Smart Homes:
What to Know

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Smart homes feature interconnected devices—such as alarm systems, security cameras, lights, thermostats, and more— which improve safety, increase convenience, and enhance efficiencies, and can be controlled remotely.

Editor’s Note: This resource guide was originally published in October 2018 and was revised in March 2021 to reflect industry updates and new technologies.

Smart homes are residences equipped with interconnectable technology enabling key household features to be managed through compatible mobile devices while increasing safety and efficiency, streamlining communications, and modifying everyday activities.

From controlling lighting to safeguarding doors and windows, checking in on loved ones, and other wellness benefits, such wireless capabilities personalize the home experience, while saving energy and money.

This comprehensive guide encompasses many aspects of a smart home, including its evolution, key characteristics, benefits and advantages, and more.

Technology continuously transforms the way we live. Take the invention of everyday appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, dishwashers, central air and heating systems, and microwaves. While these may now seem basic, they were once considered high-end, technologically advanced products.

Those we currently consider smart devices and homes didn’t become obtainable realities until the late 20th century. Technology significantly evolved from year to year, and smartphones, tablets, and laptops, for example, are now common in nearly every household.

The 1999 TV movie Smart House accurately predicted how a smart home of today would operate—with voice commands adjusting temperatures, sending messages, and controlling lighting.

Smart homes are expected to evolve in the coming years, with more and more homeowners adding these compatible technologies for safety, security, and convenience.

A report conducted by Swedish research firm Berg Insight predicts 147 million European and North American households will feature smart technology by 2022.

There are a wide range of feature-rich, smart products currently available for home installation through services providers such as General Security.

Note the following smart technologies:

Alarm Systems

These modernized, new and improved versions of standard security systems provide real-time alerts for everything from children arriving home from school to the triggering or disarming of an alarm. Smart alarms also enable homeowners to remotely monitor and control activities from any mobile device.


Security Cameras

Installing smart security cameras on and around your property enables users to view real-time footage from any mobile device, regardless of location.

Such systems are compatible with home automation hubs for integration with other devices.

Consider the following indoor, outdoor, doorbell, and wellness security cameras:

   Indoor/Outdoor

Wired or wireless cameras can include night vision, in-app video feeds, motion detection, digital microphones, and clear speakers. Camera motion settings can also be adjusted for accurate video analytics and surveillance.

Doorbell

These provide contactless, front-porch communication to remotely instruct a delivery person to leave a package, food, or other items on your doorstep—all from the convenience of a smartphone.

All Alarm.com-branded doorbell cameras are equipped with front-porch identification, intelligent lighting integration, and nighttime detection.

Wellcam

Available through General Security’s Wellness packages, Wellcam features real-time, two-way audio and video communication. These cameras can also easily connect to Qolsys Personal Emergency Response wristbands for additional monitoring and fall detection alerts, even if the panic button is out of reach.

Not all security systems and cameras are smart-compatible, so it’s best to work with a services provider, such as General Security, for help and assistance. 

Smart homes are expected to evolve in the coming years, with more and more homeowners adding these compatible technologies for safety, security, and convenience.


Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It’s not just burglars who could threaten your home’s safety—fires and carbon monoxide are also potential hazards. Smart capabilities provide real-time alerts of these dangers, protecting you and loved ones from potential loss of life and property. This technology will also alert of missing or low battery levels.

Thermostats

Rather than waiting to change the temperature of your home when you’re physically there, smart thermostats can be remotely adjusted, and also self-regulate based on weather reports.

Energy Management

Smart light switches, dimmers, and LED bulbs can be controlled from any mobile device, whether you’re home or away. If you forgot to turn off your lights before leaving the house, you’ll still be able to prevent a high electricity bill.

Smart outlets can manage auto shut-off for electronic devices such as TVs and gaming systems.

Sprinklers

A smart sprinkler, such as those developed by technology company Rachio, Inc., can handle more than just lawn maintenance. Similar to smart thermostats, these devices can adjust schedules based upon local weather reports, which is especially useful during seasonal changes. It can also modify usage according to soil type, sun exposure, and other lawn elements.

Leak Detection & Flood Sensors

Protecting your home from leaks and water damage is another smart feature. Receive real-time mobile alerts through your system’s leak detection and flood sensors to avoid costly damages before they happen.

Wellness

Checking in on elderly loved ones when you can’t be there provides peace of mind and reassurances that they’re safe while living independently. This is especially important during quarantine restrictions amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Using real-time sensor data and algorithms to identify your loved one’s regular patterns, General Security’s aforementioned Wellness system recognizes unusual activities that could lead to emergency events, such as nighttime slips and falls, lapsed medications, poor eating habits, inconsistent sleep patterns, and more. 

Appliances

Smart stove and grill guards can be implemented for automatic appliance shutoff. This provides real-time monitoring for dangers such as leaving on a hot stove, grill, or oven—all of which could lead to fires, gas leaks, and propane loss.

Smart Locks

Manage efficiency and security with smart door locks whether you’re home, away, or pulling into your driveway. Mobile alerts let you know if you’ve left doors unlocked, or if they’ve been opened by an unauthorized user.

Glass Break Sensors

Also referred to as glass detectors, these notify homeowners if a glass window and/or door is broken. Unlike traditional sensors, they activate with noise or shattered glass vibrations.

When combined with contact sensors, this technology provides the highest level of real-time intruder protection for your home and loved ones. 

General Security Video Footage

Smart home devices are beneficial for every household—whether a family with small children and pets, or elderly loved ones living alone. 

Smart home devices are beneficial for every household—whether a family with small children and pets, or elderly loved ones living alone.

Integration & Interconnectivity

Although every smart device is helpful in its own way, integration and interconnectivity is what makes these truly remarkable, as well as convenient, for home safety and security management. 

Remote Monitoring

Remote monitoring enables users to control any smart technology from anywhere—with the assistance of a mobile device. This provides real-time check-ins on various elements of your home and property.

Motion Detection

Activated only when motion is detected, this technology saves time, battery life, memory, storage, and energy. Regardless of whether you’re home or away, it notifies of possible suspicious activities within your property’s exterior and interior.

Video Analytics

Perhaps one of the most standout features of smart home automation is video analytics. This advanced technology can be added as another security layer, in line with motion detection. Intelligent enough to differentiate between animals, humans and vehicles, it minimizes erroneous notifications and deciphers movement to help prevent false alarms. 

Pre-programmed tripwires, activity zones, and responses—such as activating indoor/outdoor lights—provide real-time alert triggers to ward off potential intruders. 

Customization

Many smart home devices provide personalized functions to suit individual needs—whether deferring to behaviors, and/or geographical locations.

Peace of Mind

Knowing what’s happening in and around your property, regardless of your location, helps ensure your family and home are safe, at all times.

Central Station Alarm Monitoring

In addition to receiving real-time alerts on your mobile device, Central Station Monitoring provides an added layer of protection. Directly connecting to local law enforcement and emergency personnel for immediate, 24/7 response to fires, theft, medical emergencies and other hazards, this technology reduces the chance of injury, illness, and even possible fatalities. 

There are several significant advantages to investing in a smart security system. Among these:

Proactivity

Rather than reacting to a problem that has already occurred, smart security systems grant the tools necessary to be proactive regarding home safety. This helps prevent break-ins and other potentially dangerous incidents from occurring.

Monitoring More Than Just Your Home

Because smart security cameras can be installed throughout the home’s interior and exterior, users can monitor the entire property, as well as those inside, such as mischievous pets, children arriving home from school, or elderly loved ones. 

Maintaining Control

Answer the door, activate and deactivate the alarm, and operate other home security system components, from anywhere.

Saving Money

Temperature- and light-controlling features are often aspects of smart security systems. Since remote adjustments can be made and the devices themselves can regulate settings, homeowners will likely save money on energy bills, too.

Added Home & Property Values

Many homebuyers today want to incorporate smart features into their new living space, and are willing to pay more for a property pre-equipped with these modern capabilities and conveniences.

Smart Home Growth

Many homebuyers today want to incorporate smart features into their new living space, and are willing to pay more for a property pre-equipped with these modern capabilities and conveniences.

As aforementioned, smart security systems will continue to evolve as they become an integral part of how today’s homeowners live, work, and socialize. This will undoubtedly set the stage for the future, especially as the need for convenience, connectivity, and simplification continue.

General Security offers smart home technologies to homeowners located along the U.S. East Coast. Request a free, contactless quote from us today.