Summer is the time for vacations. The time to take off for remote destinations and just get out of town. As the temperatures rise, so does the chance of a robbery. Nothing a burglar likes better, than an empty home for a few days. We are planning a big vacation for the family right now, so I figured I would use my Geek powers to help protect our home – but moreover, just give me peace of mind while we are away.
Don’t get me wrong, we do not live in a bad neighborhood. We have never had any real problems before, but that does not mean it can’t happen – in fact, it could be high time for a situation. My first concern was implementing security measures that can be useful while we are away, but also provide features that would benefit the family. We looked at some of the “national” chains of home security and automation, but I could not justify adding $50 – $80 per month to our budget for contract fees and that was on the low-end.
So I hit the hardware store for ideas. First item that I came across was the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt. This little beauty replaces the standard deadbolt on the door with an electronic Grade-1 bolt that also has an adjustable built-in alarm. The alarm can be set to do everything from just beep when the lock is opened or closed, all the way to fire off if someone jiggles the handle. Also, it is a keypad – so no more keys. Just tap in the correct 4-8 digit code and enter.
The other deal sealer for this lock is that it ties into the Nexia Home Intelligence system. The Nexia System is a box that connects to your home wi-fi and communicates with any other Nexia compatible products. Yes, I did just tie my front door into the internet… Here are some of the cool things I can do with that now: lock and unlock the door from any mobile device, get a text message when the alarm goes off and shut all the codes off from anywhere in the world. The best feature that I love about this is that I have a different door code for family members. So when the kids come home from somewhere, I get a text message stating time and who unlocked the door. This also helps to know when my in-laws may have stopped by.
Since I have the door lock and the Nexia module installed, it only made sense to add a few other Nexia features. After all, one front door lock is not going to protect the palace. I then decided to add a few Schlage Door and Window Sensors and Schlage Motion Sensors. These were all reasonably priced (between $50 – $70 each) and easy to deal with. The Door/Window Sensors are simple connection break alarm pieces. This means that one piece is mounted on the sill or frame and a magnet piece is mounted on the window or door. when the door is opened, the connection is broken and notification is sent. These will come in handy for when I know the house is empty. If any ‘hatch’ is opened, then I get a text message. I also have it set to send my neighbor an email, so he can take a peak.
Around the back of my home we have a glassed in sun porch. This would be way to expensive to put connection sensors on everything, so we went with a motion sensor for this area. The Schlage Motion Sensor now lets me know if any movement happens inside the room and will alert me the same way, via text and email. Cool side note on this – many times my neighbors walk over through the back yard to chat. Now if I open the screens in my sunroom, I get a movement alert when someone approaches. I never miss a BBQ! Also, these sensors are simple to use, you just pair the sensor with the Nexia Home unit and place it. They are all battery powered and wireless – from start to finish, it took me less that two hours to secure my entire house with sensors.
The last piece of equipment I decided to pick up was a splurge. We have a small patio in the front of our home, where the kids like to play sometimes. We went with a Schlage Home Outdoor Camera to monitor this area. I figured we could use it to keep an eye on the kids, while at the same time provide extra front door security. This has ended up being my favorite piece of equipment! Day or night, I can take a glimpse at my front door and take pictures or video of whatever is going on there. It can even be set to do so automatically when motion is detected. This unit does require electricity, unlike everything else that is battery-powered. Also, even though it is a wireless camera, I found that using it with network cable was the only way to use this camera fully. For me, when I used it solely connected to wi-fi, the delay and the video quality was unacceptable – your mileage may vary. When adding the advanced features, there is a $9 per month service fee.
UPDATE: I have now recently added a few of the Schlage Appliance and Lighting Dimmers. Now I can turn on and off lights via my mobile device. I can also set them on timers, but I could have done that with just a timer… My next investment will be a connected thermostat. Stay tuned!