Smart Home, Safe Perimeter — Smart devices that can improve your home’s security

By Erik J. Martin

Many homeowners have implemented smart home technology inside their abodes in recent years – from Alexa smart speakers and Philips Hue color-changing bulbs to Nest thermostats. But it’s beyond the front door and around the boundaries of your house that you can particularly benefit in the form of devices designed to keep you and your family safe.

“Now that everyone is starting to leave their homes on a more regular basis, thanks to more relaxed coronavirus protocols, we need to make sure our homes and properties are secured – especially to protect against damage and theft,” says Marc Umstead with Pennsylvania-based Plus 1 Technology.

Anthony Hageman, CEO of Strategic Innovations—the California-based maker of eLiT, an LED address box designed to help first responders and package delivery services reach homes and businesses—agrees.

“With the proliferation of e-commerce and increased delivery of purchases to homes, security concerns now extend to the outer edges of the home. These include your mailbox and any other area where a package may be left, food may be delivered, or thieves may target,” he says.

That’s why it’s wise to establish security elements around the perimeter of your home in an effort to protect your property and family, according to Doug Bellenger, senior director of Product Management for ADT in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

“Outdoor cameras, video doorbells, door and window sensors tied to a security system, and motion-activated lighting can give you advance notice of any potentially unwanted activity around your home. They can also act as a deterrent to burglars, who tend to avoid homes with video surveillance and well-lit surroundings,” he notes.

James Stables, co-founder of The-Ambient.com, a leading online authority on the connected home, says smart home security and outdoor lighting products are getting much cheaper and easier to install, especially with the proliferation of battery- and solar-powered wireless devices.

“Battery-operated systems like those made by Arlo and Ring can be used on both residential and rental properties, because there is no invasive install required, no damage to the property, and you can take your system to your next home,” Stables explains. “And there’s plenty of easier-to-install smart cameras and video doorbells available today that provide effective visual deterrence, offering you great peace of mind.”

The pros recommend considering any of the following products to better protect your property and its inhabitants:

• Outdoor and video doorbell cameras that provide visual surveillance and, in some models, enable you to engage in a two-way conversation with people on your property. Examples include the Ring Video Doorbell, Google Nest Hello, Blink Outdoor, Arlo Pro 4, Wyze Cam Pan, Blue by ADT, and others.

• Smart WiFi deadbolt locks that present an added security touchpoint, allowing you to create unique codes you can give to trusted visitors, know who is entering and exiting your home, and remotely lock or unlock your door via your smartphone. Among the popular models are the Kwikset Halo Touch, August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro, Lockly Vision Doorbell Camera Smart Lock, and Yale Assure Lock SL.

• Smart outdoor lighting devices that help illuminate your property, discouraging potential intruders, preventing slips, trips, falls, and accidents, and improving the video quality of your outdoor cameras, such as the Eufy Security Floodlight; Ring’s Pathlight, Floodlight, and Spotlight;  and Arlo Security Light.

• Smart home security systems with sensors that, when armed, trigger an alarm when doors or windows are opened or other home components fail. Systems by SimpliSafe, Blue by ADT, Nest, Vivint, FrontPoint, and Ring come highly rated.

Umstead, who uses the SimpliSafe system in his home, appreciates the advanced protection provided by smart home security systems.

“I have been saved by this system’s moisture sensor, which I keep right next to my sub-pump. One night, the pipe for my sub-pump became disconnected and water was being pumped all over my basement; my sensor went off and I received a call from their monitoring system, which saved me at least $20,000 in damages,” he says.

The key to outdoor security is ensuring you have proper coverage, “so it’s recommended that you place cameras in a place that’s out of reach that gives you the best view of your property and entryways,” suggests Bellenger. “Having one camera on each corner of your home with a video doorbell is recommended and ensures you will have the best view of what’s happening around your home’s perimeter.”

It’s also crucial to ensure you have proper bandwidth to support these devices and a home Wi-Fi network that can reach outside of your dwelling; using a mesh Wi-Fi network and upgrading to high bandwidth (100 Mbps or higher) Internet service can help in this matter.