We have tested home alarms and name Somfy One as best in test. It is a combined security camera with an alarm function and several other useful properties that gives you good protection combined with the associated sensor system.
All-in-one alarm with siren and physical lens protection
Camera: Yes (Full HD) Movement detector: Yes (and thermal detection) Night vision: Yes Facial recognition: No Storage: Cloud (subscription linked) Perimeter protection: Window alarm Siren: Yes (90 dB, built into camera) Voice control: Yes (Alexa) Fire detector: No (but fire detector detection built into the camera) Battery backup: Yes (6 hours) What's included: 1 x camera, 1 x IntelliTAG, 1 x key fob
The Somfy One is a surveillance camera and alarm solution packaged in a single unit, which makes it a user-friendly combination. Installation is easy and straightforward. Each unit is easy to understand and connect to your telephone. It takes about five minutes to set up the whole thing. The alarm installed on the windows is quite small and is attached with a sticker. It doesn't impinge much on the view and stays on well. The siren for the alarm is attached to the camera. The alarm noise is very loud and frightening. Of course, a thief only needs to pull the cable out of the camera for this to stop, but they will already have been captured in an image - providing that you have positioned the camera in such a way that they can't avoid this. If you reconnect the cable, the alarm will continue to sound. In other words, it has to be switched off properly. One advantage with the Somfy One is the physical lens protection. When you enter yourself as "home", only perimeter protection is activated. This means that the cameras aren't used, and only the window alarms etc. are activated. However, for the creative hacker a surveillance camera is a relatively easy target. But with physical protection for the lens, which slides across automatically when you only activate perimeter protection, you don't have to worry about unwelcome watchers. However, when the lens protection is open we would have liked to see facial recognition. The system records anyone moving in your home. Cloud storage is free for a short trial period, but after this you have to pay if you want to store the video content. This is quite expensive. £4 a month for one day's storage, £8 a month for seven days' storage. Nor is there a micro-SD slot, which means that you have to use the cloud solution, and this reduces our score.
Entering yourself as at home is easy with the Somfy One. Each family member has a remote control (key fob) that they press to tell the system that they are home. You can see on your phone when a particular family member gets home. The camera gives a good quality image, but unfortunately doesn't support 4K. But full HD and a wide viewing angle means that you still get a very good image of the room it's in. It also captures the sound in the room well, but also a hum from the camera unit itself. Sometimes it can also take a little while between starting the app and getting an image in the camera. However, the system gets a plus point for making it possible to talk to the intruder by holding in a button on the phone app. It can also detect the noise from your fire detector and notify you. One disadvantage is that the camera is quite bulky, is visible from a distance and can be difficult to position. But the app associated with the unit is straightforward to use and easy to navigate. Overall, this is a good value for money and well-designed product for anyone who wants to secure their home but who doesn't want to fiddle with a number of different products.
User friendly and easy to install, with total wireless freedom
Camera: Yes (Full HD) Movement detector: Yes Night vision: Yes Facial recognition: No Storage: Cloud (subscription linked) Perimeter protection: No Siren: Yes (built into camera) Voice control: Yes (Alexa) Fire detector: No Battery backup: Wireless (6 months battery life) What's included: 2 x camera, 1 x base station, 1 x charger
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 VMS4230P is a surveillance kit that's very easy to install. It includes a week's cloud storage of recorded videos, and when the videos are more than seven days old, they are automatically deleted. If you want longer storage than this, you have to pay extra. Unfortunately you can't insert a memory card in the camera as an alternative to the cloud solution - you're reliant on their subscription service, which feels a bit stingy given that the cameras are quite expensive. But on the other hand, they come with several useful functions. For example, they have a built-in alarm that you can start if someone approaches your home. They also send notifications to your mobile when they detect movements. Unfortunately the relevant camera doesn't automatically open in live stream mode when you open a notification. Instead you arrive on the app's home page and have to click to choose the right camera. This means that we miss seeing events in real time because of the delay. The cameras are completely wireless. The promised battery life is 6 months, but that depends on how often they record video. During our test, the first camera needed charging after only a month's use. If you want to save on charging, you should position the camera so that it doesn't film things unnecessarily. The batteries come fully charged from the factory. One major advantage of the Arlo Pro 2 is that it's restrictive about what it records. For example, it rarely reacts to trees moving in the wind, but always if a human or animal passes it. The camera can also be connected with a power cable, but only indoors - so it's more of a charging cable. And unfortunately the kit only includes one charger so you can't charge both cameras at the same time.
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 VMS4230P records 1080p video and live streams it on command. The image quality is perfectly acceptable and the camera has a very good wide angle. It can be difficult to achieve good quality in terms of objects far from the camera, so it should be positioned close to the area you want to monitor. When you zoom into the image it quickly becomes pixelated. The camera has good night vision. The outdoor range is good as long as you have a good router. Connection is via Wi-Fi, but even when the reception is poor we have good image quality. A major plus point is also that you can communicate with whoever's close to the camera because it has two-way sound. A further plus is the user-friendly app. It's easy to find recorded clips, change settings or play back the live stream. You can also invite other users to one or more cameras. They can't control them, but they can see what's going on. We would have preferred them to also be able to use the microphone function in the app, but unfortunately that's locked so only the primary user can access it. Nor can you be logged into several units simultaneously with a single account. This is probably a safety measure to prevent unauthorised access. Unfortunately the kit lacks a sabotage alarm and it's very easy to steal the camera because it's only attached to the bracket with a magnet. So you need to place it in a position that's difficult to access. The Arlo Pro 2 is a good surveillance supplement to a home alarm system, or for those who simply want pure surveillance at home and no sensor solutions on doors and windows. However, it's relatively expensive, particularly if you're going to use the cloud service for more than seven days. If you want a complete home alarm system, this package isn't sufficient. But if you're just looking for a completely wireless IP classified surveillance solution with lots of intelligent functions, it's a good buy.
Are you worried about domestic burglary? According to official statistics, around 2% of households are affected by burglaries every year, but the figures vary on the basis of a number of factors. For example, people living in houses are affected more often than those in flats, and people in cities more often than country dwellers. Some areas are also more likely to be affected than others. Equally, the nature of your garden and your house affects the likelihood that you will be a victim. For example, if you have a large hedge that conceals part of your property so that burglars can work uninterrupted.
With a burglar alarm installed, many people feel more secure. Alarms are useful both if the property is burgled while you are away and if you're at home. There are many different types of alarm system intended for domestic users. These essentially consist of an alarm panel where you switch the system on/off, a number of sensors and some form of app or similar so that you can control the system. A system that's only connected to windows and doors is called perimeter protection, because you can live and work in your home while the system is monitoring it. But you can also protect the inside, for example by installing movement detectors. There are also systems with zone divisions, where only certain parts are protected.
Alarm systems often also include surveillance cameras. This means that, in addition to being notified if someone has broken into or is outside your home, you can see them acting in real time. The cameras often have movement sensors to detect whether someone is moving nearby. Many cameras have recording and storage capacities in addition to real time transmission. Some are intelligent and can see the difference between people and objects, which means that they react if a thief moves through the field of view, but not if the movement is caused by a robotic vacuum cleaner.
These cameras also have different areas of use. Some are motorised so that you can control them remotely, some are IP classified for outdoor use, some have the ability to see in the dark and so on. The cameras you choose for the different parts of your home depend on your needs and the type of space.
You can also buy accessories for your burglar alarm which mean that the area around your house makes it clear that a burglary is taking place – for example with illuminated or flashing lights, sound sirens etc.
When you look at solutions for burglar alarms, you will quickly realise that there are two options. One is to choose different components and create a system yourself, and the other is to purchase a complete system installed by a manufacturer/dealer.
In the first case, this means that you buy products, either a ready-made kit or a number of separate items, which you install in your home. These systems rarely include any ongoing costs. Instead you pay for the products and then carry out the monitoring yourself. For example, cameras and sensors can notify you by mobile phone if someone is moving in your home.
If you instead purchase a complete system from an alarm supplier, they will come and install the system in your home. You usually choose between different sized packages and then have an installation cost and a fixed monthly cost. The monthly cost is usually £20-40, while the fixed installation often costs several hundred. The price varies depending on the supplier, the package and the functions you choose. In some cases, the operator retains ownership of the system for a number of years. So in other words, if you cancel the contract they have the right to remove the system. You should also remember that some systems have a minimum term. Another factor that can vary is whether call outs are included in the monthly costs.
With some systems, you receive the alarm call first so that you can verify it is a genuine break-in, and you then forward the alarm call to the alarm operator. Others go directly to the alarm operator, who then contacts you. In some cases the alarm operator can even see who is in your home and talk to them. This provides further security in that if a family member injures themselves you can quickly get help. On the other hand, this has integrity implications and you need to think about what you're willing for a stranger to see in the case of any false alarm.
The majority of alarm systems today are wireless. There are still models where cables are installed in the walls, but these are generally installed while the building is being constructed.
In terms of the wireless systems, they have different sensitivities to interference. Things like built-in encryption and the frequency they transmit on affect how good they are. For example, some of them have double encryption, while others only have single encryption. If the system communicates on a normal frequency, it may even get interference from other gadgets on the same frequency. If you're thinking of investing in a wireless burglar alarm, you need to invest in a product with high security levels.