Whilst you’re away from home for long periods of time is when it’s most vulnerable to robberies. But with smart home automation, you can make it seem as if someone is home and help reduce your risk.
This subject always reminds me of that scene in Home Alone, with the dancing mannequins to look like someones home:
But with a modern smart home, you don’t need dancing mannequins, just some good old smart home tech.
Here are the top smart gadgets to protect your home whilst you’re away:
1. Video Doorbell
Doorbells are the gateway to the home and with the introduction of video doorbells to the market, you can now see who’s on your porch from anywhere in the world.
Video doorbells allow you to interact with anyone at your door wherever you are in the world using a smart phone, providing you have an internet connection of course. They usually include motion sensors to send you alerts and video clips when it detects activity and have a live view so that you can check in on your door whenever you like.
Not only do they provide a useful security feature, but you can let delivery drivers know where to leave parcels and tell your friends when you’ll be back. If you’re travelling to a destination with poor internet connectivity, most devices will allow you to leave a pre recorded message and they will send you an alert with a video clip of the interaction for when you’re back online.
Our Top Pick: Ring Video Doorbell
Things we love:
- Set up motion detection for alerts wherever you are
- Live view of your doorstep at any time
- Pair with Alexa to use voice control and use Echo as a chime
Most video doorbells require an ongoing subscription but we’ve rounded up the best doorbells without a subscription.
2. Smart Outdoor Security Light
A dumb floodlight is still a great idea for your home, but new WiFi connected flood lights with built in cameras and smart home integration allow you to stay informed of what’s going on in your back yard no matter where you travel in the world.
Our Top Pick: Ring Floodlight
Things we love:
- Built in camera with live view whenever you need it
- Alerts sent to your device when it detects motion
- Remotely activate the siren even when you’re half way across the world
3. Smart Light Bulbs
If you have smart light bulbs installed, you can set up a vacation routine to mimic as if someone is home. We recommend timing some of the lights to go on in the evening for an hour or two.
Plus, with most smart light bulbs being LED powered, they consume at least 75% less energy than regular incandescent light bulbs (source) which means you won’t be using too much extra electricity.
Our Top Pick: Phillips Hue
Phillips is well ahead of it’s competitors with it’s Hue smart lights. There is a huge range of lights to choose from so you’ll never have a problem finding one to fit. You can easily automate these yourself or there are third party apps that can mimic your presence when you’re on holiday.
4. Smart Thermostat
With a smart thermostat, you have a lot more control over your heating system that allow you to set much more complex routines and schedules that your standard heating controls would allow. One of these features
During the summer months, there is no problem with leaving your heating completely off, but if you’re heading off on a winter getaway then best practice is to leave your heating on to prevent any pipes from freezing if there is a cold spell.
With a smart thermostat this is easier than ever, you can set up routines to heat your home for a short period each day that you’re on holiday. You can also let it know when you’re on your way back home to have the house nice and cosy when you arrive.
Our Top Pick: Google Nest
Reasons we love it:
- Home/away assist automatically detects you’re away using sensors and your phones location.
- Switches to eco mode using ‘cool to’ or ‘heat to’ temperatures.
- Reverts back to normal once you’re home.
5. Smart Smoke Alarm
Smart smoke detectors are a wise installation regardless of whether you’re at home or on holiday. Like traditional smoke detectors, they can monitor for carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, but with WiFi capabilities, they can alert you of any issues while you’re away.
Once notified, you can use any smart cameras you have installed to check on things or ask a neighbour or nearby family member to check on the house. If you immediately suspect an issue, the emergency services can be notified instantly.
Top Pick: Nest Protect
Reasons we love it:
- Detects both carbon monoxide and carbon dioxode
- Advanced sensor can detect slow burning fires too
- If you have a Nest Thermostat, it tells the boiler to turn off upon detecting issues
6. Smart Door Locks
People may need access to your home whilst your on holiday, this could be because you’ve detected an issue using your other smart devices that needs checking out, or it could be a neighbour feeding and walking your pet whilst you’re away. But what’s the best way to give them access?
The old method is to leave a key in a secure place such as under a mat or disguised as a rock. But the modern and more secure way of doing this is using smart locks. Many different types of smart locks exist, some operate via Bluetooth that pairs with a phone app, some have numerical keypads and others use finger print or facial recognition.
Regardless of the underlying technology, most of these devices have a way of allowing guests to enter your home remotely whilst you’re away on holiday. Unlike leaving a key that gives them free reign of your home or a risk that they might lose it, they’ll have one-time access or a programmable schedule via y our locks.
Our Top Pick: August
Things we love:
- While you’re on holiday, send an invite to any guest and choose individual access settings
- Guest downloads the August app themselves and can gain access to your home
- Track any activity at your doorstep
Other Tips Before You Travel
Here are a few more tips for leaving your smart home safely to go on holiday:
- Turn your smart plugs off – Smart plugs still draw from your power just as much as your devices would when they are on standby. It is negligible to warrant turning off overnight, but if you are away for a while it could be worth your time.
- Remember to leave your WiFi on – If you have smart devices protecting your home, you’ll definitely want to leave on your WiFi router and any smart home hubs that help them function.
- Tell Alexa or Hive that you’re leaving – If you have an Amazon Echo, tell Alexa’ I’m leaving’ when you go on holiday and she will listen out for unusual sounds in the home and send you recordings, Hive has a similar feature too in it’s Hive 360 Hubs.