How to protect your home when you travel for the holidays
Traveling is synonymous with the holidays, and unfortunately, so are break-ins and package theft. However, you can fight back, and keep your home protected using smart accessories and alarm systems. There are devices for just about every situation that can occur while you are gone, so here are our tips on how to secure your home for the holidays.
Keep the lights on
Just because you are away from your home, it doesn't mean that it has to look like no one is around. The easiest way to deter would-be intruders is to make your home look like it does every day, using smart lighting.
Most smart home lighting products, such as light bulbs, switches, and smart plugs, come with the ability to schedule when they turn on and off, either at specific times or according to the time of day, such as sunset. Typically this can be set up via an App, making scheduling just a few taps and swipes away.
Use this ability to your advantage by creating schedules that follow your typical routine at home, such as having your lights turn on in the mornings and evenings. You can take things even further by using randomization options with your schedules, which turn on your lights a few minutes before or after your designated times just to mix things up a bit in case someone is observing your home's patterns.
For the outdoors, you can combine smart lighting with motion sensors to shine a light on those snooping around your property. These sensors can also send notifications to all of your devices, creating a situation where you can leave the lights off, but still be aware of the action outside.
Light and lively
The Philips Hue line of smart lighting is a great way to start your smart home journey. Once you have the Hue hub, you can set schedules and timers, giving your home the appearance that someone's inside, without actually being there.
In addition to using lighting with smart plugs, you can also use these handy little accessories with other electronics, such as televisions and radios. Scheduling your TV to turn on at random times during the day not only produces sounds of conversations and noises that others around your home may hear, it makes your home look alive at night from the outside.
Obviously, a radio or speaker gives those lurking around your home a sense that someone is jamming out to tunes inside. Since its the holidays, you can make your home sound like a traditional family get-together or party with some choice tracks as well.
The Wemo Mini gives you scheduling and smart timers in a compact form factor that won't block both of your wall outlets. This plug also plays nicely with all of the smart home voice assistants.
Know for sure
We have all been there at one point during our travels, that moment when you begin to question whether or not you locked the doors. Thankfully, smart home technology has got us covered, with accessories that can not only report the status of your home, but also give you the ability to control them from afar.
Consider installing a smart door lock on the entry that you use the most often before you head out on your travels. While they may look a little daunting at first, installing a smart door lock is actually really simple, requiring just a screwdriver and a little patience. Most locks are universal, either replacing your existing deadbolt entirely, or working in tandem with them with all the electronics on the inside.
Peace of mind
The August Smart Lock Pro works with your existing deadbolt, making installation a breeze. In addition to operating it remotely, it can automatically lock itself after you leave your home, ending the guessing game for good.
Just like with your doors, your garage door is also one of those things that may leave you wondering if you truly closed it before leaving. Smart garage door openers and controllers are the best way to give you a little peace of mind during your travels, and they are surprisingly affordable.
If you are already in the market for a new garage door opener, then take a look at options that come with Wi-Fi connectivity built-in. These models only cost a few dollars more, and having an all-in-one solution keeps things simpler and easier to manage. The only downside to these are that they may be out of your area of expertise when it comes to installation, requiring a call to a professional.
Don't want to replace your existing garage door opener? Then an add-on controller kit is the best option for you. These kits usually consist of a small tilt sensor, that attaches directly to your garage door via mounting tape or screws, and they communicate to a hub inside of your home which sends signals to your opener.
For additional security, some garage doors have a manual deadbolt style lock that can keep the door from opening even if someone manages to guess your keypad code or mimic your remotes signal. If you don't have one of these locks, but still want to make sure that someone doesn't crack your code, you can use a smart plug to turn off the power to your opener until you get home.
Open and shut
Chamberlain's MyQ Smart Garage Hub adds some serious smarts to your existing garage door. Forget to close your door before leaving your driveway? Close it with just a tap in the app, or using your voice with your favorite assistant.
Eyes on the prize
Home security cameras are one of the largest categories for smart home devices, for a good reason. These awesome little accessories can keep us in the know about our home's activity at all times. While privacy is certainly important, placing one of these in your living room while you are traveling is an easy way to keep tabs on your home, and it gives your local authorities something to refer to in case a break-in occurs. Smart cameras have certainly come down in price, and if you are only going to use it while out of the home, they are definitely worthy of your consideration.
Outdoor security cameras are where you may want to splurge a little bit to get an accessory that will provide everything you are looking for since they won't be watching the inside of your home. Look for a camera that has at least 720p video recording, night vision, and 2-way audio, to cover all of the basics. The image specs are pretty self explanatory, and the 2-way audio feature can help fend off invaders simply by letting them know that you are watching them.
Video doorbells also work great as security cameras as well, with the added benefit of watching over any deliveries that may come when you are gone. The 2-way audio features in these also work just like they do for cameras, serving as a warning if you spot someone staking out your home.
Eyes on the prize
Ring's Video Doorbell is a fantastic way to keep an eye on the area around your front door. This doorbell not only notifies you when someone rings your bell, but also when it senses motion, keeping you in the know while on the go.
The Circle 2 Camera from Logitech is one of the most flexible around with several mounting options and its ability to work both indoors and out. This camera is also the only one available that supports Apple's latest HomeKit Secure Video feature.
The classic security alarm system is still one of the easier ways to secure your home, and advancements in smart home technology gives you the best of both worlds. Connected alarm systems can work in two different ways, with professional monitoring that usually requires a subscription, or a DIY system that simply notifies you of activity in your home.
Obviously, professional monitoring is a solid choice as an agent monitoring your home can alert your local police if a door or window is opened, but if you want to save a little dough, the DIY method is also worthwhile. The DIY approach usually comes in packages that include a hub, keypad, motion sensors, and contact sensors that attach directly to your doors and windows, but you can also find some of these components separately, leveraging smart home platforms like HomeKit to keep you abreast of your home's situation.
If your looking for a more traditional security system but with added smarts, then Abode iota All-in-One Home Security System is a solid option. This starter set works with both professional monitoring, or completely subscription fee, putting you in charge.
One of the best things about modern smart home accessories is that most also apply to the great outdoors. All of the stuff that we have mentioned, lighting, plugs, and cameras, all have outdoor options, keeping the areas around your home safe and secure.
However, there are a few outdoor specific accessories that can take things to the next level. Smart sprinkler systems keep our lawns well hydrated, and just like with lighting, they can be set up via schedules to make your home look like it is just another day.
Live in an area where running the sprinklers this time of year looks a little odd? Use them as a deterrent! If you get the alert that someone is lurking around your home then turn your sprinklers on! We doubt that they would want to stick around after taking a cold shower.
The Orbit B-Hyve Smart Hose Faucet Timer is a universal way to add smart convenience to your watering needs. This timer attaches directly to a hose spigot outside, working with sprinklers to keep your lawn hydrated as well as giving you a way to deter would be intruders.
Gates and fences
Own a home with a gate guarding your driveway? There's an app, and accessory for that as well! Smart gate openers provide that extra little peace of mind just like with garage door openers, allowing you to close it from afar if needed. The same also goes with notifications, keeping you in the know if someone manages to open your gate.
Even your good ole' privacy fence can get in the smart home fun, with connected padlocks. These smart locks take on the form of the traditional padlock, but come with the added benefits of notifications, guest access, and auto-locking. Use these locks to let your landscaper in to keep your grass nice and tidy, a tell-tale sign that someone is on vacation.
The ismartgate Lite Kit for Gate is one of the only solutions around that is designed to give you control of your driveway's gate, even from afar. Open and close your gate with a tap, and you can get alerts if someone manages to force it open.
Most of the stuff that we have covered involves keeping your home safe from intruders, but there are also several ways to protect your home from other potential disasters. Smart smoke detectors monitor your home at all times, regardless of if you are home or away, and they can notify you the instant that a fire starts.
This gives you the ability to call your local fire department immediately, potentially limiting the damage and hassles. Most smart smoke detectors also monitor for carbon monoxide as well, giving you the heads up before you walk into a dangerous situation.
Safe and sound
Sometimes protecting your home has more to do with protecting what's inside. The OneLink Safe & Sound monitors your home for smoke 24/7 giving you the heads up the moment a fire starts, which is crucial as every second counts.
You can also take this proactive approach for situations involving water. Smart leak sensors come in both wired and wireless varieties, both of whice are extremely easy to install. Just set one of these near or under your sinks, water heater, and tubs and you are ready to go. Once the sensor or attached leads becomes wet, it will send a notification to your phone alerting you of the situation, opening a small window for you to make arrangements from afar.
Since a leak can become a flood in a matter of minutes, a leak sensor works best with connected water shut-off valves. Although these valves will more than likely require a call to a plumber for installation, they are one of the best investments you can make.
These valves install directly on your home's incoming water supply lines, providing owners with controls that can turn on and off their water flow from the comforts of a phone. Some valves monitor water usage, detecting leaks automatically, but others can work together with leak sensors to shut things down if water sets one off.
The Fibaro Flood Sensor offers an easy way to monitor your home for leaks. Simply set this sensor underneath a sink or water heater and you will get alerts the moment water hits it.
Stop the flood
The Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff attaches to your incoming water line to proactively monitor your home for leaks. This system can detect the smallest of changes, and can automatically shut off the water to prevent catastrophic damage.
What are some of your home protection tips?
Have a clever use of smart home technology to secure your home? Have a particular accessory that you feel works the best? Let us know in the comments below!
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Christopher spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit and the Home app. Whether it is installing smart light switches, testing the latest door locks, or automating his households daily routines, Christopher has done it all.