Courtesy Best Buy

Security solutions for the modern home

Home is where you expect to feel safe, and for some people, that means adding a home security system.
Years ago, homeowners had two choices: have a system professionally installed, or make do with simple devices, such as timers to turn lights on and off, and clunky, wired security cameras.

But thanks to today’s technology, there are numerous devices that a do-it-yourselfer can install, while the option of leaving things up to the pros is also still available.

Steven Toews, general manager of Best Buy’s Deerfoot Meadows location in Calgary, says that not only are there many home security devices available, they offer a lot of flexibility – even with something like the humble light timer.

“You can turn it on and off with your voice,” said Toews. “You can check it with your phone halfway across the world, or create a new timer. The features and controls you have with the new products are really where it has expanded.”

Toews says security cameras still come in hard-wired models, but also ones that are wireless and even battery-operated, “so you can install them anywhere.”

He says most devices can be controlled via cellphone, such as smart locks or video doorbells that have a built-in security camera to see who’s there – both great for people who rent out their homes using Airbnb.

The lines have also been blurred between security devices and devices for home convenience.

“The features and controls you have with the new products are really where it has expanded.” – Steven Toews, Best Buy store general manager

Toews says there are smart thermostats that can be programmed or remotely controlled, some with added humidity or air quality monitors.

Smart lighting, switches and wall outlets allow control of light bulbs and fixtures, as well as various electronic devices in your home.

Toews says voice recognition assistants, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo, can be “used to control or tie in all your other devices together.”

He says most products are quite simple to install. For example, a wireless security camera just needs to be plugged in and connected via Wi-Fi to your phone.

He adds there are also cost savings when taking the DIY route.

“You’re doing your own monitoring and have your own equipment, so the cost is significantly less,” he said.

But the option of a professional security system is still there, for people who prefer to leave the installation and monitoring to others.

Kurt Surine, general manager of Vivint Smart Home Security’s Calgary office, says each of their systems is custom designed to meet a homeowner’s specific needs after an in-home consultation.

Surine says it can include security devices, such as intrusion sensors on windows and doors, video surveillance, fire detectors, and flood or freeze-up sensors, along with integrated smart-home control of lighting, garage door openers, thermostats and more.

“We don’t really do preset security packages anymore,” he said. “It’s all totally customizable, so you can pick and choose. It’s all a la carte.”

Surine says the main advantages of a professional system are the expert installation, having a single app on your phone that controls everything, a lifetime warranty, and security monitoring with two-way voice system and police or fire alert.