Ellen Farrow is a Z-Wave customer whose experience serves as a reminder for just how powerful a smart home can be. Ellen explains in her own words how on one day in February this year, her Z-Wave system helped save her home.

We live out in the mountains, about twenty minutes out of town, so we have to be a little more self-reliant. Also, since being burglarized I had become very anxious about leaving the house unlocked by accident. I had even turned around and driven home several times to make sure the door was locked! Several months ago my tech-loving husband decided to make our home smarter with Z-Wave, and I’m so glad he did. We started with just a few things- a motion sensor, some door sensors, two smoke detectors, and then a little later we added a front door lock.

All these devices have helped bring peace of mind to me and my family. Now I know for sure that the door is locked after I leave the home, because it does it automatically as I drive away. I can tell when my pet-sitter shows up to feed the cats, and I can tell that nothing is happening at my house when it should be empty. But that Monday something did happen.

The kids were off school and I had a lunch meeting that day, so we locked the dogs downstairs and drove to the restaurant about 30 minutes from home. We had just ordered hot chocolate when my husband called to say the smoke detector had texted him and he wondered why. I thought it might be a glitch. Then he called and said he had gotten multiple texts from the downstairs alarm, and now the upstairs alarm was going off.

Chris and I were each at least half an hour from home, and I was starting to panic at this point. I paid for the hot chocolate, hustled the three kids into the car, and started driving home with my heart pounding and my stomach churning. Luckily for us, Chris called our closest neighbor who was home and offered to go check. At our house, the neighbor called me from the deck to tell me there was a fire in our downstairs room. I told him I could unlock the front door for him, and where our fire extinguisher was. My daughter was able to navigate the SmartThings app with my guidance (I couldn’t as I was driving) and unlock the front door.

My neighbor didn’t ever hang up the phone, so the exclamations and noises I heard were pretty scary. The fire was out when I got home about 15 minutes later, right after my husband, but if the fire had continued those 15 minutes, and been able to catch the structure on fire, we wouldn’t have a house to come home to.

The culprit? It was a perfect storm of circumstances. Our dogs accidentally knocked over a heat lamp onto a comforter on the couch in the downstairs room, catching on fire. If I couldn’t open a door for someone, a door or window would have to have been broken. And if my neighbor hadn’t been the stand-up guy he is….well, it could have been so much worse. I had to catch my terrified dogs who had broken out of the dog pen- scared out of their wits by the beeping alarms. I had to vacuum and sweep and deal with all that fire extinguisher stuff. I had to buy new guest linens. I missed the conference planning meeting. But I still have a house thanks to my Z-Wave home technology!