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The most useful add ons are third party smart home devices. Scout Alarm, abode, SimpliSafe, SwannOne, Wink and Iris by Lowe's can all integrate with Nest, which means you can set up your home security system to work with other Nest products such as a security camera. Half of the systems we tested can also use If This Then That IFTTT, a free internet based automation service that helps DIY security systems and third party smart home devices work together. Of course IFTTT goes beyond smart home tasks, but we're unsure if linking your security system to financial services and restaurants has any material benefits at this time. Very few systems offer smoke detectors as an add on, and in the case of home8alarm, it uses a fireman device to send alerts when your smoke detectors go off. Most DIY security systems in our tests sell security cameras that record video if it detects motion, which can be used to help with police reports or insurance claims.

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These three components alone can range from minimalistic to advanced. The control unit is the main operating panel for your home security system. This unit receives the signals from the sensors placed around your home, and triggers the alarms or contacts the home security center to notify them of any trouble whenever appropriate. The control unit may be powered by electricity that runs in your home, or by battery power. Some systems are set up so that if the power in your house goes out, a battery backup will kick in and run the control unit until power is restored. Once the power flips back on, the backup battery system will automatically recharge.