Smart home security systems are perhaps one of the easiest areas in the smart home in which a person might quickly get overwhelmed. Shopping for a home security system can be a challenge, especially given that the industry continues to grow.
Smart security covers everything from professional services to do-it-yourself kits. It includes locks, sensors, cameras, and many other devices.
Of course, the obvious benefit to these different options is that you’re bound to find something that works for you and your home. Sorting through everything that falls under the smart home genre can be tough, but don’t worry, we’ll get it straightened out. The following guide will help you make sense of what’s out there so you can focus on finding the right smart home security package for you.
More than likely you’re familiar with some of the more common home security firms. These include professional offerings like ADT, Vivint, and AT&T. These companies offer security bundles for you, then configure and install them. Typically you are locked into a two-year contract which includes a monthly fee and more than likely will require a termination charge if you decide to cancel early.
The thought of having a company come in and set everything up for you is very appealing, and if that’s what you prefer, then, by all means, you should go that route. Often you’ll get window sensors, security cameras, and arm/disarm keypads to protect your home. You’ll also get professional monitoring, which is nice to have if something goes wrong and first responders need to be notified.
You’ll receive a comprehensive system that provides convenience and avoids the challenge of installation and monitoring, however, you’re going to have to spend quite a bit in the process. It’s up to you to decide if you’d rather have the freedom to do things yourself or pay for someone else to do it for you.
What’s interesting is that more recently, these companies are becoming aware that this approach to smart home security is outdated. As a result, several are making changes to keep up with the demand for do-it-yourself devices and services. For example, ADT now offers a security system without requiring a contract from its users.
Additionally, several major professional companies are starting to provide options that integrate with smart home systems. Samsung, SmartThings, Lutron, and LG are just a few examples of smart home devices that smart home security companies are beginning to integrate into their own systems. Sticking with the ADT example, the company also works with Nest now, and will soon have its own IFTTT channel.
While this type of growth is promising, professional smart security firms are still hesitant to make any drastic changes to their core long-term and monthly contracts. However, if you’re the type of person who prefers to have a little more freedom, then you may want to go the do-it-yourself route.
That doesn’t mean professional services don’t have value. These systems are the best option if you’re looking for convenience. Of course, just keep in mind that you’ll be locked into a contract with a monthly fee, which some people prefer to avoid.
Do-It-Yourself Smart Home Security
In comparison to the smart home systems, you’ll get with professional companies, do-it-yourself systems are all about choice and customization. The tradeoff is that you are responsible for installing and monitoring the system. If an emergency occurs, you’re the one who has to contact first responders as opposed to the company monitoring your home.
Keep in mind that where a professional company offers bundled services and products, you’ll have more freedom and purchasing options if you decide to go the do-it-yourself route. DIY systems come in a wide range of choices. There’s anything from full-service systems that include 24-hour monitoring to single devices like locks or cameras.
If you do decide against a professional security company, there are many things to consider prior to selecting the DIY system or device that makes the most sense for you. Let’s explore some of the more common options you’ll find so you can get a better idea of what will work best for you.
Thankfully, just because you decide not to go the route of a professional system doesn’t mean that you’ll miss out on the features they provide. There is no shortage of do-it-yourself companies that provide consumers with a wide range of security products.
These packages could include motion detectors, window sensors, door sensors, sirens, glass sensors, and more. Some systems and devices even offer the ability to sign up for professional monitoring. It will cost you a monthly fee, but you have the ability to cancel any time you want and not have to worry about a termination charge.
iSmartAlarm, Scout, SimpliSafe, and Adobe are just a few of the systems that offer several security devices that work together as one. Here is a quick chart to show you how some of these do-it-yourself security systems compare with one another.
|Monthly Fee||No||Yes||No (Remote features require contract fee)||No|
|3G Backup||No||Yes (No additional charge)||Yes (Monthly charge)||Yes (No additional charge)|
|Professional monitoring||No||Yes (Monthly charge)||Yes (No additional charge)||Yes (Monthly charge)|
|Security Camera||Yes (Additional charge)||Yes (Additional charge)||Yes (Additional charge)||Yes (Additional charge)|
|Smart home integration||IFTTT||Nest, Alexa, IFTTT||Nest||Nest, Alexa, IFTTT|
As you can see there are plenty of options available when it comes to choosing a do-it-yourself smart home security system. If you would like to see additional systems along with our recommendation on which system is best, take a look at our post on the best smart home security systems.
Smart Home Locks
Smart home locks don’t have quite the cache that smart home security systems or smart security cameras (we’ll get to them soon) do, but the category is growing. There are several Bluetooth enabled smart home locks which pair with your phone. Some of these, like the August Smart Lock, the Kwikset Kevo, and the Danalock, will auto-unlock the door when you get close to it.
The Yale and Schlage smart locks work with Z-Wave technology, so if you have a hub like the one Wink offers, then you’ll be able to easily connect and program these smart lock options.
Both the Danalock and the August smart locks will install over most deadbolts. The process is relatively painless and can be completed in a matter of minutes. Yale, Kwikset, and Schlage, on the other hand, use their own deadbolts.
That’s about it for smart locks. If you want some more info on smart locks, please take a look at our review of some of the best smart locks for 2018.
Another common do-it-yourself category is that of standalone smart security cameras. These devices are particularly appealing to those that want to keep an eye out in a certain area. Most likely this is an area of the home considered to be vulnerable.
The smart camera do-it-yourself market has grown substantially during the past few years. Now you can find options for outdoor, indoor, or indoor/outdoor cameras available on the market. These cameras have a wide range of prices as well, with the costs largely depending on what features you want or need.
With smart security cameras, you’ll find a vast amount of differentiation in features. Some cameras, for instance, offer great HD live streaming so you have a nice, crisp feed. Others provide a wide angle so you can have a wider viewing area
The Piper NV, for instance, is a fantastic all-in-one camera that offers environmental and motion detection, free cloud-based storage, night vision, a Z-wave hub, and a built-in siren. There are also other indoor options with similar features like the Nest Cam, Logi Circle 2, and the Ooma Butterfleye.
Or, if you prefer to have something you can put outside, you can take a look at the Arlo Pro, the Canary Flex, or the Blink XT. All of these outdoor smart security cameras offer easy installations, rechargeable batteries, and the ability to integrate with third-party platforms.
In addition to smart security cameras, are smart doorbells which come equipped with cameras. Among the most popular of these devices are the Ring, Nest, and Skybell doorbells. When someone rings the doorbell or knocks on the door, your phone will get an alert. At the same time, you’ll have the option to view a live stream. The best thing about a smart doorbell is that you can see who is at your door whether you’re at home or away.
A La Carte
We’ve talked about do-it-yourself smart home systems, however, there is another piece of smart home security which touches on the DIY area. While you can go with a professional security system or a do-it-yourself system, you can also piecemeal a smart security system together.
For instance, maybe you have an August Smart Lock and an Arlo Pro smart security camera and you want to find a way to incorporate them with other smart home devices. Like maybe a Nest thermostat, a few Philips Hue bulbs, and a Ring doorbell.
Fortunately, there are hubs that allow you to integrate all of these types of devices into one system. Hubs like SmartThings and Wink connect devices to your wireless network. Typically, these hubs come equipped with several ways to speak to devices. Most hubs support ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and wifi.
In addition to smart hubs, smart assistants are becoming more and more popular as options for smart home security systems. Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit all provide voice control capabilities. Of course, not all devices will work with all three voice platforms, but you’ll have a solid amount of devices that you can use with each.
As you can tell, there is no shortage of options for your smart home security system. No matter whether you go with a professional system, a do-it-yourself kit, or an a la carte approach, you’re taking a big step in making your home a safer place. If you have more questions about smart home security or want more information about specific systems, check out our choices for the best smart home security systems.
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