While government studies point to summer being the most active time of the year for burglaries, it’s safe to say that the idea of your house being robbed while decked out for the holidays is even more gutting. It’s a time of giving, a time when you’ve got lots of goodies either sitting under the tree or hiding in your closet (yes, the kids know that everything is in there, and they’ve already looked to see what they’re getting; but everyone has agreed to just not say anything out of respect for the season). It’s a time when you’d like a little more assurance that when you go out to your office holiday party, everything is going to stay right where you put it.
I haven’t found a security system yet that gives me everything I want: automated lighting when I’m away, a video camera to see what’s happening at my house, and just good ol’ monitored alarms. But I think I’ve finally found a combo that works.
The newest product in my security trifecta is the BeON Home Protection System. It consists of three smart LED bulbs with built-in rechargeable “smart modules.” These network the bulbs together via Bluetooth through an app on your phone. The modules also let the bulb listen for triggers and light up when they hear doorbells and fire alarms. They contain a rechargeable battery that will provide you with emergency lighting for up to four hours on the dimmest level in the case of a power outage (always welcome here in lightning-prone Florida). You can also activate them via the app to turn on when you come home, even if the switch itself is turned off. One of the features I appreciate most, though, is the Security Lighting feature. The smart modules let the BeON bulbs learn your lighting routine and will then play that back once security is enabled. The learning capability is unique among smart LED bulbs and is considerably more user-friendly than having to manually program a schedule. It’s not perfect; but the randomization is close enough that anyone watching your house is going to think twice before breaking in.
But what if they do break in? Well that’s why you have a monitored system like SimpliSafe installed. I say “installed,” but what I really mean is “put up yourself in about thirty minutes.” If you’ve ever had a traditional security system installed, you’ll know how big of a game changer that is. Usually, this is something that takes the better part of a day, a large amount of scuttling about in the attic, and a lot of drilling and testing and watching techs futz with poor user interfaces. SimpliSafe takes all of that and chucks it out the window. The hardware is already synced to work together when it’s sent to you. Installation is a matter of following the tutorial included on the master USB key for the system. The wizard walks you through proper placement, testing of your equipment, and connecting to SimpliSafe to make sure it can communicate to the service (via cell signal, so there’s no messing with landlines). All of the sensors are attached via double-sided strips, so they’ll stay up until you take them down. The easy installation and portability makes this an ideal system for renters or those who want to secure a second home. The initial cost of the system ratchets up as you add more sensors, which can make securing a large home daunting. What’s refreshing though, is that you’re not charged extra per month for extra sensors. Basic monitoring is a flat $15 per month, with no monthly contract. You have 60 days to decide if you like the equipment and service. Even if you decide to forego monitoring, you’ll be able to use the alarm hardware without the service. It’s the most user-friendly system I’ve ever encountered. I used a traditional alarm company for years and endured their buggy equipment and expensive technical support and monitoring for longer than I should have because an a viable alternative wasn’t available. SimpliSafe is so much better, it’s not even in the same category.
But as good as BeOn and SimpliSafe are, there are still times when I want to check in on the house and see what’s going on. Or I want alerts that aren’t accompanied by flashing lights and blaring alarms. That’s where Canary comes in. I’ve reviewed their cameras before and I’m still impressed. They’ve recently updated the software and app so that users can adjust sensitivity on alerts. This means I can finally get my Canary to stop notifying me about my Neato vac or when a particularly harsh afternoon shadow hits the opposite wall. Peek and Poke support are now part of the iOS app, as well as Wink support (for those of you that are farther down the home automation rabbit hole). Even better, they will be offering two-packs of Canary units for $379, a $19 savings, on their site starting November 23.
Or you could just win one! Canary has been kind enough to offer a free Canary in the color of their choice to one lucky reader. Just enter your name and information into the form below and we’ll choose a winner on Black Friday, November 27, 2015.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received sample units for review purposes. Opinions expressed are solely our own.