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by Gemma Parkes

December 04, 2017

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Whatever your project, create peace of mind by planning in a home security smart system at the initial design stage of your build.

Buyers guide to home security

Image: hivehome.com

 

Everyone wants to keep their homes safe and secure and yet, with traditional security systems expensive to buy and install, many of us rely on old-fashioned locks, an extra mortice on the front door and window locks to keep intruders at bay. Advances in product development and wireless technology mean that installing a custom-designed security system can be a relatively simple task. Using your wireless internet system, new home security gadgets can be controlled remotely on your smartphone or tablet. With cameras you can check up on children or pets; plus you can receive alerts if carbon monoxide is detected, and lots more.

 

Key home security considerations

DIY smart home security can be broken down into three main areas – surveillance, sensors and locks. Surveillance allows you to see what is happening inside and outside your home from screens on a variety of devices. Sensors reveal when there is unusual movement – that goes for burglars, water (floods), fire and smoke. Locks, of course, provide physical barriers; but today these also offer a variety of smart options.

To build your own system you need to choose a combination of surveillance, sensors and locks to achieve a balance between convenience and security. In general, if you have a large home with many access points then go for an expandable home security product that enables you to pick the elements you need and link them up. Insteon (insteon.com), for example, offers everything from cameras to monitors and sensors that detect leaks, smoke and motion. It will also control lights, thermostats and your curtains, all integrated via a central hub. Another way for devices to connect in your home is through IFTTT (If This Then That; ifttt.com) – a free cloud-based service that allows multiple products to connect together.

Many companies offer packages that include the vital parts of a system. With experts like Yale (yale.co.uk), you can buy the basics and then add new products if you decide to expand the level of security. A starter kit from Swann One includes a smart hub, key fob, motion sensor and two door or window sensors for £300. You can add a Soundview indoor camera and/ or an outdoor kit, for £150 and £180 respectively. All these products are simple to install. (swannone.com)

 

Smart cameras

If you are after a stronger deterent, opt for visible cameras, which will put off potential intruders. Plus, recorded footage can be useful after a burglary and internet-connected cameras mean you can keep an eye on things when you’re away from home. The trend is towards Wi-Fi cameras that are quick to install (it’s usually a case of plug in and play) and provide a live feed. Look for products with two-way communication that allow you to hear what is happening and talk to occupants. Some can pan around, which means you need fewer cameras, and have motion sensors.

Buyers guide to home security 1

Image: kensingtonsecuritydoorsandwindows.co.uk

 

Smart motion sensors

Door and window sensors will alert you before a burglar has gained access, while internal motion detectors reveal when the intruder is already inside. Internal sensors tend to be less effective and are responsible for the most false alarms; fitting a motion sensor on each opening – doors and windows – offers greater security.

Smart motion sensors or detectors are the next step up. These connect to your Wi-Fi and send alerts to your smartphone when activated. They can communicate with other devices in your home to set off an alarm or initiate other actions such as turn a light on when someone enters a room – great for security and handy when you come home in the dark.

It’s important not to forget other environmental sensors when safeguarding your home. Fire poses a much more serious threat than theft, so ensure you have sufficient smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A sleek new take on the drab white puck style of smoke detector, the Nest Protect 2nd Generation has an impressive array of features including the ability to silence the alarm from your smartphone.

 

Smart locks

The advantage of smart locks is that they don’t need a physical key, although most still work with one. You can use your smartphone instead to allow access – normally via Bluetooth – and can send digital keys to visitors to grant temporary access. Smart locks can also allow you to lock and unlock your door remotely and set it to unlock on approach, so you don’t need to get your phone out of your pocket.

Doorbells are also getting smarter and are destined to play a growing role in home security. Systems are already becoming available in which when someone rings your doorbell your phone rings and a built-in camera will reveal who is at the door. Two-way communication will let you talk to them, giving the impression you are at home even if you are on the other side of the planet.

The Internet of Things, combined with the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, means we can now keep a much closer eye on our homes than ever before.

Words: Amanda Cochrane

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