How to Choose a Home Security System: Everything You Need to Know
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For many homeowners, a home invasion is their worst nightmare. You no longer feel safe in your own home, and that’s the one place you should always be secure. Having a good security system in place can help restore your peace of mind and keep you and your family protected.
But knowing how to choose a home security system can seem like a trick. There are a ton of different options, and it can be difficult to know what you need. Read on to learn how to pick your security system and why you need one in the first place.
How a Home Security System Works
Before we dive into how to pick the right home security system, let’s talk a little bit about how they even work. In general, a home security system is a series of connected devices that work to monitor vulnerable points on your home. This can include a control panel, door and window sensors, motion detectors, an alarm, and many other features.
When someone enters your home unauthorized, the high-decibel alarm will start to sound. At the same time, if you pay for professional monitoring, your system will send an alert out to your security company. They can alert the police, who can be at your house to catch the burglar in minutes.
Why Get a Security System
The most obvious reason to get a security system is as a way to protect yourself and your family from intruders. No one likes to think about their home being broken into, and not just because of the things that might get stolen. A break-in robs you of your sense of security, something that should be sacred in your own home.
Security systems can also be a good way to keep an eye on your home while you’re out of town. Smoke and water sensors will let you know if something catches on fire or a pipe bursts while you’re gone. And if you have family who stays home alone, a security system can help you make sure they stay safe even when you’re gone.
Burglar Alarm vs. Security System
Many people use the terms “burglar alarm” and “security system” interchangeably. But a burglar alarm is only the most basic level of a home security system. It will let you know if someone enters the house through one of the doors or windows, but that’s where its function ends.
Security systems can help to protect you from inside threats, too. Many systems include water, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors. They can let you know if your family is in danger from some sort of house system malfunction, as well as burglars.
There Are Affordable Options
One of the big myths in home security systems is that only millionaires can afford them. We have this idea that security systems have to cost thousands of dollars and include expensive contracts. But that isn’t the reality of security systems anymore – the truth is there are affordable options for everyone.
You can certainly get the multi-thousand-dollar security systems with all the bells and whistles. And in many cases, that may be what you need to best protect your home. But if you’re dealing with a smaller home, you can also find smaller, simpler systems consisting of a few sensors and a control panel for just a few hundred bucks.
When you’re calculating the cost of a security system, there are two primary costs you need to consider: up-front costs and continuing costs. Your up-front costs will include buying your system equipment, installation costs, and any initial contract fees for your company. These can vary based on the size of the system you’re installing.
Your up-front costs are something you have a little more control over than your monthly costs. If you’re wanting to keep these down, you can purchase certain pieces of your system now and add more later as you like. Make sure you check with your company about any installation requirements or starting fees they may have.
Most security systems have ongoing monthly fees after you buy the initial equipment. In some cases, this is just a fee to continue running the control panel that connects the rest of your system together. But in some cases, you’re paying for round-the-clock professional security monitoring.
If you can afford it, paying for this monitoring can be a great idea. It provides you with an extra layer of security even when you aren’t at the house or when you’re asleep. You can also get personal security monitoring that you can use to sound an alarm if you fall down or get injured while you’re home alone.
The Installation Process Varies
It’s important to know that the installation process for many security systems varies from company to company. With many of the bigger, more complex systems, control panels and other elements may need to be wired into your house’s electrical network. These systems may require professional installation and come with associated fees.
Some of the lighter-weight security systems come with DIY installation options. Door and window monitors may be peel-and-stick, and control panels might plug into nearby outlets and have a backup battery to run them when the power is out. You might be able to pay to have these systems installed, but it isn’t a requirement.
You May Get an Insurance Discount
When you’re considering whether or not to get a security system, it’s a good idea to talk to your insurance company. In many cases, you might get a discount on your home insurance if you install a security system. Your insurance company recognizes that security systems prevent them from having to pay for burglary losses, so they’re willing to incentivize you to install one.
Research Your Company
The first thing you want to do when you’re deciding on a security system is to research different companies. You want to make sure you understand the services each company offers and the prices they charge for those services. Many companies may try to charge hidden fees, so make sure you do your homework.
Read reviews and see what their current customers have to say about them. Keep in mind that an angry customer is more likely to take the time to leave a review than a satisfied customer. But if you’re seeing certain themes emerge in the comments, chances are there’s a grain of truth there.
Decide on the Features You Want
You also need to decide before you ever talk to a company what features you want your security system to have. These days, security systems can be as simple or as extensive as you want them to be. And many companies may try to upsell you on additional security measures that you really don’t need.
At a minimum, it’s a good idea to have a couple of door and window sensors in addition to the required control pad. Depending on how big your house is, some glass break sensors may also be a good idea. Think about weak points and areas of concern in your home and design your perfect system based on your needs.
Think About Additional Services
Many companies offer a wide range of home security services in addition to their basic protection plan. And in some cases, these services can be a fantastic idea for your home. If you have an original painting by Jackson Pollock in your home, getting asset protection services is a great idea.
But in many cases, you won’t need all the services these security companies are going to offer you. When you’re researching these companies, look at what they offer and your budget and decide ahead of time what services you want. This will make it harder for them to talk you into buying services you don’t need later.
Look at Your Home Needs
You also need to look at your home needs when you’re building your security system. This should start with where your home is located. If you’re in a neighborhood with high crime rates, more security measures are a smarter idea than if you live on an acre of private land.
Make sure you also think about how your home is structured. If you have windows that are two or three stories off the ground, you can probably do without window sensors there. But it might be a good idea to put a glass break sensor near your sliding glass door on the patio.
Landline vs. Wireless
There are two basic configurations you can choose from for your security system: landline and wireless. A landline security system wires into your home’s phone lines. But if the phone lines or power go out, your system will default to backup battery power to keep your security system running.
A wireless security system works off of the cellular network to alert you when sensors get tripped. This equipment is much easier to install than landline systems. But if you don’t have a very strong cell signal at your house, this may not be a good option for you.
One of the things you’re going to need to consider when you’re choosing your security system is how big your home is. Some companies may try to sell you on the idea that there are one-size-fits-all security systems, but that isn’t true. A 5,000-square-foot mansion is going to need much more protection than a 1,100-square-foot apartment.
Take a look at the scalability of the systems you’re considering and figure out which ones are going to meet your needs. If you have a smaller house, a couple of door and window sensors and one glass break sensor may be enough to cover your needs. But if you have a larger home, you may need a variety of motion detectors, cameras, and other accouterments.
Something else to consider when you’re thinking about the size of your security system is the expandability the company offers. Let’s say, for instance, that you build a mother-in-law suite onto your current home five years after you install your security system. You want to make sure you can include that new area of the house in your net of security.
Many companies offer the option to add new components onto a system after it’s established. Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for these new components and potentially for installation. But if a company doesn’t offer expandability options, you may want to work with someone else.
Look at Home Automation Options
Smart home technology is taking the world by storm, and it’s making life easier than ever. Everything from smart refrigerators and ovens to smart home assistants helps us run our homes more efficiently. And your security system needs to be able to integrate with the rest of your smart home.
If you have smart door locks, you need to make sure you get a security system that will work with those. The same goes for smart window shades and temperature controls. You should be able to say to your smart home assistant, “Arm the security system,” and it should turn on all your sensors, close the shades, turn the temperature down, lock the door, and get your home ready for another safe night.
Learn How to Choose a Home Security System
Figuring out how to choose a home security system can seem complicated given that there are so many options out there. The trick is to know what you need and what you want to pay for. Do your homework and decide what you want before you contact any companies and you’ll wind up with a security system that helps you sleep like a baby every night.
If you’d like to get the best home security, check out the rest of our site at 713 Locksmith. We work to keep you and your family safe and comfortable in your own home.
Request a pricing estimate and start living more securely today.