Protect Your Home and Your Family
Burglars avoid homes with security systems
While burglaries can be random, most home break-ins are planned events. Having a sophisticated security system, signs posted, security decals on windows and doors, and visible cameras in several locations around your home can make the difference in whether or not your home is a target. Thieves tend to avoid homes easily recognized as "high-risk homes" when they observe security systems.
Smart locks and doorbells
Door locks and doorbells have been reinvented. You can now buy a smart lock or doorbell that includes a camera and/or listening device. These innovative technology tools allow you to see and hear what’s happening at your door while you’re away. Use an app to lock or unlock your door, let the kids in, or monitor your home from anywhere. These devices even allow you to speak to people at your door.
Monitoring your security system
A professionally installed and professionally monitored home security system remains the best overall strategy for protecting your home. There are new and inexpensive self-monitor security devices on the market, but the jury is still out on how well home owners respond during an actual security or fire emergency. The ability to respond to an emergency at home is more than monitoring a mobile device.
A dog can provide security too
Dogs are known to be "man’s best friend", and they’re also a great source of home security. Dogs are a deterrent to intruders. Even small dogs can make enough noise to scare away a burglar. A fenced yard, or posted signs, "Beware of Dog" can provide a strong warning to thieves that access to your property will be a challenge. While a dog shouldn’t be your sole source of security, they’re usually willing to help.
Make sure doorways and windows are not obscured by trees or shrubbery. Doors should have adequate lighting, with motion detectors at all points of entry. Store valuables out of sight. If you have boats, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, lawn equipment, or expensive tools in your home or garage, you’re a target for thieves. Keep garage doors closed. Store expensive items in an enclosed area that is secured.
Keep valuables out of sight when leaving home
Thieves look for easy-to-grab items. Electronics, cash, jewelry and guns are often targets. Consider storing valuables in a locked cabinet, or install a safe. Computers, laptops, notepads and smart phones are not only a target of thieves, but these devices usually contain financial data, banking information and other personal information that must not end up in the hands of criminals. Lock-up before leaving.
Secure important documents and videos
Keep important documents in a bank lockbox, or in a fireproof and waterproof safe. In case of a natural disaster, important documents should be secured. In addition to documents, it’s advisable to make a video to record an inventory of all items of value in your home. Store the video in the lockbox or safe as well. Plan ahead for an emergency. You’ll need proof of insurance and a record of all your valuables.
Trending Products: Next Generation Home Security
Smart phone technology allows us all to work anywhere and to communicate via phone, text, email and Facetime. Smart home devices like Amazon’s Echo system allow us to instantly control our music and connect with other devices to control our lights, our room temperature and more. And you can use a Nest thermostat to automate your home’s temperature without needing to constantly program it.
Start with Internet phone calls
To access the home security features, you’ll need to be an existing Ooma Telo customer or sign up for the phone service. The phone service offers free calling throughout the United States and inexpensive international calls, has caller id and call waiting, plus it includes a mobile app that you can use to check the status of your home when you are away.
Ooma’s CEO Eric Stang says these next generation home monitoring systems can use remote capabilities to check on your home and react to situations such as a break-in, a carbon monoxide leak, a flood, a fire or a water leak.
The Ooma Home Monitoring system can remotely trigger a call to your local 911 system in an emergency. Unlike calling directly from a cell phone, the call from the Ooma system will automatically send your home address to the 911 operator, saving time that could be essential in an emergency.
Watching over your home and your pets
The Home Monitoring system can be integrated with up to 100 sensors in your home, so if you have a large property you can still keep track of every corner. The system connects your home to the Internet through a centralized hub that you can easily customize for your needs.
The next upgrade to the Home Monitoring system, coming soon, will include a storm watch program that automatically knows about incoming storms and can make adjustments to protect your house even if you’re not there.
All Ooma Telo customers will receive the Ooma Home Monitoring service free for the first sensor, which can be either a door sensor, a window sensor, a motion sensor or a water sensor that monitors for leaks and flooding. Ooma Basic customers can subscribe to the Home Monitoring system for $5.99 per month for each additional sensor. Ooma Premier customers can use the monitoring service at no additional cost. The door and window sensors cost $24.99, the water sensor costs $29.99 and the motion sensor costs $34.99.
"Ooma’s unique hybrid cloud platform is ideally suited to enable new innovative services including our new Home Security service," says Stang.
Smart Home Security from Nest and Ring
Nest programmable protection
Just as "Kleenex" became synonymous with facial tissues, "Nest" is the name most people know as the company that produces thermostats that learn your typical temperature preferences and adjusts automatically. Nest Labs, producers of one of the most user-friendly programmable thermostats, recently expanded their line of products with a smart home security system called Nest Secure. The Nest Secure system includes the Nest Secure alarm system, the Nest Hello video doorbell and the Nest Cam IQ outdoor security camera.
The alarm system has a security base, the Nest Guard, with the alarm, keypad and a motion sensor; Nest Detect, a battery-powered sensor that detects motion and when a door or window is opened or closed; and a Nest Tag fob for a keychain to arm and disarm the system without a passcode. The alarm system can be operated either through the fob, a code on the Nest Guard or through the Nest app, which allows remote control. Homeowners can use the app to receive notifications and reminders to turn on the alarm and to monitor the system. The entire system has battery back-up and an optional cellular backup system.
Nest is also introducing a Video Doorbell that works with your smartphone and an outdoor security camera that works with Google Assistant.
Competition from Ring security
The Ring video doorbell system is already well-known for its capability to connect with your smartphone so you can answer the door (or not) whether you are home or away. Now the company is expanding the security measure of the video doorbell with a complete security system.
Called Ring Protect, this system has a base unit, door and window sensors and motion detectors. The system can be connected to your Ring video doorbell and security cameras. Like the Nest system, this system has battery backup and an optional cellular backup so your system will work even if the power goes out or your internet goes down. The company also says they will charge just $10 per month for monitoring. Nest will also provide monitoring but has not announced how much it will charge for the service.
Ring Protect starts at a lower price point than the Nest system, at $199 for the base unit, one sensor and a motion detector. If you want to add more sensors, each will cost $20. Additional motion sensors will cost $30 each.
Home Security Systems
Protect your home & family
A security system is a reasonable safeguard to protect your family and possessions. It’s axiomatic that a home with a good security system is less likely to be burglarized. If you’re thinking "Oh, no, not another expense," know that security comes in many varieties that offer peace of mind. It can be something as simple and inexpensive as having good deadbolt locks on your doors, window locks, exterior lighting by all doors, and pruned landscaping so intruders can't hide behind large shrubs. But security can also come in the form of high-tech smart home security system. In addition to keeping you safe, smart home systems can adjust your thermostat, detect a water leak, and so much more – all monitored from mobile devices at any time.
Regardless of which security option you select, protecting your most important assets – your home and your family – is of paramount importance. Fortunately, along with recent technological advances, we’ve seen prices come down on security systems. Without breaking the bank, leading security systems include wireless smoke detectors, will alert your local police department, and include video cameras so your home can be viewed on your iPhone or tablet.
There are many manufacturers' products to consider, but think of the choice as similar to selecting an engagement ring, according to Safewise, an online blog/website that focuses on this category. According to Safewise staff, you should know what you need, what you want, and what you can afford (see questions below). Also, remember that it is a highly personal decision for your family and home and that there are various choices to meet your needs. Security companies offer different packages and equipment. You also want to be certain that you find operating the equipment user-friendly, or else you won't maximize its use or use it at all. Most home security installers will give the family a tutorial.
Honeywell's latest smart home security system, The Lyric Security and Home Control System, features a voice controlled security and smart home hub that connects with various smart technologies in your home. From smart doorbells to garage doors, and light bulbs to fans, you can conveniently control your home's automation. You can even program personalized scenes. You can say, for instance, "Hello, Lyric, Bedtime," and your smart home will shut down for the evening and perform the rules you have set, such as setting the alarm, dimming the lights, and locking the doors.
Lyric is a platform that includes a broad range of products, with room for future growth. The security aspects of the Lyric system include eight indoor/outdoor video feeds, streamed through the cloud to your security hub or smartphone, CO2 and smoke detectors, as well as glass shatter and motion sensors, which help make your home even safer. If more than eight camera views are required, the user can view them on a mobile device using Honeywell’s remote services app. With this app, you can manage the safety and security while you’re away, which will dramatically decrease your worries. Incorporated into the system is a feature to prevent typical causes of false alarms such as pets tripping a motion sensor. Honeywell has also developed pet-immune motion detectors that allow users to let their pets--up to 80 pounds--roam freely around the home. User operation and training are key to preventing false alarms. The Lyric Security and Home Control System offers internal videos that explain the operation to homeowners.
Honeywell also offers equipment for the Do-it-Yourself market, namely its DragonFly Security system, which is easy to install and use. It's battery-powered, wireless, and uses a video alarm – and it works both indoors and outdoors. While it's self-installed, DragonFly is always professionally monitored for police response. All video alarms are sent to the homeowner's smartphone for review with three options – dismiss, disarm or dispatch. Dispatch-on-demand sends the video alarm to a central station operator who contacts law enforcement officials as a crime in progress. The outdoor cameras are battery powered and easy to install up to 500 feet from a home. This means that homeowners can move the security perimeter beyond the front door and catch criminals before they enter.
The DragonFly Smartphone App allows the owner to share the outside cameras with trusted neighbors and create a virtual neighborhood watch system combining the outside cameras of several systems to help protect the local community.
To make your best decision, do your homework and ask the following questions. Record responses from several leading companies and this will lead you to the best security solution:
- Are you planning to move any time soon?
- What is the best system for the size and value of your home and contents?
- Do you want to access your security system from your smartphone?
- What is your budget for a system and ongoing maintenance?
- Are you capable of installing a system yourself?
- What key features do you need – video cameras, sound, or motion detection?
- What is the total cost, including equipment, installation, monitoring and the potential cost for emergencies, false alarms, and so on?
- Is it possible to lease a system?
- Does the system include a warranty, what does it cover and for how long? (The industry standard is 36 months, according to Safewise).
- Will the security solution be compatible with my smartphone or tablet and other operating systems in my home such as a smart thermostat, smoke alarm, CO2, door locks, video surveillance, electric garage door opener, and doorbells?
- If I want to add more high-tech options in the future, can I do so?
- Do you understand all the industry terminology and jargon? Safewise offers a good glossary on its site that you should master before you investigate choices.
Remember that any type of security system is an investment in safety and can increase your home’s value when you go to sell it.
Barbara Ballinger is a professional writer, author, blogger and speaker who has long focused on real estate, design, and personal finance. She has co-authored many books, including Successful Homebuilding and Remodeling, The Kitchen Bible: Designing the perfect culinary space, and The Garden Bible: Designing the perfect outdoor space. She regularly contributes to the National Association of Realtors® Website and magazine.
Margaret Crane is a nationally known freelance writer, blogger and journalist who has co-authored with Barbara Ballinger several books and articles on real estate, design and family business. Her byline has appeared in Realtor® magazine. With more than a half-dozen titles to her credit, Margaret’s latest design book is The Kitchen Bible: Designing the perfect culinary space.