The Internet of Things has made it easier than ever to set up a smart home in which you can remotely control your door locks, lawnmowers, lights, thermostats, vacuums, and even pet feeders, using your smartphone and an app. It's also made it very easy (and relatively affordable) to monitor your home from just about anywhere with a smart security system. Smart security systems are highly customizable and are available as do-it-yourself kits or as full-blown setups that require professional installation.
Depending on your needs you can go with a system that you monitor yourself, or pay a subscription fee to have your home monitored 24/7 by professionals who will contact your local police and fire departments when alarms are triggered. Of course, the more coverage you have the more you can expect to pay. Here's what to look for when deciding how to outfit your home, along with the top systems we've tested.
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 typically include a couple of door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a hub that communicates with these devices using one or more wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, or a proprietary mesh network. You can add extra door, motion, and window sensors to provide coverage for your entire house and build a comprehensive system that includes door locks, garage door openers, indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, lights, sirens, smoke/CO detectors, water sensors, and more.
Integration and App
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.