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Why invest in smart home monitoring?

When you’re away on holiday, you might ask a neighbour to pop round to the house and check on things for you. Smart home monitoring products are the tech equivalent of that, so you can look in on your home from your phone or computer at work, or wherever you happen to be. It’s perfect for when you need a little extra peace of mind.

What kinds of products are there?

Indoor security cameras

To keep an eye on your home, a good smart home monitoring system will need eyes of its own. For indoors, choose an HD wifi camera designed for security, like the Nest Cam. This has motion and sound sensors so it can alert you if it seems like something’s not right. It sends high-quality, wide-angle video wirelessly to your phone, computer or tablet, and has night vision sensors so you can still see in the dark.

The Panasonic indoor security camera offers similar features, and starts recording 2 seconds before the sensor is activated. This means you get a picture of the action, not the aftermath. It also has a shutter in case you feel like closing its watchful eye for a while (you can reactivate it remotely, too).

Some camera systems offer sophisticated extras on top: the stylish Canary all-in-one unit has a 90-decibel alarm, can connect directly to the emergency services, and even monitors the air quality in your home. Meanwhile, the Netatmo Welcome Home camera learns the faces of your family members, so you can see when they’re safely home, monitor who’s in the house, and get alerts when it spots someone it doesn’t recognise.

Outdoor security cameras

For outdoors, you’ll need something sturdy and weatherproof, like CCTV but with smart capabilities. For instance, the Netatmo Presence Outdoor Security Camera condenses a whole day’s footage into just a minute using motion sensors, so you can watch a timelapse of all the important things that happened today without fast-forwarding through empty scenes.

If you’d like to be able to hear and talk to the people at your door, Nest’s Outdoor Security Cam has a microphone and speaker. For even greater control, the Ring video doorbell (coming soon) allows you to see and talk to whoever rings your doorbell, so you can tell them where to leave a parcel or decide if it’s worth leaving your lunch to answer the door.

If you’re not sure whether to go indoor or outdoor, the Canary Flex wired or wireless camera can do both.

Motion sensors

As you might expect, these detect movement. They usually work in tandem with other smart home products: for example, the Hive motion sensors detect movement of doors and windows, and work with the Hive hub that you’ll have if you use Hive active heating.

Alternatively, they can work with other products to help automate your home: the motion sensor included with this Panasonic kit can automatically turn the lights on when someone comes home, for example.

Water sensors

What would happen if your home sprang a leak when you weren’t there? The Panasonic Smart Home Indoor Water Leak Sensor is designed to sit under the sink, or near the washing machine or dishwasher, to keep an eye out for leaking water. If a leak is detected, it’ll let you know straight away on your smart device so you can do something before it gets out of hand.

5. What other features do you need?

Never worry about whether you turned the iron off again. Smart plugs go into any normal socket, then you plug the appliance into the smart plug. Once you’ve connected to it, you’ll be able to turn it on and off from your phone. Not only does this allow you to check your daughter turned her hair straighteners off before she left for college, but it also lets you do things like turning lamps on from across the room without getting up.

The Panasonic smart plug monitors the electricity used by the appliance, while Hive’s smart plug allows you to set schedules for turning things on and off.

Whole-house systems

If you’re new to smart homes, it might make sense to get a starter kit – like this one from Panasonic. It includes the base station, motion and window sensors, and you can add other products to it from the Panasonic range. If you want something a bit more comprehensive, this kit includes indoor and outdoor cameras, and more.

What else should I consider?

Most of our smart home products are very easy to set up, but if you’re getting a whole-house system, it’ll take a little longer to get all the products in place and working. You might want to wait for a quiet weekend, or leave some breathing space before a holiday to make sure it’s all working correctly.

Before you buy a smart home product of any kind, it’s also important to check compatibility. Some monitoring products require a ‘hub’ (like a base station) to work, for instance, and if there’s an app it’s wise to check whether it’s available for your model of smartphone or tablet.

Additionally, some extra features require a subscription – storing more than a few hours of security tape, for example.

All the details you need are on our product pages, but if you’re at all confused, please ask our Partners in store - we even have dedicated smart home departments in some of our shops..