How to create a "smart" vacation home.
Note: Resideo (formerly Honeywell Home), the manufacturer of many of the security and life safety products we use in our residential and commercial systems, asked me to share my expertise on creating "smart" vacation homes. What follows is the article published on Resideo's website, where you can also learn more about this best-selling product line.
Owning a home has long been considered a pillar of the American Dream. Thanks in part to recent low mortgage interest rates and hybrid work models, the allure of owning a second home has also become a reality and part of many homeowners' pursuit of happiness.
In fact, in the U.S., demand for second homes recently hit an all-time high. For example, in January 2022, demand for vacation homes in the U.S., was up nearly 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Home prices in seasonal towns – where second homes are often located – are rising faster than prices in non-seasonal towns.
Paul Romanelli, President of Suffolk Security Systems on Long Island, N.Y., has observed this trend in his seasonal, sea-side community as about half of his clients are owners of second homes. Romanelli and his team professionally install security and smart home systems for homeowners in the East End of Long Island, including the Hamptons – which features some of the world's finest properties.
"Whether you own a second home for rental or for your own use as a vacation home, chances are you've thought about how to keep it more secure," Romanelli said. "On Eastern Long Island, we are known as the premier company for delivering a smart and safe second home and are proud that our customers rely on us to protect their investment when they are away."
Reasons for a smart second home While the cost of owning and maintaining a second home can add up quickly, the convenience and efficiency offered by smart home solutions make the investment worthwhile for most.
Romanelli said that many of his clients prefer to have the same smart home solutions at both of their residences and enjoy the opportunity to make a smart home system as simple or as complex as needed.
Areas of protection for investment or vacation homes include:
1. Water leak detection. In Romanelli's community, many home insurance companies require a freeze detection or a water shut-off system. "I've seen frozen pipes do more damage than a fire or burglary," he said.
2. HVAC support. Many home insurance companies also require temperature monitoring. "Believe it or not, a heating system failure is our number one service call," Romanelli said. "And regardless of what fuel type it is, when it fails, it can be disastrous, which is why all of our system installations include low-temperature monitoring, and smart thermostats are a popular add-on option."
3. Lighting and automation. Building a programmable lighting routine based on the time the sun sets and rises makes the home appear as if someone is home, and it also offers convenience. Romanelli said, "Every night at sunset, my outdoor lights come on and our doors automatically lock. We know the house looks lived in on the exterior."
4. Fire and home security. Romanelli's team knows what burglars look for, and offers unique solutions based on client needs. Romanelli trusts Resideo's fire and life-safety solutions, including window and door sensors, outdoor cameras, and glass-break alarms, which all integrate into its smart, wireless control panel and are monitored by a central station 24/7/365.
5. Seamless support. Romanelli said his clients enjoy the ability to control their home remotely from anywhere with Resideo's Total Connect 2.0 app. Popular features include unlocking a door remotely to let someone in, programming specific user codes for different support staff and deleting access once a job is complete, arming or disarming the alarm system, adjusting a smart thermostat so the home is comfortable upon arrival, and checking outdoor cameras to see if the driveway was plowed or the grass mowed.
"It's an honor to help my clients protect what matters most," Romanelli said. "Helping keep my community safe has been my dream and purpose since before I became president of Suffolk Security more than 30 years ago."
Suffolk Security is an active member of the Long Island Alarm Association, the Electronic Security Association and the National Fire Prevention Association. In January 2022, Romanelli was named The Suffolk Times’ 2021 Businessperson of the Year for his contributions to the community.