The nice thing about professionally installed systems is you don't have to lift a finger; after you've placed your order a technician will come to your home, set everything up for you, and show you how the system works.
Cell Phone Monitoring
It's important to note that in some areas you may have to file for a permit to have a security system installed in your home. Nearly all of the latest DIY and high-end home security systems offer support for voice control via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and in some cases Apple Siri, which allows you to unlock doors, change thermostat settings, open the garage, and arm or disarm your system with a spoken command to a connected device like an Amazon Echo or a Google Home speaker.
For example, you can create an applet that says if a garage door is opened to turn on the floodlight. Whether you decide to go with a DIY system or opt for a professionally installed system, you'll have to pay a monthly or annual fee if you require monitoring, and in some cases, you'll be hit with a monthly fee to pay off the cost of hardware components. Monitoring for professionally installed systems tends to be more expensive. Some vendors, such as LifeShield, will let you buy the components outright or lease them. If you live in a small apartment and want to keep tabs on things when you're not home, a security camera can get the job done for a lot less money than what you'll pay for a full security system.
Nearly all standalone security cameras connect to your home's Wi-Fi so you can see what's going on from your phone or tablet, and most have built-in sensors that detect motion and sound and will send push and email notifications when those sensors are triggered. You can usually tweak the camera's motion sensitivity to prevent false alarms due to pet activity or passing cars if the camera is near a window, and you can create a schedule that turns the sensors on and off during certain hours of the day.
Some of the more expensive cameras are equipped with humidity and temperature sensors and will interact with other connected home devices such as thermostats and smart lighting systems. If you want to save some money, look for a camera with an SD card slot that allows you to record video when motion or sound is detected, but remember to save your recordings every so often before they are overwritten. Alternately, look for a camera that offers a cloud storage plan. An outdoor camera is ideal for keeping an eye on what's happening outside of your home.
These devices are weatherproof and typically require a nearby GFCI ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to supply power, although there are a handful of battery-powered models out there. As with their indoor counterparts, outdoor cameras connect to your Wi-Fi network and allow you to view live video from your phone.
They are fairly easy to install, but if you're not familiar or comfortable with electrical wiring, you may want to have a professional electrician do the job. Most outdoor cameras, like our current top pick, the Arlo Ultra , offer motion detection with push and email notifications, night vision, and cloud storage for event-triggered video, and some, like the Ring Floodlight Cam , pull double duty as floodlights or porch lights.
Some models can even tell the difference between a passing car, an animal, and a person. Look for an outdoor camera that will integrate with other smart home devices such as garage door openers, external sirens, and smart switches. Video doorbells offer an easy way to see who is at your door without having to open or even get close to the door. These devices connect to your Wi-Fi network and will send an alert when someone approaches your doorway.
They'll record video when the doorbell is pressed or when motion is detected, and usually offer two-way audio communication that allows you to speak with the visitor from anywhere via your phone. Most video doorbells like the RemoBell S , our current Editors' Choice use your existing doorbell wiring two low-voltage wires and are fairly easy to install, but there are battery-powered models available like the Ring Video Doorbell 2 that install in minutes.
How to buy the best smart home security system
Look for a model that offers a high resolution p , a wide angle lens to degrees , a night vision range up to 25 feet, and affordable cloud storage for recorded video. Sometimes it's helpful to be able to see what happened just before or after a visitor approaches your door. For that, you'll need a doorbell that uses pre-buffering to record the action taking place before motion is detected or the doorbell is pressed.
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- How it works?
A smart lock is typically part of a robust smart home security setup, but you don't have to invest in a full-blown system to use one. If you're using a home automation hub to control things like lighting and thermostats , you can add a Z-Wave or Zigbee smart lock to the system without much effort. Alternately, if you don't have a home automation hub, look for a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth lock that comes with its own mobile app.
Smart locks use standard pre-drilled holes and are fairly easy to install.
Some models use your existing keyed cylinder and deadbolt hardware and attach to the inside of your door, while others require that you remove your existing interior and exterior escutcheons and replace the deadbolt and strike hardware. Smart locks can be opened and closed using a mobile app and will send a notification when someone locks or unlocks a door, and most allow you to create permanent and temporary access schedules for family members and friends based on specific hours of the day and days of the week. Features to look for include geofencing, which uses your phone's location services to lock and unlock the door, voice activation using Siri HomeKit , Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa voice commands, support for IFTTT, and integration with other smart home devices such as video doorbells, outdoor cameras, thermostats, smoke alarms, and connected lighting.
There are plenty of smart lock models to choose from, including keyless no-touch locks, touch-screen locks, combination keyed and touchpad locks, and locks that you can open using a biometric fingerprint reader. Like any product that connects to the internet and uses wireless technology, smart home security systems are vulnerable to hacking, particularly systems that lack encryption.
Hackers can sit outside your home and use a laptop and software to intercept wireless signals coming from your system that allow them to suppress alarms and disable sensors. Other devices allow hackers to generate radio noise that can jam communications between the sensors and the hub. Additionally, devices that connect via Wi-Fi, such as security cameras and smart door locks, can be hacked to gain access to your home network.
A skilled hacker can then use your Wi-Fi devices and other network resources to carry out Distributed Denial of Service DDoS attacks against larger networks. Perhaps even more disturbing is the idea of some stranger monitoring video from your indoor and outdoor security cameras. There are several steps you can take to make sure your home security system is safe from malicious cyber intruders. For starters, replace the system's default password with a unique one that contains a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Can I Control My Home Security from My Phone?
If possible, change your password from time to time. Additionally, make sure your home network is secure. Check the security settings on your wireless router , and consider models that add an extra layer of software protection, like the Bitdefender Box 2. Some security system vendors use frequency hopping tech to prevent signal jamming, while others use embedded encryption, but neither feature is standard, so check with the manufacturer if you require an extra layer of security.
In addition, keep an eye on your camera logs to see when they have been accessed. If you notice camera activity at odd hours or at times when you know that nobody is at home, it may be an indication that your system has been compromised. Finally, make sure your system software and all of your connected devices are up to date.
Firmware updates often address security issues and can help protect your system from infiltration. For more on how to get started with smart home security, check out this handy primer on our sister site, ExtremeTech. Many components available. Support for third-party devices. Solid mobile and web apps. Cons: Expensive. Requires three-year contract with hefty termination penalty. Some Pulse peripherals require third-party mobile apps. Bottom Line: ADT Pulse offers just about everything you could want in a full-service home security system, including many component options, support for popular third-party smart home devices, and a solid app experience.
Pros: Affordable hardware, reasonable monthly monitoring fees. No contract required. Quick, easy installation.
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Cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, the latter of which is optional. Bottom Line: If you want to secure and monitor your home from afar without spending a bundle or signing a long-term contract, there's a lot to like about the newly redesigned, versatile, and easy-to-use DIY SimpliSafe Home Security System. Pros: Speedy event response. Excellent video doorbell.
Offers remote control of door locks, cameras, thermostats, and sensors. Responsive touch screen. No lengthy contract required. Cons: Requires a monthly subscription for remote access. Cannot customize alarm sounds. Pros: Easy to install. Affordable professional monitoring available. Supports multiple wireless platforms. Loud siren.