Rethinking the Home Security System

Rethinking the Home Security System

Better choices with a smaller budget.

A few weeks ago, we sat down with our builder to go over an itemized budget as we break ground on the new house. One thing that stuck out to me was the $1200 earmarked for the installation of the traditional home security system.

You know the one… rectangular touch pads by each door, contact sensors on windows, motion detectors throughout the house, etc. It’s the same system that’s been around for years, and the very system that’s usually ignored.

While there’s nothing particularly wrong about that set up, I just think it isn’t all that useful. They’re typically oversensitive, a pain to activate and turn off, and don’t provide much utility beyond being loud (or calling the authorities if you pay for monitoring).

With all of that in mind, we’re considering going a different route.

Different Products for Different Reasons

In lieu of the traditional system, I think we’re going to redirect our budget to some security-minded smart home products instead. Here’s the current game plan:

Smart Door Locks (~$200/ea) – Probably the Schlage Connect Century touchscreen units. These are hardcore deadbolts that integrate with smart home hubs like Wink. They also include a 90db(!) siren built in to prevent tampering. I can lock/unlock the doors with my phone, get open and close notifications, and have a powerful alarm at each point of entry.

Canary ($250) – Covered in a recent First Look article, Canary is a smart camera packed full of sensors that keeps close tabs on your home when you’re away. I’m going to put it in our open downstairs area where I’ll receive alerts with live video when motion is detected, air quality changes, loud noise is registered, or during other common scenarios. It too includes a 90db siren. Don’t break into our house if you appreciate your eardrums.

Ring Video Doorbell ($250)Ring is a brilliant little device that alerts your phone when a visitor arrives. You can then view a live video stream, including two-way voice communication with whoever’s at the door. It’s an awesome way to screen visits and pretend like you’re home even when you’re not. Check out our First Look on the Ring.

Dropcam Pro ($199/ea) – If I think it’s needed, I’ll probably add a few Dropcam Pro’s to our setup to provide additional video coverage while we’re away.

The Power to Make Decisions

I think what bugs me the most about the traditional system is its solitary focus: it basically just makes a lot of noise (no matter the scenario).

The products mentioned above approach things a little differently. You are still alerted instantly, but you get to decide how to respond. Video feeds (both live and recorded) give you the power to assess the situation instead of instantly calling the calvary when your cat runs into a vase.

Something Smarter

You’ll notice that the items above offer a lot more than just security features. You get many more sensors with these devices, which means more possibilities. I can verbally sign for a package, unlock the door for a stranded spouse, and lots of other geeky tricks.

Spending Money in the Right Areas

Really, it all boils down to bang-for-your-buck. I’d rather have global connectivity, live HD video, air quality sensors and temperature gages than just a few motion detectors and a bullhorn. I’m excited to see where this journey leads us.

What does your security set up look like? Let me know in the comments below.


Eric is the creator of At Home in the Future and has been a passionate fan of the future since he was seven. He's a web developer by trade, and serves as the Director of Communication and Technology for a large church in Nashville, TN (where he and his family are building a high tech home in the woods).


  • Anyone have recommendations for video surveillance software and app? Looking to access live feed as well as get alerts on motion detect.

    • I don’t think they’re intended for security setups, but the Dropcam Pro is a great fit for that. Free to use for motion alerts and live streams, with affordable plans for cloud recording.

    • Yeah, it looks like a cool project, especially if you’re just looking for home security. I tend to gravitate to the items mentioned above because they function in several capacities, not just a security scenario. Of course, they’re also more expensive.

      Let me know if you pick up that system – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  • Great list! Over at Sentri, we offer personalized DIY home security and connectivity as well, which includes live video streaming and alert management. Hope you have a chance to check it out if you haven’t already!

  • HI Eric- Found your webiste from a FB group I follow. Lindsey D recommended your website. Do you have any update to this list? Were a few month from breaking ground on our new home, love to hear with 2018 might provide! Thanks!

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