Maybe you’re reading this because you’ve had some petty crime in your neighbourhood, or more distressingly, an actual break and enter or theft. Having someone violate your home can be frightening, distressing, and leave you feeling vulnerable. There are actually many ways to protect your home using wireless, internet-ready, home security technology that is easy to set up, and that you can control with your smartphone.
So what’s the best way to make your home safer without spending money on a moat, electric fence, or armed guard? I’m going to discuss some top-notch surveillance and alarm capabilities that don’t require wiring up your whole house or need costly corporate alarm monitoring. Plus, I’ll show you how easy it is to see what’s going on in and around your home 24/7.
Invest in a wireless alarm system as the core of your home security perimeter
If you’re upping your security, consider starting with an alarm system. I recently took an in-depth look at a Ring Alarm and all the things you can do with it. Ring Alarm is fully wireless and comes with an alarm control panel, door sensor, and motion sensor, and you can add sensors as you need to for your space. When armed, it’s an excellent first line of defense.
You’ll also want to opt for the monthly monitoring, since without it all that happens is an audible siren will go off. But it’s not noticeable from outside, so making sure someone will call and check on you (or respond to your alarm) is key.
Multiple entry points, multiple solutions
Most homes have at least two doors, so it’s important to cover those main entrances with entry sensors or cameras. For example, if you add Ring Alarm door sensors, you’ll be notified on your phone if anyone opens the door. This adds peace of mind—particularly at night, or when you’re far away from your home.
Another option for monitoring an entry point is to install motion sensors. Motion Sensors will detect any movement across a wider area and sound the alarm if no one should be there. Ring Alarm doesn’t yet have a glass break sensor alarm, so using motion detection might be a good compromise for your space. Also, most smart cameras have a motion sensor. Place a camera near your doorway, and no matter where you are, you will get a notification if someone goes through the door (and you will be able to see them on your phone too!).
Employ smart door locks
Another option for keeping tabs on people entering or leaving the home is using smart door locks.
Smart door locks come in a variety of configurations and options; some, like the August Smart Lock Pro let you keep the front of your existing lock and key while you add smarts and automation to the unit. I reviewed the August Smart Lock Pro previously and found it a great solution for people that don’t want to re-key. You can open or close the lock from your smartphone from work or around the globe, grant temporary access to guests or workers, and track who’s opened or closed the door.
Smart door locks aren’t just about keeping the bad guys out: They can also help you keep tabs on kids’ curfews, the nanny’s arrival, who’s home from school, and more. Other door locks from August Yale, like the August Yale Assure lock or the Weiser Premis (read my review of Weiser Premis here), can also give you a touch screen option so visitors or family can enter with a passcode.
Should I get a camera or a doorbell camera?
While some people might feel like a camera is pointless (because it’s not like the nightly news will put up videos of your B&E suspects), cameras can be helpful for more than just identifying burglars.
If your motion sensor gets tripped, it’s easy to open up your Ring Stick Up Cam feed and peek in on things. Maybe the cat’s up on the counter again, and all is well. Or maybe not… maybe a giant tree has crashed through your front window. You get my point.
The Ring Stick Up Cam is super versatile—you can use it indoors or out, and thanks to its months-long rechargeable battery, you don’t need power to keep tabs on your property.
What about a video doorbell? Should you choose a Ring Video Doorbell or a Stick Up Cam? That depends on where you want to keep watch.
A Ring Video Doorbell will only give you a look at your front (or back) door area. A camera, by comparison, can be placed anywhere you want to have an extra set of eyes. At our house, our front door doesn’t face the street, so while my Ring Video Doorbell will tell me if there’s motion at the door (or if someone rings the bell), it won’t tell me what’s going on outside that small field of view—like if someone else is lurking off camera away from the door.
Depending on how your home and yard are configured, it’s easy to make a case for having both. My Ring Video Doorbell keeps tabs over the front door and porch (and a bit of the driveway), while the Stick Up Cam oversees the rest of the driveway and our camper van parked at the curb. Another camera keeps watch over the back yard (and also covers the approach to our back door and our garage’s man-door).
Keep tabs on the garage, the shed, the RV — wirelessly!
Because wireless HD cameras like Ring need no power or connections, you can use them anywhere: Place one inside or outside your RV to be alerted if someone’s prowling, or if the kids are playing inside again.
You can set these cameras up at your cottage or cabin (provided you have Wi-Fi) to keep tabs on your distant home away from home, or you can monitor your boat, ATV, tools, or in or outside of your garage. The options are endless.
Use solar panels and never worry about recharging your security devices
Ring cameras will alert you when the battery is low so you can recharge too, or add the optional solar panel and never worry about recharging.
Home security: Integration with Google & Alexa
You can add smart digital assistant integration with Ring. Doing this will let you view your Ring Camera feed on your Amazon Echo Show, for example, just by asking. Just enable the skill in the Alexa (or Google) App, or by using Apple HomeKit.
Linking cameras, doorbells, and alarms
In addition to gaining voice control, you can also link all these items together inside the Ring App. Having all your doorbells, cameras, and alarm in one app makes it ultra easy to monitor and control.
Add smart lights for security
If you’ve got smart lights in your home, or are willing to add some (a personal favourite is Philips Hue, because it’s ultra easy to use, works well, and adds fun colour ambiance options too), there are some really practical things you can do with these to enhance security. For example, you can get your lights to turn on when the doorbell rings, or get them to flash red if a certain camera detects motion.
How to use IFTTT to get your lights to turn on when Ring detects motion
I have it set so that if someone rings the Ring Video Doorbell, the lights turn on. Similarly, I also have it set so that if motion is detected on our driveway camera, the lights also come on in the front window. It’s my hope that if any car prowlers are skulking around, they’ll trip the Ring Camera and the lights turning on will scare them off. At the very least, there’s more light spilling out of the house for me to get a good shot of them for the neighbourhood Facebook page.
To enable some of these features, you’ll need an app called IFTTT. The acronym stands for “IF This Then That”. Simply put, it translates to “IF I do This (your choice of activity), Then That (your selected result) will happen automatically.
IFTTT (also pronounced to rhyme with “gift”) is actually a website where you go to create what are called “recipes” or “applets.” It’s pretty simple to link services (and create options) like “If my Stick Up Cam detects motion, THEN turn my Philips Hue light bulbs on to 100%.” The possibilities are literally endless, and while you can create your own custom recipes, you can browse and use recipes that others have made on the IFTTT website too.
Safe home, automated home
There are so many smart home gadgets these days. Not all of them need to be about security; Sometimes it can be about convenience. I’ll be testing out a smart garage door opener system from Chamberlain which allows smartphone integration and control. Pair that with a camera and you’ll never again wonder if you remembered to close the garage door. Watch for that coming soon.
Do you have questions about how best to secure or surveil your home, garage, office, or vehicles? Post them here and suggest gadgets you’d like us to review next.
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