When most people think about home security, the first images that often come to mind are cameras, door locks, maybe a gun or a dog, and the likes. The truth is that one of the most powerfully effective tools for securing your home is on the wall of every room in it.
I recently wrote a piece for AutomateLife.net about how to use lighting as a critical component to your home security plan, but managed to leave out one of the most powerful tools, the light switch! So, here on Scotsman Automations, we will look at how you can break into home security without ever leaving your bedroom! Meanwhile, you should really take some time and head on over to the gang at Automate Life and check out their articles. They are a virtual encyclopedia on all things smart home related.
Lights don’t stop crime, action does
You may be surprised to find out that lights, by themselves, are not that effective at stopping or even deterring crime. We have street lights in my neighborhood, yet that hasn’t stopped a recent rash of peeping Tom reports, or car break in’s from happening. People leave porch lights on, and still experience break-in’s. Empty stores leave lights on, and still have vandalism and burglary happen. A lot of research has gone into crime prevention and as it turns out, lights by themselves seem to do very little to curtail crime.
It turns out that in order to effect the occurrence of an action, be it criminal or otherwise, it requires and actual action! To the point, it’s not a light that does much, it’s when a light turns on, that stops people in their tracks. The action of having a light come on is a powerful deterrent to criminal behavior. This is where the power of your light switch comes into play.
Smart Home Automation for the win
Now, obviously you cannot just sit around with your finger on the switch all night long and flick it on at every sound or shadow. Although, this is the week of Halloween, and horror movies may have many of us doing just that! It would be way more helpful if we could just hide under our sheets and let our house handle the lights.
It turns out that it’s quite doable with smart home light switches! With these light switches you are able to automate some pretty impressive security automations. You can do things like have the lights randomly turn on and off in various rooms in the house, when you are away. This gives the impression that somebody is home and increases the risk level to uncomfortable levels for a would be thief. The house down the block looks safer to hit at that point.
Equally powerful is the ability to integrate the automation with other security devices. This allows you to do such things as have the living room lights, kitchen lights, and porch lights all turn on when the doorbell or security camera spots motion. Using lights as a security measure really comes into full force when they are integrated into a system based approach. Not only will the action of a light coming on, give somebody pause, it will also aid your cameras in getting the best resolution image they can get. A perfect system for reporting things to law enforcement, or giving your neighbors on Facebook a heads up of something happening in the neighborhood. A pro home security tip here, always include your neighbors in your security planning. They may not like how high you let your grass grow, and they may complain about your dogs barking, but they have a shared interest in keeping criminals out of the neighborhood.
Let’s look at the goods!
Allow me to introduce you to a few products that will help you with this. In the spirit of open disclosure, the links provided in this article go to Amazon where you can purchase any of these products. I happen to be an Amazon Affiliate and as such, Amazon gives me a small percentage of anything purchased for being the guy that brought you to their site. If you use these links, it helps me keep this site up and running, and will still get you the same low prices you would normally get on Amazon.
First up is the Kasa Smart Light Switch by TP-Link. This is a Wi-Fi based light switch that integrates very well with a number of smart home hubs. (See this article at AutomateLife.net for how hubs do this). It’s also easily controlled by Google Home and Amazon Alexa voice assistant speakers like the Nest Home Mini or the Alexa echo dot. With these, you don’t even need to get out of bed to turn on or off the lights. You only need to tell the voice assistant to do it. My wife and I love this feature and dearly miss our home when we have to spend time in a hotel without these advances.
If you have a smart home hub like the Samsung SmartThings hub or the Hubitat Elevation hub, then the next light switch will work great with those devices. The GE White Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus Smart Light Switch uses z-wave technology and as such requires the use of a z-wave hub. This is a good thing though! With Z-wave you get a secure, mesh, wireless communication protocol that works on it’s own bandwidth. This means it will free up bandwidth on your home Wi-Fi. You can use as many of these around the house as you like, and Netflix streaming will be none the slower! GE also makes a Zigbee version that has all of the same type of benefits that a Z-wave one does, but will work on Zigbee hubs like the Amazon Echo Dot.
There are many others, made by companies like Honeywell, Lutron, and more, that will all basically work the same as these above examples. One final thought before I wrap this article up is that if you are energy aware, then these switches will also go a long ways to helping you conserve the energy that you use in your home. Paired with a motion detector you never have to worry about leaving the lights on again. Your house will take care of you and shut them off automatically after you leave the room. Even without the assistance of motion detection, you can set timers or schedules on your lights.
If you are in the market for taking your home security to the next level, you really should consider implementing lighting automations into your security plan.
If you would like to speak with me more about using lighting or any other smart home tech to secure your home, please feel free to book a consultation with me and I’ll be more than happy to help you find the right solution that fits your needs. A smart home is a secure home, and a secure home is peace of mind.