Home monitoring has advanced far beyond the traditional hardwired keypad systems. It's now home security technology, and includes a much wider array of democratized services available to more people than ever via smartphone.
Many systems don't even require the typical touchpads, key fobs or monthly monitoring fees: Numerous easier, cheaper, and more versatile alternatives can be accessed in a smart home using something that's probably already in your pocket: a smartphone.
In some cases, monitoring homes remotely can be a minimal, do-it-yourself effort by using a product such as Canary, a single device you can control from your phone.
With claims averaging $61,387 for fire, $10,982 for water damage, and crime at $4,927, according to 2015 State Farm® data, it's not surprising that qualifying home automation and security systems can be purchased at discounts for insurance policyholders or even qualify for homeowners or renters insurance premium discounts, so check with your insurance provider.
But for a more comprehensive service — some including 24-hour monitoring by security professionals — the latest generation of smart home systems goes far beyond smoke detection and intrusion alerts. Many include options for real-time video monitoring, motion-activated recording and even night vision. Systems also can monitor air quality, temperature and humidity.
Remotely-controlled ovens, water heaters, and washing machines are here too, although still in early stages, and many more items in the "Internet of Things" are in development.
The more common features of smart homes that can be monitored or controlled remotely include:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Connected electrical outlets
- Appliance shutoff
- Moisture detection — this could include anything from a leaky roof or pipes, to burst water lines, to overflowing sump pumps
- Automated water valve shutoff, stopping water at the source
- Temperature sensors (to help avoid frozen pipes)
- Broken glass alert
- Door or window opened alert
- Motion detection
- Locking of doors
- Motion-activated camera
- Turning on lights
- Control home temperature for sick and elderly household members
- Video monitoring
- Activity monitoring
- Medical alert options
Home automation and security savings of up to 10% may be available to State Farm customers who buy a discount eligible system. Discounts vary by state and apply to both centrally monitored and self-installed systems.