As we enter into the winter season, we face new/worsening threats to our family/possessions with porch pirates and Christmas tree fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are roughly 200 Christmas tree fires per annum, “causing an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries and $14.8 million in direct property damage.” Sadly, 1 in 32 reported Christmas tree fires resulted in death, versus 1 in 142 for a standard home fire. Traditionally there have been methods to protect from these dangers: you can buy a newly cut tree, you can throw it out if the needles sag, you can buy an artificial fire-retardant tree, you can turn off your lights, you can avoid overloading your circuits, you can avoid blocking exits, and make sure smoke alarms are functional. When it comes to porch pirates, a year-long problem worsens with our influx of holiday packages. Not knowing peoples intentions, anyone who is up to no good could be a threat. As a married father of three, I have four other people that I think about regularly. I am not typically an anxious person, but I do worry about my families safety.
I have been a subscriber of Vivint SmartHome for the past eight years. I initially talked with the representative and decided to purchase the monitored alarm system to help my wife feel more secure, while I was away. We started with door/window sensors and a panel to arm/disarm the 24/7 monitored system. Over time we upgraded the system, piece by piece, to the current system that we enjoy. My family and I have added automatic door locks to our doors, upgraded our fire alarms to the modern 2GIG SMKT3–345 smoke/heat/freeze detectors. We have also had a panel upgrade, which drastically improved the quality of interaction with my smart home. I have added fixed cameras, pointing at two of my doors, and an amazing doorbell camera, which allows me to have two-way communications with someone at the door. Interestingly this may be the most utilized feature of my system. If somebody knocks on my door or moves towards my porch, my system alerts my phone that someone is there. We can check it using our panel or with our iOS VIVINT app on our phones. When the doorbell is depressed, the panel rings and our phones will ding as well. Opening the app, we can interact with the person at the front door, without having to unlock/open the door to check. With the system, I am alerted when packages are deposited at my door, and I can also see if anyone else decides to come onto my porch. Combine the doorbell camera/two-way communication feature with the Vivint yard sign and porch pirates may look elsewhere.
When I think about Christmas fire hazards, I think back to National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and the overloaded circuits. Regardless of the technologies that you employ, following common sense can save your life. Vivint further enhances these chances with their Small Appliance and Lighting Control Module, which allows you to control the power through an outlet. If you forget to turn on/off your Christmas tree, coffeemaker, decorations or other appliances, you can simply access the application and activate/deactivate power to the outlet. Couple this technology with the monitored smoke alarms and you may rest a little more comfortably at night.
Most recently I have upgraded my thermostats to the Vivint Element Thermostats. I am now able to control the temperature of my home, from anywhere that my phone has LTE connection. This system has resulted in direct cost savings, more ability to adjust the temperature in my home and has physically allowed me to cut my electric bill by about $30–50 per month. It may not seem like much, but the savings may cover the cost of the monitoring. I invite you to read my reviews of my Vivint Journey on Macsources.com (Part 1 and Part 2). I love that this system is wireless and works over cellular networks. There is some installation that will be required to hook up the panels to power, however. After a few holes are drilled, the system is in place and ready to go. The overarching benefit of this system is that you can combine the pieces as you see fit. Using Z-Wave protocol standards, these devices interconnect to protect your home/family. Additionally, you can use Amazon Echo and Google Home to gain additional functionality.
This holiday season when you are thinking of gifts, I would highly encourage you to think about a practical gift like a home monitoring system. Vivint is watching from the shadows 24–7, while our loved ones are home and away. Whether you are looking to protect stuff or the people you love, this system will help you. Fires can happen at any time; when they strike, time is incredibly important! Having a system that monitors for smoke/freeze and can talk to emergency officials within minutes of detection, could be the difference between losing a home, family member or more. I have tested the system and utilized just about every feature. As a tech lover, I don’t know that I could receive a better gift than the Vivint system. We all have regrets in life, talking with Vivint eight years ago was not one of them. You can enjoy the personalization of the components of the system, start at whatever budget will allow and advance with time. You may not need all of the features. However, that is the beauty of the system. You can make it the way you want it to be. Connect to your Amazon echo and ask it to lock your doors, ask if your doors are open or closed, ask if your alarm is armed, and ask it to set the alarm. Enjoy the peace of mind in knowing that you can monitor your home from afar through your smartphone. From time to time, I like to check on my family while I’m at work and a little bit of my worry is eased, knowing that Vivint has my back.
Originally published at macsources.com on December 6, 2017.