Smart home devices can increase your house’s energy efficiency, feed your pets automatically, and let you manage your house from your phone.
But can you have a smart home with satellite internet?
You can have a smart home with satellite internet. Many smart devices use a minimal amount of data. Smart security cameras can be data-thirsty, but you can limit their bandwidth demands. Additionally, Alexa and Google Home smart speakers can eat up large amounts of data if they malfunction.
If you want to turn your country home into a country smart home but rely on satellite internet, read on and learn how!
What Is a Smart Home?
Smart homes are part of the “Internet of Things” or IoT. The IoT consists of devices that feature sensors, software, and other technologies that exchange data on the internet.
Smart homes use a communications network to link household devices and appliances. Using the IoT, homeowners can remotely access, monitor, and control those services.
There are a litany of smart home devices, and each performs a specific series of functions to help make your life more comfortable, efficient, and secure. Let’s explore some of the most common types of smart home technology.
Smart Kitchen Appliances
Want to make supper? The Amazon Smart Oven is a 4-in-1 air fryer, microwave, convection oven, and food warmer that responds to voice commands.
Tell Alexa to preheat the oven and she will tell you when to put the food in, and then notify you when it is done.
Smart bulb setups like the Philips 466706 Hue Light Recipe Kit let you adjust brightness and shift the hue from warm to cool using a dimmer switch or app.
Pair the Hue dimmer switch with Alexa and screw in the bulbs. Then just say the word and you can adjust the lights to your liking.
Further reading: How To Get Alexa To Turn On Multiple Lights at Once
Smart camera systems, such as the Arlo Pro Wireless Home Security Camera System with Siren, can notify you of package deliveries and allow you to alert 911 if it spots an intruder.
This system is completely wireless. Place the cameras, connect them to Alexa, and be secure.
With the Orbit 21004 B-hyve Smart Hose Faucet Timer and its accompanying wi-fi hub, you can tell Alexa to water your lawn.
The B-hyve’s built-in mesh networks mean you can place them around your lawn, and they will connect to each other, so you don’t need a wireless repeater hub.
Smart thermostats like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) drop the temperature while you are out but ensure you return to a comfortable home.
Smart thermostats save an average of 10% to 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills, so your investment will pay for itself quickly!
You may also wonder: Are smart thermostats universal?
Smart Water Heaters
A leaky water heater can cause enormous damage. Smart water heaters, such as the Rheem ProTerra Hybrid Water Heaters, report minor leaks before they become big ones.
And you can adjust your smart water heater to produce more hot water when you need it, then lower production when you are out.
How Much Bandwidth Do Smart Devices Use?
Satellite Internet plans generally come with data caps. HughesNet and Viasat offer unlimited data but slow your download rate after you reach a certain threshold.
Depending on the plan you purchase, that slowdown may happen after you use anywhere between 12 and 300 gigabytes (GB) in a month.
To put that in perspective, here are some typical data requirements for online activities:
- Loading an average webpage requires around 2 megabytes (MB) of bandwidth.
- Apple Music uses around 200MB per hour.
- Online learning in a Zoom conference uses 810MB to 2.4GB per hour.
- A 4k movie streamed from Amazon Video, or Netflix uses about 7GB of data per hour.
Once you hit your cap, your 12 to 50MB/second HughesNet connection drops to 3MB/ And your 12 to 100MB/second Viasat connection drops to 5MB during the day and 1MB at night!
If you rely on satellite internet, you want to keep an eye on your bandwidth. Most smart devices use very little data.
Thermostats, appliances, and the smart bulb bridges that control your lighting generally use about 50MB of bandwidth a month each — about as much as you use web-surfing 25 pages.
However, smart cameras are another story.
Using Smart Cameras on Satellite Internet
Smart cameras and security systems are among the worst data-gobblers. Many people running security systems on bandwidth-capped systems have reported issues.
- In October 2019, a Ring Video Doorbell Pro user reported his device used over 7GB of data in 30 days.
- In September 2020, an Arlo Ultra user claimed his Arlo Ultra 4K Wire-Free Security Camera was using upward of 20GB a day.
- Google Nest’s Help Center reports that its Nest cams can use between 30GB and 400GB of data monthly.
If you want to add security cameras to your Smart Home, there are several ways to minimize their bandwidth demands.
Lower Your Security Camera’s Resolution
While a 4K movie stream uses 7GB an hour, an HD (1080p) movie uses 3GB, and an SD (800x 600) movie just 1GB.
You can reduce your bandwidth requirements by reducing your camera’s resolution. Check your manufacturer’s documents for instructions on how to do this.
Check Your Camera’s Record/Upload Intervals
Your camera’s motion sensors are triggered by motion. If there is a busy road on your horizon, your camera may be filming every car that passes.
Many security cameras record 30-second video clips when they are triggered. By shortening their recording time, you will send less data to the cloud and use less bandwidth.
Replace Smart Security Cameras With CCTV Cameras
Every camera you install requires extra bandwidth.
If you need extra cameras, consider supplementing (or replacing) your smart security system with local storage security cameras. While CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) systems don’t upload your footage to the cloud, they provide a record of guests wanted and unwanted and can save your valuables and your data plan.
The ANNKE 8 Camera Security System is a popular choice with people looking for CCTV security.
You can blend these systems. You might use a smart security system at your front and back doors and surround your perimeter with CCTV cameras. The smart cameras will provide alerts, while CCTV footage documents how the perpetrator got in.
Check Your Smart Home Data Usage
Typically each Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, or Google Nest Smart Speaker uses around 1GB of data per month. But if you regularly stream music through your Smart Speaker, that number can jump considerably.
Are You Streaming Too Much Music?
If you listen to Apple Music through your HomePod for an hour a day, your monthly HomePod use jumps to 7GB.
If other family members stream through the smart speakers, you can add another 200MB for each hour they listen.
That can lead to a throttled connection.
If you have a few playlists you listen to regularly, download them to your app.
When you do this, your music plays from your computer, not the cloud. You can listen to 3 hours of music without using 600MB of your monthly total.
Is Your Smart Speaker Malfunctioning?
Your smart speaker periodically checks in to check for firmware updates or other data from your service provider. These connections use about 200MB a month.
But if a new update breaks the system (as it occasionally does), your device may phone home to download a repair.
Many times Amazon, Google, or Apple can fix the problem remotely. If they cannot, your speaker may continue downloading firmware it is unable to load.
These repeated efforts can lead to your Echo consuming as much as 1-1.5GB a day.
If you notice a sudden unexplained spike in your data usage, check your router to see which connection is drawing extra data.
If it is one of your speakers, try resetting it and contact customer support. If that doesn’t work, replace the speaker.
Check Your Smart Appliances for Malware
If you discover one of your appliances is the culprit, it may be infected with malware.
In 2016 Dyn, a prominent American DNS provider faced a major DDoS (“Distributed Denial of Service”) attack from IoT devices infected with Mirai malware.
A DDoS sends high quantities of packets to its target and overloads their connections. If your device has been hijacked to send those packets, it may be overloading your data plan too!
The best defense against this is buying your appliances from reputable companies. You may be able to get a cheaper smart device. But the manufacturers of those more inexpensive devices may not be so quick to repair security flaws.
Apple Homekit Certified products use end-to-end encryption and other safety features to ensure against malware. And Amazon’s Eero Secure helps protect your wi-fi network from getting infected.
Check out: Why Are All My Smart Devices Offline? 3 Causes & Fixes
Getting your smart home to work with satellite internet poses some challenges. Luckily, most of those issues are easy to solve. With what you’ve learned here, you can overcome your data cap limitations and make smart home technology part of your life!