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  • Writer's picturePacific Sun Technologies

Smart home security systems new and old

You’re probably familiar with traditional home security systems, but do you really need a full system from one of the “usual” security companies? Today, the choices in home security for consumers have multiplied, with traditional security companies jumping into the smart home and the new smart home companies jumping into security. And, if you’re more “hands-on”, you can even piece together your own custom home security system and bypass the packaged systems altogether.

Long-term contracts are so 20th century

The usual players like ADT, Brinks, etc are more than happy to come out and install a more traditional security system in your home. And while there might be zero up-front costs, you’ll generally be placed onto a contract with monthly payments that helps pay for the equipment and install, along with providing monitoring of your home by a centralized communications center.

Lately, you’ll find some modern smart home abilities built into these alarm systems so you can check on them via Alexa and Google Assistant, or add popular cameras to the system. Vivint’s somewhat recent jump into the smart home world from previously only selling security systems tends to have good compatibility with smart home products beyond their own devices. Also, their Sky system with built-in AI is quite innovative and can literally build routines and schedules for you based on monitoring your home.

With a system that’s “packaged” from one of the larger companies, you also tend to get built-in power and communications backups in case of local power and internet outages. And there’s the usual benefit of having just one company to call for most equipment problems, and monitoring questions. And while the pieces of their puzzle might work great together, much of the equipment can be proprietary and not transferrable to other security companies. And don’t count on being able to customize your system exactly to your liking.

The Good: Backed by a large company, centralized monitoring, equipment upgrades can be included, one company to call. The Bad: Monthly contracts, you (probably) can’t take it to a different provider, smart home essentials not guaranteed.

The new middle ground

A few smart home companies have recently added or announced home security systems to their lineup, such as the Nest Secure system and the upcoming Ring security system. And then there are the dedicated smart home security companies with their own systems such as SimpliSafe, Canary and Aura, among others. All of these systems present something refreshing: A home security system that you purchase, install yourself, and that doesn’t come with monthly fees (unless you want them.)