An increasingly mainstream household application of the Internet of Things is the rise in smart home security systems. Any home security system is made up of a combination of gadgets: cameras, alarms, motion detectors, locks and sensors. A smart system simply connects all of these to the internet, with a variety of benefits for your convenience and peace of mind. For example, you can set your burglar alarm remotely; receive an alert when your driveway alarm is triggered; even view photos or video of your home while you’re away on vacation.
But investing in a smart home security system has implications, relating to your finances, your data, and a number of other things you should consider. Read on for some questions to which you should find answers before you buy.
#1 Do you really know what a smart home security system is?
A traditional burglar alarm is made up of sensors on doors and windows, which trigger an alarm to let you or law enforcement know about a disturbance; a home security system, particularly a ‘smart’ system, goes way beyond that. Depending on the system, you may be able to get warnings about dangers other than home invasion, such as fire, flooding, a carbon monoxide leak, or even personal accidents such as an older relative falling down.
#2 What about compatibility?
If you already have some smart home devices, it’s best to get a home security system that will work with them. Even if this is your home’s first foray into the Internet of Things, you should still make sure the system you purchase is compatible with your smartphone.
#3 What happens when the power goes out?
Traditional home security systems tend to be low voltage and equipped with a large battery, which means they can continue operating even if and when there is a power outage at your home – some are solar powered, which is more environmentally friendly but costs a little more. Before buying a smart home security system you should check if and how it’s going to work when the power – and thus the internet! – drops out.
#4 Are they worth the money?
Smart home security systems vary in price, but can be very expensive, with some complicated pricing structures. However, think of it as an investment: particularly if you have valuable property to protect, this system will pay for itself over time. You may also find that your insurance premiums will go down.
#5 How are you protecting against hackers?
Using any smart home device means giving some of your data to a service provider: it’s a privacy consideration for you to bear in mind, and it’s also a security risk. You can mitigate the risks by securing your home network: it might seem like a lot to do, but don’t forget this is all stuff you should be doing anyway to make sure you’re safely, securely using your smartphone, computer, home wifi network and so on. Make sure your network is protected by WPA2; disable guest network access; avoid naming your network in a way that will give away any personal information; and consider creating two different networks to keep your home security devices separate from your credit card information. You should also set a firewall and make sure everyone in your household is using passwords safely. Read knowledgeable reviews before purchasing any smart home security device to find out how secure it is.
#6 Which system should you go with?
Aside from the compatibility issue mentioned above, the main determining factors to help you choose a smart home security system are your budget and what you (really) need: don’t be drawn into purchasing additional extras that will bring you no additional benefits. As ever, check reviews before you buy.
#7 Will smart home security systems get better in the future?
The Internet of Things is growing fast but still relatively new: these devices won’t be perfect yet, but they’re learning, and there are more exciting, innovative developments still to come.