Summer vacation might be long gone but that doesn’t mean you’re done traveling. There’s fall leaves to peep, ski trips to plan, and holiday family visits just around the corner.
Unfortunately porch pirates and burglars are also ready for the fall. Good thing you’ve got the gear to keep your place safe while you’re away.
Ecobee Smart Doorbell Camera
Ecobee’s latest addition to their security lineup might just be the one that you use the most. Doorbell cams are ubiquitous at this point. Mostly because they’re fantastic unitaskers. They show you who’s at the front door. That’s it. Maybe they protect packages. Maybe they function as intercoms. But mainly, they give you a close up view of who or what is at the front door without you having to get up and check yourself.
And the ecobee Smart Doorbell Camera is no slouch, with 175 degrees of visibility so that you can see packages placed right up against your door and visitors from head-to-toe. The night vision is excellent as well, giving you a clear picture in low-light conditions.
The problem with a lot of video doorbells is that they require you to have your phone or a dedicated secondary screen to see who’s at the door. ecobee gives you video updates on your phone but they also do something novel if you also have a Smart Thermostat Premium: they turn your thermostat into a secondary display. Whenever anyone shows up at the door, you can check the ecobee app or just glance at your ecobee Premium. It’s a nice alternative.
Installation is super easy (though the doorbell chime requirements may be an issue for older homes with odd-shaped chime boxes or unsupported wiring). What I especially like is that there are no proprietary screwdriver bits needed just to install the doorbell (looking at you, Ring). The Smart Doorbell Cam is powered by the low voltage wiring of your existing doorbell, so once you install it, you don’t have to worry about keeping the batteries topped off. It also has IP65 waterproofing and dust protection, so it’ll stand up to the elements. It’s been tested to withstand everything from -13F lows to 113F highs.
On its own, the Smart Doorbell Camera is $159. It comes with two months free of ecobee’s security service, which unlocks things like package detection and monitoring and 30-day video storage. The doorbell works even without other ecobee devices but you can purchase packages with indoor cameras and a thermostat with impressive discounts. Check them out and learn more about the Smart Doorbell Camera on the ecobee site.
Yale Assure Lock 2 Plus
I’ve been a fan of Yale’s smart lock products since discovering their delivery box last holiday season (and, yes, other than USPS that still wholeheartedly rails against using it, it’s been adopted by the other delivery people that come by). Their technology is reliable and easy to use and syncs seamlessly with Apple Home.
Installation is no more difficult than installing any standard door lock and Yale gives you all the templates you need if you’re starting from scratch. It runs off a handful of AAA batteries (which I appreciate as that’s been my one complaint about the delivery box, it’s uncommon battery size).
Once installed, there’s an LED touchscreen, blank until you press it, that you can open with a PIN (set in the Yale app…a setting that seems needlessly buried in submenus). But the real trick is that, if you sync with Apple Home and are upgraded to a recent version of iOS, you can just wave your phone or hover your Apple Watch near the lock to unlock it with Home Key.
It’s especially handy when you lock yourself out with just your watch on your wrist…speaking from experience. But relying on your watch or phone is good for another security reason that I hadn’t considered — no fingerprints on the blank LED screen.
That said this is an unapologetically online device. Luckily the Assure Lock 2 Plus comes with a WiFi bridge. You can also connect via Bluetooth. There are great advantages, though, with the deep Apple Home integration. I’m especially fond of being able to set an automation to lock an outside door after 3 minutes or have it lock every night at a certain time.
If you’d rather not use your watch or don’t have a deadbolt on your door, you can also grab the Yale Assure Lever Lock that has the same lockscreen tech and Home app connection capability, but in a form factor that replaces a standard doorknob. It’s great for things like interior garage doors.
I’ve recommended the Yale Smart Lock to friends of mine and they’ve come away extremely happy. They also haven’t had to call me once to ask how to set it up. That speaks volumes to how smooth of an installation experience Yale’s created. You can find out more and pick up a lock of your own on the Yale website.
Vivint Indoor Cam Pro
Yes, I’m on my Vivint soapbox again. Well. Not a soapbox as much as a “it’s tiring having to integrate five different company’s products into your home tech stack, so why not have one company that does it for you plus provides professional monitoring.”
I mentioned the Indoor Camera Pro earlier this year and am happy to say that they’ve delivered impressively on their promise. The new camera not only has better resolution than their previous offerings, it looks like a modern video camera in the best way and keeps the little extras, like the two-way app-to-camera intercom.
Night vision is much improved as well, greatly reducing the visual noise and providing crystal clarity. It’s smart too, smart enough to filter out window reflections if you want to leave it inside and point it at a window towards a porch or patio you’d like to monitor.
The onboard camera storage is a huge benefit as well. Rather than relying on the cloud solely, you can jump back up to three hours smoothly with video stored on the camera. Of course, you don’t have to scrub manually, you can use the Vivint app to jump right to detection events that the camera has automatically marked.
You can get unlimited video storage if you sign up for Vivint’s cloud storage service Playback DVR. And that is the caveat. If you want any of this, you’ll need to sign up for Vivnt’s monitored security service. The upside is that they provide hardware support as well as monitoring. If something goes wrong, they fix it (or walk you through how to fix it). Go to Vivint.com to get started.
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