Vacation Rental Security

Keeping your vacation home safe and secure is one of the biggest challenges for vacation rental owners. Traditionally, you had three options:

1. Hire a property management company to keep an eye on the place at a vast expense.

2. Install a monitored security system at a vast expense.

3. Cross your fingers and hope nothing goes wrong that might create a vast expense.

The good news is, there’s now a fourth option: smart home security.

What is smart home security?

Smart home security works in the same way a monitored security system does, using wireless, Internet-connected sensors and cameras to keep an eye on your property. But instead of the security company getting an alert when there’s a breach, you receive the alert directly to your smartphone. You can then control or respond to the alert from the palm of your hand, anytime, anywhere, as long as you’re connected to the Internet. . For privacy reasons, however, you should think carefully about putting a camera inside a vacation rental. Your best bet is to install exterior cameras that monitor access to your property.

Two major benefits of smart security systems are cost and control. You cut out the cost of those expensive monthly security fees, and you have complete control over your property. Additionally, as most of today’s smart devices are wireless, there’s no need for professional installation, so you can install and activate a system all by yourself.

Here are three ways to use smart home systems and devices to keep your property safe and secure, even when you’re hundreds of miles away.

1. Install a Smart Alarm System

The simplest smart security option is to install a connected system that includes motion sensors and window and door sensors. When triggered, they set off an audible siren on the property, and send you an alert on your smartphone. Many of these systems include a premium package with a connected camera as well, so you can see exactly what’s going on when an alarm goes off at your property.

iSmartAlarm and GoControl both offer this type of DIY smart security system. iSmartAlarm is an all-in-one Wi-Fi-powered solution that comes with wireless door and window sensors, a motion sensor, two key fobs and a hub with a siren. (You can purchase additional sensors if need be.) To set up the system, simply connect the hub to your Wi-Fi router, stick the sensors where you want them (no wiring or screws required!), download the app, and you’re all set. This is a great option if basic perimeter security is the extent of smart home security you are planning on integrating into your property.

If you’re considering installing other smart devices, such as a smart door lock or smart thermostat, the Z-wave-powered GoControl is a good option. It requires a separate smart home hub, such as those from SmartThings or Wink, but that hub then acts as a central “brain” for your vacation rental, and can control any compatible smart devices you add. This means the hub can make all your smart security devices “talk” to each other. For example, when the smart door lock is opened, the GoControl alarm system can automatically turn off, and the smart thermostat can adjust itself to a preset temperature. This is ideal for renters, as it means you don’t have to bother them with alarm codes or key fobs. The system will simply arm and disarm when they lock or unlock the door.

2. Monitor the Perimeter

An active wireless camera in an occupied vacation rental is not ideal for your guests’ privacy, but monitoring the property from the outside is still a very good idea. Traditionally, a wired exterior surveillance system is a large expense. However, the Arlo Smart Home Wireless Security system can provide a similar solution for a lot less. These battery-powered, magnetic cameras offer 720p-resolution, motion sensing and night vision, and can be placed indoors or outdoors. The cameras start recording when they detect motion, and send an alert to your smartphone to notify you. Arlo will even store up to 7 days’ worth of video to a personal cloud for you for free, and you can pay for more access if you wish. Because these cameras are totally wireless, they are easily relocated, so you could move one inside when your renters leave, and keep an eye on the interior while it’s vacant.

3. Secure the Front Door

The front door is a security weak spot in your vacation home. You hand out keys to countless people, and the property is often unoccupied, which would-be thieves can easily determine just by ringing the doorbell.

Take control of the front door with these two gadgets:

  • Smart Lock: Smart locks, such as those manufactured by Kwikset and Schlage, replace your existing deadbolts and can be unlocked with either a regular key or unique codes that you generate in the compatible smartphone app. You can also control and monitor the lock's status from anywhere, so if your guests left without locking the door, you can do it for them via smartphone. Additionally, the codes you give out can be pre-set to expire at the end of the visit, so there’s no need to worry about unauthorized access later on. You can also receive alerts whenever anyone enters your home, and identify who it is by the code you gave them.
  • Wireless Video Doorbell: A wireless video doorbell lets you “answer” the front door, even if you’re away from home. When the bell is pressed, an alert appears on your smartphone, and you can activate a two-way video stream between you and the person at your door. This is great for deterring potential thieves, as it makes it seem like someone is home. It’s also a nice way to welcome your renters personally when they arrive, and fill them in on any last-minute details they might need. You can also deactivate the smartphone alerts while your renters are in place to give them privacy.

Additionally, the Ring Video Doorbell offers a device called Chime that plugs into an outlet in your vacation home. It picks up the signals from the doorbell, so that your guests will know when someone is ringing at the front door without having to have the app installed. Ring’s wireless video doorbell also works as a front door security camera. Its built-in motion sensors start recording if they sense any activity, even if the doorbell hasn’t been pressed. You’ll receive an alert, and can open the app to view your front entryway and see what is going on. You can also communicate with whomever is there.

Get Started Securing Your Vacation Rental

Installing some or all of these smart devices in your vacation rental will not only give you peace of mind that your investment is safe and secure, but will also provide many valuable conveniences that traditional security systems don’t offer.

The smart home benefits don’t end there! Read part two of this series, “Smart Solutions for Your Vacation Home,” and find out about the different gadgets you can install inside your property to save on utility costs and prevent costly disasters.

This article was written by Jennifer Tuohy, a tech geek who writes for The Home Depot about smart home solutions. She explains how home automation technology can make managing your property easier. Visit The Home Depot to find a variety of smart home products, including the smart locks Jennifer talks about in this article.