When it comes to home security, there are countless products and gadgets on the market—and new ones coming out all the time. Nobody has time to spend hours digging through statistics, product descriptions, and reviews to weed out the bad gadgets and find the right home security product for their needs.
In order to help keep you from ending up with equipment that you might not be happy with, we reviewed five popular “DIY” home security gadgets that we think you’d be better off not using.
These are all popular products and some of them, at least on the surface, seem like a good deal. However, in our extensive dealings with homeowners, we have found that these products have some underlying issues which cause people to search for alternatives (which is usually when they end up giving us a call).
Without further ado, here’s the list.
Arlo Pro 2
Main Features: NETGEAR markets this smart security camera as a multipurpose camera with rechargeable batteries to use it wire-free. It sends notifications to your smartphone or email when the motion or sensors are activated or log on from your tablet, smartphone, or computer to view live anytime. The system even lets you share camera access or specific videos with others so that everyone can stay in the loop.
Why you should avoid it:
There are two chief complaints from customers about the Arlo Pro 2 security camera. The most common feedback is that the battery charging system is plagued with issues. It’s ironic considering one of NETGEAR’s main selling points for the camera is that it has rechargeable batteries.
Many customers complain that their charging station simply won’t recharge the batteries at all or within a reasonable amount of time. Some people even reported issues with their charging stations overheating or not connecting properly with the battery to complete the charge.
The second complaint many customers lodge against the Arlo Pro 2 is the lack of customer support when issues do arise. Many customers report being unable to reach someone for help troubleshooting issues with their camera.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Manufacturer: Ring (Parent company: Amazon)
Main Features: Ring burst on the smart home devices scene with its innovative two-way audio and smart video doorbell. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro adds HD video and infrared night vision. Customizable motion zones claim to minimize “false alarm” notifications from people walking down the sidewalk or trees blowing in the wind.
Why you should avoid it:
First of all, although Ring has been trying to improve their software to reduce “false alarm” notifications, these false alerts are still an issue with their cameras. A better solution is offered by Alarm.com with their Video Analytics technology.
Second, one of the primary concerns with the Ring Video Doorbell Pro isn’t about the product itself but rather the privacy issues surrounding it. Ring has endured numerous privacy complaints and undergone several investigations that revealed lax privacy policies and a concerning lack of civil rights protections. The BBC had even reported that Ring gives some of its customer data to Facebook and Google!
The app is filled with third-party tracking that shares customers’ personal information, from names to IP addresses.
In addition to the privacy concerns, Ring has partnered with police departments around the country to allow police to use the video doorbells as a network of neighborhood security cameras. This might seem advantageous on the surface until you consider the social impact of encouraging neighbors to report potentially suspicious behavior and share doorbell footage with local law enforcement. This essentially turns neighbors into informants.
Any time you use technology to protect your home, you must find a balance between privacy and security. Ring has not found that balance.
Main Features: SimpliCam does not just rely on motion or noise sensors. It’s also calibrated to detect heat signatures so you won’t get loads of false alerts when the wind rustles tree branches. Plus, with the monitoring plan, you can record, store, and share footage. The video stream is encrypted, and the stainless steel privacy shutter lets you control when your camera is active.
Why you should avoid it:
As with the Ring Video Doorbell, the primary issue with the SimpliCam is not the product itself but rather the company who makes it.
SimpliSafe has had a slew of investigations into their advertising and marketing claims. The National Advertising Division (NAD) uncovered very concerning and false claims that SimpliSafe equipment dispatches police 350% faster than competitors and that emergency services arrive 3.5 times sooner. The truth is that SimpliSafe did not collect any data to make this claim.
The NAD also found misleading claims about the battery life and range of SimpliSafe equipment. SimpliSafe also failed to disclose affiliate relationships to their consumers. Overall, these misleading claims and failures to be forthcoming about their business call into question the trustworthiness of SimpliSafe and their camera equipment.
If these false claims aren’t concerning enough, there are a slew of customer complaints about the SimpliCam itself. Some customers complain that the camera gets “stuck” in night vision mode. There are many complaints that the camera struggles to maintain an internet connection. Because it requires a 5Mb/sec upload speed, this camera won’t work well on many cable, DSL, or satellite internet connections. Even customers who say they are satisfied SimpliSafe customers report that the SimpliCam is fraught with issues.
Manufacturer: Nest Labs (Parent Company: Google)
Key Features: The Google Nest alarm system lets you arm and disarm it without memorizing pesky passcodes. You can also ask Google Assist to arm it for you. The app enables you to keep tabs on what’s happening at home with your smartphone. You can add sensors to doors, windows, and other areas of your home.
Why you should avoid it: For all its convenient, user-friendly features, the Google Nest system comes with a pretty hefty price tag, and it doesn’t integrate with other systems, as many of their competitor’s products do. It only works with a handful of third-party sensors and devices, but it does not support IFTTT or trigger other devices. And, it isn’t compatible with Amazon Alexa.
Additionally, customers say, unless you pay for the Nest Aware monitoring service, the camera is not very effective. They either get too many false alerts, or they aren’t notified of legitimate threats. And, since it only provides picture snapshots, most alerts won’t even tell you what triggered the camera.
SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit
Key Features: This kit includes wireless detectors and alarms to install on doors and windows and sync with Google Assist or Amazon Alexa. You can choose what kinds of sensors your home needs, from fire and intrusion to water damage.
Why you should avoid it:
To put it bluntly, the ADT Home Security Starter Kit combines all the headaches of a junk product with all of the frustration of dealing with a terrible customer service department.
It’s so bad that Samsung actually discontinued this product, but it’s still for sale online in various places. The SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit uses poor-quality products and backs them with unsatisfactory customer service. It’s quite telling that the product has just a 2-star rating on its own website.
Customers are frustrated that the Samsung multipurpose sensors will sync with the SmartThings, but they will not trigger the ADT monitoring service, rendering them ineffective and useless.
Other users report that the sensors stopped working or were plagued with issues, like losing signal or showing incorrect data (doors shown as “open” when they were closed).
On top of all the issues with the product itself, ADT has notoriously poor customer service, making the entire experience even worse!
Overall, some of the products listed above have some good features, but taken as a whole they are definitely a “buyer beware” situation for one reason or another.
If there weren’t other options available, most of these products would be better than no security system at all. But the fact is there are many better, more reliable products and services on the market, with best of all being a custom-designed home security system installed and supported 24-7 by a professional security company like Dynamark.
Dynamark Security’s goal is to help every homeowner find the right home security products to suit their unique needs and budget constraints. Contact us today to learn more about our services or request a free quote.