any intruder and send an alert to your phone so you can call the police. It also monitors sound, so if there’s a “boom or crash,” you’ll be alerted instantly.

Canary claims to learn from you and improve alerts and notifications as time goes on. If activity is detected, it’ll send you a link to a recorded video, or you can watch what’s going on live. It also monitors air quality, temperature, and humidity, which could save you the hassle of getting another device.

These are just a few of the products you can install to help prevent home disasters. Because there are so many uses and devices out there, make sure to do your research first and pick the system that’s right for you. Learn more about Parakeet’s platform and how we can improve your guest experience while allowing you to monitor your rentals 24/7.