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Smart Home Security

Choosing a home security system can seem overwhelming but it needn’t be that way.

You can tailor your surveillance system to suit your budget and requirements with much less hassle than you might imagine.

Perhaps you’re looking to build a new system from the ground up?

Maybe you already have a system in place and you need takeover home security so a new company can assume control of that existing system?

Either way, it pays to have a thorough understanding of your myriad options when it comes to the most effective smart home security system.

Before we explore the different elements of effective indoor and outdoor home security, here’s a brief overview of the 3 main types of home security you can introduce…

  • Basic Home Security
  • Intermediate Home Security
  • Advanced Smart Home Security

Basic Home Security

If you want to keep things really simple, you can get started with something as straightforward as a single sensor entry alarm.

With these devices, you pop a magnet onto your door or window with the sensor and tiny alarm unit nearby. When the magnetic field is breached, you’ll hear a piercing alarm so with this small step alone, you’ll much safer in your home.

Intermediate Home Security

If you want to step things up a notch, dial-out security systems make use of an emergency dialer to alert your smart phone, a family member, or your local security company in the event of a trigger.

These more robust alarm kits can be built out with multiple sensors. You can also incorporate flood, smoke, and temperature sensors to widen the scope of your home security.

Installation is super-simple and these units are pretty user-friendly even if you’re not the biggest tech-lover. This is a great way to get started into more ambitious home security systems without too much commitment.

Advanced Smart Home Security

With a smart home security system, you harness your home WiFi network so you can monitor and also control a range of security devices in-app from your smart phone.

Thanks to the Internet of Things, you can remotely control door locks and lights to streamline your entry and exit using nothing but your phone. Control extends to thermostats, sprinkler systems, and even pet feeders.

Alongside sensors and motion detectors, you’ll need a hub to enable communication with your security devices using Z-Wave, Zigbee, WiFi or a mesh network like Insteon.

Deeper home security systems include surveillance cameras inside and in the garden, smoke detectors, water detectors and various audible alarms and floodlighting.

So…

We’ll get started with a selection of approaches to security cameras before moving on to locks, motion sensors and full alarm systems.

1) Security Cameras

Perhaps you’re looking at all the elements of a successful home security system and thinking a straight-up security camera would be more than enough for you.

If that’s the case, you’ve got plenty of options covering indoors and outdoors.

Doorbell Cameras

Entry-level video doorbell cameras let you see who’s at the door without having to get up.

Connected to your home WiFi, you’ll be alerted when anyone approaches the door. You can then communicate with them using your smart phone.

The added benefit is that you’ll be able to keep your eyes on things afar so you really can relax on vacation confident your home is fully secured.

The vast bulk of doorbell cameras use the wiring in place for your doorbell while other battery-powered units are extremely easy to install.

Ring Video Doorbell

Ring dominates the home security space with their user-friendly, tech-driven appliances for all aspects of your smart home.

Although the design is sleek and understated, the doorbell itself is pretty bulky at 5 x 2 ½ x 1 inches so think twice if you live somewhere with restricted doorframe space. The advantage you’ll get in return for this added bulk is space to accommodate a battery that should last a year.

Wire the Ring to your exisiting bell or use it separately. While set-up is not complex, be patient and expect a small learning curve. Once you’re up and running, this is a very user-friendly piece of kit.

The app is intuitive and the interface a pleasure to use.

For a rock-solid video doorbell camera that continues to sell out worldwide, there’s no substitute for the Ring Video Doorbell. It’s a classic with just cause.

Pros

  • Get full HD video coverage of your home even if it’s dark
  • Live-View feed allows you to keep an eye on things in real time wherever you are in the world
  • Alexa-enabled so you can control access with your digital assistant

Cons

  • No free video storage so factor this into your budget
Flood Lights

If you want highly effective 2-in-1 functionality, your best bet is a security camera with integrated floodlights.

Doorbell cameras are great. While they cover the entrance to your home and let you interact with visitors even if you’re not at home, they also leave blind spots.

How about the drive and garden?

Dial things up and invest in a camera allowing you to monitor your home remotely while knowing it’s protected by motion sensors that will trigger high-intensity floodlights and an audible alarm in the event of untoward movement being detected.

Ring Floodlight HD Security Camera

Best known for their video doorbells, Ring’s Floodlight Cam can be controlled from the same app and allows you to remain in full charge of your home security.

If you use Alexa, you can also control this camera using your digital assistant.

Get the full benefits of a high-definition security camera enabling two-way communication while packing floodlights and a piercing alarm.

You’ll be alerted whenever the motion sensors are triggered. With a very wide coverage area and the ability to fine-tune exactly which flashpoints you want monitored, you can keep tabs on your whole property wherever you happen to me.

You can control everything from the free Ring app and use your smartphone to communicate. All you’ll need is a WiFi connection.

There’s a month’s subscription to the video recording service so you can see whether you’d consider it worth paying for access to stored security footage.

Pros

  • Enjoy clear two-way communication
  • Efficient wide-angle lens offers 270 degree field of vision
  • Fully customizable motion zone to highlight the most sensitive areas

Cons

  • Mounting plate is flimsy and requires a perfectly flat surface
Indoor Cameras

You won’t need to think about the expense or time of installing a full smart home security system but you can still view your home day or night in full HD.

With the best indoor security cameras, you get two-way communication so you can interact with your family, pets or visitors from your smart phone.

If you strip down the basic requirements of an effective smart home, perhaps the main objective is to be able to see what’s happening even if you’re not there.

With today’s fluid lifestyles, frequent travel is commonplace. If you’re away on business, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not someone has broken into your house.

Functionality varies beyond monitoring live or recorded 1080 HD footage of what’s happening in the protected areas. You’ll sometimes get two-way audio and you can find models tailored toward monitoring your baby. More expensive models serve as a hub.

Most of the best indoor cameras connect using WiFi while some while use Z-Wave or Zigbee.

Almost without exception, you’ll now be able to use your favorite digital assistant to add voice control to your smart home security.

Where Ring is the default option for many elements of home security, Nest is the go-to for indoor security cameras.

Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera

Once you’ve got up and running straight out the box, you’ll immediately see why the Nest Cam is a global success.

Once you’ve got up and running straight out the box, you’ll immediately see why the Nest Cam is a global success.

With alerts keeping you informed in-app and two-way audio to enable remote communication, this is a robust camera giving you complete peace of mind.

With alerts keeping you informed in-app and two-way audio to enable remote communication, this is a robust camera giving you complete peace of mind.

Cloud storage means you’ll have access to footage as required without clogging up your own devices with endless bulky video files.

Keep an eye on your home round-the-clock and sleep better at night with the Nest ramping up your homes security. Explore the rest of the large Nest Family for inspiration on building out your smart home security system further.

Pros

  • Constant live streaming with Nest cam never running out of juice
  • Allows the whole family to sign in from any device
  • Get alerts on your smart phone wherever you are

Cons

  • Fairly expensive, especially with subscription charges

Other Outdoor Cameras

If you’re looking to step up security outside, you’ve got a huge choice of outdoor security cameras.

Video doorbell cameras are fit for purpose but they don’t do much for exposed walkways and outside spaces.

You can’t just throw any old security camera outside, though. You need to make certain you get a unit that’s completely weatherproofed and fit to withstand the elements.

Most outdoor cameras are fairly easy to install but you might need to call in an electrician.

Arlo Pro Weatherproofed Security Camera System

You could spend years debating which outdoor security camera system was the most effective or you could save your time, bite the bullet, and invest in the Arlo Pro. It’s not cheap but you’ll know your garden is permanently secured and you can’t really put a price on that peace of mind.

The base station provided acts as a hub and you can pop the cameras anywhere you like since they are built to cope with the elements.

Batteries are rechargeable and should give you plenty of life under normal conditions.

Video footage is detailed and 1080 HD so you can keep an eye on things from your smart phone. You can also control a 100-decibel siren remotely placing everything in the palm of your hand.

For a wireless monitoring system to help you secure your whole property, the Arlo Pro is a must.

Pros

  • Crisp and clear 1080 HD video
  • Completely weatherproof so put the camera wherever you want, indoors or outside
  • Current version supports both Alexa and IFTTT

Cons

  • Not the cheapest option but outstanding overall value

2) Door Locks

Smart door locks are a core component of any comprehensive home security system.

Using a communication protocol like Bluetooth, WiFi, or Z-Wave, your smart lock can communicate with other devices in your home.

Which of these works best and why?

  • Bluetooth: With extended battery life and no need for a hub, Bluetooth makes for a seamless connection with your smart phone. On the flip side, range is sorely limited maxing out at 300 feet
  • WiFi: Unlike Bluetooth, you’ll need a separate hub like the August Connect which acts as a bridge but slacks the functionality of a multi-purpose hub.
  • Z-Wave: If you opt for a smart lock using Z-Wave, you’ll need a hub to translate the signal. Range tops out at 100 feet. These smart locks are ideal if you’re aiming to run multiple devices in your smart home

If you’re concerned about needing to rip out and replace deadbolts, you can get smart locks that allow you to leave your existing hardware intact.

August AUG-SL04-M01-S04 Smart Lock, Silver

The leading purpose of smart locks is convenience rather than security. That’s not to say your home won’t be fully secured. It will. And with the August Smart Lock, you can add several layers of both safety and ease without spending a fortune.

You can slot this smart lock onto the single-cylinder deadbolt you have in place so you’ll be away in minutes.

Auto-locking gives you peace of mind and you’ll never again be driving down the road wondering if you really did lock the door when you were sidetracked by the phone ringing.

Grant keyless access to friends, family, or visitors from your smart phone so this lock is perfect for both homes and businesses. You can set time parameters on how long access is granted for so the August locks makes perfect sense if you let your place on Airbnb.

Combine all the benefits of keyless access from a brand you can trust as the first point of entry to your smart home.

Pros

  • Keyless entry so never fumble for your keys again when your hands are full
  • Attaches seamlessly to your deadbolt so keep your keys and no expense of installation
  • Using the bridge or the Doorbell Cam Pro, enjoy the convenience and security of automatic locking

Cons

  • While you can track activity, there’s no audible alarm

3) Motion Sensors

Motion sensors have come a long way since the ultrasonic models of the 70s prone to false positives but setting in motion the more advanced passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors central to all the best smart home security systems.

Infrared has become the industry standard. Sensors detect moving objects penetrating the protective grid and the alarm is triggered.

You’ve got 2 choices with motion sensors:

  • Indoor Motion Sensors
  • Outdoor Motion Sensors

Indoor Motion Sensors

One of the leading benefits of using motion sensors indoors is the way you can have lights activated so there’s no more tripping over yourself to the bathroom in the pitch black.

Since lighting is also dependent on motion being detected in each room, you’ll save money on your electricity bill as an added bonus with indoor motion sensors.

SkylinkHome ID-318 Battery-Operated Wireless Motion Sensor Transmitter

You use this cost-effective indoor motion sensor along with a SkylinkHome receiver to ensure lights are activated any time motion is detected in the room. Combine convenience and economy in a pocket-friendly package.

The timer along with the motion detector hitting the lights automatically when rooms are empty means you don’t need to worry about soaring electricity bills with your kids never remembering to turn off the lights.

Although the controller comes at extra cost, it’s well worth the nominal investment for the added reach you’ll get.

With rolling code technology minimizing any chance of a security breach, this is a strong indoor motion sensor helping you save money and detect any intruders in one hit.

Pros

  • You can control a number of wireless receivers from a single sensor at ranges of 500 feet
  • Use the controller to take charge of groups of lights
  • Countdown timer is a nice added touch to shave even more off your utility bills

Cons

  • Remote control is available at extra charge but at this price-point, you can’t really complain

Outdoor Motion Sensors

Outdoor motion sensors are most frequently used together with security cameras to make sure your garden remains safe from intruders.

You’ll need to pay attention to sensitivity if you don’t want to enrage your neighbors with false alarms bathing the garden in light or sounding a shrill alarm every time an animal triggers the sensor.

Get the right weatherproofed system, ideally with cross-zoning to prevent the chance of improper alarm activation, and you’ll sleep more soundly knowing your property is safe inside and out.

Optex FTN-ST Compact Outdoor Dual PIR Detector

Optex delivers the full benefits of passive infrared detection technology in a scaled-down unit ideal for placing anywhere in the garden even if you live somewhere with hostile weather conditions.

If you have a larger outside space to secure, the wall-bracket offers you a 190-degree rotation so you can keep a close eye on larger gardens with ease. Select 2-meter or 5-meter detection range so a nice, flexible solution.

Since 2 zones need to be triggered, you’ll get few false alarms. This is ideal if you have neighbors in close proximity.

For an extremely effective and durable outdoor motion sensor from an industry giant, the Optex FTN-ST is unbeatable.

Pros

  • Outstanding wide field of vision protecting large areas with ease
  • Very few occurrences of false positives whether through weather, animals, or outside events with 2 zones that need breaching to register positive alarm
  • Fully weatherproofed and built to last for years

Cons

  • Reasonably expensive

4) Alarm Systems

If you want an all-encompassing alarm system, you’re spoiled for choice.

If you want everything in one complete wireless package with DIY installation, you can get a range of starter kits with everything thrown in.

DIY Alarm Systems or Professional Installations?

When you’re thinking about alarm systems, you might instantly start wondering whether to go for a DIY set-up or to call in the professionals.

Somewhere between these 2 options, perhaps you want to go for takeover home security if you already have an alarm system in place.

Regardless of the alarm system, the leading models allow you to use Alexa or your preferred digital assistant to communicate. You’ll also find a decent spread of support for IFTTT devices.

We’ll summarize the key advantages of each broad choice of alarm system whether you want to do it yourself or call in the pros.

Benefits of DIY Alarm Systems

  • You avoid any installation costs and you won’t pay ongoing subscription charges either so DIY systems are perfect for anyone on a budget
  • Ability to build out the system using additional sensors so you can accommodate your future needs flexibly

Benefits of Professional Installations

  • You’ll get more choice of communication protocol with professionally-installed alarm systems as well as more extra components at your disposal
  • Authorities automatically alerted in the event of any security breach
  • Ability to extend scope with smoke and water alarms

Why Are Professional Alarm Systems and Takeover Home Security More Expensive?

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with a pro-grade home security system.

Since you’ll be getting components installed, you’ll usually be required to commit to an often lengthy contract which regularly comes with a termination fee if you do want out. Make sure you’re comfy with before proceeding.

What you’ll get in return is enhanced functionality along with round-the-clock monitoring on your behalf. There really is no feeling like knowing the safety of you and your family is in the hands of skilled experts. However much effort you put into security yourself, it’s nice to feel someone else has an eye on you.

With a choice of RF, Z-Wave, Zigbee, you’ll enjoy communication with everything from glass break detectors and water detectors through smoke alarms and thermostats.

There’s no right or wrong answer to the type of alarm system you should choose, just what works best for you.

Skylink SC-1001 Wireless Alarm System (Complete Kit)

Many people are looking in vain for a one-stop plug-and-play solution to alarm systems. The Skylink SC-1001 is one of your strongest options if you want to get going without any fuss or fanfare with a complete starter kit.

If you’re concerned about hacking or the security of your security system, pioneering rolling code technology keeps everything watertight.

You know exactly where you stand once you’ve paid for this kit since you won’t be driven toward subscription fees or any kind of standing charges.

With a flexible system not prone to false positives, if the sensors are tripped, the Skylink will dial out your preferred numbers sending a recorded message.

For a dependable and adaptable alarm system from a brand you can rely on, this is one of the best kits on the market.

Pros

  • No installation costs or running costs so one affordable payment and secure your home straight out the box
  • Dial up to 9 numbers in the event of a security breach with a personalized message and instructions
  • Very few false alarms thanks to advanced motion sensor technology

Cons

  • Some reported issues with customer service

Final Word

Once you start investigating the world of smart home security, you can see you’ve got so many options, it’s easy for analysis paralysis to set in.

With today’s overarching review of smart home security systems, we’ve tried to keep things simple…

Taking you on a snapshot tour of all aspects of an effective home security system, we also focused on just one of the best products in each category. This is not to say we feel there’s only one worthwhile product, just we wanted to limit this initial guide to an overview.

From a simple doorbell camera through to a whole-house system requiring professional installation, there’s something for all tastes and budgets when it comes to smart home security.

Using your smart phone or digital voice assistant as a controller, staying in control of your house even when you’re not there gives you a powerful boost of confidence.

And don’t forget, if you’ve got an alarm system in place, you can always consider takeover home security so you can get up and running with what’s already in place.

Explore our site to double down on each of the areas of home security we outlined today and get the right system for you with no false alarms!

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