There are many kinds of smart home technology, some more useful than others. I have been reviewing and testing smart cameras, smart lights, smart switches, and more for many years, and have found some smart home devices more suited to my needs than others. I don’t believe there is one specific device that is perfect for every home or every situation. However, there are some security solutions that will benefit everyone. I’ll address five of these smart solutions and speak to some options for each type (you can jump to the technology that interests you the most by clicking on the blue link).
1. A smart home needs a secure router
Before you add one of the five security solutions that i’ll discuss, you must first have a home network: that means you must have a router. The router connects your home to the internet and provides a Wi-Fi connection to all of the smart devices and to your smartphone, computer, TV, etc. However, if you have an older router that’s been in use for a few years, then this might be the right time for you to upgrade for two very important reasons.
- Routers with Wi-Fi 6 or higher (6E/7) have better security than older routers. The best way to keep your home Wi-Fi secure is to have the most secure technology between you and internet.
- Routers with Wi-Fi 6 or higher will be able to communicate efficiently with new smart devices. A new technology will be included in most smart home devices this year and it is a big deal. It’s called “Matter” and it will allow you much better control of smart technology for usability and convenience. New routers are compatible with Matter, old routers are not. To learn more about Matter, read this article on the blog.
2. Smart cameras help you identify and record people and animals that get near your home
The main reason someone gets a security camera is to capture footage when someone (either a person or animal) sets off a motion detector built into the camera. There are continuous recording cameras, but most camera systems use motion detection to bring events to your attention. The best location in your home for a camera is overlooking entrances: front door and back door. With a smart camera you will be notified if someone is near your home and can see who it is, record what they are doing, and even talk to them through your phone (without opening the door). There are many kinds of cameras: wired cameras, wireless ones, doorbell cameras, and more. Some of the most popular brands are Ring, Arlo, and Nest (by Google). Read our Smart Camera Buying Guide to determine which type is right for your needs.
3. Smart locks make your entrance more secure and more convenient
Smart locks make your entrance more secure than a standard key style lock. You’ll never lock yourself out of your home, or wonder if you locked the door. You can use an app to see if the door is locked, to lock or unlock the door, grant access to friends or family when on vacation and more. Combine the lock with a camera near your entrance and you can see who is at your door, then unlock the door, without getting off the couch! There are many different types of smart locks. Some of the most popular brands are August, Yale, and Lockly. Read this article to help you decide what type of smart lock is best for your home.
4. Smart lights are the most fun way to add security to your home
Burglars hate smart lights. Home owners love them. They can be easily set up almost anywhere around the home, and can be set to turn on and off to align with daylight, bedtimes, or more sporadically to give the appearance that people are doing it manually. Illuminate your entrance to prevent accidents, but do it only when needed to save on electricity bills. And you can have fun by changing the colours to suit specific seasons, or have smart lights to create ambiance in your home. As with the other technologies I discussed above there are many different types. Some of the most popular brands are Philips Hue, Cync by GE, and Twinkly. Read our Smart Lighting Buying Guide to learn more.
5. An ecosystem approach to security can be the simplest and most convenient solution
Adoption a single ecosystem can offer security advantages for many people due to simplicity of setting it up and maintaining it over years of use. There are a variety of ways of doing this but I’m going to focus on one: a Google ecosystem approach. A Google ecosystem approach would mean you have a Nest router (I recommend the Nest Pro Wi-Fi 6E 3 pack for total home coverage), a Google Nest doorbell camera at each entrance, a Google Nest x Yale smart lock at your main entrance, a Google Nest Cam wirefree camera to capture entrance to a garage or to monitor your driveway, a Google Nest thermostat to maintain the temperature of your home efficiently, and a Google Nest hub smart display with which you can view the images from your cameras, control all the smart tech in your home, and simply entertain yourself with music or videos.
A Google ecosystem offers a great combination of security, convenience, and energy savings. And it’s easy to set up and use. With the Google Home app you will easily add devices to your home and easily control them. The challenge with a piecemeal approach, using devices from multiple companies, is that each has its own app, which can be confusing and difficult for manage. A single ecosystem approach simplifies adding new devices and changing settings. Google also incorporates voice control into their ecosystem which brings added convenience. Also, Google communicates well with other technologies: if you add other tech, like a TP-Link smart plug to control your reading lamp, you can use the Google app to control that too.
Importantly, Google recently announced that most of their devices are “Matter” compatible. I told you about Matter at the beginning of this article. Soon all new smart home devices will work with Matter, which will make controlling your smart home easier. One of the best pieces of advice that I can offer to anyone looking to boost the security in their home, is to look for devices that include Matter as that will make a difference in how easy it will be for them to get the most from their new tech.
Best Buy has a great program called “In Home Advisor” that can help you find the right technology for your home: they will do a free virtual consultation! You can also leave a comment below if you have any specific questions about making your home more secure.