Posted: Feb 28, 2018
How SMART is Your Home - Security

Last November I wrote a short article about the burgeoning industry of SMART homes and the growing integration and utility of such technologies for the average home owner. SMART homes can tell you the milk is going bad or allow you to adjust heating or a/c temps. For me, Home Security tops the list of SMART technologies and provides peace of mind whether you are home or on-the-road. Happily, I received the kindest note from Elizabeth Reynolds, Reviews.com, Seattle, WA and a link to their comprehensive test and review of home security systems. This blog shares some of Ms. Reynolds thorough and time-tested report. 

The Fundamentals

 

The Four Primary Fundamentals of any security system are:

  1. Surveilance - Cameras outdoor, triggered by the doorbell and indoor,
  2. Environmental - Smoke, carbon monoxide, fire and flood,
  3. Intrusion - Breakage or breach of doors or windows,
  4. Life Safety - Panic buttons

 

Second - Individually and as a network, these fundamentals involve installation, monitoring (by you or another), reliability (minimum false alarms) and control.  By control I mean the availability and abiity to change or verify security information regardless of your location - aka your home on the Internet of Things.

 

Let's look at some of the top performers across the spectrum of primary and secondary performance.

ADT

 

There is are 8 million reasons why ADT is the most popular home security company:

 

  • Well trained sales reps who listen to your security needs and can explain how each component of your system is tailored to satisfying those needs.
  • Professional installation
  • Multiple equipment and integration options, customizable to your needs.
  • Monitoring packages

Frontpoint

 

Frontpoint wins the award for best customer service. 

 

  • The sales reps listen carefully to your security concerns and can recommend specific items for each room.
  • Frontpoint is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) installation. This DIY installation experience was designed with utmost care. Instead of calling the company or scouring through a manual, you receive a box with a link to a personalized mobile website. This interactive site walks you through each step of the installation. Frontpoint’s online resource center is full of FAQs, equipment guides, and video tutorials.
  • You can install the system in stages (like you run out of time or something else interupts the installation process) and the personalized website will pick up where you left off.
  • Call the customer service line to activate the system.  A rep confirms your system is online and fully functional. If there is a problem, the rep can pinpoint the problem either for your resolution or perhaps an equipment swap is necessary.

Vivint

 

Vivint wins top marks for ease of use and best in technology.

  • Vivint offers some of the most advanced home security technology with an emphasis on user interface and mobile control.
  • The Vivint mobile app is exceedingly dynamic, nearly excluding the need for using the base station. (Vivint’s mobile app earned 4.5 out of 5 stars in Apple’s App Store.)
  • Vivint requires professional installation. Your installer will carefully tailor your system to your needs, even eliminating redundancy (and costs).
  • Contract obligations can be lengthy and are based on how much equipment you buy and when so make sure you understand that before you commit.

 

 

The Best of the Rest

 

SimpliSafe and GetSafe are the best of the lower cost security companies whose primary service is in professional monitoring plans.  Equipment options are somewhat limited in both companies but; for primary monitoring, the price per plans are very reasonable.

Conclusion

No matter what, you need a good camera or network of cameras placed in key entry or high value areas. There is nothing like a good picture or video to prove, or un-prove your case.  Cameras are also invaluable at verifyng an alarm.  Minimum definition - 1080p.  This definition is typical for your HDTV.

 

Cameras cost from hundreds to thousands.  For me the biggest issues are weather proof and decent night vision.  Swivel, zoom-in, snapshot, motion detection and the like are whistles with benefit-cost values above my budget but that's just me.

 

And finally, where is the video going?  To the cloud or to a loop storage site, even if just at home. You can get a "hard drive" so to speak that runs a steady loop which might be satisfactory.

 

Again, many thanks to Elizabeth Reynolds from Reviews.com for seeking me out and sharing their security review.  Their full review about home security systems is here.

 

If you have any comments or questions, please contact me here.

 

Good luck!

 

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