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How to make your home safer with smart security systems

TechTalk

Boost your home's safety with the latest smart security. Learn about video doorbells, smart locks, and cameras, plus installation tips and insurance perks.

Where do you start?

It’s fairly obvious why home security is a big deal. It’s all about keeping your space safe, keeping an eye on things when you're away, making sure your devices play nice together, getting help when you need it most, scaring off the bad guys, and yes, sometimes even helping you save on insurance.

You need to ask yourself what kind of security you’re looking for and how much effort you want to put into installation.

Before diving into smart home security, take a moment to assess what your home really needs. Think about the layout of your living space, whether you're in a rental or own your place, and the level of security you're looking for. Do you want to keep an eye on the indoors, or do you need to fortify the outdoors against potential intruders? And don’t forget to factor in your budget – smart security comes in a range of prices. Understanding these aspects will help you pinpoint exactly what types of devices will serve you best.

So, what’s out there for you to buy?

There are many items to consider, such as video doorbells, smart locks, indoor or outdoor cameras, smart alarms, or programmable sensors.

Video doorbells

These devices allow you to see, hear, and speak to visitors at your door, regardless of whether you're home or away. They're a first line of defence, offering features like:

  • Motion detection alerts
  • Live video streaming
  • Night vision capabilities

Video doorbells currently available in South Africa

  • Ring Video Doorbell Plus: Ring’s Video Doorbell Plus offers a battery connection, suited for load shedding, a 1536p HD view from head-to-toe, customizable privacy settings, and rich notifications. Price: R3,399 at Makro.
  • Eufy 1080p Battery Doorbell with Repeater: The Eufy battery-powered doorbell offers 1080p video, preset replies or real-time ones, accurate human detection instead of animals, and voice support. Price: R2,999 at iStore.
  • Google Nest Doorbell: The Google Nest doorbell connects with either a battery or existing wiring, records in 960x1280p, has noise cancellation, offers IP54 dust and water protection, and 145° field of view. Price: R3,699 at Leroy Merlin.

Smart locks

Elevate your home's accessibility while maintaining security, eliminating the need for physical keys. Smart locks come with features such as:

  • Remote locking and unlocking via your smartphone
  • Customisable access codes for family and visitors
  • Auto-locking functionality

A selection of smart locks you can currently buy in South Africa

  • Eufy Fingerprint Smart Lock – The eufy WiFi fingerprint smart lock can read your print in 0.3 seconds, unlocks within a second, and can be controlled via an app, a key or keypad, plus has IP65 weatherproof protection. Price: R5,999 at iStore.
  • Yale Keyless Smart Lock – The Yale keyless door lock has a backlit touch screen, supports 20 IDs, has a 3-minute lockout code if the code is entered incorrectly 5 times, and has app support. Price: R5,200 at Yale.
  • Intelligent Smart Door Lock A9 – the A9 smart lock works via WiFi, Bluetooth and with your smartphone. It supports fingerprint access, passwords, and RFID cards, plus a mechanical key for peace of mind. Price: R2,699 at Makro.

Security cameras

Keep an eye on your home from anywhere with indoor and outdoor cameras, featuring:

  • High-definition video recording
  • Motion-triggered alerts and recordings
  • Weatherproof designs for outdoor models
  • Integration with smart home systems for real-time monitoring

There are a number of security cameras currently available in South Africa

Indoor cameras:

  • The Xiaomi C200 Smart Camera offers 1080p video, night vision, and 360° coverage for R799 at Yuppiechef.

Outdoor cameras:

  • Ring Outdoor Floodlight Cam Wired Plus. This outdoor camera with floodlights offers advanced motion detection and a siren for the extra peace of mind. It has customisable motion zones, to focus on select areas at night. Professional installation is required. Price: R3,999 at Leroy Merlin.
  • The eufy SoloCam S40, needing just 2 hours of sunlight daily to operate, has two-way talk, shoots videos in 2K, keeps your data private and is IP67 rated for rain. Takes 3 minutes to install with supplied screws, no cables are needed. It is available for R3,999 at iStore.

Smart alarms

These systems provide comprehensive protection with a range of sensors and alarms to detect intruders, smoke, carbon monoxide, and more. Key components include:

  • Central hub that connects to various sensors
  • Door and window sensors to detect openings
  • Motion detectors for interior spaces
  • Sirens and alarms to deter intruders and alert residents

Alarms are slightly more complex. Reach out to your neighbourhood security or armed response services to see what they offer. Otherwise, here are some local brands to consider Ajax, Omega, Ring, eufy, or EZVIZ.

Infographic comparing features of smart home security devices: Smart Locks offer access control and custom notifications. Video Cameras provide limited access control, real-time monitoring, intrusion detection, remote control, evidence collection, moderate convenience, and custom notifications. Smart Alarms don't control access but offer real-time monitoring when integrated with cameras, intrusion detection, remote control via app, integration with smart home systems, moderate convenience, and immediate alerts. Video Doorbells allow access control, real-time monitoring, motion detection alerts, remote control via app, integration with smart home systems, video evidence collection, high convenience, and alerts for rings and motion detection.
Smart Home Security Features: Smart Locks, Video Cameras, Smart Alarms, and Video Doorbells.

A couple of things to consider:

What is required to get your security system installed

Many smart security systems are designed for easy DIY installation, letting you set up your security without needing professional help. However, for more complex systems or specific needs like outdoor sensors, calling in an expert might be the best approach. Always consider the stability of your internet connection and the privacy of your data when selecting your system. And don't forget to check for any necessary permissions if you're renting or part of a homeowners association.

What will the monthly cost be

Keep in mind that while the upfront cost of these devices can be relatively low, some may require a monthly subscription for full functionality, especially if you're linking the system to a professional monitoring service or need cloud storage for video footage.

How it could affect your home insurance

When integrating smart security systems into your home, it's also wise to think about how these enhancements affect your home insurance. Here are some things to think about:

  1. Increased protection, and potential savings: Upgrading your home with smart security features can not only enhance your safety but also positively affect your insurance premium, i.e., decrease it a little.
  2. Updating your policy: With the addition of significant smart security investments, make sure your policy reflects the value of these new systems. It's important to inform your insurer about these updates to guarantee they're covered under your policy, adding to your overall sum insured.
  3. Also check whether your insurance policy covers the smart technology itself in case of damage or theft. These systems become integral to your home's security, so it’s important to make sure they are also protected under your policy.

Whether you're looking for a simple way to monitor your front door or a comprehensive solution that connects every aspect of your home's security, there's a smart security option out there for you.

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