Smart Locks and Home Automation Technology
The smart home revolution is changing the way residents in Pennsylvania, and around the country, think about security. Today, the front door isn’t an entry point, but it’s part of how the house functions.
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Smart Home Automation
Though it’s constantly evolving, smart home technology currently enables homeowners to control and adjust security cameras, smart locks and doorbells, lighting, thermostats, smart appliances and entertainment centers. Special apps can manage a number of devices and appliance throughout the home. Now with voice-activated smart home automation systems, you can have a helping hand around the house without even lifting a finger.
The concept is simple; smart home technology connects a wide range of appliances and electronics in the house to applications that enable automatic and remote operations. But it sounds complex; what does this mean in simple terms? Here are some examples to demonstrate the idea.
In a smart home, you can set your washing machine to turn on automatically at night when energy consumption is less expensive. Using an application on your smartphone, you can lower the air conditioning in your house while you’re on vacation. You can check if your front door is locked or view live video around your house see why your security alarm has gone off, without needing to rush back home.
Using programmable devices, network hubs and a WiFi network, the possibilities with smart home technology are virtually endless. Systems are set up to be convenient for users and, when done right, they can also save money. For example, smart homes can program lighting and thermostats to follow set schedules in order to reduce energy consumption throughout the day and from season to season.
Residential Smart Locks
When installed as part of a smart home system, smart locks provide keyless entry for homeowners and guests. You can select the type of smart deadbolt or touchscreen lever locks from the wide range available. Once it has been connected to the smart home hub via Bluetooth or Z-Wave, the lock can be controlled remotely.
Homeowners can unlock to door for a family member who’s been locked out or guests. They can send temporary access permission for home cleaning or package delivery. Anyone with the proper access code can enter the house easily using a mobile application. Some versions will unlock as you approach the door without needing to touch your phone. Homeowners can review who enters the home and when; plus they can allow entry or lock the doors remotely from anywhere.
Smart lock devices are managed remotely using an app accessed from an internet browser or smartphone app. Security notifications let owners know when there may be an issue at the house. And all of this can be managed from the couch, the office, during your commute, or while on vacation.
Are Smart Locks or Traditional Locks Safer?
This is the most important question that homeowners should ask when deciding what type of hardware to install. The answer is that the security of both smart locks and traditional locks depends on the strength of the door, frame, and the actual locking mechanism.
Whether you install an advanced smart lock or a high-security lock on a flimsy front door or a door that is improperly secured to house structure, it is equally vulnerable. Likewise, an armored door can’t guarantee protection if it’s secured with a low-grade traditional lock or smart lock.
The vast majority of smart lock models are designed to be retrofitted onto your existing deadbolt. This means that there is no real difference between smart locks and traditional locks in terms of physical security. For that reason, the only way to judge the level of physical security it provides against picking or forced entry is to evaluate the strength of the deadbolt and lock body.
There is one other important security issue, however, which should not be ignored. Smart locks must connect to a network – either Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Z-Wave – in order to be operated remotely. Recently, there have been cases of hackers targeting homes and overcoming smart locks and various security failures that have left residences vulnerable to criminal activity.
Traditional locks have been proven to be highly secure at protecting homes. Until recently, they were the primary safeguard against burglary and home invasions. It’s important to note, however, that homeowners can take some measures which help ensure the level of protection provided by their locks. It’s necessary to be vigilant about locking doors and throwing deadbolts at night and during the daytime. We also recommend taking steps to reinforce the door frame and strike plate. Replacing low-quality locks with models that have a longer latch or bolt which extends further into the door frame and adding an extra deadbolt are other good ways to boost security.
Smart Home Security Systems
Home automation can also control security systems. These systems integrate motion detectors, video streaming, floodlights and smoke alarms. The smart home security system functions to deter possible intruders, notify the homeowner of break-ins and other emergencies and alert the authorities when necessary. Even while you’re away, a smart home security app lets you monitor the home in real time.
Smart Doorbell Camera
Video doorbells use integrated surveillance cameras to deliver real-time feed from the exterior of your house. When installed next to the front door, sensors alert homeowners whenever there is motion outside or when someone rings the doorbell.Then the connected app shows live video on your computer, tablet or smartphone of who (or what) is outside.
Features of Smart Doorbell Cameras
When shopping for wireless front door cameras, the options can be overwhelming. Look for the following advanced features to ensure that you’re getting the best product for your home and family:
- HD video feed,
- Wi-Fi connection,
- Two-way audio,
- Motion detection with customizable motion zones,
- Wide-angle camera lens,
- Waterproof and weather-resistant casing,
- Full-color night vision capability,
- Live video footage that can be viewed from any smart device,
- Compatibility with your computer and smartphone operating system.
Best Wi-Fi Doorbell Cameras on the Market
Here are the most popular and most highly recommended doorbell security cameras currently available:
Voice-Automation for Smart Home Systems
The tech industry has been buzzing with news about artificial intelligence and voice automation in the last year. With products like Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, smart home systems can be activated, adjusted and managed hand-free. Using voice commands, you can ask Alexa to raise the temperature on the thermostat without getting out of bed or arm the security system as you leave the house.
Similarly, Apple HomeKit gives you the power to control a variety of smart home appliances and programmable devices from your iPhone or iPad. Adjust the temperature, lighting, see who’s at the door and unlock it for a friend by talking to Siri. Even without opening the app, Siri – the virtual assistant – will turn off devices, check security cameras and transcribe a text message.
Another a voice-automated smart home system called Google Home can help keep your home working seamlessly for you. Just say “Ok, Google,” and the automated assistant will follow your commands. Ask if the front door is locked, slide the deadbolt with a smart lock, hear your email read to you, play video on any device, you can even tell the robot vacuum to start cleaning up!
Z-Wave Technology for Smart Home Systems
Smart home systems function by using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect to a centralized hub. Z-Wave is different because smart home products are able to link to each other forming a mesh network. The concept was born about 10 years ago in Denmark and it’s based on what’s called “source-routed mesh network topology.” The network has a single central hub which connects to the internet, but all of the individual devices connect via a low-energy radio frequency. Devices installed on the network – sensors, light bulbs, smart locks, etc. – essentially become signal repeaters. In this way, adding more devices actually makes the network stronger.
One of the main reasons smart homeowners choose Z-Wave systems is because the devices communicate on a different frequency so as to avoid any interference with the Wi-Fi network. Plus, the mesh network technology enables the signal to travel from one device to another. Not only does the signal get strong with the number of connected devices, but Z-Wave signals easily pass through most walls, ceilings and flooring materials. The result is uninterrupted connectivity throughout the home.
The range for a Z-Wave device is more than 300 feet, although it’s recommended to keep them within 30 feet of each other for best results. The Z-Wave network can handle up to 232 different devices simultaneously. This is more than enough for even a complex smart home.
Advantages of Z-Wave
Z-Wave technology continues to be a popular smart home option because it offers a number of advantages when compared to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi networks. Here are a few of the main strong points:
- great reception without interfering with wireless internet systems;
- powerful, long-range signal;
- secure encrypted network;
- consumes less energy;
- easy to install, no rewiring necessary;
- devices are all compatible.
With Z-Wave, you can get your home set up with a minimal investment and it’s easy to add lights, motion and security sensors, smart locks, thermostats and other similar devices to the network. Devices are compatible with all the latest voice-automated virtual assistants, including Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. In fact, the biggest brands in the industry offer a range of Z-Wave products.
Related article: Are Smart Locks Safe? Should Homeowners Trust Them?
Smart Homeowners Invest in Smart Home Security
You and your family can benefit from the convince and increased security that smart technology offers. For more information on smart locks, and other advanced security solutions for commercial and residential buildings, call Great Valley Lockshop at (610) 644-5334 or request a free estimate using our easy online form.