Home security shouldn’t be very difficult now that devices and sensors are readily available, wireless, and reasonably affordable. In this day and age, there is no reason that your typical burglar should be able to clean out your house without being either deterred, caught by the police, or captured on video. Unfortunately, most thieves get away with the loot with little or no resistance and often NOT captured on video. Bah – totally fixable.
The heart of every smart home is security. Where people go wrong is how they add security to their property. Here are the basic layers of security you should consider – of course, not all theft is preventable, but let’s make it more likely that a thief will move on to the next house and not waste their time with yours.
Before your call the cops or rain down drone strikes, the first line of defense to tell people that they are just entirely too close to your house or property. At this stage in the game, you don’t necessarily need to blast a siren considering it could be anyone from a mailman to the neighborhood cat strolling across the lawn. For now, let’s just let them know (and let you know) that someone is too close to your house.
Part 1: Motion Detectors/Cameras
The easiest way to go is to get weatherproof, wireless cameras that will act as both a way to record the intruder’s activities, but also as a way to run routines based on the actual detection of the object. I’m running Arlo and Blink. NOTE: Blink is not waterproof, so careful to mount out of the elements.
You’ll obviously want cameras watching you driveway/car, and all entrances. You may also have a storage shed or a patio with valuables like bar-b-que pits. The main goal is to position the camera in a way that can easily capture faces even if wearing a cap. That means to try and mount the camera as low as possible without making it super easy to steal.
Watching the driveway and street is something often missed. If your property supports the setup, do this:
Get a motion camera watching your porches/entries/car. Now, get another camera that watches the street. For this camera, disable motion detection so it doesn’t pick up daily traffic. Instead, set this camera to automatically record if one of the other cameras is triggered. Depending on your smart home, this may need to be done through IFTTT or SmartThings hub. Either way, this is a great way to capture how the person escaped (license plate of car, etc).
Lastly, try to buy cameras with two-way audio nearest the doors.
Part 2: Lights
For the perimeter, you’ll also need lights to flash or turn on if one of your motion sensors is tripped. This is obviously most effective for night deterrence, but really important.
At my house, I have all of my patio lights, living room lights, and office lights flash red at 100% brightness. It basically lights up the entire perimeter of the house for 20 seconds. If that wasn’t enough, my patio’s string lights come on, as well, using this Z-wave outdoor swtich. There is pretty much no way an intruder would stay lurking in the driveway after that. For these lights, I’m using Hue and Lifx. Neither one is rated for outdoor or closed fixture use, so careful where/how you install them.
I also plan on adding a few Lifx + lights pointed towards the yard and driveway. These lights are infrared and will significantly increase the quality of your night-vision cameras.
So, what you’re hoping for is:
- motion detection triggered.
- camera that is triggered starts recording.
- at the same time, a text is sent to your phone and,
- the street camera starts recording.
- lights are flashing.
- now that you know something is going on, you can use your 2-way audio cameras to confront the intruders.
DONE. No damage to your house or property and life goes on.
So, why do I have two different brands of cameras and lights? Easy answer – there is always a chance that one of them will be offline or in the middle of a software update. If your entire system is built on Arlo cameras, for example, and the Arlo hub is down, you’re screwed. Of course, all of this depends on having internet/wifi access. People love to complain about this ‘flaw’ in home security, but the reality is that 90%+ of all thevery is oportunistic and not a planned attack on your infrastructure. Remember, we’re trying to make it easier for the bad guy to move on to your neighbor’s house.
Lastly, toss a few yard signs and window stickers around the perimeter. You’ll automatically eliminate most of the petty thieves.
The next layer of defense, INSIDE THE HOUSE, will be in an upcoming post. Stay tuned ;)