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Smart Home

9 devices every Airbnb host should put in their rental

These smart home devices can make the experience less stressful for you and your Airbnb guests.

Part of the draw of Airbnb for renters is the ability to feel like you're in a home away from home -- or at least somewhere that's more homey and hospitable than your average hotel or hostel. But no one wants a helicopter host and very few hosts will feel worry-free without having at least some insight into their guests' stay.

As a host, one thing you can do to keep an eye on things -- without being too snoopy or violating Airbnb's policies -- is to install a few smart gadgets around your space. Here are nine essentials every Airbnb host should consider.

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Smart speakers

Not too long ago, most people would be rather skeptical of leaving a smart speaker in an Airbnb property for fear of them coming up missing. Originally $230, the Amazon Echo ($100 at Amazon) wasn't exactly cheap either. However, now you can buy an Echo Dot ($40 at Amazon) and Google Home Mini ($49 at Google Store) speakers for $50, and you can often find them on sale for nearly half that.

At that price, it's a nice convenience your guests can enjoy. They'll be able to ask Alexa or Google Assistant for nearby restaurants or coffee shops, the weather and other things, just like if they were home. And as an Airbnb host, you can create an Alexa skill that gives your guests all sorts of information, like the Wi-Fi password and other things they may need to know about the home.

Plus, if you have smart home gadgets around the house, a smart speaker will let the guests control those devices using their voice. That said, it would be wise to use a separate Amazon or Google account for any speakers and smart home devices you use in an Airbnb property.

Smart locks

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With physical keys, you run certain risks that could be avoided altogether with smart locks. Physical keys can get lost, or copied quickly at a hardware store. It can also be a little more difficult to get the keys back from your guest and enforce checkout times, especially if your Airbnb property isn't nearby or if you're out of town.

With a smart lock, like those from August or Schlage, you can provide your guests with a temporary access code that begins with check-in and expires after the check-out date and time. You can also assign different access codes to guests and others (such as cleaners) to see who is entering or leaving the property.

Video doorbell

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Unlike controlling when someone has access to your Airbnb, it can be difficult to police how many people are staying. If you charge additional fees for extra guests, you probably want to know how many people are actually crashing at your place when you're not there. Or if you have a strict no-pet policy and suspect a guest might be sneaking in a furry friend, you'd probably like a way to check on that.

You can monitor who is coming and going with something like a video doorbell. SkyBell or the August Doorbell Cam ($49 at Amazon) come to mind.

Video door bells are also a nice fail-safe, in case the guest loses or forgets their access code or their phone is dead and they can't unlock the smart lock. They can simply press the doorbell, which will give you two-way audio (and one-way video) communication with your guests and you can unlock the door for them.

Any device that can record or transmit video, audio or still images needs to be disclosed in your listing, so make sure to make it known you are using a video doorbell. 

Smart thermostat

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With a smart thermostat, you will never have to run by your rental to turn on the air conditioning before a guest arrives or off after they leave again. Something like a Nest or Ecobee can determine when people are at home or away and adjust the controlled air respectively. And a thermostat as simple to use as Nest can make it easier for your guests to make themselves comfortable.

These simple automations will save you a lot of hassle and some energy costs over time, especially if your rental remains vacant for extended periods.

Smart lights

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The perks of smart bulbs are more for the host than the guest. With connected lights, you can see if a guest happened to leave lights on when they checked out. Or you can set the lights to a schedule to simulate someone being home when the property is vacant.

For guests, they continue to work as normal lights. In order to fully control them, however, guests will need access to an Amazon Echo or Google Home ($129 at Crutchfield) speaker, or dedicated controller.

Media streamer

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Give your guests something to do after they've spent a long day touristing around with a media streamer. An Apple TV is the cream of the crop, but there are many other streaming options that are more affordable and perhaps less likely to go missing.

The Chromecast ($30 at eBay), Roku Express and Fire TV Stick are all affordable ways to give your guests some entertainment without running such a high risk of theft. Plus, now that Fire TV Sticks have Alexa capabilities built-in, you can let guests control some of the smart amenities, like smart bulbs, door locks or the thermostat without needing an expensive smart speaker.

Security camera

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You definitely don't want to make your guests feel uneasy, but most will understand if you equip your space with outdoor security cameras (or at least cameras that face the outdoors).

Security footage is one of the few protections Airbnb hosts have against theft. Investing in something like Homeboy will be well worth it to ensure the stay goes as planned.

If you go this route, just make sure you clearly list that they're present and working in your Airbnb listing and keep them out of sensitive areas, such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

Motion sensors

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When creating your Airbnb listing, you may want to restrict certain parts of your property from guests, such as a basement where you might store personal belongings or the backyard. You can install connected motion detectors that will alert you if guests begin to wander and explore into areas they're not welcome.

Like with security cameras, you should list that there are motion detectors installed in off-limit areas. These devices do not go against Airbnb's policies, so long as they do not activate a video camera that can record or transmit audio, video or still photos.

Chargers

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Taylor Martin/CNET

A nice little touch that will go a long way in making your guest feel welcome is to include a universal charger by the bed or couch. A multi-port USB charger can be found online for as little as $12, £10 or AU$20 and will charge almost any USB devices your guests might bring with them

Watch out for these warning signs before you book an Airbnb.

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