Smart homes are great for making your life easier and making your home feel more modern, or even futuristic. A lot of the features in my smart home are for convenience (e.g. voice control, automated holiday lights, and robot vacuum). But the main reason I got into smart homes was for safety and security features. Here are nine ways in which my smart home keeps my family safe and my belongings secure.
Automatic door locks
My front door and garage door deadbolts automatically lock on their own each night. Even if I fall asleep with the TV on or just plain forget to lock the doors, they will lock on their own. I have Z-wave-enabled deadbolt locks that are integrated into my smart home, but you can do this with many different types of smart door locks.
Additionally, the smart door locks allow me to:
- Remotely lock and unlock the doors
- Give someone a temporary guest code to enter my home
- Know who opened the door and when (for knowing when my kids get home safely)
Popular Smart Locks
Safety and security lighting
Lighting in and around the house is an important part of creating a safe and secure home. I use motion detectors inside and outside the home to make sure lights turn on in dark spaces (like hallways and stairwells) automatically without having to find a light switch. You can walk all the way around the outside of my house at night and motion-activated lights will light a path for you. This is great for safety and it is a deterrent for thieves. I also use smart lighting to:
- Have my lights turn on and off automatically to simulate that someone is home when we take a vacation
- Turn my outdoor lights on at dusk and off at sunrise
- Turn an outside LED light red when the alarm goes off or when someone presses a panic button
Speaking of panic buttons…
Safety panic buttons strategically placed throughout the house
One of my favorite Home Assistant automations involves panic buttons that I’ve placed around the house. I have simple radio frequency buttons that send a text to my wife and me when pressed. The text tells the location of the button that was pressed. The automation also turns on the panic light outside of the house. Here’s how I integrated radio frequency buttons into my smarthome.
Augmenting my security system
I have a DIY security system that I installed myself. It has some door sensors, a couple of motion sensors, and one siren. The best thing about my security system is that I can integrate it with Home Assistant and thus combine it with other smart devices in my home. Here are some examples of how what I’ve done:
- When the alarm goes off, I pipe in a loud siren noise to all of my Google Home/Nest mini devices and also play a message that says the authorities on their way. This is much better than the not quite adequate siren that came with my security system.
- Motion sensors that work directly with my Alarm system are expensive. However, using Home Assistant I can integrate less expensive radio frequency motions sensors to augment my security.
- Also, when the alarm goes off, key lights around the house turn on, potentially startling the intruder.
- My deadbolts automatically lock upon arming the alarm.
Popular Smart Alarm Systems
Another way I deter thieves is with video cameras outside the house. The cameras are fairly visible, and I have yard signs notifying visitors that the house is monitored 24/7. It’s not just a sign. I use ZoneMinder to record 24/7 and I keep recordings for a couple of weeks on my NAS. Although this is primarily a deterrent, police have used the video I recorded to track down a package thief.
Popular Network Video Cameras
It really sucks to have your mail stolen. Trust me, I know. It can lead to identity theft, missed gifts, or even important cards or letters that others send you that you never see. I installed a mailbox sensor so I at least know when my mail has been delivered and go get it promptly. The sensor triggers an automation that sends me a notification, announces the mail has arrived on a smart speaker, and turns one of the smart bulbs in our house a certain color. We know when the mail has arrived!
Popular Mailbox Sensors
My single favorite smart home device is the Shelly One smart relay. And my favorite use of the Shelly is to automate my gas fireplace. The primary security feature of this installation and automation is that the fireplace will automatically turn off if the temperature in the room gets too hot or the fireplace has been left on too long.
Popular Shelly Products
Safety and security notifications
In addition to the alarm system and panic buttons, my smart home produces other safety and security-related notifications. I receive notifications when:
- The garage door is left open too long or opens when no one is home
- A door is left open too long
- The alarm is disarmed and no one is home
- One of the flood sensors goes off
Home network security
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention home network security. My smart home uses centralized logging to notify me when new devices connect. This is so I can monitor if someone has penetrated my network. I also employ network segmentation to further shield my home network from bad actors.
Smart homes are well known for their convenience and fun. However, as I’ve written in this article, they can add to a home’s safety and security. How has your smart home made you safer and more secure? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!