Thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever to set up a “smart house.” A smart house is one that can set up to remotely lock and unlock your doors, set times on your light, change your thermostat, start your vacuum cleaner, start your lawnmower, and even feed your pets. This can all be done right from an app on your Smartphone. The internet has also made is simple and affordable to monitor your home from anywhere in the world. You can easily customize your smart security system and they are available in simple DIY kits or you can go for a more advanced set-up that would require professional installation and monitoring.
Depending on your needs, you can either choose a system that you can monitor yourself or you can go with a paid subscription to have your home monitored by professional 24/7. If the alarm is triggered, they could contact the local police or fire department. The more coverage you have, the more you will pay.
If you don’t think that you need a dedicated security system or if you are not yet ready to make that kind of commitment, there are individual devices available that allow you to monitor your home from anywhere using your phone or your tablet. A few examples of these devices include security cameras for indoors and outdoors, smart locks, and video doorbells.
When it comes to deciding how to monitor your home and keep it secure, there are a few things that you should look for.
Security and Home Automation Streamlined
Smart home security systems connect to the Wi-Fi network in your home so that you can monitor and control your home using an app on your Smartphone or tablet. If you go with an entry-level system, it would include door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a communication hub that would use your home’s Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, or a proprietary mesh network. If you want additional security in your home, you can add an extra door, window or motion sensors. For added security, you can build a comprehensive system including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, light controls, door lock controls, garage door openers, sirens, and water sensors.
Any security system that is worth the money will have components that work together and can be personalized using your settings. For example, you can set your system up so that when motion is detected, the lights will turn on. Also, if the smoke alarm goes off, you can set the system up so that your doors will unlock automatically. If a sensor is triggered, you can set up a camera to start recording. Some systems will store the video taken on an SD card or a state drive. There are others who save the footage to the cloud. If you are installing the system yourself and you are working on a budget, a locally stored video is a great choice. However, you need to be careful not to overwrite the footage just in case you need it later. Cloud storage makes storing and accessing the video easy. Depending on the subscription, this can cost hundreds of dollars each year.
Each of the alarm systems that we reviewed features a mobile app that you can install on your Smartphone. Your phone is the control center that can arm and disarm the system. It is also used to create your specific rules, add or delete components, and you can get real-time alerts if one of the alarms is triggered. Most apps make it possible to lock and unlock the doors, watch live video and video that you have already recorded, change the home’s thermostat settings, and silence your alarms. Some more advanced apps will use your phone’s location to automatically arm or disarm the system based on your location. The systems that are more expensive have a communication hub that is mounted on the wall. The hub has a touchscreen display that lets you do everything that you can do on the app. The hub also allows you to communicate with a professional monitoring service if one of the alarms is triggered.
DIY Install or Professional Installation
DIY setups are great for homeowners who are working on a budget. Not only will you save on the installation costs, but you will also save on your subscription fees. Most DIY systems available are simple to install and configure. They are sold as kits and you can mix and match features depending on your needs. As your needs grow, you can add components and other sensors. If you have a primary DIY entry-level system, it will likely support only one or two wireless protocols. They also offer a limited number of add-on components. The more expensive DIY systems provide more options.
Some DIY systems are self-monitored. This means that if an alarm is triggered, you will receive an alert and it is up to you to notify the police or fire department. However, more and more DIY security system manufacturers that are offering professional monitoring services with their systems. Some have pay-as-you-go payment plans and others require that you sign a contract. The one you choose would depend on your specific security needs.
There are many systems whose wireless components use double-sided tape. There are others that require professional installation. These systems cost much more than DIY systems and they offer professional monitoring 24/7. Many of these companies require that you enter into a multi-year contract with an expensive termination fee if you cancel. To allow the system to communicate and control your door locks, window and door sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, glass break detectors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, light switches, video doorbells, and other components, they use Wi-Fi, RF, Z-Wave, or ZigBee radios.
If you go with professional monitoring and your smoke or intrusion alarm is triggered, the company will try to call you on a two-way control panel. If they cannot get you, they will try calling you on the phone. If they cannot reach you, they will call 911 to dispatch the necessary emergency responder to your home. The main benefit of a professionally installed system is that there is no work for you. A tech will come to your home, handle the installation, and then show you how to use it.
Is Just A Security Camera Enough?
If you just want to keep an eye on your home, you can set up security cameras in the home that will let you see what is going on using your Smartphone or tablet. Most also have built-in sensors that will send you a notification if one of the alarms is triggered. The sensors can be set to keep from picking up the movement of a pet or a car driving through the window. You can also put the sensors on a timer to turn them on and off depending on your needs.
The more advanced cameras have humidity and temperature sensors which allow you to use your thermostat or lights remotely.
Outdoor cameras are great for monitoring the perimeter of the home. They are weatherproof and need a ground fault circuit interrupter to supply power. You can also choose a battery-powered camera. They are relatively easy to install, however, if you don’t know much about electrical work, you might want to hire a professional. Most outdoor cameras such as the Netgear Arlo Pro 2 has motion detection and email notifications if they are set off. They have night vision and some can also work as a floodlight or porch light. You can also find outdoor systems that work with your garage door opener and that have external sirens to scare off intruders.
Video doorbells are great. When someone presses the doorbell or if the camera senses motion, it will show you a view of the area and it will start recording. This will let you know who visits when you aren’t home. Also, you won’t need to get up to see who is at the door. Most of these doorbells are easy to install. Some, like the Nest Hello, uses your existing doorbell wiring. They have night vision and the footage would be stored in the cloud.
The Best Smart Lock
A Smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors from anywhere. You can add a ZigBee or Z-Wave Smart lock and you would be able to control your lighting or your thermostat. If you don’t have a communication hub, you can do everything from your phone or tablet Smart Locks are easy to install and they use the standard pre-drilled holes in the door. Some will use your existing deadbolt and critical cylinder, making installation simple. Others would require that you replace your lock or deadbolt.
Smart Locks can be controlled from your phone. If the door is locked or unlocked, you would receive a push notification. You can also hook up your Alexa or Google Home to control the doors using voice commands.
When choosing the best security system, you should find one that will allow the integration of various other smart home devices to ensure that you have the level of safety and security that you need.