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5 Advantages of Using a Smart Video Doorbell


As home security and automation technology become more sophisticated, you’ll find yourself being able to do things you had previously only wished for. Start with something as simple as seeing who’s at the door without having to stop what you’re doing.

That’s why video doorbells are becoming so popular. They combine the usefulness of video with the everyday activity of answering the door. That takes on a practical meaning when your long-winded neighbor is knocking and you’re just not in the mood to listen.

There’s a more important angle, though. Video doorbells also can improve your security and make better use of your home automation system. That’s getting a lot out of a small device that is easy to install and use.

A smart video doorbell is a wireless video camera and sound system incorporated into a standard doorbell. Once it’s up and running, you can access it from almost anywhere – home or away – by using your smartphone.

Monitronics is proud to offer a leading smart video doorbell solution with the SkyBell HD. Here are five ways that SkyBell can make your life a little easier (and safer) every day.

1. You Don’t Have to Open the Door

A locked door is one of the most effective barriers to burglary and home intrusion, and a video doorbell increases your personal security by allowing you to see who is at your door without having to open it. A peephole does the same thing, but SkyBell HD also allows you to hear and speak to your visitor, and can even record video or take a photo if necessary.

2. Remote Door Surveillance

No matter where you are, when someone rings the bell you get an alert on your phone. That comes in especially handy when you’re away and you want them to think someone is home. It’s reassuring to know that you could talk to the visitor from halfway across the country and the person would never know, especially since burglars often ring doorbells to determine whether a house is occupied. Your video doorbell will keep them guessing.

3. Night Vision Capabilities

Though not all smart video doorbells offer night vision capabilities, SkyBell HD does. It makes your security even stronger when you can identify visitors in the dead of night, increasing your security as a result. That’s especially important when you forget to turn on the porch light.

4. Live and Recorded Video Monitoring

Use your smart video doorbell as an extra video camera to provide live monitoring of your home’s exterior. It’s motion-activated, and gives you the benefits of having an additional camera with an extra degree of versatility.

Live video monitoring is especially useful for keeping track of the kids. By monitoring your video feed when you’re away, you will know that they have arrived home safely from school, or that they’ve left the house to visit a friend. You can use the video along with a smart door lock; just verify their identities before you remotely unlock the front door with your smartphone.

Video surveillance is often an excellent tool for identifying intruders, especially when the video is in high definition. SkyBell HD provides full video recording capabilities with the touch of a button, and the videos are stored in case you need them later.

5. Be Quiet

Another advantage is the ability to turn off the indoor chime while still leaving the alert activated. Any parent who has had a baby wake up because of a doorbell will appreciate that feature.

A smart video doorbell is a surprisingly powerful device that offers a lot of functionality in a small package. Call us today and find out how much it can mean to your security and your lifestyle.


Coldwell Banker and CNET Set Definition for “Smart Home”

Smart Home Control System

As more Americans integrate smart-home technology into their lives, it brings up a valid question: When it comes to buying or selling a house, what determines whether a home is truly smart, or if it has just learned some cool tricks?

Coldwell Banker Real Estate and CNET recently joined forces to create a working definition for the term “smart home.” The idea was to outline a consistent and clear set of criteria to help eliminate confusion for real estate agents, as well as buyers and sellers.

Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET.com, said the project is a major step toward quantifying a concept that even the most savvy technology followers have a hard time agreeing on. Smart-home technology is still fragmented, she said, and taking a stab at an “official” definition is a step in the right direction.

“Eighty-seven percent of Americans acknowledge the value of smart-home technology,” Turrentine said. “We want to make it easy for everyone to better understand what a smart home is in order to simplify the process in helping them choose the right devices for their homes.”

The detailed information is on Coldwell Banker’s website, but here’s a quick overview:

  • A smart home should have an internet connection along with network-connected products (via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee or other protocols) that control various home functions either remotely (by a phone, tablet or computer) or by a separate system within the home.
  • The property must have either a smart security feature that either controls or monitors the property; or a smart temperature control function.
  • It also must include at least two additional features from a specific list of smart options such as security, lighting, sensors, appliances, entertainment, or safety detectors.

It isn’t the first time Coldwell Banker and CNET have teamed up on the topic of the smart home. In 2015, they joined forces for a survey of approximately 4,000 adults and found:

  • More than 1 in 4 adults (28 percent) have a smart-home product in their home.
  • Among so-called “Millennials,” ages 18-34, almost half had a smart-home product.
  • More than three-quarters (76 percent) of adopters controlled one or more smart-home products with a mobile device.
  • More than half (57 percent) estimated that smart-home technology saves them an average of 30 minutes each day, while 45 percent said that smart-home technology saves them about $98 a month.

That definition seems to be a solid foundation, although it’s likely to continue evolving as features like voice control or geo-fencing become more mainstream. At Monitronics, we have steadily grown our smart-home capabilities to match any of our competitors. Our network of more than 600 authorized dealers can offer security systems, locks, lights, thermostats, sensors and other devices that will make your home smart by anyone’s definition.

A Smart Garage Door Opener Makes Your Life Easier


The automatic garage door opener is probably one of the least appreciated – and least complicated – devices in your home. Press a button and the door opens; press it again and the door closes. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Smart-home technology extends the capabilities of the latest garage door openers without making them more complicated. At Monitronics, we’re finding that homeowners are getting excited about the notion of not even having to press a button, or of being able to control it with a smartphone. Smart-home technology makes it possible, and our network of authorized dealers offers trained professionals who are the experts.

Here are some things to think about if you’ve ever considered upgrading a tired old model that sounds like a tractor to a new one that’s quiet, dependable and downright smart thanks to home automation.

Don’t Wait for it to Break

You may be in the market for a new one sooner than you think. The average garage door opener opens and shuts 1,500 times a year, but the mechanism is typically built to withstand 10,000 cycles. Do the math and an automatic garage door opener is grinding its life away after 10 years or so, especially when homeowners have been lax about maintenance. And when the mechanism breaks, it’s not unusual for other parts to be damaged.

Pick the Right Unit

Do some homework about the differences between motors that use chains, screw-drives or belts to open your garage door. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and choose the unit that’s right for you. Since you’re going to be using it for at least the next 10 years, pick one that can take advantage of smart home technology to give you a greater level of control.

DIY Sounds Like a Good Idea, But…

First, be sure to set aside a few hours out of your busy weekend. Now grab a drill, a level, a screwdriver, a couple of wrenches, a hammer and a tape measure. Climb up a six-foot ladder and hold the motor over your head while trying to attach it to a load bearing beam in your garage.

Then again, you could find someone who makes a living selling and installing the latest garage door openers. Sit back, relax, and let the pros take over. In the end, you’ll find that any installation charge greatly outweighs the hassle of doing it yourself.

Check the Door from Almost Anywhere

It’s not uncommon to become distracted and drive away from the house without closing the garage door. That’s where smart-home technology takes center stage. It’s no fun turning around and doing a drive-by, so use your smartphone to check its status from almost anywhere. It’s also a great way to remotely open the door so your neighbor can borrow the lawnmower (though getting him to return the mower is up to you).

Open the Door Before You Get There

Make the most of smart-home technology by adding geo-fencing technology that automatically closes the door as you drive away from home, or opens it as you drive up the street toward your home. GPS technology makes it happen by letting your smartphone communicate with your home.

It gets better: Geo-fencing can automatically turn on your lights, adjust your thermostat or control other household functions. That’s what we mean when we call it a “smart” home.

There’s no doubt that a garage door opener is one of the most useful (though underappreciated) devices in your home. Now it’s time to think about a garage door opener that’s smart enough to make your life easier.




Automated Lighting Can Make It Look like You’re Home

Lighting Control

Household lighting is acknowledged to be an excellent deterrent against burglary and other property crimes. Traditionally, the easiest way to make it look like you’re home (when you’re not) was to use mechanical timing devices that plugged into the wall and turned lights off and on.

Like all other types of technology, today’s solution is much more elegant. You can now automate all of the interior and exterior lighting in your home with a home automation system that operates independently or in conjunction with a home security system.

With home automation, you can make it look as if you are home even when you’re not. We’re not just talking about a single switch that turns on the living room light at sunset and turns it off a few hours later. Today’s complete home automation programming lets you control every light in your home in more ways than you can imagine.

Set Individual Scenes

An important advantage to automated lighting is the ability to set individual scenes. For example, you can control the lights in your kitchen to turn on and off at specific times. Or you can be more specific: if have canister lights over the counters with simple on-off switches, but track lighting over the island with a built-in dimmer switch, you can program a home automation system to use any combination of those lights and switches throughout the day.

You can create individual scenes for every room in your house. Enhance your lifestyle by providing accent lighting in one room and full lighting in another. Boost your security by creating an active scene that progressively turns lights on and off to simulate your normal routine when you are away from home. Those are just two of the ways you can make home automation lighting suit your needs.

All Lights On or Off

Automated lighting can also be used to turn all the lights off or on at the same time. Whether you want the lights on as your approach your house after the sun has gone down, or whether you want to make sure they’re all off after you’ve left, you can do it with a tap of your smartphone.

You can also make it automatic by linking a lighting scene to your security system: Whenever you arm your system, select the lights that should go out. This eliminates the problem of leaving home and forgetting to turn out the lights in one of the rooms. Naturally, you can program a few lights to turn on when you deactivate your system.

Controlling Exterior Lighting

Property owners with extensive exterior lighting love to control it with home automation. This involves creating an exterior lighting scene that transitions throughout the evening. Changing exterior lighting levels, along with additional changes to interior lighting, leaves burglars guessing about whether you are home or not.

Automated lighting has come a long way since manual timers. With today’s home automation equipment and software, you can control of every light in your home for maximum efficiency and security. From giving the appearance that you’re home to simply saving money through greater efficiency, automating your lighting is a very smart move.

Learning: The Real Savings Behind the Smart Thermostat

Smart Thermostat

One of the most important additions to your home automation and security package is a smart thermostat, although people hearing about smart thermostats for the first time are often confused as to what they are all about. When they find out the real savings behind smart thermostats, most are ready to get on board.

First, a programmable thermostat and a smart thermostat are not the same thing. Programmable thermostats have been around for decades, allowing consumers to create specific programs for every day of the week in order to control heating and air conditioning.

Traditionally, however, they have had a reputation for being complicated. They require users to program each day of the week and set temperature levels at different hours during the day.

The modern smart thermostat is decidedly different. Its most important feature explains the real savings behind smart thermostats: the ability to learn.

Sticking to the Program

Programmable thermostats are advertised as great money-saving tools. However, users don’t save any money if they don’t bother to program them. Smart thermostats are better because their ability to learn actually encourages homeowners to use them.

Though smart thermostats differ from one model to next, here’s how the process generally works:

  • The old thermostat is replaced with a new smart thermostat.
  • Temperatures are set manually at various points throughout the day for several days.
  • The thermostat keeps track of the settings, comparing them to external temperature data.
  • After several days, the thermostat learns the homeowner’s preferences as compared to outside air temperatures.
  • The thermostat’s software then creates a program to control the ambient temperature without any further input from the homeowner.

In the second step of this process, setting the temperature inside your home is not a matter of programming as you would use a programmable thermostat. You simply use the up and down buttons to adjust the temperature you want the thermostat to hold. Then adjust the temperature at other times as necessary. For example, you may turn the heat down by a few degrees when you go to bed at night. That’s all there is to it. The software will learn after a few days of manual adjustments.

Thermostats with GPS Capabilities

In some home automation systems, thermostats have GPS capabilities that allow them to remain in communication with a smartphone app. Let’s say your thermostat program normally turns the heat on at 5 p.m. If you get delayed by an hour, the thermostat will know because the control app knows you are still at work. The heat will not turn on until you reach a specific distance from the house, thus saving you money by not heating interior spaces while you are delayed.

The real savings behind smart thermostats is their ability to learn and adjust according to homeowner lifestyle. They do what programmable thermostats could never do, with limited input from the homeowner.

Consider adding a smart thermostat to your current home security system if you don’t yet have it. It’s a valuable step toward home automation, and you can add equipment and software that makes your home more energy efficient and easier to manage. From thermostats to lighting to landscaping components, home automation makes it easier than ever to make your home what you want it to be.