Two of the most effective ways to protect your family and belongings are home security systems and home automation products. A good place to start when choosing between home automation and home security is to create a list of the pros and cons, including what each could cost you. Use this comparison guide to home security and home automation to evaluate all the important factors that you should consider before making the best decision for your family.
Differences of Home Security vs. Home Automation
As technology advances, the line between what defines home security and home automation continues to blur. Home security is any system that helps protect your home from unwanted intruders. Though the term is vague, home security includes things like door and window sensors, security cameras and motion-detecting lights. Any systems that keep your home from being broken into are categorized as home security.
Home automation products are smart technologies that connect your home wirelessly, typically through your smartphone, tablet or computer, although the products sometimes run through a control panel built into the wall. Some common products for home automation are smart thermostats, fans, lights, blinds and small appliance controls. Home automation products can also often help you save energy in your new home. Smart home technology enables you to remotely control your thermostat and lights, so you can turn them off when you don’t need them, and with small appliance controls, you can make sure you remembered to turn off the curling iron or the coffee pot before hurrying out of your house in the morning.
The difference between home automation and home security starts to become less clear when you realize that many security companies offer home automation products. Some things, such as smart locks, can be important for both safety and convenience. The lines between security and automation are not cut and dry.
Cost of Home Security vs. Home Automation
We all would like to think that money is no object when it comes to safety, but after purchasing a new home, the price of a state-of-the-art security system is something to consider. Depending on the company and type of products, the costs of home security and home automation differ greatly. Because there is a wide range of security and home automation options, chances are, you’ll be able to find one that fits your budget.
Home security companies usually charge an equipment and installation fee in addition to monthly charges. The most affordable companies charge around $600 for the up-front costs, followed by monthly payments of as low as $15. While installation and equipment fees can amount to an expensive part of home security packages, companies frequently waive those initial costs and charge only the monthly fee if you sign a one-, two- or three-year agreement. On average, expect to pay around $30–40 per month for a highly recommended security system.
Complete home security and home automation packages are bit more expensive than home security alone. Depending on the company you choose, you may also spend more on equipment to get all the home automation bells and whistles. Most standard home automation and security packages include a select number of lighting and small appliance controls, but you may want to add more, depending on your needs. For total home security monitoring and home automation, you will pay between $49.99 and $69.99 a month.
If you’d like to stick to a few home automation products rather than a complete home automation and security system, you can purchase home automation products and services piecemeal. For example, you can get a Nest or Lyric smart thermostat for a one-time charge of $249 to $274. And smart lights, such as LIFX, can be purchased individually, ranging in price from $39.99 to $99.99 with lots of customized options. When it comes to home automation, the possibilities are astounding.
Risks of Home Security vs. Home Automation
A home security system gives you a few benefits you do not get from home automation alone. When a security alarm is triggered, a security representative is automatically alerted and the police are called to your home. Some home security companies schedule drive-by guards to make sure your home is being protected from every angle. When you invest in home automation alone, you do not receive these security benefits unless you combine home automation elements and products with your security system — which most security companies now offer.
Home security systems are not infallible, either. To get the most out of your security system, you may want to consider consulting with a professional installer, rather than doing it on your own. Most security companies offer this option, and besides being easier, it means you benefit from professional expertise. Most installers will perform a free security check of your home and offer any tips to secure weak points. Of course, the drawback is that using a professional installer usually comes with an additional fee.
Finally, if you already have a home security system and are moving to a new home, consider all of the frequently asked questions that come with relocating: Does your company provide service in your new neighborhood? Is there already a security system in place at the new home? If not, will your company move the security system for you? Some homes come with a previous owner’s security system, or you may be able to get a special discount if you use the same security company as your neighbors. Answer these questions before making any final decisions about your home automation and security.
After weighing the options between the top home security systems and the best home automation products, you should ultimately decide what matters most to you. For new homebuyers that need to save money, the decision may come down to the cheapest option. If ease and efficiency is the number one priority, purchasing a high-tech home automation system to run all your electronics could be the best choice. Homeowners now have more options than ever when it comes to customizing automation and security.