26th July 2021
Smart home security systems combine many of the features of a traditional burglar alarm with the ability to monitor, control and interact with your home from an app on your smartphone or tablet.
A smart home security system is a set of internet-connected security gadgets, which typically include a combination of , sirens, motion detectors, door locks, and sensors that detect when a door or window has been opened.
The specific gadgets bundled together to make a security system vary between the different kits and brands, but most manufacturers offer a range of different kits, plus the option to buy additional compatible gadgets separately.
All smart home security systems are driven by a central internet-connected ‘hub’, which wirelessly connects to and communicates with a smartphone app and the other components of the system.
Using the app on your smartphone or tablet, you can monitor your home by receiving alerts, viewing photos or video footage taken by a security camera and, in some cases, control bits of your home such as lighting, heating or appliances.
Many systems offer more than security. , for example, has a camera that can also function as a baby monitor thanks to its night vision, two-way speaker and preloaded lullabies. , meanwhile, is compatible with a moisture sensor that can alert you to floods or leaks – useful if you're prone to forgetting a running bath.
Depending on the kit you buy, you can also program your devices to respond in certain ways, such as setting a camera to record video or a smart plug to turn on a light when a door is opened.
Monitoring the comings and goings of loved ones and pets is also possible, with small personal tags that attach to a key ring, wallet or collar. Using these, you can be alerted when a person or pet arrives home, or if a vulnerable relative leaves the house unexpectedly or hasn’t moved for a while.
If you're looking for a monitoring system that's geared more towards looking after people rather than home security, it's also worth considering telecare and GPS tracking devices.
We asked a security expert to assess a selection of the latest smart home security systems and recommend what to look for when choosing one.
Basic smart home security system kits can be bought for as little as £190, but it's worth bearing in mind that a basic kit is unlikely to be enough to cover your entire home (unless you live in a small flat). The true cost will vary depending on the size of your home, so before you invest it's worth thinking about which extra components you'll need in your property and how much they cost.
A smart home system that relies on motion detectors would cost £500-600 for a two-bedroom house, but the cost will be much greater if you wish to install multiple wireless security cameras or sensors on all of your doors and windows.
Smart home security systems can certainly play a part in home security, but when our security expert looked at five different models in action, he felt that the basic packages offered (by Honeywell, Panasonic, Response, Samsung and Yale) can be too simple to provide decent security for most properties.
If you do invest in a smart home security kit, you’ll need to consider the following.
Self-installation is a big selling-point of smart home security systems, but unless you're a security expert it's easy to make a mistake and install an element such as a camera or motion sensor in the wrong place.
When our security expert checked systems installed in a research home, most components were installed where they wouldn’t be most useful.
We think manufacturers should supply better guidance with products to ensure the systems are installed effectively and don’t end up being a waste of space. Ensure you read instructions thoroughly, and also bear the following in mind.
Both can help keep your home protected. Smart home security systems can be self-installed, which can be a blessing and a curse: the good thing is that you don't have to worry about calling in a tradesperson to install it; the downside is that it's possible to install components where they aren't most useful.
Traditional burglar alarms are manufactured to exacting security standards, and professional installation also eliminates the risk that your high-tech gear will miss an intruder altogether.
Traditional systems aren't without their own downsides though. Systems that are monitored by a third party require subscription payments, or in a bells-only system you may have to rely on your neighbour to alert you if you're not at home when the alarm is sounding. A smart system would send an alert to your phone and let you check what's happening.
When buying a smart home security system, make sure you're handing your money over to a reputable seller. Check the retailer's returns policy and pay attention to customer feedback and reviews. For more details on shopping online safely and arranging refunds for faulty products, see our .
Amazon, Argos, Currys PC World and Safe are some of the most searched-for smart home security system retailers at the time of writing. We’ve included links to these retailers handpicked because of their stock availability, best value price or warranty options.