It’s official. It’s that time of the year again. Summer has landed. Inevitably, millions of us are going to jet away on vacation to some warmer climate, where we’ll laze our days away by some azure seafront, before being sharply jerked back into grim reality.
But while you leave your work and your smartphones at home, worries about the safety of your home will follow you wherever you go.
To calm your nerves, you should consider installing these six smart home products. These will prevent the damage done by fire and flood, protect you against any burglars, and are absolutely worth the money.
Smart Valves: To Prevent Flooding
One of the most unusual smart home products you can purchase is a smart water valve. These connect to your water mains, allowing you to turn off the water without getting on all-fours, or scrambling to find the stopcock.
A few months back, we looked at the various smart valves on the market. One stuck out as especially good – the Waxman LeakSMART Smart Water Valve. While this is no longer being sold on Amazon, you can purchase it directly from the manufacturer for just $250.
This consists of two parts. One is the automated valve. The second is a moisture sensor. You replace your mechanical valve with the automated one, and you place the moisture sensor under the pipes. The moment a burst occurs, the LeakSMART will step into action, and automatically shut off the water supply.
Better yet, the latest software update to the LeakSmart has introduced compatibility with the Nest ecosystem. This means that it can know when you’re away, can notify your emergency contact, and can control the Nest Thermostat to set the room temperature.
Nest Protect: Detect Smoke from 4000 Miles Away
You don’t need to light a candle or forget you’ve got a pizza in the oven to cause a house fire. Certain faulty electrics have been known to cause them in the past.
You might remember when the US International Trade Commission (ITC, not to be confused with the FTC) banned those irritating ‘hoverboards’ on the basis that many of them were poorly built, and liable to go up in flames (as many did).
If your home catches fire while you’re away, it’s unlikely that someone will notice and call the fire department in enough time to limit any damage. It’s for this reason why it’s so important to get a “smart” smoke alarm. The Nest Protect is the most well-known product in this category. The latest (second) generation model costs just $100 from Amazon.
Once installed, it can tell you if it detects smoke or carbon monoxide, no matter where you are in the world, giving you precious time to call the emergency services.
Nest Cam: To See Who’s Snooping Around
If you’re looking for a smart security camera, you can’t do much better than the Nest Cam. Costing just $189.99 on Amazon, or $494.00 for a pack of three, it allows you to see what’s happening in your home in vivid 1080p resolution.
What’s so great about the Nest Cam it includes an integrated night vision mode, as well as a motion sensor. This means you get the full picture on who is moving thorough your house, no matter what time of day it is.
You don’t need a hub to use the Nest Cam, nor do you need to subscribe to Nest Aware to get the mobile alerts. However, this subscription service offers continuous recording, allowing you to retain any evidence should someone break into your home. This costs as little as $10 per month, or $100 when billed annually.
If the Nest Cam isn’t in your budget, you could improvise by turning an old Android smartphone into a security camera.
A Motion Sensor: To Find Intruders Skulking Through Your House
While the Nest Cam includes its own integrated motion sensor, you can also purchase your own dedicated sensors for a fraction of the price. The advantage of this is that you can position them in multiple locations through your residence, and thus reducing or eliminating any gaps in your security system.
There are a lot of dedicated motion sensors on the market. The Samsung SmartSense costs just $39.99, and can send immediate alerts if any unexpected motion is detected. The only downside of the Samsung offering is that it requires a SmartThings hub.
Alternatively, there’s the D-Link DCH-S150 Wi-Fi Smart Motion Sensor. At $35, this is a whole $5 cheaper than the Samsung offering, and doesn’t require any hubs. It also offers integration with IFTTT, allowing you to create your own recipes that do something upon the detection of motion.
While I haven’t tested the D-Link offering personally, I’m reticent to recommend it above the SmartSense offering, due to some pretty lukewarm Amazon reviews. Apparently it suffers from serious reliability issues, which is the exact opposite thing you’d want from a piece of home security equipment.
MySmartBlinds and Philips Hue: To Make It Seem as Though Someone’s at Home
Your home becomes infinitely more enticing to a burglar when it becomes evident that nobody is living there. Thankfully, smart home tech allows you to present the façade of someone being present. All you need is some Philips Hue lightbulbs, and some smart blinds.
With Philips Hue, you can time your lights to turn on during the night hours, and turn off during the daytime, as would be the case if someone was there. You can pick up a Philips Hue starter pack on Amazon for just $79.99. This includes the hub, and two compatible lightbulbs.
Although this sounds incredibly energy inefficient, it’s not that bad. You are wasting electricity, but with energy efficient LED bulbs, and not the power-hungry incandescent ones.
The next step in making it seem as though someone is in your house is installing some smart blinds. These will allow you to open and close them, to coincide with the nighttime hours.
The two biggest players on the market are Loxone and MySmartBlinds. I’m a fan of the MySmartBlinds offering, as it doesn’t require much assembly, and costs just $100. There are also a range of peripherals available to purchase separately, including solar panels, and “smart” switches, which allow you to control multiple smart blinds simultaneously.
The Loxone one is almost twice as expensive. That cost doesn’t include the additional equipment that’s required to operate it, such as a $349 miniserver. It is also vastly more challenging to install, and requires electronics and programming skills.
How Do You Protect Your Home?
Do you use any smart home equipment to monitor your residence while you’re away? What do you use, and why? I want to hear about it in the comments below.