Everyone has had that sinking feeling, some time or another, that they forgot to lock the front door or left the stove or oven on. It’s one thing if you just stepped out to grab the mail, but another if you’re off on a week’s vacation. By installing a few smart gadgets, however, you can “have eyes and ears on your home at all times,” says Carley Knobloch, a digital lifestyle expert. Start with these pro-recommended devices below.
A security camera lets you view comings and goings remotely. But be strategic about placement, says Knobloch. Think about your home’s blind spots. Knobloch has one camera pointing at her front porch, which shows who’s at the door and helps discourage delivery theft, and another in the family room, to monitor their dog if they’re away. Knobloch likes the Canary security system, particularly for small spaces. “The camera has a wide-angle lens, so it can pick up most of the activity in the public space of an apartment,” she says. Installation takes just a few minutes: Download the app, plug in the device and start recording.
“Smart locks are fantastic, especially if you have kids,” says Knobloch. “They can come and go without having to take keys, and you get alerts so you know who’s home, who left and when.” Schlage’s Sense Smart Deadbolt is an option that uses Bluetooth technology to allow you (and approved guests) to enter your home with an access code or via a phone app. There are no fees or subscriptions, and you can access a full log of the comings and goings at all times. What’s great about smart locks is they up the convenience factor and security at your home without any of the hassle.
The Water Leak Detector
If you’ve ever lost precious valuables to a flooded basement or had an overflowing washing machine ruin your flooring, you know a water leak detector makes sense. “For a small investment,” Knobloch says, “you could save yourself tons of repair costs.” You could put a detector under every sink, but Knobloch advises that it’s most economical to stick to key leak-prone areas, such as near water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines. The Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector is a user-friendly model that messages you when the built-in sensor detects water, even just a few drops.
Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Smoke and CO2 detectors can save lives—but only if they’re functioning properly. A smart alarm makes confirming efficacy one step easier, by “letting you see, at any moment, that they’re working,” says Knobloch. All you have to do is pull up the app, to make sure there’s a green light in the program that lets you know everything is OK. If the battery gets low, you’ll receive an alert on your phone—not an annoying chirp in the middle of the night. You can also run a “Safety Checkup” whenever you like to ensure that all alarms are working and interconnected. And studies show that the voice that Nest Protect uses to alert you to a fire or carbon monoxide issue is more effective at waking people from sleep than the conventional piercing noise, she adds. Smart alarms are also good for 10 years, send a notification to your phone when you need to change a battery and can be silenced in-app instantly for those annoying false alarms. Plus, homeowners insurance providers often offer a discount when you install smoke alarms.
Garage Door Controller
Did you leave the garage door open … or not? A smart controller typically installs in about 30 minutes, works with virtually all openers, and answers that question. “I can see at any time, from any location, the status of the door,” Knobloch says. Smart garage door controllers can also reduce the risk of damage from theft and inclement weather since you can close your door remotely. Most controllers can be set to notify you when the door has been open for longer than 10 minutes, so you’ll have time to get it closed if a snow storm rolls in and you’re stuck in traffic, for instance.
Read our eye-opening guide on how to boost your home’s security.
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By Danielle Blundell