Hundreds of thousands of Australians experience home burglaries each year. In 2018-19 alone, an estimated 231,000 households had at least one break-in, and almost 200,000 experienced an attempted break-in.1
The good news for homeowners is that innovative wireless and Bluetooth security products are now available that rival the features of more expensive wired security systems. A leading insurance comparison service has done the research and compiled some of the best new security technologies that could reduce the chance of a home break-in.
Household savings expert at comparethemarket.com.au Abigail Koch says: “Your home’s vulnerability to natural events, such as floods or bushfires, affects the cost of your home insurance policy, as does the likelihood of potential burglaries. In fact, the higher your insurer deems the crime risk in your area, the higher your annual premium will likely be.
“Households with smart home security measures could see a reduction in their home and contents insurance premium.
“Free comparison services, such as comparethemarket.com.au can help you easily find a policy that best suits your needs and budget. Before purchasing a policy, it’s important to read through the Product Disclosure Statement carefully to find out what is and isn’t covered, as well as speak with the insurer to see if your security features could reduce your premium.”
Are smart home security solutions becoming more affordable?
Innovative products that are battery-powered, and operate using WiFi and Bluetooth have recently become available through popular tech and appliance retailers – and are improving every year through new-model releases. A major benefit of wireless devices is their relatively low cost, as they don’t require your property to be data-wired (an expensive exercise).
Keep in mind that while it can cost in the thousands, a wired and professionally installed security system adds value to your property – as it becomes an integrated property feature – while wireless, integrated devices are unlikely to add value, as they are portable. However, you can replace them with updated models more affordably, and you can take them with you when you move.
Our 8 new smart home security products that could prevent a break-in
- Wireless multifunctional security cameras. WiFi battery-powered internal security cameras and WiFi solar- or battery-powered external cameras that are weatherproof are a great solution for properties that do not have existing data cabling inside their walls. Two popular brands are Ring and Arlec. They come with a smartphone app, where you can view camera footage from anywhere, and receive notifications when they detect movement. Many brands offer two-way talk capabilities, spotlights, night vision, and alarms, which you can activate from the app. You can also link multiple cameras to view different areas of your property on one screen through the app. A small monthly subscription fee enables you to save and archive the footage. The rechargeable batteries inside the units last for months and many are available at popular retail outlets starting at $179 per camera2.
- Wireless doorbells and chimes. Ring is one of several security brands that also offers battery-powered WiFi doorbells with a camera that you can attach to your front door, and can link to the same app that hosts your camera footage. The doorbell offers two-way talk, night vision and alarm capabilities. Ring also has a chime device that you can plug into any power point in your home to act as a doorbell when your camera detects motion. For external devices, WiFi strength may be a challenge, and you might need to place a WiFi booster at a window close to the security device.
- Wireless motion sensors. Sophisticated passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors that detect temperature, humidity and movement inside your home are available as battery-powered WiFi devices that integrate into a smartphone app. Specialised security companies also offer devices that can integrate into a smart home security system with a wall-mounted control panel, as well as a smartphone app. They can also offer back-to-base monitoring for a reasonable subscription fee. Some security companies suggest applying small wireless vibration sensor pads to doors and windows, which sound an alarm or app notification when they detect vibration (an attempted break-in).
- Smart digital front door locks. Battery-powered WiFi or wired front door and gate locks enable you to control access to your home using a swipe card, security code, fingerprint or via a smartphone app. Some of the higher-priced models come with a video doorbell, and an intruder prevention feature that sets off an alarm when the lock is operated from the inside while you are away.3 These locks, which are easily configurable, give the property owner a record of each time the door opens. For example, Samsung’s smart digital door locks give you keyless entry for up to 100 fingerprints or 30 users by PIN or KeyTag.4 They also enable you to unlock and lock your door remotely, if required. Samsung also offers a lower-priced digital deadbolt suitable for narrower door panels. In conjunction, Google Assistant products, such as Google Home or Google Nest Hub, have smart lights that can turn on when a door is unlocked.5
- Integrated alarm systems. Many wireless motion sensors, cameras and doorbells come with integrated security alarms. In addition to receiving a phone app notification when motion is detected, you can set up these devices to sound an alarm on your property at the same time. There is also the option to activate an alarm from the device directly from the app on your phone.
- Smart light switches. These let you still control the lights not only from a wall switch but via a smartphone app or tablet. You can program them to light up when there is movement inside your house, which can help deter intruders. Smart lights can be integrated, and many are capable of interacting with other smart home devices. Bulbs from LIFX, for example, communicate over WiFi,6 while others communicate via your smartphone’s Bluetooth.
- Smart plugs or power boards. Smart power points or power boards enable you turn on and off any appliance that they power – all from a smartphone app.7 From as little as $25, smart plugs allow you to set up schedules and timers, as well as turning individual power sockets on and off remotely, making it look like you’re home when you’re out.8
- Integrated home security control panels. If you are looking to install multiple cameras, sensors and a video doorbell on your property, it could be worth looking into a single integrated system in which all devices are controlled from a smartphone app and a wall-hung control panel. These are usually installed by a professional security company, which could recommend back-to-base monitoring. Samsung’s SmartThings9 hub, which can be downloaded from Google Play or iTunes, is an integrated app that allows you to connect with a range of smart devices, such as locks, power outlets, speakers and light bulbs. Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s HomeKit are other examples on offer.
Sources Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), ‘Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2018-19’: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/4530.0
 Samsung Digital Door Lock: https://digitaldoorlocks.com.au/all-products/
 Google Nest Help: https://support.google.com/googlenest/answer/7672451?hl=en&ref_topic=7029100
 LIFX’s Wi-Fi LED Smart Lights are available from retailers such as Harvey Norman: https://www.harveynorman.com.au/smart-home/smart-home-automation/smart-lighting-and-plugs/lifx/993
 An example of a smartphone power board is Kogan SmarterHome Smart Power Board with USB Ports & Energy Meter, available at Dick Smith. See further: https://www.dicksmith.com.au/da/buy/kogan-smarterhome-smart-power-board-with-usb-ports-energy-meter/
 TP-Link has a range of Wi-Fi smart plugs: https://www.tp-link.com/au/home-networking/smart-plug/
 Samsung, SmartThings: https://www.samsung.com/us/smart-home/smartthings/