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If your home alarm system consists of a fake alarm sticker on the front window, it’s time to move into the 21st century. Techie home security devices are better than ever—affordable, intuitive, and easy to operate.
But with all the options out there, where do you even begin? We tapped Leo Sabado, residential and commercial security consultant from The Home Security Experts, to find out.
First things first: To be able to depend on smart-home security, it’s essential to have a strong at-home WiFi connection. Next, be realistic about your tech savvy, or lack thereof.
“I find that the easier [a system] is to use, the more our clients use it,” Sabado says.
And when it comes to shopping? Sabado advises you look for the most recent iteration of products (as in—don’t try to save money by purchasing older models). The latest tend to be the greatest.
Explains Sabado, “Security systems tend to get updated very frequently nowadays. Make sure the devices are new.”
Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, there are easy, effective options for protecting your family and your home. See below for some of Sabado’s top picks.
An audible alarm is always best, explains Sabado, because it will attract neighbors, passers-by and even pets. Dogs specifically will start barking when they hear a siren from an alarm system.
The entry-level Ring Alarm (five-piece model) is good and loud. It’s a basic easy-to-use smart-home security system that, unlike more elaborate systems, doesn’t require a video feed and doesn’t involve a contract.
You can choose to sign on for round-the-clock professional home monitoring, which sends notifications to your smartphone via the Ring app. And you can build on the system, as you want to, adding Ring video cameras, some of which come with motion-activated floodlights.
Shop it: Ring Alarm (five-piece alarm), $199, amazon.com
At only $54 (with an available coupon), the EZVIZ Outdoor Security Camera is a steal.
Sabado is a fan. “It’s is a great product. I personally have it on my home,” he says.
“It's an amazing camera and has great features.” One example? Two-way audio—meaning you can actually speak to an intruder (“get off my porch!”), It also records audio, which can be helpful (or funny, if the intruder was, say, a raccoon).
The EZVIZ has night vision and can handle a distance of 60 feet with ease—but you can view up to 100 feet in good lighting.
Sabado encourages adding lights for better security: “Any lighting helps with any camera. Lighting also deters would-be burglars and thieves.”
This camera has a built-in siren and strobe flashing lights that are activated when motion is detected.
Shop it: EZVIZ Outdoor Security Camera, $54 with clip-in coupon, amazon.com
If you’re a senior who lives alone, you should think about a security system with a two-way communicator. It’s a great way to contact and stay in touch with emergency help for just about any situation, whether a break-in or a bad fall.
Explains Sabado, “You could actually speak with a live person if needed.”
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 offers two-way communication, and is a winner on all counts. It’s the gold standard in video doorbells, namely for its ease-of-use and superb customer rating.
Shop it: Ring Video Doorbell 2, $199, amazon.com
Remember ADT? The security company whose sticker was in everyone’s windows dating back decades? This set brings together the deep background of ADT with the technology of Samsung. In fact, Samsung SmartThings technology is compatible with most of the products in this article.
With a system hub, door sensors, window sensors, and a motion detector, this Alexa compatible starter kit is a great entry point into smart-home security.
Integration of devices is what makes these systems more than the sum of their parts—if one device is triggered, the others kick in too. “The advantage [here] is that you get ADT Service,” says Sabado, “and the ability to grow your system little by little. You can add to it over time.”
Shop it: Samsung SmartThings ADT Wireless Home Security Starter Kit, $112 (was $129), amazon.com
When it comes to deadbolts, Sabado recommends Yale Security smart locks. The company makes keyless deadbolts—you punch in a code or open them with the Yale Secure smartphone app, via Bluetooth.
“You will never again have to worry about keys,” Sabado points out, “either losing them or misplacing them in the house.” And since it’s controllable with a smartphone, you can unlock the door from work when your sister arrives early for a visit—or let in the plumber and lock up after he leaves, no matter where you are.
Sabado also points out that keyless entry “protects your home from ‘lock bumping’ too.” Lock bumping is a technique that forces a random key into a deadbolt with a hammer or bat. It takes just one powerful “bump” to pick the lock.
Shop it: Yale Security Assure Lock SL (key-free smart lock), $219 (was $299), amazon.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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