Home Security Options: Pros and Cons

A woman programs her security system.

Home security technology is more widely available than ever. With countless options to choose from, what tech should you use to protect your family, property, and peace of mind? Here's a look at the advantages and drawbacks of three popular devices.

Smart Locks - Pros

Authorize multiple users - Most smart locks let you authorize multiple users to lock and unlock the doors with an app. This is a great feature for large families or groups of housemates, and can also be useful if you're renting out your property with a service like Airbnb.

No more keys - You never have to worry about forgetting to lock your door when you leave the house, or getting locked out because of a misplaced key. You can use your app to check whether your doors have been left unlocked. And as long as you have your phone, you can let yourself or others in without a key. This is especially convenient for granting access to routine visitors like nannies or dog walkers without giving out extra copies of your keys.

Smart Locks - Cons

Potential glitches - Like anything else that runs on software, smart locks can occasionally stop working for one reason or another. Users have reported some functionality limitations on these devices, too, including locks that only work with deadbolts, or glitches when doors are not firmly closed.

Individual installation - If you want smart locks on all your ins and outs, you'll need to buy separate locks and install them individually on all of the doors of your home. That can be a cumbersome and costly undertaking.

Video Doorbells - Pros

Security panel with screen on a wall

Visibility from afar - Door cameras let you see who’s at your front door no matter where you are. If you're home, you don’t have to go to the front door to see who’s there. If you're on vacation, you can keep an eye on anyone dropping by. Like the locks, these devices connect to an app on your smartphone. The camera uses motion detection to alert your phone when someone's at the door. This feature increases both safety and convenience, whether you’re home or not.

Easy communication - Many of these smart doorbells let you speak to people at the front door via the intercom, making it possible to address someone without opening your front door. Whether you're telling a friend you're somewhere else, welcoming the house cleaners, or informing a stranger that you're calling the police, this function has a lot of appeal. It also makes a good combination with a smart lock, allowing you to check who's at the door and grant them access remotely.

Video Doorbells - Cons

Sensitive motion detection - Motion detection can be very sensitive. Something as simple as nearby trees swaying in the wind can potentially set off an alert, which may cause unwanted distraction or alarm.

Surveillance Cameras - Pros

Security recordings - If something happens that you want to report to the authorities, you have footage of the event. Since many of these systems also pair seamlessly with smartphones, it’s usually easy to access this data when you need it.

Motion and sound detection and alerts - Many camera systems use motion detection to send you alerts when there's movement near or within your home. This is particularly useful in vacation homes that aren't always occupied. Some also use sound detection, allowing you to hear what’s going on in your home while you’re not there.

home security devices

Surveillance Cameras - Cons

Reduced privacy - These cameras can seem invasive if they’re on when one person is home and another has access to the system. The person not at home may receive alerts, and could potentially watch or listen to what’s going on from afar.

Smartphone reliant - While surveillance cameras are designed to keep your home safe, they won’t necessarily do that if you’re not on the other end acting on what you see. If your phone is in airplane mode for a takeoff, for example, an alert from your surveillance system doesn’t do much good. This is part of the reason some people choose subscription security services, which ensure someone is monitoring your system even when you're not available.