Sensors – Most smart alarm manufacturers offer a mix of sensors in an alarm kit, so you’ll need to work out the combination you need for your property. Take into account the height the alarm manufacturer recommends motion sensors should be installed at (this can be anywhere between 5ft and 8ft) to ensure any pet’s won’t trigger the sensor.
Keypads and fobs – Some smart alarms feature keypads and fobs that make arming and disarming the alarm easier than via the smartphone app. This may be useful if you have dog walkers, cleaners or others that may let themselves in and out of your home when you’re not there.
Installation – As most are self-installed systems, make sure you can attach the system you buy effectively – normally via sticky pads or screws.
Back-up battery – Some smart alarms include a back-up battery that means it will continue to work even if there’s a power cut.
Compatibility with other devices – If you’ve got other smart home devices, such as lights or plugs, then look for a smart alarm that’s compatible. For example, you can set up a smart light to turn on if a door is opened or get a radio connected to a smart plug to spring to life if a motion sensor detects any movement.
External monitoring service – Some smart alarms come with an optional subscription service that will monitor your home alarm and contact the emergency services if it triggers and you don’t disarm it. Prices range from £8 to £19.99 per month.
How we test
The Good Housekeeping Institute assesses the performance, ease of use and design of each smart alarm system. We test the simplicity and ease of installation and evaluate the accuracy of any motion and open/close sensors. We look at how clear and loud the siren is and whether notifications are sent in a timely fashion.
We also consider how simple the system is to arm and disarm and whether it’s possible to customise which sensors are activated at different times, to see if it’s suitable for use when you’re at home as well as away from the property.