By 2020, the smart home industry is predicted to be a be a $40 billion market across the globe. Gateway smart technology like Amazon Echo and Google Home are encouraging more and more people to digitize their homes. This leaves owners of vacation rentals with a new dilemma: upgrade their properties or risk getting kicked to the digital curb.

Studies by August Home reveal that 80% of guests are more likely to book a vacation rental with smart home products than one without. But fully equipping a house with all the latest gadgets could cost upwards of $1,000—that’s a lot of money to put towards a place you don’t plan on living in.

So which smart home technology isn’t worth your money at a vacation rental?

Skip: Smart Coffee Makers

Nothing beats the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. With the introduction of WiFi-compatible coffee makers, you don’t even need to leave bed to start your daily brew. Just set a timer from your smartphone and you’re good to go.

While all of this sounds nice, the device is far from practical for vacation rentals. Top-rated smart coffee makers like the Nespresso Expert can cost hundreds of dollars. What if your tenants don’t begin their day with a cup of joe?

If you want to spring for a coffee maker, go for a traditional device with delayed brewing functionality. When you’ve only spent $25, you won’t be nearly as heartbroken should it be destroyed by a renter who can’t figure out how to use it.

Skip: Smart Irrigation Systems

Maintaining your curb appeal in a rental home is important, especially when you know tenants aren’t exactly spending hot summer days watering your grass. Smart irrigation systems take some of the guesswork out of gardening, ensuring your plants receive the right amount of water at the right time.

Still, unless your property’s main selling point is its garden, the $3K+ that an automated irrigation system can cost is a lot of money to sink into a device that could be replaced with a hose. If you have long-term tenants, draft a strong self-service lawn care agreement to ease your concerns. Otherwise, you may also be able to hire a lawn care service to maintain your yard and sprinklers.

Skip: Smart Blinds

If tenants are having a hard time opening and closing your blinds, it’s a sign that you need new blinds, not smarter ones. Smart blinds, not accounting for installation costs, can range anywhere from $300-$500 per window. Outfitting the entire vacation rental with these gimmicky appliances costs a small fortune that you’ll probably never see a strong ROI from.

The tried-and-true blinds are the best kind. Save money on this decor in favor of splurging where it counts: home security.

Splurge: Smart Locks and Security

55% of renters are willing to pay more for a unit with automated locks. Safety is often a top concern for tenants and landlords alike, and with the introduction of smart locks, security has never been more convenient.

Skip the traditional key-exchange in favor of giving guests a temporary passcode remotely for the duration of their stay. Have the peace of mind knowing exactly who is at the door when the bell rings. Compatible camera systems will send an alert if the renters aren’t as quiet as promised, or reveal if they’re turning the vacation home into party central.

The usefulness of a smart lock security system is endless. Peace of mind for both parties is easily worth a couple hundred dollars and a short installation time.

Toss-up: Smart Showers

Thinking about giving your vacation property a spa-like upgrade? Imagine walking up to the shower and having the shower automatically turn on, with the water pressure and temperature set exactly how you like it. Smart showers will remember your renter’s preferences, while minimizing water wastage.

A tech-enhanced bathroom is an easy way to amaze prospective tenants. That being said, ensure you’re putting your money toward the right features. Avoid costly Bluetooth systems that let you answer phone calls or use apps from the shower, and spring for ones geared towards lowering monthly energy and water bills.

Outfitting a vacation rental with smart technology can be costly. By following these suggestions, you’ll be able to pick the devices with the highest ROI — and “wow” factor.


Phil Karp, 25-year real estate industry veteran, is head of Brokerage Services at, where the process of buying and selling your home is made simple. Phil is based in Atlanta and enjoys offering tips to vacation rental owners to help them find the best smart home upgrades for their properties.