A safe home is a happy home.

When you head to work (or that much-needed vacation!) or nod off to sleep at night, you want the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones and possessions are protected.

Today’s smart home security gadgets can give you a totally customized system that can be modified or expanded over time, goes with you if you move, and even offers monitoring at well below the cost of traditional home security systems.

Here are a few of our favorite devices that can help you monitor your home and get help when you need it, even when you’re miles away.

NEST PROTECTS YOUR HOME’S INTERIOR

Customized to fit your home, Nest products are small, discreet, and stylish.

All Nest products can be actively monitored using the Nest app on your smartphone. This is where you’ll issue commands and receive alerts and notifications.

NEST SECURE

When it comes to home security, Nest isn’t playing around.

The Nest alert system in and of itself is smart. For example, if Nest sensors detect your home is empty and the alarms are not activated, you’ll receive an alert asking if you want to set your alarm remotely.

The Nest Secure hub and app consolidates all the devices you choose to employ into one connected system. Motion sensing cameras and entry point sensors, even your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are able to view and control in one place. Access video feed remotely to quickly determine if an alert was triggered accidentally or from something more dire.

If you choose to self monitor you’ve got all the tools you need. But… self-monitoring has its limitations.

Are you really going to notice that alert when you’re at the movies? Or in an important client meeting? And do you want to be the one trying to get the police to respond to a burglar when you’re on vacation?

Partnered with MONI, a 24/7 monitoring service, your Nest system can be paired to a call center that’s manned round the clock. If there’s an emergency and help is needed, Nest will alert MONI. The service costs $29/month but it’ll be less if you opt to sign a contract.

While Nest works over WiFi, you’ll want to ensure some backup in the event your Internet goes down or you lose power. Fortunately, MONI also has a cellular monitoring option ($5/month) which lets you control your smart devices without Internet or power.

NEST GUARD

Most alarm systems are rudimentary.

You program a password on a keypad and arm the system. Enter through a door or window not programmed for entry or key in the wrong password enough times and the alarm system will sound and notify either the homeowner or a remote monitoring company that the alarm has been triggered.

The Nest guard replaces a wall-mounted alarm keypad, and makes for a smarter solution all around.

The Nest Guard is an alarm hub security base. Not only does it have a loud alarm for deterring break-ins, but there are multiple security levels to choose from when setting the alarm.

The hub supports entry of a passcode to arm and disarm, or use your phone or a nifty Nest Tag:

NEST TAG

Nest takes your alarm system one step further with physical key fobs for setting and disabling the system.

These keyring-like devices let you arm and disarm your alarm system with a simple tap ー no passcode required.

This is great if you have kids, house guests or house sitters that you want able to set and disarm the system but don’t want to disclose the passcode to.

Nest Tags run $25 each.

NEST DETECT

Doors and windows are the most used entry points by thieves during a break-in. The Nest Detect works as either door or window sensor. Sensors have integrated motion detection that monitor the entire room they’re placed in. Each Detect sensor costs $59.

Another cool feature is “Quiet Open.”

How often do you find yourself home with the alarm set and you need to open a door for some reason – such as letting the dog out? Normal systems require that you disarm the whole system, possibly disturbing sleeping occupants, but not Nest. “Quiet open” lets you disarm individual doors and windows by pressing a button on the bottom of the sensor (in advance of opening the door, of course!).

You can program which doors and windows are responsive to suspicious activity and which can be safely excluded.

Beyond security, the Nest detect helps make everyday life easier. Its path light feature is a dim light that turns on when you walk by (motion is detected), giving you enough light to avoid stepping in the dog water. Again.

THE NEST STARTER PACK

If you’re planning on getting the guard, detect, and tag, save money with Nest’s “starter pack.”

For $499, you’ll get a Nest Guard, two Nest Tags, and two Nest Detect sensors.

The system is modular and completely customizable so you can add entry point Nest Detect sensors and motion activated cameras until you feel your whole home is covered.

NEST IQ INDOOR CAMERA

Security cameras and home security fit like peanut butter and jelly. What’s the first thing you want to do when you get an alert that your alarm has been triggered? See what’s going on at home, of course.

For $299, Nest’s IQ Indoor Camera includes a 4K lens with night-vision capability, built-in motion and sound sensing and 2-way audio.

Smart functionality knows to alert you of motion or sound when you’re away, and you can use the camera audio to alert intruders that you’ve called the police or let the kids know that you can see they aren’t doing their homework.

The IQ camera has Google’s Home assistant built-in which means you can use your camera like a smart assistant. Just say “Hey Google, add baby wipes to my shopping list” and the IQ camera will do the rest.

If you want the IQ camera to continuously record and store video feed, you’ll want to invest in Nest Aware ($5/month). Nest’s IQ camera is fitted with facial recognition technology and Nest Aware allows you to set it to alert you when strangers are detected.

The uses of the Nest IQ are varied and versatile:

  • Have it alert you when the kids leave for or get home from school so you can know they made it home safe (or got out the door on time)
  • Use it as a super smart baby monitor
  • Have it help you keep an eye on elderly parents

NEST PROTECT FIRE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR

In the 1970s, it would take about 30 minutes for a fire to engulf a room. Today, it can take less than 5 minutes. We can thank materials of modern-day furniture (foam and particle board) which burn much faster.

Even if you don’t opt for a full Nest home security system, the Nest Protect Firesmoke and carbon monoxide alarm is a smarter solution than that siren alarm you’re probably relying on.

The Nest Protect scans for the presence of smoke and dangerous carbon monoxide levels in your home. Alerts are sent to your phone and you can call the fire department directly through the app. This means you can get help quickly even when you aren’t at home.

When your Nest Protect does start beeping, you’ll know exactly what’s wrong.

It gives you specific notifications like “heads up, there’s smoke in the kitchen” – both through audio alerts that allow people at home can react quickly and to your phone. You can silence nighttime low battery notifications right from your app-enabled device, so you aren’t searching the house for the source of phantom beeping at 3am.

RING PROTECTS YOUR HOME’S EXTERIOR

By the time your home’s interior motion sensors and intruder alerts notify you, you’ve lost precious moments. A robust home security system starts with monitoring the exterior for potential dangers.

Ring’s motion-activated video cameras and doorbells with 2-way voice capability offer a variety of exterior monitoring options. Communicate with visitors – friend or foe – remotely, whether you’re inside or away.

What’s more, their robust social community allows you to stay connected with other Ring-enabled neighbors, forming a next-generation neighborhood watch.

RING SPOTLIGHT CAMS

The Ring Spotlight Camera provides a live view of what’s going on outside your home with 1080p HD clarity. The camera has a 160-degree horizontal motion detection angle that can be adjusted to suit your home’s specific needs.

When the motion detector is activated, a bright LED light panel turns on, making potential intruders aware that their presence has been detected. Automated recording starts as soon as motion is detected. Of course, you’ll also be notified of movement on your phone.

The camera can be battery powered, wired or even solar-powered with an optional waterproof solar panel. For $229, you get the spotlight camera, solar panel, and a backup battery.

A few hours of sunlight a day is all you need to see, hear, and talk with anyone on your property from your phone, tablet, or PC. If there’s a string of rainy days, the backup battery keeps your camera system running.

RING VIDEO DOORBELL 2

We’re used to opening our homes at the sound of a doorbell, but we don’t always know who’s on the other side. Sure, most of the times it’ll just be a harmless delivery or maybe an annoying salesman. But sometimes ringing the doorbell is a tactic for those looking to gain unlawful entry into your home.

With the 2nd generation Ring Video Doorbell, you’ll never be caught off-guard.

When someone approaches your door, the motion activated camera will activate a live feed to your phone, allowing you to see who’s there before you open the door, thanks to a clear 1080p HD live view feed. It even has night vision!

If someone looks suspicious, talk to them safely using the 2-way talk system. You can even let shady types know that you’re alert to their presence before they steal your package, or worse, attempt to break in.

The doorbell is powered by a removable, rechargeable battery pack and has a lifetime purchase protection. It can also be connected with a traditional wired doorbell connection for a consistent power source.

With a variety of doorbell styles and features available, you can customize your Ring Doorbell to fit your aesthetics and needs.

A SMART HOME IS A SAFER HOME

When it comes to keeping your home secure, don’t compromise.

With these smart home security gadgets, you can customize a system to keep your home and loved ones safe, adding the features you choose based on your preferences and budget.

And while we typically recommend sticking with a single ecosystem of products for smoother integration, Nest and Ring are both compatible with a number of smart home hubs (like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home) that can bridge communication across product lines.

They’re designed to be self-installed, giving you the ability to set up your smart home security system one device at a time.

Whether you’re protecting your home or office, or monitoring your loved ones, today’s smart home security systems can give you a bit of peace of mind at any budget.