The wealth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices available at your fingertips is overwhelming. You can automate just about anything in your home these days, and it’s easier than ever, too. Forgot to lock your door when you left the house this morning? No problem. Going on vacation for a week and need to make sure the thermostat is in eco mode? You got it. And the list goes on.
These devices are all relatively affordable, allowing you to control your home from anywhere. Growing in popularity are smart security systems and home alarm kits, keeping your home and all of your belongings safe while you’re away. From customizations to twenty-four-hour surveillance subscriptions, you can rest assured that using any of these devices neutralizes most of the possibilities for threats against your home.
Let’s take a look at some of the options available to you to secure your home with cameras, video doorbells, and other security devices.
Vivint Smart Home
Many smart home security systems trigger an alarm if something goes wrong, and that’s great. You get a notification that an alarm went off, and you can check in to see what it was. But after that, it’s up to you to take action. The problem is, what if you can’t? If you’re in a meeting, your phone is on silent, or you’re out of town, you can’t appropriately address the situation and respond.
With the Vivint Smart Home security system, you get a subscription-based service that monitors your home twenty-four hours a day from a secure location. This service swiftly responds to alarms, assesses the situation, and determines whether it needs any further action.
Vivint Smart Home systems come with a monthly subscription plan. You can customize the hardware you need, including a SkyControl touch-screen panel, door and window sensors, motion detectors and more.
You may choose to monitor the system yourself, but that defeats the purpose. It’s important to take advantage of the monthly service plans Vivint offers. A tech comes to your home to install your hardware, and then you can subscribe and enjoy twenty-four-hour professional monitoring.
The Smart Protect plan gives you twenty-four-hour monitoring, full use of Vivint’s mobile app, and alert notifications. You can add more devices like doorbells and thermostats for additional security on the Smart Home plan, allowing you to control your home through the app and Alexa’s voice commands.
When using the Vivant Smart Home system, you have a lot of components to choose from to enhance your experience. Door and window sensors, glass-break detectors, and panic buttons are just some of the options.
The Vivint Ping Camera is a neat device, allowing two-way communication with a call button. This component worked well when tested, and the day and night video is excellent so that you can use it effectively at all times. It even allows for event-triggered recording, so if your glass breaks, it can capture what transpires afterward.
Vivint also offers the Element Thermostat which integrates seamlessly with the rest of the system to keep you comfortable and save you money. You can control the thermostat from wherever you are or set it to conserve as much energy as possible.
SkyControl sits at the center of every Vivint Smart Home system. With full color, touch-screen display, you can easily control all connected devices. You can also activate emergency services or alarms. You can use it to set up user controls, change the volume of your alarms, edit your camera settings, or run system diagnostics.
All of these components communicate with the SkyControl panel using several different technologies. The cameras use Wi-Fi, the sensors and smoke alarms use radio frequency, and door locks us Z-Wave.
All of this is relatively standard, but the Vivint doorbell camera, despite its conventional wiring, is somewhat remarkable. Its aesthetics and performance are state of the art. It looks like a typical doorbell, so no one would suspect there’s a camera inside, and it uses your existing wiring, so it’s very unassuming.
The camera it houses has a 180-degree view and a night vision range of ten feet. The tiny microphone port enables two-way communication with the SkyControl panel or any connected mobile device.
Not only does the camera record video when someone presses the doorbell, but it also has a motion sensor that begins recording automatically when someone comes into the detection zone. Five to eight-second pre-event triggers precede these thirty-second clips, so you can see someone walking up to your door before they press the button.
Vivint stores video clips in the cloud, so you can share them via email or text. You can also download them or delete them altogether. They stay in the cloud for forty-five days before getting removed, oldest first.
The Vivint interior camera is reasonably sized at 3.1 x 3.1 x 1.7 inches and has a 1280×800 resolution. The six infrared LEDs enable black and white night video up to twenty feet and have a ninety-four-degree view. You can connect it via Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
The outdoor camera comes in a sleek bullet-style module measuring four inches by 2.5 inches. The resolution is the same as the interior camera, but the field of view is narrower, at seventy-three degrees. What it lacks in field of view it makes up for in night vision range with a whopping ten infrared LEDs capturing distances of forty feet.
App and Performance
The Android and iOS apps are free, and you can also control your Vivint system with the web console on a PC. The mobile app displays front and center which doors and windows are open and which ones are unlocked. You can arm and disarm the system or lock and unlock the doors remotely.
The taskbar along the bottom allows you to see the thermostat view with the current temperature. Turn it on or off, set schedules, and program vacation modes, all from within the app.
If you click on the camera icon, the app transports you to a place where you can view live video from any camera and look at clips from recorded events. The On/Off button allows you to turn outlets and lights on and off, and the Settings button gives you a history of activity and notifications. You can also set custom rules for when your lights turn on and off, or when your doors lock or unlock. You can also trigger these activities as a result of an event.
The mobile app has a more comprehensive set of controls than the web app. You can’t lock or unlock doors with the web app. You also can’t configure the thermostat or use the doorbell’s two-way talk feature. You can still watch the live feed or recorded clips, arm and disarm the system, or create custom rules. You can also still view your notifications and activities.
The Vivint Smart Home system gives you a comprehensive home security system with twenty-four-hour monitoring and home automation. Vivint provides installation, maintenance, monitoring, and response procedures in the event of an alarm.
The breadth of components available to you means that you can automate any part of your home and customize anything to your specific needs. The peace of mind that comes from a system like the Vivint is beyond compare.
Wink LookoutNo products found.
The Wink Lookout is a great smart home alarm kit that provides several sensors that allow you to be aware of what’s going on in your home when you’re away. It’s easy to install, is compatible with many Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Lutron devices, and offers users camera recording, professional monitoring, and battery backup options.
Your kit comes with a Wink Hub, two sensors for windows/doors, a siren, and a motion detector. You do have the option to purchase additional sensors and hardware, which makes expanding your home system easy enough. Since it supports so many wireless protocols, the Wink has no shortage of options when it comes to adding devices, including lights, locks, thermostats, and garage door openers. You can connect your hub to your network wirelessly, or through a network cable, which comes with your kit.
Unfortunately, the Lookout Wink does not include a camera in its kit, but it makes up for it by being compatible with the Netgear Arlo devices, Nest Cam, and many other security cameras. You can view live video through the Wink App, but it does not immediately begin recording when it detects movement like other systems do.
The Lookout application is a part of the larger Wink app, which is available for download on both the iOS and Android marketplaces. The app shows up as a dashboard which also shows categories like Cameras, Sensors, Thermostats, and Locks. Through the dashboard, you can add devices and hardware to your system, view their current status, and launch camera feeds if you chose to add a camera to your system.
If you want to create a smart rule, you can tap on the Robots button located at the bottom of the Dashboard and follow the instructions. You can make a smart rule based on location, geo-fencing, time of day, and sensor detection. These could include having a siren alarm sound, lock or unlock a door, or send off an email or text message.
The Wink Lookout system is easy to install, with the in-app guide providing step-by-step instructions on how to setup and connect the hub. Pairing the sensors and hardware is straightforward since it involves just pulling the tab under the battery and waiting as the hub detects the devices. Select the type of sensor, name it, and now you have a new device connected to your Wink Lookout system.
While adding devices not associated with the Wink Lookout isn’t quite as simple, it’s not overly complicated either. All you need to do is pair the device, select which type of sensor you’re adding, enter the appropriate email address and password, and then you’ll see the device listed on the dashboard with the others.
The only things missing are triggered video recording, professional monitoring, and a backup battery. These things don’t matter too much if you’re only using at as a hub, but for home security, you may find these limitations a problem.
The great thing about the Wink Lookout is that is doubles as a home automation hub. It’s easy to install your home automation system yourself, and you can connect other devices as well to get a well-rounded, full home automation experience.
If you already have a Nest thermostat or other Nest branded devices, the Nest Secure may be the best home security option for you. It seamlessly integrates with your existing Nest devices, is responsive, and comes with a Guard hub, Tag key fobs, and Detect door, window, and motion sensors.
The Tag fobs arm and disarm your alarm with the click of a button, and you can also choose to arm or disarm the Detect sensors for one door or window at a time. This a la carte selection process is more innovative than some of the other home security systems on the market.
The installation of the Nest Secure accessories is easy. The hardware is durable white plastic, which is standard for these types of devices, but they’re lightweight and easy to hold. The adhesive backings don’t require any tools, and the instructions are easy to follow.
The simplicity of choosing your installation locations makes it a breeze. The Guard should go by the door you use the most to enter or exit your home, the Tags go on your keyring just like your car key fob does, and the Detect sensors go on doors, windows, or any area in which you want motion detected.
Once you have everything installed, connecting your devices is easy, too. All you have to do is download the Nest app on either Android or iOS, create an account, and then click Add Product on the settings menu. Scan the QR code on the Guard device first, and then follow the prompts for everything else.
Nest also has plans to provide professional monitoring subscriptions for those who want twenty-four-hour surveillance in the case of an alarm. This isn’t a requirement to use the Nest Secure, but it’s available if needed.
You may also choose to integrate Nest Aware, which is optional cloud video recording and storage. It only makes sense to subscribe to this service if you have a camera, but it seems as if a home security system isn’t complete without a camera anyway. Nest Aware allows you to record video whenever it detects a threat.
Nest gives you the option to use a six-digit PIN for arming and disarming the system, but the Tag and the Nest app work just fine and they’re easier to use. The Guard has a built-in siren that rings at a very shrill eighty-five decibels, so it is startling, which is a good thing.
Nest Secure comes with three default settings: alarm off, home and guarding, and away and guarding, but you can customize these on your own. Away and guarding mode detects motion in or around the house and sends an alert to you while simultaneously triggering the siren. It also sends an email notification. Home and guarding only reacts if a door or window opens. It ignores motion coming from within the house.
Perhaps one of the best features of the Nest Secure is the Quiet Open feature. You can choose to turn off any particular door or window sensor you want. Grabbing the newspaper in the morning or checking the mail in the afternoon doesn’t require you to disable the entire system. You can just turn off one door temporarily.
Another nice-to-have is what Nest calls Pathlight. Each Detect sensor has a light on it. It serves several purposes, like informing you of whether the sensor is on or off. However, when it’s dark, and the detect senses motion, it briefly illuminates. You can adjust the brightness in the app, or turn it off, but it comes in handy for the late-night glass of milk without waking up the rest of the house.
The Nest Secure isn’t for everyone because it’s difficult to use with devices other than Nest’s. However, the performance is good, and the app is easy to use. Features like Pathlight, Quiet Open, and it’s easy integration with other Nest devices give it a little something extra that the others don’t have.
GetSafe Home Security
The GetSafe Home Security system is an expandable, do-it-yourself installation controlled by your smartphone. It is simple and easy to install since the components included in the box are paired at the factory. You may encounter some challenges adding additional hardware and devices, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give this starter kit a try.
GetSafe’s Starter Kit includes a hub, a motion detector, a siren, and a window/door sensor. Additionally, you will have AA batteries meant for the sensors and the siren. You will also find a network cable, some double backed tape you can use to attach the sensors, and some branding stickers provided by GetSafe for your windows.
The provided hub is an aesthetically pleasing, sleek, and sophisticated piece of hardware which will fit right in with your living room decor. An LED indicator glows to let you know the status of the connection. You will see amber as you go through setup, and green once the connection completes. On the back of the hub, you will find the power jack alongside a LAN port, in addition to a hidden panel that houses the battery backup and a cellular SIM card.
Comprised of lithium ion, the rechargeable battery backup provides up to twelve hours of power should you lose power, while the SIM card will take over the connection only if you lose wifi connection. Unfortunately, the GetSafe system requires the purchase of a dongle to integrate Z-Wave devices, does not support ZigBee or wifi.
There are a few pricing options for monitoring with the GetSafe Home Security System:
No Contract – With no contract, you will purchase the starter kit hardware, and pay a monthly fee for professional monitoring.
One-Year – The one-year plan offers you monitoring at the standard monthly cost, but you will receive the starter kit for free.
Three-Year – A thirty-six-month commitment means you’ll get everything you received in the one year deal, as well as a bonus credit of additional hardware.
The GetSafe system allows you to add Nest Thermostats, works with IFTTT (IF This Then That), and offers the ability to add many other smart locks, switches, and lighting. It does not, however, play well with Alexa. You can have Alexa run a few automated tasks through the IFTTT channel, but it cannot be done directly through the GetSafe system.
GetSafe does offer an app which you can download from either the iOS or Android marketplaces. It provides you with information related to the status of your GetSafe: Disarmed, Armed Away, Armed Day, Armed Night. Additionally, you have buttons available to arm or disarm your system. You’ll also see a shortcut which will allow you create shortcuts with your rules, along with a home button on the bottom of the screen.
The application also shows a history button, which allows you to see a log of every event from the history of your GetSafe system, including motion detection, sensor triggers, and arming and disarming of the system. You can access your videos as well if you choose to add a camera to your system.
You can access a menu which gives you a list of all your added devices, which also allows you to add additional devices. This menu also is where you will create your smart rules, choose your default temperature format, and set how your devices behave (i.e., have a device turn on when detecting motion).
Just like many of its counterparts, the GetSafe system is simple and easy to install and setup. Unbox the hardware, plug it into your router, and the on-screen instructions will get you going within just a few minutes. Register your network, set up your account, and you’re off! The beauty of the system is that everything is pre-paired at the factory, so you don’t have to mess with it during setup.
The GetSafe Starter Kit is an excellent option if you’re looking to get a start in the do-it-yourself home security system market. It is expandable, works well with other devices, and it easy to set up. It easily integrates with Nest and IFTTT and has enough paid subscription options that you shouldn’t have trouble finding one within your budget.
GetSafe is a system with enough flexibility that it can grow with your needs since it supports a good number of ZigBee and Z-Wave devices. If you’re a beginner interested in learning more about smart home alarm kits, GetSafe is a good place to start.
Adobe Home Security Starter Kit
The Adobe Home Security Starter Kit is a great option for those looking to dip their toes into the do-it-yourself home security market. It includes a ZigBee and Z-Wave hub, has a built-in siren, comes with two window/door sensors, a motion-sensing security camera, along with a fob that allows you to arm or disarm the system remotely.
You can purchase additional hardware or accessoriesto add to the Adobe Home Kit. Considering that it supports nearly two dozen Zigbee and Z-Wave devices, integrates easily with IFTTT IF This Then That), Nest, and Alexa, this is smart system that anyone can use.
Set up of the Adobe Home Kit starts with its app. Available on either iOS or Android, download it, launch it, and follow the on-screen instructions to connect your accessories and hardware. You’ll get adhesives for the door and window mounted hardware, which you can remove easily in the future if need be.
Let’s take a look at some of the items that come with your Adobe Home Starter Kit:
Hub – The hub is directly connected to your wifi router with a network cable and includes a power adapter. You can connect certain Zigbee and Z-Wave devices to the hub, and it also has a twelve-hour battery backup and a ninety-three-decibel siren.
Window and Door Sensors – These sensors attach to windows, doors, or anything else that opens and closes. They are handy for when you want to track a specific door or window opening and closing.
Security Camera with Motion Detector – A battery-powered security camera, which unfortunately doesn’t offer live streaming. This device with a ninety degree does offer still images when you arm the system, and it recognizes motion.
Key Fob – This little device can be attached to your keychain and lets you arm and disarm your system when you need to.
Adobe offers four monitoring options with its system:
Free – This option provides three days of free timeline storage and records events and other activities.
Temporary Professional Monitoring – This option provides three or seven-day monitoring. It is ideal for vacations or short weekend trips.
Cellular Backup Only – Cellular Backup is a monthly or yearly subscription that provides fourteen-day storage on a 3G cellular backup.
Monthly Monitoring with Cellular Backup – Like Cellular Backup Only, this is a monthly or yearly subscription which offers twenty-four seven monitoring, along with a ninety-day storage of 3G cellular backup.
One of the few drawbacks to the Adobe Home Kit, if you view it as such, is the requirement that you create customizations and automation in the web application. It would be nice to have this feature available on a mobile device. However, a large screen helps to see all details.
Adobe’s Home Starter Kit is an excellent option if you’re comfortable with technology and looking for a good do-it-yourself system. As mentioned, you have the option to add devices and hardware at any time, and you aren’t forced into a monthly subscription. Take a long, hard look at this system if you’re looking for a flexible, reliable security setup to protect your home.
Icontrol Networks PiperNo products found.
The great thing about Do-It-Yourself home security is the ability to piecemeal your system together. You have the option to use a Dropcam Pro with a SmartThings hub, with an August deadbolt. Put those items with a handful of door and window sensors, and you’ve built a security system outside of the confines of branding.
This is a great alternative when being loyal to one brand means that you won’t be able to have the features and functionality you want. It is here that the Icontrol Networks Piper comes into play. This system is the closest thing to a complete package on the market, which means you won’t need to try to mix and match devices to complete your security system.
The Icontrol Networks Piper provides many features, has no monthly subscription fees, offers a quick setup process, and a high-quality application. This self-contained, Do-It-Yourself system has everything you need to feel secure in your home.
With its glossy black or white finish, the Icontrol Networks Piper suggests a level of sophistication other kits don’t have. Other IoT products get the job done but do so with a very bland appearance. The Networks Piper gives off the impression that it is was designed with a purpose, each piece and part there for a reason. It is elegant and sleek and manages to provide a variety of features into a small space.
The Icontrol Network Piper offers the following: a microphone, a siren, a speaker, a camera, motion sensors, light sensors, temperature sensor, and humidity sensor. The mobile app – available on both iOS and Android – allows you to create custom alerts, arm or disarm the system, add devices like sensors, locks, smart outlets, and thermostats, and watch live footage.
Setup on the Icontrol Network Piper is quick, timing in at around two minutes, and it takes even less time to add a Z-Wave outlet. To begin the setup process, plug in the Piper, connect to the Piper wifi network, then provide the appropriate information to your local broadband connection. As mentioned, adding a Z-Wave device is even easier. Just go to the controls portion of the application and follow the guide.
The Piper also allows you to create customized rules for when you are Home, Away, or on Vacation. When the system is in any of these three modes, the Piper will make the appropriate changes, including recording a short video clip if motion is detected, and sending you a notification. You can also create a list of trusted family or friends, if you are on vacation, someone nearby can check on your home if needed.
That Jasco smart outlet lets you set the device to light up when the light sensor determines the room is dark. It also provides the option to sets up a schedule, so lights will automatically turn on and off. Unfortunately, the app does not allow you to customize by day, but rather by weekend or weekday. This is a drawback particularly if you are a person who does not live on a set schedule.
The nighttime option on the Piper system works well unless you stand too close to the camera, at which it is difficult to distinguish certain features. Otherwise, the picture is clear, and there are no concerns with viewing an image with night vision. You also have the freedom to change the streaming resolution if you’re having a problem with bandwidth.
There are a few drawbacks to the IControl Piper, one of which is that the system does not have its own IFTTT (IF This Then That) channel. It also has not announced partnerships with specific other systems like Nest, SmartThings, Wink, or HomeKit.
Don’t let those dissuade you from considering the IControl Piper though. It has an enormous fish-eye lens for viewing, provides integration with Z-Wave devices, variety of alerts, and night vision a great buy from a self-contained security system perspective. If you’re looking for a smart home system that can almost do it all, the IControl Network Piper might be for you.
These smart home alarm kits offer many features and benefits, but of course, some provide more than others. Here is a quick table to show how these kits compare to one another.
|Vivint Smart Home
|GetSafe Home Security
|Adobe Home Security Starter Kit
|Icontrol Networks Piper
|Power Outage Backup
|Voice Assistant Compatibility
|Amazon Alexa, Google Home
As you can see, there are a great number of options available for smart home alarm kits. Whether you consider yourself an expert or a novice, there is something for everyone, with no shortage of options. Whether you decide to go with a Nest Security system or the Adobe Home Security Starter Kit, you’re taking a step in the right direction toward making your home safer, smarter, and more secure.
The best thing you can do is take the time to determine exactly what it is that both you and your home need. From that point, you can begin to narrow down what will work best for you, whether it be a security system or a mix and match option of different types of devices. No matter which method you choose, you now have a quick, handy guide that can help in making a smart, educated decision.