Do-it-yourself home security with a remote connection to 911.
A few years back, after a lot of frustration with standard landline charges, I switched our home phone line to the Ooma system. Ooma is a VOIP (Voice Over IP) home telephone service with free nationwide calling and very low international rates. This method of home phone system has been a blessing to us because it gives us the option of a ‘real’ landline without the hassle of landline phone companies. At the beginning of this year, Ooma released a wonderful addition to their system — home security devices.
The Smart Home Security with Remote 911 system is a whole home network that connects directly to your Ooma Home Base Unit. There are three main sensors — door/window, water, and motion. Each of these sensors connects directly to the base unit and then sends notifications to your smartphone when something is awry in your home. There are several systems out there that will provide this level of home security with remote monitoring, but Ooma offers one additional step of security — Remote 911 calling. Let’s say you go out to dinner and are away from home for a few hours. You set your system to ‘away’ and lock your door. If someone were to break into your home, you would receive a notification on your app. You have the option of calling 911 directly from the Ooma Home Security app and the best part is that since the app and security system is connected to your home phone number, the emergency services will be dispatched to that location and not your current one.
Ooma did a really nice job of designing these devices and their setup process. Within about 30 minutes, I had all of them connected and installed around the house.
This was the first sensor I set up. Statistically speaking — well with my track record anyway — it’s usually the easiest thing to start with. So, since the Ooma system was new to me, I thought I should start with what I know. Pairing was surprisingly easy. The first step is to download the app to your phone. Once you have your Ooma account information entered, then you tap ‘add sensor’. The Ooma base unit will vocalize and say that it’s in pairing mode. At this point, you press and hold the pairing button on the back of the sensor. The Ooma base unit recognizes it within about 10 seconds and then it’s registered to your account. At this point, you can configure notifications in the app and install the sensor where you would like it. It comes with a stand and wall mounting hardware. I opted to leave it on the stand and set it in a high traffic area in our home. I was surprised at how sensitive the motion sensor was and how quickly it was reported to the app.
Door or Window Sensor
This setup is very similar to other door/window sensors I’ve installed. There are two pieces – the sensor and the magnet tab. Basically, it works very simply. When the magnet tab is separated from the sensor, a notification is sent to the Ooma unit and you are notified both by a vocal reminder from the Ooma base unit and by the app. You do have to be careful about how far apart the two pieces are. If they are more than 3/4″ away from each other, the sensor will not read the magnet.
Installation is easy. You clean the area you want to mount the two pieces and then use either the provided 3M adhesive pieces or wall screws. I prefer to use the 3M adhesive because you never know when you might want to switch your home system up. I will say this — the adhesive is very strong and you needn’t worry about its ability to adhere to any surface. Our front door is made of wood and it stuck like glue.
The sensor seemed to be very responsive, but the Ooma base unit was a bit behind in signaling with an auditory notification. I would open the door and a few seconds later I would hear, “Door Sensor 1 is open.” I rather like the door sensors that give you a ‘ding’ sound immediately rather than a delayed response. I also thought the sensor was a bit on the large side. I happened to have another door sensor hung on the same door and I couldn’t help by notice the size difference. The Ooma sensor is huge in comparison. Is this a problem? Not really, but I’d love to see it made a bit smaller just so it isn’t quite so noticeable.
This was a new security option to me. I can understand the need for one — especially if you have an older home or basement — but I had never heard of including a water sensor with your home security system. This water sensor is rather simple in nature. It’s battery operated just like the other sensors and you have the option to hang the sensor either with adhesive or wall screws. The idea is that you dangle the water probe end onto a flooring area where there might be a water problem — around a water heater, basement, under a sink, etc. — and then hang the sensor on the wall near it. It’s a simple concept that could end up saving you a huge headache.
Installation was just as easy as the door sensor. I just picked the spot for it and stuck it to the wall. Before I installed it, I tested the water probe in our kitchen sink. Knowing that we didn’t currently have a leak, I wanted to find out how quickly the probe would detect water — if a few drops would set it off, or if it would take a flood. I ran three tests. The first was just to lay the probe in the sink and let some water run around it. The probe didn’t seem to detect that even after the water had been running passed it for a few seconds. Next, I held the probe under the faucet while it was running. The probe was still reading ‘dry’ on the app. Finally, I put a small amount of water into a cup and held the probe in it. The app registered that water was present in that last test. It didn’t take long for it to be ‘dry’ again.
I’m pretty big on home security. I like to make sure that my belongings are covered when I’m not home and I love the ability to keep an eye on goings-on while I’m away. Ooma released the Home Security system as bundles so that new users could be accommodated easily. I have to say that as an existing user, adding the devices into my current system was very easy. I didn’t have any connection issues or trouble with the pieces talking to each other. The only downside to this system is that it does require an additional monthly fee. It’s $5.99 if you use more than one sensor in your system. Other than that, I thought this was a very well-designed system.
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