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So you want better home security? That’s smart. But with so many different options from so many different companies, where do you start? What would it take to turn “home sweet home” into “home safe home”? A quick shopping spree on Amazon can have you up and running in no time. 

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Let’s start with the obvious. You could go to a company like ADT and get a professional system installed. And you could have them add all sorts of bells and whistles. Doing so is effective, but it also saddles you with a monthly fee and, in some cases, a lengthy contract. The thing is, you don’t have to go that route. There are some great options available that can tap into your current WiFi system and be controlled by your smartphone or tablet. Going this route is relatively affordable, completely expandable, and you won’t be locked into any long team contracts. So let’s take a look at a few of the things you might want to consider.

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The first thing we would recommend as you move toward a more secure home is to take a good look at your doorbell. Until recently, doorbells hadn’t changed a bit since some of us were kids in the ‘70s. Then there was a pitch on Shark Tank that changed everything. That product, which went on to become Ring, didn’t get an investment that night, but its creators weren’t about to let that stand in their way. Ring became a huge success for their video doorbells that allowed you to see who was at your door and answer the doorbell from anywhere. And while Ring may have made WiFi doorbells a “thing,” there are now a host of options available.

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You could get something like the DigitHarbor 3.5” Digital Peephole Viewer for just $60, or you could invest $200 for the August Video Doorbell Cam. Regardless of the product you choose, they all offer similar key functionality by turning your doorbell into a monitoring system, a communication system and, if need be, a warning system. The feature set varies from one product to the next, but they all have one thing in common: while they are all WiFi connected video surveillance systems for your door, they also double as doorbells.

Here’s one example of why a video doorbell is so great. Shortly after I first installed my Ring doorbell, I invited a dear friend I had not seen in quite some time to come visit. He was delayed, and we tried to leave a message that, instead of meeting at home we would meet him at the restaurant. Unfortunately, he never got it. When Andrew arrived at the house and rang the doorbell, I received a notification on my phone. I answered it, spoke to my friend, told him where to meet us and… a few minutes later we were enjoying a good meal.

That’s a friendly example, but it works equally well if the person at the door is unwelcome. After getting a notification you can simply tell them you are at home… even when you aren’t, and that you can’t come to the door. If they tarry, you can trigger an alarm if that functionality is supported by the product you chose, or you can call the police if they appear to be up to no good.

A video doorbell lets you see what is right in front of your door. Okay, more accurately, it lets you see what is in front of your door and, to a varying degree, what is to the left and the right. But homes have sides and backs. You could put additional video doorbells around your house, but who wants a doorbell on the side of your home? Instead, you might want to consider getting a dedicated, outdoor security camera.

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If you get a Ring doorbell and want to stay in the same product family, you’ll be happy to know that Ring offers a “Stick Up Cam” for under $200. From box to active security monitoring, it takes just about ten minutes. As the name suggests, you simply pull it from the box, stick the camera wherever in the center of the area you want to be covered, and follow the step by step instructions in the box to get connected. The Ring Stick Up Cam has night vision, cloud storage, and it is solar-powered!

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If your smart home is Alexa-enabled, then you might want to check out the Blink XT Indoor/Outdoor camera. It is just $120, and it is also simple to install, thanks to it being powered by a rechargeable battery rather than needing to be hardwired. The Blink XT is weatherproof, but it doesn’t offer as many bells and whistles as some of the other options.

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If you have a power source available where you want to place a camera, then you might want to check out the highly rated Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera. It offers 24/7 recording; it has night vision, and it allows you to share the video captured with others. The Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera is small, looks like a video camera, and it is under $200.

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Finally, there’s the Ring Floodlight Cam. Despite being a hefty $249, it is my personal favorite. I like the Floodlight Cam because it combines Ring’s proven motion detecting camera functionality with powerful floodlights. This probably isn’t the best camera for the sides of your house, especially if you don’t want the neighbors complaining about the light shining in their windows at 3 am, but is ideal if, for example, you are looking for a camera and lighting solution in front of your garage. That’s where we have ours, and we love it.

Of course, none of these solutions will call the police for you or protect your home once someone is inside, but for a relatively small investment coupled with a bit of vigilance on your part, you can surround your home in a system that helps stop people before they get past the front, side, or rear door.


About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.