Safe and Smart: The Best Smart Home Security Systems
For many people, full security means being able to see, hear and check on their home at all times (or at least have the opportunity to do so).
This is where wifi enabled security cameras and home security systems come in, which are able to send a host of data to your smartphone in real-time.
It’s reassuring to watch who’s coming and going, who’s peeping through the windows, if the dog walker is rifling through your stuff, and so on.
We like these.
Security cameras are universal devices that can be used to watch the surroundings of your home, as well as keep an eye on what happens inside the building.
1. The Dropcam Pro (Now – The Nest Cam)
This is a great all purpose security camera that you can use to keep an eye on things when you’re not there. You can use it to watch for suspicious activity, but it’s also good if you just want to make sure your cat’s not tearing up the furniture or the babysitter is taking good care of your little one.
It’s got an impressive 130 degree field of view and a three megapixel sensor. Video is 720p, and if you want to see something closer, there’s 8x zoom and enhance. Night vision means you can see what’s happening no matter what time it is.
The Dropcam Pro is wifi enabled, which allows you to see the video (which is encrypted) from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. It’s got motion and sound detection, and can send text or email notifications when either or both of those are picked up. There’s also a built in mic and speaker, so you can actually talk to anyone in the room.
Other features include schedules, compatibility with Nest, and optional cloud recording to save and review footage. The Dropcam Pro sets up quickly too.
As for price, you’ve got a few options. The camera itself retailes for $199 USD. Cloud recording is a per-year charge: either $99 for seven days of saved footage, or $299 for 30 days.
Update: After the acquisition by Nest, the Dropcam is no more and is now replaced by the Nest Cam.
2. Belkin NetCam HD + Wifi
Belkin’s offering is very similar to the Dropcam Pro. It’s also got 720p video, night vision, built in motion detection with text and email alerts, and two way talk.
What’s really cool about Belkin’s NetCam is that it can be integrated with other Belkin WeMo home automation products; if you’ve been building your smart home with Belkin, this is yet another component.
It retails for £129.99. Cloud services are offered at a few different price points, all comparable to the Dropcam. An advantage that Belkin has here is that you can download saved video clips from the web app as mp4 files. This one is also a good general security camera that you can use as part of your home’s evolving automation.
3. Samsung SmartCam HD Pro
Samsung’s home security camera boasts 1080p HD video, rather than the 720p of the two previously mentioned models. However, that 1080p is only when you watch your stream on a computer; it’s still 720p on a mobile device.
The 128 degree field of vision means that you get a wide view, and thanks to low light enhancement, you get crisp video both day and night.
There’s also two-way audio, a motion detector, and even a lullaby mode if you want to use it as a baby monitor.
Other good options on the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro include the ability the adjust the brightness of the image and all sorts of customisations for push notifications.
However, the big advantage of Samsung’s offering is that you can store video locally on an SD card; this eliminates the nagging ongoing need to pay for remote storage.
It retails for $189 USD (so, about £125), which is comparable to the other models, but you’ll save more with Samsung’s if you want any sort of clip storage.
you can store video locally on an SD card.
Full Security Kits
If you’re looking for something a bit more all encompassing, with multiple features like sensors, cameras, and customisation, you may want a full security kit.
Done the old fashioned, non-smart way, a full home security system usually means intricate installation and ongoing monthly fees. With smart devices, though, you can set up, all by yourself, a high quality home security system quickly and affordability.
One of these kits should work for you.
4. SmartThings Smart Home Security Kit
For $389 USD (a bit over £250), this is a good starter kit for getting your home security system up and running. It comes with several pieces:
- A motion sensor and a presence sensor, the difference being that the presence sensor can detect still people and pets as well as moving ones.
- A moisture sensor, which is great to stick in the basement or bathroom, as it will let you know if something’s leaking before it may be visibly apparent. It provides structural security, and that alone can save you a bundle.
- There’s also one smart power outlet, which you can use to power any appliance that you want to switch on and off with your smartphone (like a lamp, for instance).
- An open/closed sensor for a door or window.
- Finally, there’s a hub, which is the communication base for the whole system and can be used to set rules, such as turning on a light when motion is detected.
add another sensor or outlet to the hub, and it will work.
The Smart Home Security Kit has enough for a small home, but it can be customised as you see fit: just purchase another sensor or outlet, add it to the hub, and it will work. You can set up notifications, make new rules, and even set up some automation.
Unfortunately, there’s no Smart Home camera, but there are a number of third party cameras that are compatible with the SmartThings hub. You can order this starter kit directly from SmartThings.
5. Netgear Arlo Smart Home Security
For £279, the Netgear Arlo Smart Home Security system includes a hub plus two cameras.
There’s no lock, alarm, or door sensor, so it’s mostly just a camera kit, but it’s a good one at that. What’s great is that the cameras are wireless — there’s not even a power cord — so you can put them anywhere, as long as they’re within 300 feet of the hub.
The image is 720p and has night vision, so everything will look sharp, day or night. You can also get motion alerts and set on/off schedules. It’s easy to set up, too.
There is one downside, though: there’s no audio sensor on the cameras. In fact, there’s no audio at all, so you don’t have the two-way talk option that you get on some other security cameras.
Still, if you’re looking for cameras that will keep an eye on more than one room of your home, the Netgear Arlo is a good kit. You can also add more cameras for £109 each or purchase a more substantial kit with three or four cameras (though two should be enough for most homes).
6. Piper NV
Piper’s NV security system made a big splash at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, thanks to everything it includes and its adaptability. The price of the NV itself is relatively affordable, at $279 USD (so, a bit over £180), but you’ll spend more to get a more complete home security outfit.
The central part of the security system is what you get: a base unit with an incredible 180 degree 1080p panoramic camera that has pan, tilt, zoom, and night vision. Its 3.4 megapixel sensor means the image is sharp, and there’s a built in mic and speaker too. The unit senses motion, temperature, humidity, light, and sound.
Piper NV has a siren that’s in excess of 100 db.
Unlike a lot of other home security systems, the Piper NV has a siren that’s in excess of 100 db — sure to scare the wits out of any intruder!
Everything can be controlled from the Piper app, which works for both iOS and Android. You can see the video, take captures, and set up notifications and automation (like, turn on the lights when you walk in the door).
Of course, there are some downsides.
The Piper NV obviously works in just one room, so you’ll have to choose a vantage point that can take in as much of your home as possible.
If you have a larger home, you’ll probably want some more add-ons, and of course, that will cost more. Door and window sensors are $40 a pop (£26), smart switches are $45 each (£30), and other accessories are available in that price range too.
The cusomisability is nice, even if the extra charges aren’t.
There’s currently a lot to choose from in terms of keeping your door secure, your premises monitored, and your mind at rest.
Many devices are compatible with smart home systems, and it’s likely that many will start to include compatibility with Apple’s Homekit as consumers become aware and interested.
Whatever home security devices you choose to purchase, though, you can feel comfortable knowing that you and your family are safe and secure, and that you don’t have ongoing fees to make that happen.
See recommended smart home devices on Amazon
Nest Learning Thermostat
Philips Hue Starter Kit