How To Choose A Modern Home Security System
The Importance of Home Security
Technology is truly a beautiful thing. For home security, it was time for it to disrupt. From fitness trackers to wireless headphones, science is there to improve our everyday lives. So then it only seems natural that it could, in fact, alter traditional home security. For years, home security was fairly straightforward. Recently though, chips and storage have become cheaper, smartphones are everywhere, and suddenly home security can be a myriad of solutions. Let’s look at a few options and how you can choose your own system from these new technologies.
Maybe you are in the market for a home security system, maybe not. Regardless, it is always interesting to dive into some of the fresh technology out there changing our society. So come with me on a home security journey that may blow your mind — or maybe just generally inform you. Either works for me. As long as you get something out of it, we all win, folks.
Market Trends in Home Security
For years, home security fell into two categories on dramatically different ends of the budget spectrum. You had the traditional system, installed and monitored by professionals, or you had a deadbolt. Maybe even one of those fancy hotel chains as well, if you were really special.
While the market greatly favored the pro’s for true blanket security, the do-it-yourselfers were looking for an opportunity. Flash forward to today and that opportunity has presented itself. The rapid growth of technology has the DIY market poised for a 34% market share by 2020.
Even more eye opening is that the home security market is on the precipice of explosive growth: 44% by 2023, as a $74.75 billion industry. What does this mean? Well for one, that’s a boatload of clams. But let’s take a look further.
Traditional Home Security
You likely know the story of traditional home security. You signed up for a service; they came to your house to install equipment; they wired everything to your home phone — yes, a land line; and then collected their money. And so it went for many years, until people woke up to find that they could implement security themselves at a much cheaper clip with similar fidelity.
There were two big drawbacks to the traditional home monitoring system. One of those drawbacks, was the customer feedback loop — or should I say, lack thereof. Metrics and big data are everywhere these days. Seems only logical that you should be able to receive feedback from your system, both when at home and when abroad. Given the prices you paid for those traditional services, that was an area ripe for technological disruption.
The other drawback centered around the customization and utilization of your security system. The traditional systems seemed more like a binary system — that is 0 or 1. Either your alarm went bananas or it literally did nothing. A 0 or a 1. We deserve better! In fact, we demanded better and lo and behold, technology delivered.
Why Modern Home Security Matters
Let’s take a minute to flash back roughly 10 years or so. That is the thing to do these days with the Facebook 10 year challenge, right? Anyway, the time frame roughly happens to coincide with a rather exciting moment in my life. I was still quite the spring chicken, living at home with my parents. For whatever reason, it was only my mother and sister home that evening with my Dad and other sister out. We had a traditional alarm system at the time, and I could literally count on one hand how often it had ever gone off.
Well not that night. I awoke to my mother storming my room, waking me up of a deep slumber. The alarm was blaring and I was frantically being told there was an intruder. My sister had vacated the house to run to the neighbors for help, and my mother had me barricading the door. There I was, scared out of my mind, guarding my bedroom door with a guitar, awaiting my dreadful fate — or the cops, which ever came first. Turns out the cops did.
We later reasoned that the alarm had gone off because my mother had seen a shadow in her room from her window on the first floor and screamed so loud it tripped the alarm. Thing is, we were never absolutely certain. It took a few weeks before we were at ease again.
Modern technology would have helped solve that mystery. Any number of cameras these days process data, record it and store it on cloud-backed hard drives. One quick play back, would have told us all we needed to know.
Home security isn’t just night intrusions either. I also witnessed a forced break-in while at a friends house years back as well. That actually had more to do with a mentally unstable woman than anything else, but nonetheless, modern technology would have helped solve that problem. Some of these video doorbells would have instantly let my friends’ parents know what they were dealing with (she had tried this previously). They could have then never opened the door and called the cops, accordingly. Bottom line, home security of some variety is necessary in today’s modern world.
Modern Home Security For You
Ultimately, this leads us to the technology that is changing modern home security. There are a plethora of options the average person can choose from today to secure their home, outside of the traditional system. Whether you are in the market for home security, or are maybe thinking about it at some point in the future, it makes sense to discuss some of these options. The point is to get an idea about what is out there to arm you with enough information to piece together a system that works for you.
In order to evaluate these systems properly, we should have some judgement criteria. Quick hit list on what to look for, no matter the system.
- Look for Value Over Price – price absolutely makes a difference but a good value can’t be beat for a quality security system
- Think Long Term – whatever you choose, smart home security will be around a long time so make sure the product can be updated and / or meshes well with other products
- Get What’s Right For You – peace of mind is different for everyone, so choose what makes sense for you and not necessarily your neighbor
With these thoughts in mind, let’s dive into a few different options for a DIY-type, modern home security system.
Bet you didn’t think I’d start here, huh? Camera this, camera that — whatever. Smart locks are here and they mean business. What is a smart lock you ask? It can be interpreted as a few different things, but in this case, it is any device that you can attach to your door to control the locks via a smart device. That device could be a smart phone or maybe even a key fob. Generally, it entails some form of wireless communication and runs on batteries.
These can be extremely useful for someone on a budget, who needs some home security without the bells and whistles. It could also be the icing on the cake to a full up security system. Honestly, just depends on how you want to you use it, but it would offer a notch above basic security and convenience.
Pros: retrofits to current door, uses Z-wave for potential future growth of your smart home system, auto lock feature, Alexa enabled
Cons: battery operated, can die without notice; no separate authentication so if someone stole your phone, they are in
Summary: A solid option for a lock. Z-wave compatible ensures a potential option for future growth of an integrated smart home system. It avoids bio-metrics (eye scans or fingerprints) for entry which could become a real hassle in cold weather or if you’re in a hurry, etc. It also allows you to control an access list of those who can unlock the door. Lastly, it is Alexa compatible for those who like the voice command approach.
Key Difference: If you are not into wireless, there is a hard key pad. Still has Alexa and future expansion capability with Z-wave.
Facial recognition has come a long way in the home security arena. Yes, the technology still requires training. This may turn off many because of the time investment, but maybe it is worth it. Sometimes you may have lost your phone or the battery died, putting you in quite the conundrum to enter your home. I’ll tell you one thing you didn’t lose — your face!
These systems can act as a full up home security option. They can be placed at every door and some come with alarms for intruders. Again, the biggest drawback may be time in training the system. However, the technology has matured to where recognition is super fast and highly accurate. If nothing else, it has been vetted enough to be a reliable technology for the masses.
Pros: Reversible handle (left or right), fast recognition (0.3 seconds), physical key backup, low error rate
Cons: No smart phone compatibility, not built to withstand harsh weather
Summary: For a budding technology, this product seemed to check all the boxes. It’s fast, accurate and comes with additional authentication methods in case necessary. I don’t like that it is not built for harsh weather as that could be a show stopper in many parts of the country. May suit apartment buildings the best.
Key Difference: Not as flexible with the handle (comes right vs left) and is built for indoors only — though as such, may be a better option as it comes with an alarm and is super fast at detection.
Home Security Cameras
Ok, I caved. Hard not to include security cameras on the list, given the availability and affordability they bring in today’s home security environment. With storage capacity so cheap, the overall price of most systems is much more affordable than yesteryear. Plus, some of these systems even incorporate technology from above (see Facial Recognition).
Two big drawbacks that concern me. One is the potential wireless feed that is available for a hacker to grab. The other drawback is detection. I’d worry that someone throws a blanket over a camera and waltzes in the house. If you’re not paying attention to the feed, it’s possible they get in “undetected”. Some systems are getting smarter and may even detect such an event, but it’s worth considering.
That all being said, these are probably one of the easiest yet most effective methods to a modernized home security system. As such, there are a few options out there that hopefully get the job done while honing in on the value we crave.
Pros: Aluminum casing for weatherproofing, night vision, multi-screen visuals on one app, future expansion capable
Cons: Internet live connection (some may see as a pro) concerning for potential hacking, no other alarms, no z-wave connection / stand alone system
Summary: This may not have all the bells and whistles as some systems, but it wins me over as a value pick. Storage is cheap, so expanding on 1TB is of no future cost concern (think Labor Day or Black Friday sales). It also has the capability to expand, which is a big plus in our book. The internet check in feature via the app is also convenient, though again I’m leery of a hack. Still, overall this system checks the boxes at a solid value.
Key Difference: Name brand recognition with some improvements over the ZOSI system above. Night vision capability is farther, the weatherproofing more robust, and it has remote viewing as well. Only kicker is you’ll pay a bit more for incremental features such as these.
So What Has Home Security Taught Us?
For one, no matter your standing in life, minimal home security is a must. Whether that is through the traditional system, one of these modern technologies or the ole six shooter, home security brings peace of mind to you and your love ones.
The good news for most is, with the technological improvement of home security in recent years, there is real value in this industry for Joe Common. So kick the tires on some of the aforementioned products here, and formulate some ideas on a system that works best for you. It may be some combo of these items or a more traditional approach like an ADT system or traditional-modern system like SimpliSafe. In either case, hopefully this article has sparked some awareness that will help you in your future purchases. Happy hunting!