lorex home monitor .jpgTechnology has helped us get to the moon, and more recently Pluto.  But one of my favourite things about emerging technology is when it comes home.

Smart home technology makes so many tasks easier; it allows you to automate things like heat, light, and even cooking. It can help you save money running the furnace more efficiently lights aren’t left on unnecessarily.

Smart home products can also help keep your home safe and secure via video surveillance and other security options. But another way technology can help you at home is by simply monitoring everything that’s going on, and allowing you to make changes remotely.

5 Reasons to have home monitoring and surveillance
1. Security from intruders
2. Safety from fires or carbon monoxide, leaks, or other emergencies
3. Keeping an eye on babies or children
4. Saving energy & money
5. Keeping the home comfortable (heat and light)

Home Surveillance

Home surveillance and security systems aren’t new, but the technology today means they are much less costly, less intrusive, and easier than ever to install.

Some reasons you might want video surveillance include creating a deterrent for would be thieves, providing evidence in case something does happen, providing verification for events (for example if you get a lot of packages and one goes missing, you can double check your video feed to see when it was delivered, IF it was, and who may have moved it) and even monitor who’s at the door so you can decide if you want to open up.

How to choose?ideal home security.jpg
There are many, many systems to choose from when it comes to video surveillance and home monitoring. The best way to pick a system is to look for kits that get good reviews, but also to decide in advance what kind of monitoring you want for your home.  Do you need every corner of your property covered?  Just want to check the front door?  Need your windows alarmed in case of intruders or curious children? Many companies offer expandable packages with sensors, motion detectors, and cameras.

For basic video monitoring, this Netgear Arlo system has you covered with two weatherproof, wire-free cameras that record super-clear HD footage you can access from virtually anywhere thanks to a free app on your smartphone or tablet.

For more bells and whistles, theres this kit from Ideal Security, which features an alarm, door and window sensors, motion detection, and even remote controls.

Monitor Life-threatening Emergencies

Fire and carbon monoxide are deadly emergencies you just can’t fool around with. That’s why one of the best smart home monitoring gadgets you can get is the Nest Protect. This advanced device can distinguish between levels of urgency in smoke and CO levels, and sends you alerts on your smartphone so you can take action right away. Nest Protect knows the difference between a concern and a full-on emergency and will alert you accordingly. If it detects a little bit of smoke or rising levels of CO, it gives you a heads-up. If it gets worse, it flashes red, activates the alarm, and talks to you, letting you know exactly what’s going on.

Home Monitoring

You might be wondering what you’d want to monitor at home. You can keep an eye on the temperature, lighting, but also on your cooking, and even on potential water leaks.

Monitor Heat/Cool
Nest Thermostat.pngFriends of mine recently bought a Nest Learning Thermostat for their vacation condo in another city. They have set it so that when they’re not there, the temperature drops to save money and energy, and then when they get in the car to head there, they dial up the Nest app and adjust the heat. By the time they get to their destination, it’s nice and toasty in the winter, or cool in the summer. It also allows them to keep an eye on the home overall, since if power ever went out and the temperature dropped significantly, they’d likely know before pipes froze.

Similarly, if you have a Nest installed at home, you can keep an eye on the temperature if your kids are prone to cranking the heat instead of putting on a sweater, or if you want to make sure pets are comfortable while you’re at work all day.

Monitor Lighting

Smart lights are easily my top gadget category this year.  While they have energy saving properties, having colour options is fun too. The Philips Hue kit is just one lighting set in this category that allows you to set timers so you can have lights on only when you need them. I have smart lighting kits installed all over my house and because my normal wake up time is somewhere in the 3am range, I have them set to come on a couple minutes before my alarm goes off. They’re set to come on at a low brightness so it’s not a harsh wake-up, and then they automatically turn off after I depart.

Similarly, I have smart lights set up in my yard which stay on only when it’s dark. That allows me to keep the property lit for safety and security, but to also save energy by automatically switching them off when daylight hits. Read more about how those lights (The Osram Gardenspot mini kit) work here.

Monitor Food

wemo crock pot.jpgCrockpots are a convenient way to have a hot meal ready after working all day.  But I must admit, I’ve always been a bit skittish about having food simmering all day at home with no way to check on it. The WeMo Crock-Pot can lessen those anxieties. It allows you to monitor your food and adjust the cooking process from wherever you are via your WeMo app. For example, if you’re going to be late, you can set the Crockpot to hold the food on warm, so your meal doesn’t end up dry or overcooked.

Watch for Water

If you’ve ever dealt with a burst pipe, a split water heater or an unexpected leak, you know how much damage water can do. Inevitably it happens, and it may take you hours or even a couple days to notice. Fortunately, there’s a gadget for that.

Take a look at the  mydlink WiFi Water Sensor. It sounds an alarm when the sensor detects water, or notifies you remotely via your iOS or Android device. It’s easy to set up, it’s great for monitoring leaks around your washing machine, sink, water heater, and more. Plus, if you’re prone to forgetting your phone, the built-in 70dB siren sounds out an alarm when there’s a leak.

As you can see there are more reasons to want to monitor your home than just guarding the front door, or protecting valuables from a thief.  Smart home monitoring gadgets can help you with an array of tasks, and even head off major emergencies.

Nest Thermostat.png
Nest Learning Thermostat
phillips hue.jpg
Philips Hue Starter Kit
dlink water sensor.jpg
mydlink Water Sensor



Erin Lawrence
Editor TV and Home Theatre
Erin is a journalist, writer, and TV producer with a fascination for technology and a love of gadgets. Check out her blog TechGadgetsCanada.com


  1. Would love to actually win something for once. I spend a lot of money there. Really need a complete smart home monitoring system. I went to 2 Best Buy locations about 1 month ago and unfortunately stock was not good and no one really knew much about it. Left 2 stores with nothing.

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