Statistics on home invasions are hard to find as most law enforcement agencies report them as burglaries or robberies. But agencies across the country are detecting more home invasions. They attribute the increase partially to added security precautions installed at commercial locations, such as fast-food restaurants and convenience stores – long popular robbery targets. Now homes appear to have become the new soft targets.
This represents an opportunity for CE pros already working in higher-end homes installing custom electronics, home automation and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. There’s already a familiarity with the technology behind the IP-based wireless devices that make up much of today’s home security equipment.
CE pros are already in homes running cable and integrating disparate systems. It makes sense to take the next step and offer basic security packages – maybe even call them “home invasion kits.” Bundle electronic locks, a video intercom, an intrusion control panel and sensors along with security cameras.
In today’s competitive world, it is all about taking advantage of opportunities. A home security package may offer CE pros a valuable opportunity to expand customer service.
So here are four equipment ideas for custom electronics professionals to increase security-related business and enhance loyalty among current customers.
1. Smart Door Locks
Many home invaders go house-to-house looking for an easy entry. A locked door is an effective barrier. Many electronic deadbolt locks use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology to integrate seamlessly with other components.
Most locks automatically latch after a user-defined time. Keyless locks can be opened using a combination pad or an RFID fob. Some even use fingerprint identification or a mobile device's Bluetooth credentials. There are no keys to misplace, copy or be stolen. Temporary codes can be assigned to maids and other vendors.
Apps allow smartphones to serve as a key, as well as a remote control. Alerts notify homeowners each time the door is locked or unlocked – great for knowing when children have arrived home from school. It is also possible to connect some locks to a larger Z-Wave home automation install.
Programming new codes is easy. Many locks are powered by AA batteries good for a year or more in typical service. Other locks can be hardwired to the home power supply. They typically feature a dry contact output that can be connected to an intercom for remote unlocking. Locks rated “Grade 1” by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provide the highest level of residential security.
Home invaders may wait until a door is unlocked before pushing their way into a home. This is why it’s important to know who’s knocking before opening the door. An intercom providing clear audio and/or up-close video helps.
Audio intercoms mounted outside exterior doors allow residents to engage in a two-way conversation with visitors. Interior master stations may be placed conveniently throughout the house. Door release buttons on the master station can open locks. Phone apps can do the same. Intercoms also provide hands-free communication between rooms – important during an emergency. Outdoor stations allow communication in the backyard.
Video intercoms provide a higher level of security – acting as a video doorbell. They offer the benefits of an audio system, along with the opportunity to clearly see visitors. Most exterior units include a color camera, call button and a speaker and microphone for communication. Some are available with pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) cameras, allowing the lens to be moved for viewing both adults and children, and zoom out to see groups. Units typically include a white illumination LED for night use.
Video master stations placed throughout the home make it easy to see who is at the door conveniently and safely from across the room. IP-addressable units connect to a network using CAT-5e/6 cable. Many new and recently built higher-end homes are prewired for network connections.
3. Intrusion Systems
Some home invaders enter through windows and other potential access points. This is where an intrusion alarm system acts as a deterrent and a warning for homeowners.
Self-contained, wireless panels serve as the hub for many home security components. Door, window, glass break and motion sensors are available in wireless configurations, making installation simple. CE pros can also add smoke alarms, carbon monoxide monitors and flood and freeze sensors as another source of income.
The panels serve as hubs not only for security, but also offer lifestyle options such as controlling thermostats, lighting and other Z-Wave-connected appliances. Again, mobile apps provide remote system control.
4. Security Cameras
Security cameras are useful for reviewing events after the fact, as well as serving as a criminal deterrent. Many manufacturers now provide high-quality, wireless, IP-based cameras capable of capturing video and still images. Cameras may also include bi-directional microphones to capture audio. Recording is triggered by sensor events. Frame rates are adjustable to conserve bandwidth. Wireless encryption standards ensure secure communications.
Recorded video is stored via micro SD cards, eliminating the need for a video recorder. The cameras’ small size and swivel mounts make them easy to mount on walls and ceilings or place on cabinets and shelves.
All of these products are readily available through major security products distributors.
Admittedly, security is a competitive field with security dealers and cable and telephone operators in the mix. Do-it-yourself (DIY) kits are available for handyman homeowners.
But few security dealers also offer the full range of entertainment and automation controls offered by CE pros. Multiple system operators are limited in their offerings and full-scale DIY projects eliminate all but the most intrepid homeowners.
Once in the home security market, CE pros can take advantage of recurring monthly revenues such as system monitoring and cloud storage. Rather than build these capabilities from scratch, begin by leasing time from an existing monitoring center.
Author Bruce Czerwinski serves as U.S. general sales manager for Aiphone Corp. He is a 12-year veteran of the company, a leading manufacturer of security video intercoms. For more information about Aiphone, please visit the website at www.Aiphone.com/home.