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Home sweet (and secure) home
Why more Americans are including security upgrades in their remodel plans

Homeowners have certainly lost no love for their grills, gardens, patio furniture and fire pits. But when it comes to outdoor amenities, more folks are opting to invest in safety over fun lately.

That's the conclusion that can be drawn from new research published by home design website Houzz, which found that homeowners place amuch higher significance nowadays on outdoor security features. In fact, this segment has grown nearly 50 percent in priority from 2017 (when 9% ranked outdoor security features as ahigh priority) to 2018 (12%). Among the study's other findings:

• The top security equipment added outdoors last year were lighting (20%), irrigation (13%), security (12%), and audio/video/media (4%).

• Fourteen percent of remodeling homeowners installed smart outdoor security cameras that can be controlled/monitored from amobile device.

• Millennials are more likely to upgrade their security systems than baby boomers when renovating (24% vs. 15%, respectively).

Robert Siciliano, Boston-based security expert and author of "The Safety Minute: Living on High Alert; How to Take Control of Your Personal Security and Prevent Fraud," isn't surprised that more Americans are devoting dollars and attention to outdoor security products.

"There are so many options today than ever before. Connected wireless devices can be installed more easily and conveniently pretty much anywhere outdoors now."

Besides the ability to be controlled more simply via smartphone apps, the key appeal of today's outdoor security merch, believes Stephen Bitterman, chief risk officer of New York City-headquartered insurance company Vault, is the ease of installation.

"Many of these devices, including security cameras, window and door sensors, and smart security lights can be added without hardwiring, which often requires invasive drilling and peripheral damage to the house," says Bitterman.

More importantly, costs for many of security systems and devices have come down significantly.

"Do-it-yourself systems and monitoring fees are becoming more affordable with the rise of companies like SimpliSafe and Ring. Ring's 24/7 professional monitoring is only $10 a month—compare that to ADT, which can charge around $60 monthly," says Gabe Turner, director of content at Security Baron in Brooklyn, New York.

As for why millennials are especially inclined to implement outdoor security components, the answer is simple, insists Bailey Caldwell, communication specialist with Vivint, aProvo, Utah-based smart home services provider.

"They have asteady flow of technology in their lives and are more likely to embrace new home security technology," says Caldwell.

While there are countless devices, solutions and providers you can invest in for greater outdoor security peace of mind, the experts recommend adding a few essential types of products to your property—which can either be installed yourself or with the help of apro:

• Motion-activated lights, at least at your front door and back door.

• Asmart camera or video doorbell at each exterior door. "Your cameras should work with Wi-Fi so you can live stream footage from amobile app and get notifications on your phone when someone approaches or rings the bell. The camera should have two-way audio, infrared night vision, and cloud and local storage, too," recommends Turner.

• A security system with a keypad and sensors for each exterior window and door. "Also, opt for 24/7 central monitoring so that, in the event of areal emergency, the police could get to your home faster," suggest Caldwell.

• Glass break detectors "which can be used for one window or in areas with multiple large windows," Caldwell says.

• Smart locks for front and back doors. "If you ever need to let someone in when you're not home, smart locks allow you to give temporary passcodes—safer than leaving a key under the mat," Turner notes.

• Compatible products. "It's best if these different devices can talk to each other and be part of one ecosystem," says Siciliano. Ideally, that means ensuring each device can be accessed and controlled via one app or voice assistant (e.g., Alexa or Google Assistant).

"Anyone who lives in an area where crime is an issue, has ahome left unoccupied for long periods of time, or wants better protection for their family is agood candidate for outdoor security features," Bitterman adds.