Ensuring that your home is safe, especially when crime rates are rising during these recessionary times is extremely important to most of us. Recent data shows that a robbery takes place every 15 seconds in the USA!
The repercussions of a break-in can be enormous. In addition to the damage and loss of personal items, people can often experience emotional trauma for months or indeed years after a house burglary.
In my mind burglary protection is one of the most important components of a home automation system. With this functionality, a criminal is less likely to break into your home and steal your prized possessions.
A fully installed Smart Home alarm system is a great way of providing us with some peace of mind when away from home.
As with everything in life, we need to plan our approach to increasing security levels at home; this chapter provides some practical steps.
HOME SECURITY PLANNING
When planning for security around your home, start by thinking like a burglar. Begin outside,, preferably in the evening after the sun has gone down. Look for dark areas around your home. These can be used by potential intruders as hiding areas while they work their way inside. Look for any spot where you might think someone would work on entering your home, including doors, garages, and even second-story windows. All of these locations will need some type of sensor protecting them. When you add a security system, you’ll need to plan for covering each of these areas.
Here are four key smart systems that you can use to enhance your family’s home security levels:
- Smart Home Alarm Systems
- Smart IP Cameras
- Smart Locks
- Smart Doorbells
Smart Home Alarm Systems
Enhancing home security can be as simple as adding the following types of sensors:
- Motion – Used to detect an intruder’s presence.
- Glass break – Once a window is broken the sensor sends a signal back to your HA 2.0 controller.
- Door contacts – Once armed, a signal is sent to the controller if the door is unexpectedly opened.
- Window contacts - Operates in a similar manner to door contacts.
These sensors are available as wired or wireless.
Here is an example of a ground floor layout and recommended locations for different types of alarm sensors.
Once a sensor is tripped by a thief entering your home, a signal is sent to the home automation controller. In addition to setting off the internal siren, the controller will also send you a text message or email, informing of you of events as they unfold.
Smart Home alarm systems support some notable features:
- They are operated using an interface such as a touchscreen, keypad, tablet device, or a smartphone.
- Highly customizable to meet your security needs – for instance, with most Smart Home alarm systems it is up to you to decide the code, the entry delay, and exit delay time periods.
- Some systems on the market also allow you to program a phone number of who will be called in case of an alarm. If you are unable to take action, if you do not answer your telephone or if the call is diverted to voice mail, most smart products will allow you to specify who is to be called next. When professional monitoring is used, the automation controller contacts the central station, which in turn contacts the appropriate authorities.
- Smart Home controllers provide options for alarm settings for when you leave home (AWAY Mode) and when you go to sleep (NIGHT mode).
The types of functionality supported by Smart Home alarm systems include:
- The use of your Smart Home system to monitor, arm, and disarm your in-home alarm from anywhere in the world with a smartphone or tablet.
- Disarm your security system automatically when a particular door lock code is entered.
- Arm your security system automatically when other devices are controlled.
- Receive email, text, or spoken alerts when any zones are triggered.
Smart Home Alarm Types
In addition to the above, most automation systems also allow you to set up the following alarm types to protect your home:
Absence alarms - An absence alarm is used when you leave home for a period of time, for instance heading out to work. Once you have entered a correct PIN code, the various sensors around the house will be armed. As a result, a break-in will initiate the following sequence of events:
- The sensors (door, window, or motion) will send signals to your home automation controller.
- Your controller will activate a loud siren to make things noisy for your intruder and possibly alert a neighbor. Just makes the experience a little less enjoyable for your uninvited guest
- Depending on how you configured your system, the controller will also send you a notification text message and email.
- If configured, your absence alarm will also start filming your intruder in action.
Night Detection Alarm - A night alarm allows you to arm specific security sensors when you go to bed. Typical configurations involve the arming of all doors, windows, and glass break detectors. However, motion detectors that pick up movement when you go to the toilet at night are excluded from this type of configuration. This enables you or a family member to get out of bed in the middle of the night and switch on the bathroom light, but also have the alarm armed to protect against someone breaking in.
Smart IP Cameras
Before we delve into the topic of connecting an IP camera to your smart home, let’s take a minute or two to outline the main features of IP cameras:
High-quality video content: IP cameras are digital and produce a high-resolution video that is more accurate and clear when compared to viewing an analog video stream.
Indoor and outdoor support: Indoor IP cameras keep an eye on a particular room whereas outdoor IP cameras are weatherproof and monitor your garden or driveway.
PoE support: Another cool feature of IP cameras is their support for a networking technology called Power over Ethernet (PoE). This technology integrates power into a standard home networking infrastructure. It enables power to be provided to the network device, such as an IP network camera, using the same cable that is used for the network connection.
PTZ support: PTZ is an abbreviation for Pan, Tilt, and Zoom. As the name implies, this feature allows you to cover quite a large area and get a good overview of what is happening in your home.
Wi-Fi support: Let’s not forget about Wi-Fi; IP cameras typically provide Wi-Fi connectivity. In the context of a home automation install, Wi-Fi is the method used to stream images to an automation controller.
Two-way audio: Some IP camera models come with a built-in microphone allowing you to listen in to conversations and noises from intruders. In addition to a microphone, some models include an internal speaker or a line out connector that allows you to install some external speakers. Speakers allow you to issue warnings to your intruder in real-time whilst he or she is up to no good in your home.
Fumbling for your front door key after a long day is a familiar ritual.
It’s dark, you’re hungry, and you finally grab the right key, but now you can’t locate the keyhole.
What a frustrating situation. Now imagine a system that instantly recognizes you as you approach, turning on the entry light above the front door, opening the door with a reassuring snap of smooth mechanical motion.
It’s time to embrace this concept, dragging the age-old lock into the 21st century.
The Benefits of Smart Locks
Focusing purely on those approved to enter your home, on people rather than a dumb piece of metal, smart locks use advanced recognition technology, access codes, combinations of Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, all to simplify and hasten your entry to the sanctuary of your home.
Smart locks are always on guard, waiting for an encrypted virtual key to be transmitted from your smartphone, or for the tapped access code to be entered into a tiny keypad.
By contrast, compare a traditional lock and key with smart locks.
Several vulnerabilities come to mind. A key can be lost or misplaced. A key can be copied in minutes at a hardware store. Smart locks, on the other hand, use security protocols designed for bank systems, digital encryption technologies that can’t be copied or broken.
Let’s take an introductory look at what intelligent design brings to locks.
After the primary feature of security comes convenience, customization, and remote access.
Next-generation smart locks blend these features, using advanced wireless connectivity to form an identifying link between themselves and any smartphone equipped with the security App and virtual key.
Convenience crosses over to customization by including software and hardware options to hook up the lock to household smart systems, communicating with any other smart object in order turn on household lighting and heating, all dependent on personalized settings.
The relationship between smart locks extends beyond the home thanks to a Wi-Fi enabled internet connection allowing you to run everything while at work or stuck in traffic.
And finally, smart locks can operate as a standalone without the need to purchase a whole-house automation system.
Options for Smart Locks
Each smart lock is a balance of technological features and familiar operation. There are three different approaches that you might want to consider, when researching smart locks, namely:
- You can keep your traditional key, and opt to add a smart lock as an extra layer of security.
- Replace the entire assembly with a hybrid of technology and tradition in the shape of an illuminated keypad. Your only responsibility now is to remember to give every member of the family an access code. Don’t forget or you’ll have angry family members to deal with!
- The final alternative is the second generation in smart locks, a highly connected intelligent lock, one that drops keys and codes in favor of sensors and recognition software. This generation of lock detects the nearness of an occupant or guest carrying a wireless digital key stored in your smartphone.
How Smart Lock Systems Work?
A simplified diagram depicting the main elements of a smart locking system are presented below:
The Smart Lock - Although smart locks come in a variety of styles, technologies, and finishes, they still use secure mechanical components made from toughened steel and tamper-proof alloys. Smart locks do include an electronic component, making it the potential weak link in the system. However, rest assured, manufacturers, use several layers of digital security to make all smart locks completely secure. Encrypted smartphone signals use 256-bit codes to unlock the door, the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi protocols should provide you with some peace of mind against electronic penetration by an intruder. The physical components sit behind the smart lock, safe within your home. The enclosure is a compact, complex arrangement of interfacing electronics, computer hardware, and moving parts, including a motorized drive. A power assembly, energized by a set of batteries or live current, brings your smart lock to life. When the access signal is approved, the motor activates the pins and tumblers (slotted rotating discs), drawing back the bolt.
The mechanical components share an affinity with traditional lock parts, but the electronic hardware is what defines the lock’s smartness. The circuitry triggers an unlock deadbolt event when it senses the nearness of the correct electronic code, whether entered directly on a keypad or sent over the air from a smartphone.
Smartphone App - Similar to other smart home systems an App is typically used to interact with your smartphone. The app is used for the initial setup. Other uses include:
- Wirelessly sending an electronic key to the lock.
- Disabling and deleting electronic keys.
- Accessing a history of smart lock activity.
Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is normally used to establish a dependable wireless link between your smartphone and the smart lock installed in the door
Smart Fob - Some people prefer to use a FOB to open and close their smart locks. Some key features of smart lock FOBs:
- Unlike traditional fobs, these smart lock fobs are able to hold electronic keys.
- The form factor is relatively small and is comparative to their mechanical counterparts.
- Although rare nowadays smart FOBs can be provided to someone who needs to access your home but does not use an up to date smartphone – your parents, daughter, or son for instance.
- Smart FOBs are fully manageable. In other words, you give a smart FOB to a contractor doing work in your house and set it up to only allow access at certain times of the day and week - Monday - Friday, 8 am - 5 pm for instance.•
- It is more challenging for potential intruders to make copies of smart FOBs. In the old days, all aspiring ‘burgularpreneurs’ need to do was copy you front door key at the hardware store
- In the event of a Smart FOB getting lost, it’s pretty straightforward to go into the Smart Lock software (typically running on the Cloud) to deactivate the FOB. No more need to go through the expensive process of changing door locks.
Smart locks possess built-in management software to distribute power to low-current components, normally replaceable alkaline batteries available at any store. When those batteries do eventually run low, the lock can be set to send an alert to your smartphone or flash a message on the display of the lock.
Installing a Smart Lock
The term Do-It-Yourself is perhaps thrown around too much. Fortunately, smart locks are simple to install, requiring no alterations to your doors. They’re designed to be retrofitted, to be fixed in the same location, using the same openings as your previous lock. Just follow the four steps described below:
- Mount the lock just as you would a traditional lock, taking care to ease the front display panel and delicate electronics into place.
- Now, take a few minutes to fit the batteries and configure the software.
- Follow step-by-step instructions to set all functions and features, a little like setting up a computer peripheral.
- Download the app and test the lock.
With smartphone Apps and intelligent software and hardware running the home, there are countless ways to customize your smart locks:
- Use your own smartphone to send access codes to the cellphones of contractors or housekeepers.
- Configure the smart lock to sense a presence and automatically unlock when you are within a few feet of your front door.
- Send text and email alerts to your smartphone or tablet to display certain events, such as a power outage or a possible intruder alert.
- During school time, setup the smart lock to send out a notification when your kids arrive home in the evening.
There’s no part of the modern home that isn’t touched in some way by smart technology. This isn’t a quirk of futuristic science destined for a dead end. Smart products are a rapidly maturing line of appliances and devices being manufactured by world-leading companies, and the doorbell is next to be made over, recreated with wireless connectivity and additional functionality.
The Coming of the Smart Doorbell
Push the button on your boring, conventional doorbell and you blindly walk your hallway with a frown of puzzlement. The chime has caught your attention, but you have no idea who’s at the door. This accepted routine is being entirely rewritten by the latest generation of smart doorbells. Firstly, when the illuminated doorbell is depressed, you’re no longer blind to who’s out there. A smart doorbell has digital sight, the ability to transmit video of the person outside through a WiFi connection thanks to a built-in camera. This alone is a blessing in our security-conscious age, but you also have the option to talk to the person through an integrated intercom.
While basic approaches to practical smart doorbells act as little more than a high-tech intercom, fully-equipped models are high-security concepts granting convenience and safety with WiFi connectivity. You can check who’s at the door from the comfort of your seat, picking up your smartphone to see a video of the potential guest and be able to make a decision to allow entry by switching to your smart lock App. If you don’t recognize the face, tap another button, and converse with the stranger to learn why they’re intruding on your precious quiet time.
It may seem like a lazy way to answer the door but think of the advantages. Instead of lazing on your couch, you might instead be on vacation or stuck at work. The point is your voice issues from the little speaker on the smart doorbell, leaving the person at the door with the impression of you inside your home. This is security through awareness with a healthy dose of wireless magic.
Utilize Smart Homes to Improve Safety Levels
Smart Homes are synonymous with entertainment and increasing your security levels, but can they make life safer at home?
In fact, they can not only reduce risks to you or your family’s health but can also prevent costly damage to your house caused by extreme temperatures and leaking water.
The sections below give an overview of 3 key systems that you should consider implementing to enhance the property, safety, and health levels in your house.
Install Smoke Detectors
Did you know that nearly a billion smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed in homes and businesses across the United States?
The purpose of this army of smoke detectors is to make an effort to be proactive in staving off disaster and emergency calls.
Half of the country is required by law to make carbon monoxide detectors a standard feature, a trend that will continue to spread.
Well over half of the fire-related deaths that occur in the nation can be blamed on faulty smoke detectors, indicating that there is a need for innovations from creative minds.
Smart homes add an extra layer of safety for families through their support for smoke alarm systems that are used to detect fire and alert the occupants of the house immediately. A smart smoke alarm lies at the heart of your smart home safety system and makes a loud noise once the fire is detected.
Additionally, it sends a signal to your home automation controller, which in turn will also make a loud noise and send an SMS, email, or telephone notification to you about this alarm.
Smart Smoke Detector Features That Could Save Your Life!
Here’s a close-up look at ten cool smart smoke alarm features that could save your life and avoid future 911, 112, or 999 emergency calls.
Smart Smoke Alarms Send out Advanced Alerts Once Your Battery Starts to Degrade
One of the biggest problems responsible for thousands and indeed millions of emergency calls around the world is smoke alarm battery failure. If we delve deeper, research has shown that battery failure is often due to people forgetting to charge their batteries. This means in most homes the smoke alarm batteries may not be in great shape. Thanks to smart smoke detectors, these units will actually make you aware that there is cause for concern and that you need to install fresh batteries before disaster strikes.
Smart Smoke Alarms Interface with your Smartphone
Most people nowadays are tied to mobile devices. Thus, when the alarm is sounding or the batteries are low, a message will be sent to your mobile device. Rather than waking you in the middle of the night with that aggravating low-battery chirp, you’ll be alerted in a timely manner and be able to take care of the problem.
Useful functionality when away from home because you’ll be alerted to problems and can immediately request the emergency services.
Smart Smoke Detectors Send Out an Early Warning Signal
Before danger strikes and smoke or carbon monoxide levels are creeping up, a smart smoke alarm system can be configured to send out a first warning sign. You can then respond, investigate if there truly is a problem, and take care of matters before a full-blown emergency takes place.
Smart Smoke Alarms Can Be Deactivated With A Wave
The next time burning toast sends up a cloud of smoke and sets off the alarm, some smart smoke detectors support the ‘hand waving’ function. A simple wave of the hand will turn OFF the alarm when there is no true emergency.
Enjoy A Night Light as an Added Perk
Some of the more advanced smoke detectors come equipped with LED lights that will actually provide enough illumination to be a night light. It’s perfect for young children who need extra security if they should awaken in the dark.
A Vocal Warning is An Effective Combination with an Alarm
Time and again, an emergency call has come in for another fire-related disaster involving children who did not awaken when the smoke alarm sounded. No one wants to answer 911 calls to discover there has been a terrible injury or a dreadful death. According to research, youngsters respond best to a voice, particularly a female voice that reminds them of their mother. As a result, some smart smoke detectors have a female voice that alerts members of the household that there is a problem, in addition to a loud alarm.
Smart Smoke Alarms Have A Wireless Interconnect Feature
Most family homes will have more than one smoke detector, while businesses have an impressive network. A typical smart smoke alarm includes wireless interconnect features, ensuring that every alarm will communicate with each other. If there is a problem in one room in the household, all the rest of the alarms will sound as well.
The main point is to send out an alert to every possible area in order to make sure an emergency call will be made after everyone has made it to safety.
Supports a Combination of Sensors
High-end smart smoke detectors include an array of sensors that provide you with a level of protection beyond compare.
Enjoy the Flexibility of More Than One Language
Recognizing the fact that the world contains a cultural blend, the advanced smart smoke alarms will communicate in the language of your choice. It’s a simple matter of programming the preferred language upon installation.
Integrate into Smart Home Scenes
It is also possible to set off various scenes once the smoke sensor is activated. For instance, you are able to configure your smart home hub to turn on certain lights in the house at a particular dim level to help your family find their way through the darkness and escape to the outside.
Smart Smoke Detectors Install Tips
Here are some tips with regards to installing wireless Smart smoke alarms:
If the fire is a personal concern, then you need to consider installing a smoke alarm in each of the rooms.
If you live in a two-story house there should be at least one smoke alarm for each floor.
As illustrated below, you need to locate smoke alarms in close proximity to bedrooms.
Add Water and Freeze Detection Capabilities
The establishment of a water alarm system involves the installation of a flood sensor. Once water flooding is detected an alert is sent straight back to your home automation controller. Water can originate from a number of sources ranging from leaking pipes to refrigerators.
Similar to the smoke alarm system, once the water sensor detects problems, your home controller will emit a loud sound, and notifications are sent onwards via email, SMS, and telephone calls.
Freeze alarm sensors are also available that will work with existing smart home systems and send out alerts if freezing conditions are detected. This will improve your peace of mind and help protect against burst pipes during periods of extreme cold. Please note that combined water and freeze detectors are available for purchase.
Install a Smart Home Air Health Monitoring Device
Have you any idea or even thought about the quality of air that you breathe at home? To be honest, it never crossed my mind until I was made aware in recent weeks that ‘bad air’ is a major cause of cancer and a danger to people’s general well being. Bad air is best defined as the air that consists of a mixture of harmful emissions, particles, pollen, and natural airborne enemies that threaten you or your family’s health.
Our ideal home is a sanctuary from the outside, keeping the dangerous aspects of the natural world from entering. On the whole, we succeed in our mission, creating a bright and clean atmosphere that’s fresh and safe for the whole family. But evolution finds ways to penetrate your household boundaries, entering the structure of the most modern home, mostly in the air you breathe. Invisible spores float through clean rooms as mold incubates in wet, isolated spaces.
The Dangers of Indoor Air at Home
Unfortunately, there are plenty of household systems and materials that are potential threats to air quality. Rising smoke from a burning fire is a far greater hazard than soon to follow the heat. Carbon monoxide fumes are invisible and insidious, often not acted upon until it’s too late. You need peace of mind from these hazards, from toxic fumes and the build-up of gas caused by damaged or blocked heating vents. A smart guardian is a solution, a cutting-edge device that’s on watch 24-hours a day.
No one wants health-compromising fungi and spores triggering asthma attacks, or life-threatening smoke and toxic fumes endangering family members. Let’s take a look at options for guarding against these dangers by investigating two smart air quality management devices:
Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitors
Your first line of defense is a sensor capable of sniffing out airborne pollutants, the risk factors the naked eye can’t see. Potentially toxic contaminants are detected by a compact sensor that otherwise fades aesthetically into the background of the room it occupies. Packed with the latest, most sensitive sensory circuitry, this class of device is designed to monitor specific factors of the air you breathe. Levels of particulate matter, moisture density, are all precisely measured and transmitted to a mobile App for your scrutiny.
Benefits and Features of Smart Air Quality Monitoring Devices include:
- Constant monitoring of air quality.
- Wellness focused detection of contaminants.
- The superior detector of smoke, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide
- WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
- Manageable using Smartphone and tablet Apps.
- Push alerts and text warnings.
- Comprehensive data tracking displays about your home air content on the App.
- Built-in audio and visual alarms if air quality is dangerous.
Preventing health problems, guarding against fire; smart air monitoring is the logical future of air monitoring in the home. These devices guard warn of allergens and contaminants - transmitting the results by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to a detailed display on your mobile device. Easily see the moisture levels and peaks of invasive particles in your home air.
How They Work and Setup?
For the health and safety conscious, these devices pack multiple sensors into a small design. Core electro-chemical technology interfaces with embedded software to measure levels of specific pollutants, passing the relevant data to a Wi-Fi chip, which in turn relays the data as a filtered and organized set of information displayed on your monitoring App.
The configuration is simply the fixing of the device in the living space, although some designs are surface mountable, and following a step-by-step setup to hook the device to the Wi-Fi network and your App. Batteries are required, and we all know the annoyance of forgetting to replace them, but smart home technology within the monitor is programmable with the touch of a button to send an alert when battery life is running low.
Smart Mold Detectors
Whatever the reason, be it locality, a leaking water pipe, or an undetected environmental factor, mold, and mildew will happily settle into your home. The cost of this growth is property damage and impurities in the air. Every member of the family will likely suffer from varying degrees of respiratory distress as the spores ejected from the mold enter heating ducts and find their way into living spaces. This reduction in air quality is especially hazardous to those in the household with breathing conditions, such as asthma and allergies. A smart mold detector intelligently measures these threats through moisture analysis, allowing you to take action before health problems develop.
Dangers of Moisture in the Air
By the time spores reach your lungs, causing throat irritation and allergic reactions, the mold has already developed a strong potency, even though all may look well. Mold may be a stubborn irritant, but it can’t survive without the presence of moisture. The fungi prosper rapidly in a wet environment, spreading and releasing harmful spores into the air. The reason for the moisture could be the humid atmosphere of a wet climate or damaged plumbing, airconditioning, creating an imbalance in household moisture levels.
How Smart Moisture Detection Work?
The solution to mold is a detector that seeks out moisture behind baseboards and wall cavities, in the cracks of drywall, and the hidden passages where pipes travel. When damp strikes, the device recognizes a change in room moisture, employing an active chemical compound capable of high orders of sensitivity. Hidden wet spots are instantly recognized, indicating an approximate location, perhaps just below the surface of a wall, where wetness is feeding growing fungi. The sensor design triggers an alarm as a warning of potential mold growth. Install it in a suspect location, a bathroom or utility area, and feel satisfied that your family is protected from dangerous molds. Some key features of smart mold detectors include:
- Detects moisture before molds can gain traction.
- Active chemical sensor.
- Triggers an alarm when hidden wetness is found. Smart technology checks to see if moisture is present for 48-hours or longer before activating the alarm.
- Battery-powered and easy to install
Things to Remember
Here is the key take away points to remember:
- Smart Home systems can be pre-programmed to allow you to remotely monitor, arm, and disarm your alarm using a smartphone, PC, or tablet device.
- If the Smart Home alarm is set off, you will be automatically informed by e-mail, text, or indeed phone of a break-in.
- IP cameras allow you to view live video images on your smartphone. Additionally, they can be configured to record live video when an alarm is detected.
- Replace existing locks, quickly substituting them with smart locks without making any changes to your door, turning home access into an exhilarating experience as your lock welcomes you, identifying you by name. The door unlocks and lights are turned on to give you a warm welcome. No more key fumbling, only safe, secure, and smart entry.
- Wireless and Internet-connected, smart doorbells can be answered from anywhere. The addition of the camera is a perfect coupling of technology that works well with a smartphone, delivering total awareness of who’s at your door. Combine the technology with the new generation of wireless locking mechanisms, and you have ultimate control.
- The installation of smoke alarms increases your families’ safety levels by providing you with an early warning of fire.
- Smart smoke alarms are breaking new ground, paving the way to fewer emergency calls thanks to improvements that will make others take notice and could revolutionize the industry. They are an excellent addition to your home, well worth the investment.
- Once integrated onto your Smart Home network, water and freeze sensors can send you warning alerts.
- Once installed an air quality monitor can wirelessly warn you of any number of pollutants, while innovative smart mold detectors guard against accumulations of mold-feeding moisture. This is crucial for family members who may be suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma or indeed elderly people who are impacted negatively by bad air circulating in their homes.