You don’t need to spend a fortune on making your home office secure, but thanks to mobile technology, our options are now far beyond a locked door and window fastenings.
Smart video doorbells that create and record both video and audio feeds in real-time when you have a visitor. Motion and sound sensors that can be used in and outside, digital door locks, cameras with excellent night vision — the range of products that leverage mobile connectivity, apps, and Internet of Things sensors are endless.
That is not to say that all smart home security products are created equal, and not every home needs to have bells and whistles on when it comes to security — sometimes, a few select pieces can create a home ecosystem that is enough to protect your home (and office) against intruders, as well as alert you when suspicious activity is detected.
ZDNet has created a list suiting a variety of budgets and setups to help homeowners and remote workers decide how best to protect their properties, ranging from full kits to useful window sensors and cameras suitable for use both in and outdoors.
A smart video doorbell is one of those products that you didn’t realize could be a great addition to daily life until you invest in one. It may seem like overkill to go for a doorbell with Internet connectivity, video and audio feeds, and the ability to check-in remotely, but once you get used to the convenience of being able to chat to visitors and delivery staff no matter where you are, you can see their value.
Convenience, however, it just one benefit, as these types of products can be a useful security addition, too, as you can clearly see visitors before opening the door, as well as deter potentially unwanted ‘visitors’ checking out your home.
Currently on sale at $189.99, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is one product for consideration. The hardwired doorbell is able to record 1080p HD footage with two-way talk, and also comes with infrared night vision, sensors, and customizable ‘zones’ for motion detection alerts.
Compatible With iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows 10, users can check in on their doorbell at any time. Live view is free but continual recording requires a subscription.
If the Ring ecosystem appeals to you, Ring also offers a full smart home security system that can be customized depending on the property and the user’s wishes when it comes to security.
You can create your own security system by combining elements including home alarms, motion sensors, window and door contact sensors, keypads, a smart doorbell, panic buttons, and both indoor and outdoor cameras.
Ranging in price from single $19.99 window sensors to a robust $649.99 security package, the Ring range considers every point of entry into a home, whether you live in a small condo or a large house with extensive grounds.
For do-it-yourself types who want a few security gadgets but not an entire setup, Google’s Nest Cams are worth considering.
Nest Cam Indoor products are standalone security cameras that plug into an outlet. Once connected to the Nest mobile app, users are sent alerts when motion is detected and it is also possible to tap into the camera at any time to see what is going on at home — not only useful as a security measure but also something that could be used to keep an eye on pets at home, for example. Built-in speakers and a microphone are included.
Event-based or continual recording is on offer, and for free, snapshots taken over a three-hour time period are saved and viewable. A subscription option for 24/7 recording and storage is also available.
Outdoor alternatives are on sale for $199.
If your smart home is making use of the Nest ecosystem and already includes products such as Google Home, or Nest fire or C02 alarms, the Secure package could be of interest to bolster home security.
The $399 Nest Secure includes Nest Guard, an alarm, keypad, and motion sensor; two Nest Detect sensors suitable for use in monitoring doors, windows, or entire rooms, two open/close magnets for doors or windows, two Nest tags that are used to enable or disable alarms quickly, and mounting brackets.
The Nest Detect sensors are able to detect motion and sound, and can also be set to chime when a door or window is opened — a useful feature if you have young children at home.
A limited free option is available, alongside a feed monitoring and storage subscription. As Secure products are compatible with Google’s overall IoT ecosystem, users can ask their assistant to arm or disarm the Nest alarm remotely, and if the system thinks you have left home without arming, a reminder can be sent to your smartphone.
For hunters of a full security system without a long-term subscription, SimpliSafe’s home security system should be considered.
SimpliSafe offers a $220 entry-level kit containing a motion sensor, entry sensor, panic button, and a key fob, which can be customized to include additional products such as a siren, video doorbell, glass break sensor, or smoke, water, and C02 sensors.
The Wi-Fi-connected system has a backup battery in case of a power outage, and the vendor maintains six monitoring centers to keep an eye on homes within the network — with operators alerting the police even if the devices are damaged by intruders.
SimpliSafe offers a variety of subscriptions and accounts for over three million users in the United States.
Blink XT2 security cameras, suitable for indoor and outdoor use, should be considered as an alternative for Amazon Alexa voice assistant users.
These cameras are best suited for those who want versatility and do not want to deal with wires or installation, as each camera is powered by lithium-ion batteries.
Blink XT2 cameras contain motion detection sensors, two-way speakers and a microphone, and is able to take 1080p HD video through the day, as well as infrared-based footage at night.
The cameras can be armed or disarmed through Alexa and free cloud storage for one year is on offer, with no need for a subscription or contract.
Another popular option on the market is Honeywell’s home security kit. The $189 bundle contains a selection of motion sensors, key fobs, and a camera able to record visual and audio footage in 1080p HD video. Night vision is also included.
Honeywell’s security system can be set to automatically arm itself when you leave home, and if you forget to shut a window or door where a sensor is installed, for example, you can be sent alerts to this oversight.
A key selling point about this option is versatility, as the security system can be set up to operate in existing IoT setups offered by various vendors. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is inbuilt to accept commands.
Abode’s offering is a budget-friendly package that comes with an Abode hub, a motion sensor suitable for entryways or specific rooms, a small window or door sensor, and a keyfob for quickly arming or disarming the system.
Users can install the system themselves and connect the hub to their mobile device, as well as control their kit through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit.
If you want to extend your security system further, additional Abode sensors and cameras can be added to the network.
A basic, free plan or more extensive subscription is available.
An additional component you might want to consider for your home security setup is a smart lock. An alternative to a traditional deadbolt, a lock such as the August Wi-Fi Smart lock, available in black and silver, connects to a user’s mobile device or Alexa assistant to monitor the lock status of a door.
You do not need to replace your existing lock-and-key setup; instead, you attach the smart lock to a deadbolt. It is possible to set up the product to automatically detect when you come home and unlock the door, and in the same way, auto lock when the door closes.
If you want to grant others access to your home, “secure keys” can be sent to their mobile devices via the August app.
However, it is worth noting this smart lock requires a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network.
The August Wi-Fi Smart lock is currently on sale for $238.
When ZDNet compiled this list, we wanted to consider as many security angles to protecting a home and home office as possible. Entry points including windows and doors can be protected through smart door locks, sensors, and cameras, and should an intruder manage to get into a property, monitoring systems that send alerts to homeowners can make all the difference between perpetrators being caught or getting away with their actions.
Unlike a business premise, however, homeowners and remote workers do not need to spend a fortune in order to adequately protect their assets. Instead, a few products that have been carefully selected and placed in weak or entry points — including a front porch, garden, or by ground floor windows — can be all they need.
A camera or two — preferably with night vision — sensors monitoring windows, and, perhaps, a video doorbell or smart lock to protect your front door. Larger properties can benefit from additional security components linked to the same network, but in either case, today’s smart home security products can give you peace of mind in or outside of the house.