Answer your door like never before

There are many circumstances in which you might wish to know who is at your door, like when you’re expecting the delivery of your latest online purchase, or a friend is arriving from out of town, but you can’t stay home all day to greet them. The great thing is, in the age of the smartphone, you now can do just that with the addition of a video doorbell to your front door. Video doorbells have been gaining in popularity over the last year as homeowners are catching on to their many benefits! They are affordable, connect to your existing doorbell setup, are easy to install, and work with your home’s WiFi system.

How it works

When a person approaches your front door, they push the button on the video doorbell, just as they would on any other doorbell. The chime rings on the inside of your home, as you would expect, but here’s the neat part: it also sends a notification to your smartphone in real time via a free, user-friendly app. You can both see AND speak to the person at the door, without the person at the door knowing whether you are inside the house or away on vacation.

Each member of the family can have the app installed on their smartphone, and each person will be alerted when someone is at the door. However, only one family member can actually answer the door at a time. Another great thing about these devices is the ability to integrate them into your home alarm app on your phone. Skybell, for example, will work with both the Alarm.com and Honeywell Total Connect apps.

Peace of mind & convenience

A video doorbell gives you access to your front door, wherever you are. From a security point of view, a video doorbell allows you to give the impression that you’re actually home, even when you’re not. On a lighter note, it also allows you to ask the delivery driver to leave your parcel on the back patio – imagine not having to ‘just miss’ your online deliveries! Plus, if you pair your doorbell with an automated door lock, you can not only answer your door, but let friends and relatives in when you’re not home.

What if they knock?

We recommend choosing a model with a built-in motion sensor, like Skybell. This means that even if the person on your doorstep doesn’t ring, your doorbell will still activate and let you know that they’re there.

The fine print

There are a couple of considerations you’ll want to be conscious of if you’d like to install a video doorbell. Depending on where your doorbell wire protrudes from the wall of your home some installations may be a bit easier than others. For example, many electricians choose to bring the doorbell wire out through the trim around the front door. This trim is typically no more than an inch wide and may be narrower than the doorbell unit itself. Another issue can potentially be a poor WiFi signal at the location of the front door. There are solutions for this, such as a wireless access point (which has the added benefit of improving your home’s WiFi signal). Finally, most video doorbell units are designed for a typical solenoid doorbell. Newer digital doorbells can have an issue with a video doorbell and require the installation of a digital doorbell adapter in order to work properly. In cases like those listed above, you may want to consider a professional installation of your unit.

For more information on how you might benefit from a video doorbell in your home, contact Wilsons Security at (902) 453-3388

Home Automation Made Simple

One of the common myths that seem to come up whenever we talk about home automation is a misconception that it’s going to be too complicated to use. In fact, it is quite simple! This blog post explains the ways you can make home automation work for you.

You can set up your home automation devices to be as interactive as you want. For example, you can choose to control everything from your smartphone, or have the devices operate autonomously, being controlled by your alarm system. So let me explain both methods using the automated door lock as an example.

Complete Manual Control

You can lock and unlock a door at will with a smartphone or computer. Perhaps a relative from out of town shows up at your home while you’re at work. You can unlock the door for them from your smartphone without having to leave your workplace.

Autonomous Control

Your door lock is controlled by your alarm system, and is triggered by an event. Perhaps the door locks each time the alarm system is armed for going away. You can also set it so when coming home, after you enter your code into the keypad located on the door lock, it not only unlocks the door, but also disarms the alarm system automatically. This is the “if this then that” principle, where you can set certain events to occur based on actions you take.

Another easy way devices can be controlled is through schedules. This is where you create a series of events that take place over the course of the day based on the times of the day and days of the week you’ve predefined. Once the schedule is activated it continues to run until it is deactivated. Keep reading to learn more about schedules.

Control by Event

Imagine you’ve left the basement door unlocked. Your alarm system can detect if the door is open or closed, but not if the door is left unlocked, however it can automatically trigger the automated door lock to lock the basement door whenever you leave the house, so you don’t have to worry about leaving doors unlocked. Or, have your main water shut off whenever water leakage is detected.

Control by Schedule

This is one of my favorite methods of automating a home. In this example your home runs on a schedule that is predefined and set by you with ease. There are two examples of schedules:

Work Schedule

This might be a schedule that runs Monday to Friday when you’re spending eight hours a day at work.

When arming the alarm system the following events may occur:

  • Alarm system arms for going away
  • Thermostat turns back to 18°
  • Side door and basement door of the house deadbolt
  • All basement lights turn off
  • Window shades open and close at different times during the day to allow the maximum amount of sunlight into the home thereby reducing heating costs

Vacation Schedule

This might be a schedule that you would put in place for those times that you are away for the weekend or maybe gone away on a full two-week vacation.

A vacation schedule may run something like this:

  • Patio lights come on at dusk
  • Outdoor lights turn on at dusk and then turned themselves off around midnight
  • Lights in rooms around the house turn on and turn off after dark to give the appearance that somebody is at home

As more automated devices show up on the market you are only limited by your imagination on how to get these devices to work together. If you would like more information on how you can automate your home please call our office at (902) 453-3388 and ask for me, Paul Ingram.

Flood Sensors for Your Home

Is there anything much worse than having to deal with water damage in a home? Water damage is costly and disruptive yet is many times overlooked when it comes to choosing protection devices for your home alarm.

According to the Insurance Research Council, water damage, and its associated problems, accounted for more homeowner’s insurance claims than the amount of break and enters back in 2003 and I would venture to say it is probably the same now.

Protecting your home against water damage and its effects has never been easier using wireless flood sensors on your home alarm. These devices can be placed in areas prone to flooding or at high risk of damage due to water leakage. Some of these areas are laundry rooms, near hot water tanks or boilers, basements or even in the area of a sump pump.

Nowadays it has become popular to install the laundry room on the top level of a home for the convenience of being near the bedrooms, but this also means that a major water leak could cause water to go down through every level of the home resulting in a lot of damage. This is a perfect application for the installation of a flood sensor. The flood sensor is usually mounted on the baseboard of the wall near the area of the washer. In the event of leakage, a probe will cause the sensor to go into an alarm state once it has been in contact with the water for approximately three minutes.

Because of the convenience of these devices being wireless, you can put a flood sensor in every area of your home that is at risk of water leakage. It’s a great way to give you additional peace of mind and possibly save you from a lot of damage as a result of a water leak that goes unchecked!

Low Temperature Sensors

I remember a number of years ago a friend of mine was heading away over the Christmas holidays, and thinking I might get something extra in my stocking, I had volunteered to water his plants while he was away. Aaron agreed that I would visit his house every other day until he got back. He made arrangements for snow removal in the event of snow, gave me a key and a code for the alarm system, and we had done the walk around the house so I knew where all the plants were located. He had an average-size house and only a few plants so this should be easy right? Well for the most part it was OK; I visited the house every two days, watered the plants, took a general look around, and left.

This routine went on for about a week until Christmas Eve, and as Murphy’s Law would have it, if something is going to happen it’s always going to be at the most inconvenient time. I arrived at the house planning on a 15-minute stop, but when I opened the door it hit me: COLD. I mean the house was really cold and the tile floor under my feet was making my feet numb. I went to the thermostat and the needle was buried below the lowest setting on the dial. To make matters worse, we were experiencing a cold snap and that night was forecast to be -16, so I knew that if I didn’t discover what was going on the next thing I would be dealing with is frozen pipes. It turns out that my friend had forgotten to call for automatic delivery from his oil company and the tank had run out, but thanks to an oil delivery company with the Christmas spirit, the day was saved. All too often the story doesn’t end happily, but rather with a flooded house and an insurance claim in the middle of the Christmas holidays. By the way, that was a true story.

My friend was fortunate that he didn’t get a call in the middle of his vacation telling him his house was flooded. I would dare say if that had not been the day I was scheduled to water his plants, the story would have been different. However, the story could have been very different if he had only installed a low temperature sensor on his alarm system.

A low temperature sensor is a device that can detect when the ambient temperature in the area of the sensor drops below a normal threshold that can be fixed or variable – meaning you can set that temperature.

Fixed Low Temperature Sensors

A fixed sensor’s threshold temperature is what it is, and cannot be changed. They are usually the most inexpensive to have installed and can be either hardwired or wireless. As an example, Honeywell has a fixed low temperature sensor that will activate if the temperature in the room drops and stays below 7C or 45F and stays there for more than ten minutes. If it does, the sensor will activate. Once activated the alarm system treats it like any other type of alarm and sends it into the Central Monitoring Station, as a low temperature alarm condition. The sensor is adjustable by your installer to monitor for other conditions as well, like a hot temperature condition, which is when the temperature rises above 35C or 95F for more than ten minutes, or, with the use of an optional water probe, to protect against flooding.

Variable Low Temperature Sensors

A variable temperature sensor allows the end user to adjust the temperature threshold in which the sensor will trigger. Usually these type of sensors cost a bit more, but they typically have more features available to the customer such as the storage of alarm events, or an LED screen. Similar to the fixed sensor described above, it’s common for a variable temperature sensor to have settings for both high and low temperature conditions, but may have more intelligent firmware built in to discriminate between real or a false low temperature condition depending on the manufacturer.

If you would like more information on protecting your property with a Low Temperature device contact Wilsons Security at (902) 453-3388