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The Internet of Things has made it easier than ever to set up a smart home in Online security system you can remotely control your door locks, lightsthermostatsvacuumslawnmowers, and even pet feeders, using your smartphone and an app.
Smart security systems are highly customizable and available as do-it-yourself kits or as full-blown setups that include professional installation and monitoring.
Of course, the more coverage you have, the more you can expect to pay. Streamlining Security and Home Automation A smart home security system connects to your home Wi-Fi network so you can monitor and control your security devices using your smartphone and an app.
Entry-level systems usually include some door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a hub Online security system communicates with these devices using one or more wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, or a proprietary mesh network.
Any smart security system worth its salt offers components that work together in a seamless environment and can be manipulated using customized rules. For example, you can create rules to have the lights turn on when motion is detected, have your doors unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, and have a camera begin recording when a sensor is triggered.
Some systems store recorded video locally on an SD card or a solid state drive, while others offer cloud storage. Locally stored video is a good choice for do-it-yourselfers on a budget, but you have to be careful not to overwrite video that you may need later.
Cloud storage makes it easy to store and access recorded video, but it can cost hundreds of dollars per year depending on your subscription.
Most apps also allow you to do things like view live and recorded video, lock and unlock doors, change thermostat settings, and silence alarms. The more expensive systems usually come with a wall-mounted panel that acts as a communications hub, with a touch-screen display that allows you to do everything the app does, as well as communicate with a professional monitoring service when an alarm is triggered.
Professional Home Security Do-it-yourself setups are ideal for homeowners on a budget because they can save you a bundle on installation charges and subscription fees. Most DIY systems are easy to install and configure and are sold as kits that you can configure to suit your specific needs.
As your needs grow you can order additional sensors and other components at your convenience and pair them to the system in a matter of minutes. Your basic entry-level DIY system may only support one or two wireless protocols and usually offer a limited selection of add-on components, while more expensive DIY systems will support multiple wireless protocols and are compatible with dozens of add-on components.
While many systems use wireless components that are installed using double-sided tape, some high-end systems use components that require professional installation. With a professionally monitored system, when a smoke or intrusion alarm is triggered, an agent will first try to reach you via the two-way control panel before calling your listed phone number.
If you fail to respond the agent will call to dispatch an emergency responder to your home. Nearly all of the latest DIY and high-end home security systems offer support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and in some cases Apple Siri, which allow 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. 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. 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. Most outdoor cameras, like our current top pick, the Netgear Arlo Pro 2offer motion detection with push and email notifications, night vision, and cloud storage for event-triggered video, and some 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.
What About a Video Doorbell? 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. Look for a model that offers a high resolution pa wide angle lens to degreesa night vision range up to 25 feet, and affordable cloud storage for recorded video. 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.
A Smart lock 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. There are plenty of smart lock models to choose from, including keyless no-touch locks, touch-screen locks, and combination keyed and touchpad locks.
For more on how to get started with smart home security, check out this handy primer on our sister site, ExtremeTech.Computer security, cybersecurity, or IT security is the protection of computer systems from theft or damage to their hardware, software or electronic data, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide..
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