There’s no place like home for the holidays, but if you’re traveling over the river and through the woods, you might be worried about the old abode. There’s nothing that puts a damper on an otherwise enjoyable trip like coming back and finding you’ve been robbed.
There are a few things you can do to hopefully deter thieves — or at least get alerted if someone does break in. From smart lights to connected cameras, these gadgets can make you feel a little more secure if you’re heading out of town this holiday season.
The $89 starter kit comes with a hub and two bulbs. Using embedded motion sensors, they can tell when someone enters or leaves a room and react accordingly. Thanks to some recent upgrades, these lights are even smarter. They learn your patterns, so they can turn on and off in ways that mimic your routine, even if no one’s home. When you set the system to “away,” you’ll also get motion alerts in the event an intruder is moving around in your home.
Much like the aforementioned Stack Lights, BeOn bulbs can mimic your movements throughout your home, helping to trick burglars into thinking someone’s there. The bulbs feature built-in microphones, so if they pick up the sound of a doorbell, they’ll turn on. They do the same to provide emergency lighting when a smoke detector goes off. Should your power go out when you are home, they can provide backup lighting for up to five hours.
Even if you’re going to be home for Christmas, all those packages might go missing if you leave them on your doorstep. Thankfully, the Skybell HD activates when it detects motion, so you should get an alert on your phone if someone’s creeping ’round your backstair. It also starts recording when someone rings the bell, and its two-way audio lets you talk to someone from your bedroom or your aunt’s patio. It will then save the video for seven days on its cloud server, free of charge.
The Ring operates in much the same way as the Skybell. It has motion detection, a microphone, speakers, and an app. You’ll get notifications from the app when someone rings your doorbell and a live video stream. However, its cloud storage costs $3 a month, though the subscription is optional — you just won’t have a recording of any events, should you choose to forgo it.
Easy and quick to install — it works with your existing lock, so you can keep your keys — the August Smart Lock is actually more about convenience than safety. If you have a dog walker coming to take care of your labradoodle, you can give them access. They’ll have to download the August app, but you can restrict the admittance window to an hour or the whole week. You can also check the lock’s log to see when someone has entered or exited, giving you a better idea of what’s been going on in your home.
Like the August, the Schlage Sense is designed to work with an app, letting you grant access to house sitters or plant waterers. You can make it super simple by giving them the code, so they can punch it in the keypad without needing an app. You can also make the code temporary, so your neighbor can’t throw a party in your place later that night after picking up your mail. The lock also features a built-in alarm, which will sound if someone’s tampering with it, which is a feature the August lacks.
If you live in a place where pipes are prone to burst, a smart leak sensor might give you some peace of mind. The D-Link sensor can send notifications to you via its app if it detects water. It will also sound an alarm, but that’s not much help if you’re not home. Keep in mind that it does have to be plugged into an outlet. However, it doesn’t need a hub and simply connects to your Wi-Fi network, so no extra hardware is required.
The Honeywell Lyric is another hub-free smart leak detector, though it’s nearly $20 more expensive. In addition to detecting leaks, it can also act as a temperature and humidity sensor, meaning it can send you an alert if your heater goes kaput. (If you have a smart lock, you can also let your neighbor or a repair person in, if there is an emergency.) It’s also battery operated, so you have a little more freedom when it comes to placement than you do with the D-Link. It does lack some of the integration that the D-Link has — it doesn’t work with IFTTT, for example, so you can’t trigger other devices to react if it sends out an alert.
If you’re in the market for something a bit more robust when it comes to security, there’s the iSmartAlarm package. It comes with a hub with an audible alarm, two window/door sensors, and one motion sensor. It might not cover an entire house, but it should work for a small condo, and you can add more sensors or get a more expensive package if you need to cover a larger area. The system can also send you push notifications and texts if it detects a door opening or movement near the detector. It will sound a shrieking alarm, but you’ll have to call the police yourself, as it’s a DIY security system.
One device that can give you the greatest sense of security is a security camera — just be sure to warn anyone who’s looking after your home that they’re being filmed. The Nest cam has two-way audio, so you can still interact with your pup if you’re away from home. It has 1080p resolution and 130-degree field of view. It will also send push notifications if it detects motion, and it can integrate with lots of other devices via IFTTT. You can, for example, have your lights blink and get a phone call when it detects motion.
Though a bit pricier than the Nest, the Piper comes with a few extra perks. It has 1080p video resolution and a 180-degree field of view, but it also pans and tilts to give you a bigger picture of what’s going on. You can also digitally zoom in with this camera. The Piper is more than just a cam, though. It also has a built-in 105 decibel alarm to scare the bejesus out of anyone who isn’t supposed to be in your home. Built-in sensors for temperature, light, sound, and humidity make it a pretty versatile device that can take care of lots of surveillance tasks.
Updated 12/13/2016: Updated to correct the price of the Ring Pro.