This time of year sees the nights drawing in, winter approaching, and the most break-ins happening in the UK. Data from UKCrimeStats suggests that a rise in burglaries occurred between October 2018 and January 2019, with the majority happening in November of last year.
If you’re thinking about adding an extra level of security to your home to give yourself peace of mind not only during winter but also throughout the year, there are plenty of smart home security devices on the market.
Read on for a round-up of the new smart home security products we’ve been trying out, including smart video doorbells that record who’s visiting (or snooping) around your home, and two wireless security cameras. Plus you can read up on our top home security tips.
Smart doorbells and security cameras: our first impressions
Ring Video Doorbell 2, £179
Ring’s video doorbell range is one of the most popular on the market, and its Video Doorbell 2 seems to offer everything you’d want from a smart doorbell.
When someone’s outside, you’ll get a notification through to your phone – even if they don’t press the bell. That said, it doesn’t come with a chime, so if you want your Ring to truly ‘ring’ you’ll have to purchase one. Otherwise, alerts will only be heard through your smartphone.
It records high-quality 1080p HD wide-angle video footage, and has night vision and two-way audio capabilities. It promises to be easy to set up, and you won’t need to hire a professional to fit it. Ring’s subscription fee (which you’ll need in order to view past events and share and save videos) starts at £2.50 per month.
To find out whether we thought it was actually simple to set up, and if the video quality is any good, read our full Ring Video Doorbell 2 first look review.
Nest Hello Video Doorbell, £229
Nest’s Hello Video Doorbell also gives you the ability to check up on who’s coming to your house, whether you’re in or not. Nest offers additional features, such as face recognition, so you can receive different alerts when it’s someone you know.
Footage is recorded in HD UXGA, and the angle of view is a wide 160 degrees. In comparison with the Ring model, the Hello Video Doorbell is wired, not battery powered, so you’ll probably need to pay a professional to set it up (adding about an extra £90 to the upfront cost). You’ll need to pay a subscription cost to view prerecorded footage, which starts at £40 per year and goes up to a whopping £240.
Check out our first impressions on whether it’s worth the investment in our Nest Hello Video Doorbell review.
TP-Link Kasa Spot KC100 indoor security camera, £35
TP-Link’s Kasa Spot KC100 is one of the cheapest security cameras we’ve seen and, for the price, it seems to offer a lot of promising features.
There’s a partner app, with which you can schedule and set the camera to turn off and on, change motion ‘zones’ and listen to prerecorded audio and video (when the camera has detected motion) and even speak through the camera. There’s also night mode, so you should still be able to make out what’s happening when the lights are off.
To see whether we thought it was worth a look, or if you’re better off spending your money on a more expensive camera, read our TP-Link Kasa Spot KC100 review here.
Arlo Ultra, £449
The Arlo Ultra is one of the most expensive models on the market, and it was the first of the major brands to offer 4K HDR super-wide-angle footage. It’s wire-free, so you won’t have to plug it in, which makes it easier to position where you want it in the home. It can also be used outdoors.
This model has plenty of extra capabilities, which you’d expect for the price, including auto zoom and tracking, which allow it to focus on moving objects, plus noise-cancelling microphones and colour night vision.
Check out our Arlo Ultra review to see whether it truly offers high-quality protection, or if we thought it was far too overpriced.
Top three security tips
1. Secure your windows and doors
And we don’t just mean in the traditional sense of keeping them closed and locked. If you have windows (and see-through doors) which are in easy view, think about how you can arrange curtains and blinds strategically when you’re out or away, especially if the rooms contain valuables. Try to make sure expensive items such as laptops and tablets out of sight, as they are a ticket to invite criminals into your home.
2. Use lighting
Motion-activated security lights are a good way to alert you to someone being outside the property, and a great deterrent to burglars. You can also use your lighting to make it seem like you’re home when you’re actually on holiday or out of the house. You can buy timers that turn them off and on at certain times, or you can control plug-in lighting remotely using a smart plug.
3. Don’t forget about your garden
If you’ve got a front or back garden, you can make it more difficult for a burglar to gain access. Using gravel will make it difficult for someone to get close to the property without making a racket. You could also opt for bushes that are spiky and difficult to hide in. Consider strong gates or fences around the perimeter. Fences can be topped with trellis, which will buckle under weight and alert you to any unwanted visitors.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive smart home system to secure your home, read our guide to how to buy the best smart home security system.