Improving Smart Home Security: Tips for Deterring Thieves

Cupertino, December 1, 2023

Some of our favorite security cameras are also equipped with spotlights. The Arlo Floodlight Outdoor Security Camera ($215) goes up to 3,000 lumens, enough to illuminate a driveway or garden, and requires no electrical wiring, making it easy to install.

The Wyze Cam Floodlight Pro ($150) is a more affordable option that also offers 3,000 lumens and has a wide 180-degree field of view, but you may need an electrician to install it safely, and there's no Apple HomeKit support.

Eve Outdoor Cam ($250) is an option for Apple users looking for a HomeKit camera, although it is pricey and only delivers 1,500 lumens.

If you prefer Google, the Google Nest Cam with Floodlight ($280) is worth considering, with a respectable 2,400 lumens.

It's worth noting that many outdoor security cameras are equipped with less powerful spotlights that can be activated by motion.

Smart indoor lighting

A house shrouded in darkness is a clear signal that no one is inside, but leaving a light on permanently can also attract would-be thieves. Fortunately, smart lighting can simulate an occupied household. Philips Hue even has special automations that use your smart lights to make it look like you're home. You'll find this option in the Hue app if you open the Automations tab, tap the plus icon and choose Mimic Presence. There's also a TV mimic option in the Hue Labs formula list. A few other smart lighting manufacturers have similar modes. For example, Wyze has a holiday mode switch in the settings for its lights. But even if the smart lights you choose don't have a specific mode for when you're away, they can usually be scheduled. By turning a few lights on and off to mimic your typical routine, you can give anyone looking at the house the impression that you are home. You can leave the main lights on all evening in certain rooms (perhaps from 6pm to 11pm) and perhaps leave the bedroom lights on for an hour (11pm to midnight), when you normally switch them on. If you don't have smart lighting, you can get similar scheduling options by using smart plugs to turn regular lights on and off. The TP-Link Kasa Mini Smart Plug EP10 ($10) is our favorite and has an Away mode that randomly turns the plug on and off during the time you're fooling potential burglars.

Barking dogs are another potential deterrent to intruders, but you don't necessarily need to have a canine companion in your home.

Sounds are often effective at deterring intruders as well. Many security cameras and video doorbells have loud sirens that you can activate. If you get a motion alert when you're away from home and see a suspicious character lurking, activating the siren may be enough to scare him or her away.

You can also sometimes set sirens to go off automatically if they detect someone is hanging around, but false positives can be annoying.

Now that you've got your house in order, check out our selection of the best personal safety devices, apps and wearables to help you stay safe wherever you go.

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