Home security systems are an effective way of keeping you and your family safe. Some homes already have a system installed and only need a company to monitor it, while others require installation. We would like to provide you with some guidance on options and best practices regarding these systems. Depending on the level of security you desire, this does not need to cost you a lot of money and can actually pay for itself if your home owner’s insurance offers discounts for homes that are equipped with a security system.
Types of Security Systems
- Monitoring – The method used to communicate with your security company’s monitoring center.
- Installation – Two main types, Professional or DIY (do it yourself).
- Home Automation – Controlling all of the things in your home other than security.
Monitoring: Landline phone, cellular network, or via broadband internet.
You want to make sure that your security system is always connected to the outside world in some way. There are several ways of doing this but most people have some sort of phone line hooked up in addition to an internet connection in case one or the other is disabled somehow.
- Landline – Your security system uses a landline telephone network to communicate.
- Cellular – Your home security system uses a cellular telephone inside the wiring box to communicate. Some people view this as a very secure and reliable backup option.
- Broadband Internet – This is something most people have already and is a great way to communicate if the other methods are not working.
Installation: Professional Installs or Do It Yourself?
Some companies will actually give you the choice of having a professional install your system for you. While this is a great idea and will make sure you are covered in case there is any sort of issue, it also is quite expensive and you can save money doing the installation yourself. If you feel somewhat technically competent with wiring and using a drill, we suggest you do the install yourself. On our site we have several guides and informational resources which will help you get most of the work done in a single afternoon. If you plan on moving, it is a lot easier to pack up your gear and move it out once you’ve setup the system yourself.
Home Automation: Controlling your whole home from your phone is a very handy thing sometimes. Lets say you are on vacation and you want to adjust your heating or air conditioning to the right levels before coming home. No problem, there are several solutions out there for just that. You can also make sure your lights and appliances are running correctly while you’re away, which helps make it look like someone is home.
How to Determine What System is Right for you and your family
- It makes a big difference if you are a renter or a homeowner. It is often advised to use a wireless system while renting as this allows you to remove the different aspects of the system when you move out. Some companies even have a specific package targeted towards renters. Homeowners are advised to use a more complete system that includes hard-wired sensors, multiple monitoring connections. This is typically considered more reliable and delivers better protection.
- Are you planning on moving or relocating to a new residence in the next few years? People and families that move often should look very carefully at any and all contracts that they sign with their alarm company. Some companies do need a long-term contract that will not work with your lifestyle if you’re moving around a lot. Some companies are even offering special moving programs that will let you transfer for free but they typically cost a little more and do not guarantee that they can duplicate the same coverage once moved.
- Do you require mobile access to monitor your home on the go? One of the newer home security technologies is the ability to monitor and interact with your system while on the road, via a smartphone or laptop. There are several ways to connect to your home, whether it is your phone, laptop, key fobs, etc. Systems that can be controlled in this manner include arming and disarming your security panel, locking and unlocking doors, monitoring and alerting from flood sensors, window/door alerts, historical data, real-time alerts, viewing of security camera footage, adjusting your lighting and thermostat controls.
Do you want Video Surveillance?
Some people are very interested in video surveillance and cameras due to the fact that they think it is a way to catch the intruder. It is mostly useful as a means to check on your home while away, often offering peace of mind when you are unable to attend to the tasks at home. It is also known to be useful when you need to keep an eye on the children, babysitters, or house cleaners. The benefits of a camera system are enormous and go way beyond the simple preventing of an intruder. Most home security companies do offer cameras in their packages but depending on the quantity of cameras and their capabilities, they can dramatically raise the cost of the system.
Common Terms for Home Security
- Two-Way Voice – This is the ability to talk to the monitoring company using your control panel. Some companies only work via a phone while others are integrating the communications for voice right into the panel.
- 24/7 Monitoring – This is a monitoring system that will never take time off. You are secure as long as you have power and a working line to the outside world.
- CO (Carbon Monoxide) Detection – Sensors that are very important to have in almost any home. They detect the deadly levels as a result of a malfunction in one of your home’s appliances.
- Cell/Internet Monitoring – Most systems that use cellular networks for monitoring are very secure and can also be called ‘wireless systems’.
- Home Security System Warranty – All companies have different warranty offerings but most will say that they are going to replace anything that breaks or does not work. It is important to have a very good warranty as some parts in a home security system are simply expensive and are prone to breaking after a year or more of use.
- Flood or Water Sensors – These devices will monitor for moisture levels where water might be sitting in a state that could damage your home. Most of the time these are located in the lowest level of a home.
- Freeze Sensors – These devices detect if your heating has failed in the winter time. If you travel a lot or have a second home, it is a good idea to have this option installed.
- Glass or Window Breakage Sensor – A sensor that can detect and alert you to a broken door or window in your home. This is one of the main ways an intruder might break in and most companies offer it as an option.
- Heat Sensor – This sensor will monitor your temperature and alert you if the heat is getting to high. This is usually a result of a bad AC unit and if not remedied quickly it can lead to paint sticking to doors, mold, etc.
- Home Automation – There are a few different varieties of home automation that offer different levels of sophistication. From the lights to your Crock-Pot, you have a lot of options to consider in this department should you choose to go this route.
- Medical Alert – People that are in their older years can benefit from medical monitoring to make sure that help is always just a button push away. It does not cost much for this option compared to what it might be worth if a loved one were to not be able to seek help.
- Personal Security Devices – Similar to medical alerts, they are worn around the neck or wrist and can be used to alert the monitoring station that a problem is occurring.
- Relocating – Every company is different but there are many home security companies that will offer and help you relocate when needed. Make sure and figure this out before you buy a system or monitoring plan.
- Remote Access – This is the ability to access your system while on the go, typically with a smartphone or other internet connected device.
- Sensor – Sensors are the switches that alert your home security system to the opening of a window/door, motion, break-ins, fire, freeze, or flood. They are becoming increasingly more advance and every system utilizes a number of different sensors to complete a home security solution.