Home security for renters
A study released by the Consumer Electronics Association shows that only 12 percent of renters have a security system. This statistic gets even scarier when you consider that renters are 85 percent more likely to experience a home burglary than homeowners. When you own the place, it’s easy to install a security system, but renting is a different scenario as you’re usually at the mercy of your landlord. We went looking for the best security options for renters, too.
There’s a new type of security products, designed with renters in mind, that makes security an affordable, easy option. None of these require drilling or long-term contracts and can be set up in minutes. These can offer 24/7 home monitoring and will have you in charge, not a call center. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and a smartphone.
The watchful eye
The core of many of these systems consists of a high-resolution camera with a wide-lens. Placed in a strategic part of the house, it can capture a good view of the activity of the inhabitants (or invaders) and send you alerts on your smartphone when they detect motion.
Nest Cam, for instance, connects to an app and allows you to check on your home, regardless of your location. It also has a two-way audio feature that enables you to speak to the members of your household—imagine the fun you can have, using this feature to scare the pants off people, and how useful it actually is for telling the dog to get off the couch while you’re at the office. This device needs to be plugged in at all times and finding the strategic position that also has an outlet nearby can be a bit of a hassle.
Withings Home has many of the Nest Cam’s features, but knows also to send air quality alerts and can serve as a baby monitor, nightlight, and will even play lullabies. Furthermore, it integrates with Apple TV.
Netatmo Welcome offers face recognition—alerts will notify you who got home (dog included) and will send a „stranger alert” for everyone else. It will send you a screenshot so you can easily determine if it’s an intruder or your landlord who’s a little too liberal with their key.
With Sentri home control system you can also control other devices, such as the Philips Hue lightbulbs. You can use the app to turn the lights on remotely, making it look like you’re home when you’re not. This one is perhaps the best looking one out of the bunch. It sports a large, customizable touchscreen and an interface that doesn’t require you to reach for your smartphone.
The traditional alarm system relies on sensors—it can tell you that a door or window is opened or closed. Moreover, they must be wired into the system, a process that’s both costly and permanent (your landlord would never agree to this). But there are wireless sensors these days; they can be placed anywhere with only a little adhesive. Linked to the monitoring system of your home they will tell you not only that a door was opened, but also by whom, thanks to those cameras. In fact, the uses for the wireless sensors are almost endless—you can keep an eye on an aging parent from afar and even track entry into the liquor cabinet.
Samsung’s SmartThings Kit comes equipped with two sensors, but additional ones can be acquired, should you decide to turn your home into a fortress. Piper doesn’t come with the sensors preinstalled, but you can purchase them for $39.
The traditional alarm systems were designed to ‘scare’ the intruder away or to alert the neighbors through a deafening siren. However, according to a Freakonomics study, two thirds of homeowners with traditional alarm systems don’t use them because of the high frequency of false alarms. The good news is that the newer systems are a little brighter—alerts on your phone let you evaluate the situation and then you choose what you want it to do: sound an alarm, call the police or tell the app that everything looks ok.
Piper, for example, has “Home” and “Away” modes: the system is on alert when you’re not there and gives you some privacy when you are. Furthermore, the device allows you to connect up to 5 units to monitor a home that’s too large for one camera to see all important entry points.
Canary also has a loud siren and emergency buttons that connect you to the local authorities. Temperature sensors can detect fluctuations that might mean your house is on fire.
Home security has gone high tech and that can only mean good news for renters or anyone for whom the traditional system was out of reach.