Smart door locks offer keyless entry and added safety for your home. Image: August Home.

Smart door locks offer keyless entry and added safety for your home. Image: August Home.

If you’re just starting to entertain the idea of installing smart security devices in your home, remember that these devices can sometimes carry a hefty up-front cost. It’s helpful to think about them as long-term investments—in your safety and in your finances. 

Besides making your home more attractive to potential buyers, especially millennial buyers, smart devices can protect you from disasters and burglary. On top of that, many insurance companies offer discounts for installing certain devices in your home. Whether it’s convenience, investing for the future, or safety and security that you’re after, there’s a gadget for you.

Well, in fact there are many, many gadgets out there to choose from. If the rising popularity of smart tech has you feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. This list of smart security features can help you start your smart home upgrade on solid ground.

[1] Remote video monitoring

Video monitoring is one of the most useful smart home safety features. Modern smart cameras offer surprisingly clear HD footage you can stream right to your smartphone at any time, often with cloud storage options to keep an archive of the video. If you want your cameras to connect well with the rest of your smart tech, Nest devices come highly recommended.

Topping our list of safety upgrades for your home is remote video monitoring. The latest generation of security cameras can keep a watchful eye on the interior or exterior of your home, and their HD video streams straight to your smartphone. Here, a Nest Cam Outdoor in the elements. Image: Nest.

For home security, cameras with a motion-activation feature start recording when they detect movement and can send an alert to you, enabling you to notify the authorities as quickly as possible. For added safety, a camera with two-way audio works perfectly for checking in on kids and pets while you’re away at work. 

Security cameras stand as a smart investment because they can provide you with evidence if a burglary does happen, and they may even deter burglars when they spot cameras recording your home.

[2] Smart smoke detection

Traditional smoke detectors can save your life in the event of a fire, and smart smoke detectors add convenience to an important safety device. These smart devices aim to solve the most common complaints of smoke detectors, like false alarms and the dreaded low-battery chirp. 

For starters, smart smoke detectors can replace that annoying chirp with a simple smartphone notification, letting you know it’s time to replace the battery. If you have more than one, they’ll even tell you exactly which needs replacing—no more hunting around. 

If new smart smoke detectors are not in your budget, the Roost Smart Battery simply replaces a conventional 9-volt battery and adds smarts and safety to your home. Image: Digitized House Media.

Mobile alerts also mean your smoke alarm can alert you to an emergency while you are traveling, meaning you can have a chance at saving your home before a fire grows too large. And if you are home, it can tell you which detector was triggered and let you shut off a false alarm. If you’re looking for a smart smoke alarm on a budget, Roost offers a convenient smart battery to turn any smoke alarm into a smart device. 

Smart smoke detectors can also net home insurance discounts. For example, Nest has agreements with various insurance companies that can either get you discounts on its Nest Protect smoke detector or save you 5% on your premium for having one installed. 

[3] Smart door locks

Smart locks deliver an increase in safety and convenience well worth their cost. These gadgets let you lock and unlock your doors using your smartphone or tapping a PIN code, which means no more fumbling for your keys. They can also do it automatically using Bluetooth, so your door will be automatically opened as you approach with your smartphone—that’s handy. Selected Yale smart locks, for example, use Bluetooth with what Yale calls a special “Twist-and Go” motion of your smartphone to prevent accidental unlocking.

When it comes to security, what’s especially nice about smart locks is the ability to grant or revoke access to anyone at any time. Since the digital keys can’t be duplicated, you always know who has access to your home, and if your relationship with someone goes sour, you can block them from entering immediately through your smartphone.

Smart door locks combine safety with convenience, and are a popular place to start with upgrading your home to a smart home. This Yale Assure lock is keyless, and offers shareable digital keys, a touchscreen for PIN code entry, and integration with many home automation and security systems. Image: Digitized House Media.

Finally, smart locks can let you lock and unlock your doors remotely, an important feature if you can’t remember whether you locked all the doors before leaving for vacation. August smart locks are a good choice if you plan to integrate a digital voice assistant into your smart home because these locks work with Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant. 

Money-wise, smart locks are good investments because there are no physical keys involved, so there’s never a need to change the locks or pay for key duplicates—saving on those expenses. And, like other smart security products, smart locks can net you insurance discounts, like this offer from Liberty Mutual and August. 

[4] Centralized control 

Whatever features you end up going for, look for devices that can be controlled and managed from a single home automation interface. Exemplified by the Apple Home or Samsung SmartThings apps, these whole-home setups can give you a total picture of your home security and automation situation. It also makes using the devices much easier since you need only remember a single user interface. 

Central home automation control systems can take the form of smartphone apps or dedicated wall-mounted panels. In this Vivint-equipped home, the company's SkyControl Panel integrates multiple safety, security, and convenience features. Image: Vivint.

Many security companies and system integrators also offer touchscreen panels that integrate all your devices, from cameras to smoke alarms to motion sensors and more. If you want your control system to have the most up-to-date tech and interface, Vivint’s control panel comes recommended with two-way talk, activity logs, and video review.

If you already have a security system in place, you can check with your provider to see if a smart device you are considering is compatible with their control panel. Many providers use Z-Wave, which is a protocol that lets smart devices communicate with each other. Generally, as long as a panel and device both support Z-Wave communication, you’ll be good to go.

Precisely which devices you end up buying depends on your specific needs, but investing in these areas of security will help you maintain a safe and convenient environment for your home and those living in it.

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