Vacation homes are fantastic fun they give you somewhere to relax and getaway that you can make your own. They are great but they do come with some extra responsibilities you don’t find when you stay at a hotel. You’ve got to maintain it in good order and make sure it is kept secure when you aren’t there.
Vacation homes can make an attractive target for burglars as a lot of time they aren’t unoccupied. This is what criminals look out for. It makes for an easy target. Therefore it is important to try to make the home look lived in by keeping up with house maintenance as well as ongoing care to lawns and gardens. If there are neighbors who live there all year round you can ask them to keep an eye on your place and let you know when anything may need to completed.
Home security systems can help in deterring would be burglars. They can also reduce the amount taken if a burglar chooses to ignore the system. This is confirmed by 2 separate university studies that showed monitored systems reduce the occurrence of burglaries by 60% and if there is a burglary the amount stolen is 60% that of home without a system.
When looking at the best DIY home security systems for vacation homes I looked at how reliable they are, how easy they are to install, the cost of the system, the amount of sensors you get, do they notify you, can you monitor your home remotely with them and how much are the ongoing costs.
In doing this I compared the systems side by side and looked at their features to come up the systems I think will secure your home or cabin. I used a spreadsheet to summarize all the data I got from asking questions of the suppliers, reading their manuals, checking the product specifications and reading through customer reviews to come up with my best of list.
Some of the newer systems that didn’t make the list are the Scout, iSmartAlarm and SmartThings and this is due to the fact that they do seem to require more maintenance then they should do as the manufacturers work through their software bugs. One of the good points is they also can be used for home automation which is great for making it look like the home is occupied by turning appliances and lights on and off They all work with a free Smart Phone App so look like they could be great going forward once they get it all sorted. For the moment I think this additional ongoing work dealing with software updates and issues is probably okay for a main residence but it probably going to take up too much time for a vacation home.
I’ve split my list into 4 categories – Budget System, Cellular Network System, Monitored System, and Camera System .
Fortress Security Store S02-B Wireless Home Security Alarm Kit
This is a no frill system and it comes with a good number of sensors – 10 open/close sensors, 3 motion sensors, 3 remote key fobs, 2 sirens, control panel and a panic button. It does need a landline or VOIP line so you can get a phone call when there a security event and also to be able to remotely arm/disarm the system. It also gives you the ability to listen to and speak into the room.
There is no requirement for the internet to use this system. Installation time is about 2 hours. The instructions are clear. It has an internal alarm that can alert you if you are there and hopefully scare off the intruder. It also has an external siren that your neighbors may hear and take action on your behalf.
You can have it notify up to 6 people including yourself. It plays back a recorded 10 second message that lets you know there has been an incident.
You can’t integrate it with a security camera but you can use it with one that you control and monitor separately
Read my full review here
PiSector GS08-M 4g Cellular GSM Wireless Security Alarm System
This has the same number and categories of components as the S02-B system. It has a number of the same features. But it comes with a major enhancement. It works with a landline and a 4G cellular network for notifications and remote control. You do need to buy a SIM card separately and pay for the connection, calls and texts. There are a number of good deals on this and you can get coverage for a reasonable amount per year.
The system will let you know which sensor that was triggered as well as play back a recorded message. It can contact 6 people by phone and will send a text message with the same details to 3 phones.
As with the S02-B you can add smoke detectors, water detectors and temperature sensor so you can be alerted if there is a problem and hopefully get it sorted before it becomes a bigger problem thus avoiding disappointment and cost of finding out about it all after the damage has been done.
Monitored Home Security
This is a top rated system. You set it up and install it yourself. It does need to be able to connect to the T-mobile or Verizon cellular network to send out notifications when the alarm is triggered. A landline is not required. Set up doesn’t require the internet and can be done in a couple of hours.
It comes with a keypad, base unit, 4 entry sensors, motion sensor and keychain remote.
You can add up to a total of 41 sensors including environmental sensors and they can all be monitored on your behalf so you don’t have to worry about missing a call.
This system does work with an App that works with Windows, iOS and Android phones for remote monitoring of the system anywhere you can get a signal to your Smart phone.
The third party monitoring is done by a UL Certified monitoring center. There are no long term contracts – you pay for this by the month and it can be cancelled at any time.
If you want to see what is going on in your home when you aren’t there then this camera gives you a 180 degree view of the inside of your house. It needs to be connected to the internet to work and to send notifications to your cell phone. It detects movement up to 30 feet away and records a 35 second snapshot that is stored online (5 seconds before motion is detected and 30 seconds after).
The camera includes the motion sensor, a temperature and humidity sensor and a 105 db siren. The siren can help to scare off an intruder and although it is loud it is unlikely to be heard or noticed by your neighbors.
You can also watch a live stream from the App to check up on what is happening in your home. It has a virtual pan-tilt and zoom function where you can look round the 180 degree view and zoom into certain parts. The view can be split into 4 [arts to give a better view as to what is happening.
It can control up to 232 home automation devices which should be enough to control lights and appliances when you’re not there.
It’s not without some problems such as not having night vision and you can read more about this and more in my full review here.
These systems will help you to keep your vacation home secure from burglars and they can also monitor environment factors such as smoke, water and temperature so you know exactly what is happening in your home away from home. And you can then take action quickly to prevent or at least minimize damage to it.
These systems are ones you can install yourself so avoiding the cost of installation. They are wireless and come pre-programmed so the set up and installation can be done in less than 2 hours normally. They are also portable so they can be taken with you if you sell your vacation home.
There is little ongoing maintenance with the systems other than changing batteries so they don’t take much time out of your leisure time at all. They help with peace of mind so you can enjoy your vacation time all the more knowing it is protected when you are there and when you’re not.
Filed under: Buying Advice
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