Smart Tools: Home Alarm Monitoring via Your Smartphone

Would you be lost without your smartphone? Do you have an “app” for every conceivable convenience from Shop Savvy to Flashlight? If so, here’s another thing you can add to the list of smart tools your smartphone can help you manage, home alarm system monitoring.

Yes, you can even control things at home through your smartphone. Now you can receive reminders to activate your alarm system, remotely activate your air conditioner and view video images of what‘s happening when you aren‘t there.

This technology is not new, but until now was really only available for high end homes with high dollar price tags. We all know how fast technology advances, and now home automation is more affordable and ready to go mainstream.

Last year ADT Security launched its award winning service called ADT PulseSM. ADT was one of the first national alarm companies to offer affordable remote alarm control for the masses. A handful of security companies now offer this type of service and more are expected to as it grows in popularity.

Who uses these services?

Automated security has immense advantages. You don’t even need to be tech savvy, to use it. If you already own a smartphone or iPad, you won’t have any trouble.

Here are a few examples of what you can do with the systems.

- Have added comfort in knowing your loved ones have arrived home safely.
- Come home to a cool (or warm), well-lit, secure home, no matter what time of day.
- Leave home with peace of mind that you are in control of your home security while you travel.
- Secure and monitor vacation homes for water leaks, extreme temperature changes or vandals via remote video.
- Look in on aging parents.

Basic Alarm Services

As you might expect, there are varying levels of service and sophistication available to meet a wide range of customer needs. If you are looking to start with the basics, you can.

Companies like ADT, Front Point Security, Alarm.com and Protection One offer basic interactive alarm monitoring. This simply means you can arm or disarm the system remotely, receive email or text notifications from your system, control system settings and view activity logs remotely. Most companies offer free applications for your iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Systems can also be accessed via the web.

What type of notifications does it send? Receive basic alarm status when the system is armed or disarmed, when a door or window sensor has been activated or if a fire alarm is going off.

You can also customize systems to send alerts based on specific programmed triggers. These may include door triggers when your kids get home from school or when a teen is home safe before curfew. See when the cleaning lady arrives and how long she stays.

Energy Management

Being energy efficient at home is a big reason people are turning to interactive alarm systems. Many systems, including ADT Pulse and Alarm.com‘s emPowerTM, allow you to wirelessly connect and control lighting and thermostats through the same system as your alarm.

Schedule lights to go on or off when you are away, turn them on as you drive up the street or when the front door is opened. Set air or heat to go on or off at a certain time each day or control it through alarm triggers such as when a window is opened or closed.

Video Monitoring

According to ABI Research, real-time video is one of the biggest reasons for the increase in consumer demand for home automation services. The market for affordable video surveillance has exploded in the last few years. Business owners are no longer the only ones taking advantage of the benefits it brings.

Adding video monitoring to your interactive alarm system is a natural progression in home security. Not only can you be notified of alarm triggers, but now you can see a real-time video of what triggered that alarm.

See the kids (and their friends) walking in the front door, record the prowler on your property and know if that property damage was really the result of mother nature or a disgruntled service provider.

You can customize this aspect as well. If you want a snap shot every time a guest code is used to deactivate your system, there you go. If you want cameras to roll when an alarm is triggered, it can be done.

Other Options

As more things in the home are designed to interface with the systems, more features and service options are likely to become available.

Alarm.com currently offers electronic door locks that you can control remotely so you’ll never loose track of who you’ve given house keys to. ADT’s Pulse system will soon have these as well.

ADT Pulse offers small appliance control through its system. This is nice for a variety of uses such as turning on small lamps in various locations, turning off the crock pot or turning on the rice cooker. You can also use it to turn on a radio or TV to give the impression of an occupied home, among other uses.

Seek out a Pro

The flexibility and customization of interactive alarm systems is nearly endless. If you can think of a creative way to customize it, it’s sure to be possible.

You’ll get the most out of a system that is installed by a professional who can program it to your specific needs. And you’ll have a “cool new smartphone app” to show off to your friends and neighbors!

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About Angie Tucker

Angie Tucker is a writer and consultant who’s worked in the consumer electronics and security industry for nearly 20 years. She specializes in home security and has consulted celebrity and high net worth clients on topics ranging from personal safety to home system integration. She is a mother of two teens, a high school tutor and an avid baseball fan. She lives with her husband and children in Las Vegas.