With Ring Smart Alarm finally launching in the UK, the smart alarm market is starting to gain some traction.
For me, smart home security is one of the best aspects of the smart home trend. I have Amazon Alexa, I have tried Google assistant, I have smart plugs and smart lights, but I think it is the security orientated devices that will have the most significant benefit for users. While I love all the other smart tech I have, most of it provides a mild convenience, and a lot of it borders on a gimmick. While Alexa has become incredibly popular, I rarely actually use it, apart from Ring notifications or switching my office plugs off.
With smart home security via cameras, alarms, and locks you can vastly improve the security of your home at a much more attractive price point than professionally installed solutions while being significantly easier to manage than traditional dumb solutions. Things like remote arming and notifications allow you to avoid the age-old problem of you getting a false alarm while you away driving your neighbours nuts.
However, while the home surveillance market has boomed, and saturated, smart locks and alarms have been a little slower to take off. There are several solutions currently available, I have reviewed the Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm and Simplisafe, both superb options. Ring is obviously the newest arrival and will likely be a popular option, and Netatmo recently expanded their product line-up to allow you to create an alarm system, finally, there is the Somfy Home Alarm which I have no experience of but Somfy has become quite popular with smart home/automation fans.
The smart lock market is the one struggling the most to gain traction. Yale currently has two of the most popular smart locks on the UK market, but newer companies like Nuki have a simple but ingenious solution to the problem allowing you to continue using your mechanical keys.
When it comes to choosing a new smart alarm how does each system compare and which is best?
When it comes to smart alarms, it is again Yale that has dominated the market with the Yale Smart Home Solutions. They have been in the smart alarm game long enough that they have the original Smart Home Alarm and the newer Sync Smart Alarms.
This is similar to a traditional wireless alarm system with an external box (that is battery powered) then wireless accessories which all then communicate with a smart hub that connects to the internet.
With this you receive alerts and notifications when your alarm is triggered, you can then remotely arm and disarm the system, and the geolocation feature reminds you to set the alarm when you’re leaving home, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of the Sync system is the ability to integrate it with your Yale smart locks such as the Conexis L1 and Keyless Connected. Using the Yale Sync Module you can automatically disarm your alarm by unlocking your Yale Smart Door Lock. The sync module also allows remote locking of the door and can provide audit trails of who has entered and left the house.
Further integrations can be done with Philips Hue and Amazon Echo, combining lights, sound and voice to create the ultimate security deterrent.
The starter kit is £229.00, and this includes the hub, siren, keypad and a single motion detector.
This is unlikely to be enough for most homes, but there are package options including the £269.99 Family Kit, which is more useful with 2x motion detectors and 1 door/window contact. This is available for even less on Amazon at £245 making the Yale system the most affordable option in this comparison.
There is a wide range of accessories including:
- Panic Button – £27.98
- Smoke/ Heat Detector & PIR Motion Sensor – £70.00
- Smart Plug – £49.99
- Door/ Window Contact – £29.99
- Motion Detector – £40.00
- Pet-Friendly Motion Detector – £40.00
- Yale Sync Module (for lock synchronisation) – £39.98
- Remote Key Fob – £29.99
The Yale system is completely free to use with no monthly fees, however, it lacks 3rd party notifications such as texting.
The Ring Alarm is inevitably going to be one of the most popular options on the market, Ring is owned by Amazon so they will likely be aggressively pushing it on you when you visit Amazon and is a good candidate for Black Friday deals.
If you have already invested in Ring products, this will be an appealing option as it should seamlessly integrate with the superb Ring app. It will be easier to set up than the Yale as it doesn’t have an outdoor siren, instead the base station is the siren. The siren will sound a 104 dB siren from the Base Station when it’s been tripped. Plus with notifications directly to your smartphone and the optional assisted monitoring, Ring Alarm has multiple ways to let family and neighbours know that your alarm is activating.
As you would expect this works with Alexa though there is no mention of Google Assistant.
The Ring Alarm 5 Piece Kit is £249 and this includes the siren, keypad, motion detector, contact sensor and range extender.
The motion sensor is pet-friendly by default avoiding notifications from anything weighing under approximately 22 kgs, when mounted at 2.1 metres above ground and set at the lowest motion sensitivity setting.
You can then expend this with the
- Ring Alarm Contact Sensor – £29
- Ring Alarm Motion Detector – £39.00
- Ring Alarm Keypad – £59.00
- Ring Alarm Range Extender – £29.00
The system is free to use but you can optionally pay £8 for the Ring Protect Plus plan, get more for less. This offers always connected 3G backup and optional assisted monitoring via the Ring app which will call three emergency contacts during an Alarm event. So someone you trust can respond, even if you're on a plane without phone coverage. While this is classed as monitoring, it is not really, it just adds the 3G and text functionality.
While this sounds quite expensive for what you get, the Ring Protect Plus also covers your cameras, so if you have two or more Ring cameras you will already be paying £8 per month, and this includes unlimited cameras and 30 days video history.
Simplisafe is one of the most popular self-installed monitored security systems in the US and this year they launched in the UK.
They are a little different than the other option here because you need to sign up to the monitoring services to get the most out of it. This does arguably make it a superior security solution than the other options, but the long term costs will be vastly more expensive. It is however considerably cheaper to install and run than other popular monitored solutions such as ADT, so I think it acts as an excellent middle ground between a self-install alarm and a professionally installed monitored system.
Just like Ring, this uses a base station alarm instead of an outdoor. Simplesafe also has a basic IP camera which is an integral part of their system as it allows the monitoring service to remotely check events (optional).
The cheapest system they offer is The Foundation which is £249 and includes the base station, keypad, a single-window/door sensor and a single camera. A more useful system would be the Essentials for £309 which has three windows/door sensors, a motion sensor and a camera.
You can then expand the system with more accessories including:
- SimpliCam – £49
- Entry Sensor – £14.99
- Motion Sensor – £29.99
- Glassbreak Sensor – £34.99
- 105dB Siren (indoor/outdoor) – £59.99
- Freeze Sensor – £29.99
- Water Sensor – £19.99
- Panic Button – £19.99
- Keypad – £69.99
- Smoke Detector – £29.99
It is possible to use the system without the monthly fee, but this then acts as an old fashioned dumb alarm system. The £12.99 per month option provides cellular connectivity with 24/7 live alarm and environmental monitoring, this lacks remote locking and alerts to your phone so is almost useless if you want actual smart lock functionality.
The £19.99 per month allows full remote control and notification, unlimited video recording and you can then optionally have manual monitoring and dispatch where the Simplesafe operators will view your cameras and send out police if needed.
Netatmo is an interesting choice at IFA they launched a Smart Indoor Siren and Smart Door and Window Sensors. These will then integrate with any existing devices you have, such as the Smart Indoor Camera and Smart Outdoor Camera. Like Ring and SimpleSafe the siren is designed for indoor use only.
You can buy a full system including the smart indoor camera, siren and 3 sensors for £359.97
There is no keypad, but the key feature is the integration with the Smart Indoor Camera, which is able to recognise people it sees so can disable the alarm based on the user.
The system arms and disarms itself automatically when you leave and return home.
The wireless Smart Siren comes with a variety of pre-recorded sounds such as dog barks and other home noises.
You can choose to play them in order to simulate presence and thus deter burglars from entering your home.
This has the potential to be the smartest system in the list, and in theory it should allow you to secure your home with no user interaction at all.
Somfy has gained popularity in the smart home market in recent years offering a wide range of solutions including lighting control, Blinds & curtains and garage doors.
They have also launched the Somfy Home Alarm system which is priced at £249 includes an indoor siren, motion detector, Intellitag(Door/window sensor) and keyfob.
Alternatively, they have a Somfy One All-in-one alarm system which has a full HD camera, siren, motion detection and privacy protection for £189.00. The privacy protection is an appealing feature, this will detect if you enter the room and shut down the camera.
The indoor siren is capable of 110db, but you can also expand the system with an outdoor siren capable of 112dB for £129.99.
Optional upgrades include:
- Somfy Outdoor Security Camera – £249.00
- Somfy Protect Smoke Detector – £54.99
- Somfy Indoor Security Camera – £139.00
- Somfy Protect IntelliTAG – £39.99
- Somfy Protect Motion sensor – £59.99
- Somfy Protect Key Fob remote – £24.99
The Somfy system is completely free to use once you have bought the hardware.
Home Surveillance Integration
All the systems have some form of integration with surveillance cameras, I think SimpleSafe is the only one without an outdoor camera and their indoor camera is so so but it is very cheap, and it is a key feature with the monitoring system.
Ring has the best camera solution but all of these are reliant on cloud recording but they have doorbells, indoor, outdoor, floodlight and spotlight cameras and this is likely a reason why people will choose Ring over the others.
Yale has three cameras with the all in one spotlight camera being the one I liked the most.
Netatmo has the smartest cameras, the indoor one worked well, and I still love the outdoor one which detects people, animals and objects and only pushes notifications for people.
I have not used Somfy but they have indoor and outdoor solutions.
3rd Party Integration
From what I can tell there is no IFTTT on either Yale or Simplesafe, but Yale has Philips Hue integration allowing you to flash you lights red when the alarm goes off. You can do similar with Ring via IFTTT.
All but SimpleSafe have Alexa functionality but Google support is less popular. From what I can tell it is only Netatmo that offers Apple HomeKit.
I have not used all the systems, I have reviewed the Yale system and Simplesafe, both of which are excellent. I have also reviewed the Netatmo Indoor Camera which is possibly the best indoor camera I have used, and I still use the outdoor camera. However, I can’t comment on how well it arms and disarms the system automatically.
Which recently did some research which claimed that 71 per cent of burglars are put off by an alarm system having a visual siren so this is worth considering when you buy. Though a Yale dummy box only costs £29.99 if you do buy a system that is indoor only. Personally, I am inclined to think that burglars would be even more put off by visible security cameras, though the combination of the both will improve things further.
I don’t think there is a clear winner for the options; each has its strengths and weaknesses.
Yale has the most traditional look with an outdoor siren, and they are the only option that can integrate with a smart lock. It is one of the most affordable options too, the family kit is just £245 on Amazon and includes 2 motions sensors and a window/door sensor, so just about enough to cover a normal house with 2 entry points. They also have a superb range of accessories.
The Ring Smart Alarm looks less appealing on paper than Yale, but it will be easier to install, and if you already use Ring products, it is good to keep things under one roof. The Ring app is also far superior to the Yale app.
Simplesafe is strictly for those wanting a monitored system, and it is one of the most affordable proper monitored systems on the market, so definitely worth considering if you want the best security but at an affordable price point.
Netatmo is quite expensive upfront and has the potential to be problematic with its AI arm/disarm, but it also has the potential to be the most seamless solution needing no user interaction, so you will never need to remember to arm or disarm it.
Somfy is also a little expensive upfront, but the All-in-one alarm system is an appealing product with options for outdoor cameras and an outdoor siren.
|Yale Sync||Ring Alarm||Somfy||Simplesafe||Netatmo|
|Free to use option||Yes||Sort of||Yes||Not really||Yes|
|Monitoring Option||No||Optional and basic||No||Required|
automated or manual
|Text Alerts||Yes||With Monitoring||No||19.99||No|
|Cellular Backup||No||With Monitoring||No||With Monitoring||No|
|Outdoor Siren||Yes||Optional and basic||Optional and basic||Optional and basic||Optional and basic|
|Window/Door sensor||30||29||39.99||14.9||£90 (for 3)|
|Smart Lock Options||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Cameras Options||3, Indoor & Out||Extensive Options||Indoor & Out||1 x Indoor||Smart Indoor & Out|
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