How to Choose a Home Security System
Find the perfect home security system for you and help keep all that you love safe and secure from harm.
A home security system can offer you peace of mind whether you’re at home or at work, whether you have children or pets, or whether it’s during the day or night. Home security systems ensure that your house, and those within it, are safely guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These security systems are something that no one should be without, even in areas where crime is nearly nonexistent since they can also offer emergency service alerts (in the event of a fire or flood) and make life easier and safer.
When buying a home security system, there is good and bad news. The good news is that many home security systems are available to choose from, and the bad news is the same! While there are many security systems to choose from, finding the one that is the best fit for you, your family, and your home can sometimes be difficult.
To make this process easier, check out our guide on what to look for in a home security system and discover everything you’ll need to know to choose the perfect one!
Home security systems are incredibly useful devices that can keep an eye on your children and house while deterring intruders from disturbing the peace. There are many factors to consider when picking out a home security system. Monitoring options, necessary equipment, and the overall cost are 3 of the many elements you’ll need to consider.
Most home security systems offer the above features and more, although each system focuses on particular features more than others. You’ll need to carefully consider what elements of home security are most important to you before settling on one system.
Some of the most important home security system factors that you should consider are:
Choosing to have your wired home security system professionally installed is an excellent option if you want an expert to come in and set up the security devices in the best places around the house. They’ll also place security devices outside in hidden areas where intruders will not see them. The high fees for this service — which are typically from $99 to $199 — can be well worth it if you have no prior experience with wired security systems but would like to get the devices and sensors placed in the best possible spots.
You’ll also be able to discuss all things security with the installation expert and get all your most pressing questions answered by an industry professional.
Performing the home security system installation yourself, however, can also be a good idea if you do not have or do not want to spend the extra money on something you can accomplish without paying someone else. The self-installation plan is easy for most wireless security devices, and some even have adhesive tape on the back so you can easily and sturdily place them over the entire home.
Further, some home security system providers offer tips on where best to place your devices to the best effect, significantly reducing the time it takes to discover the best locations yourself through trial and error.
When choosing either a wireless or wired home security system, it is recommended that you focus on the features of each system first and then compare the costs of your top selections. Once you have chosen your top security systems, you should then focus on costs such as equipment, installation and activation fees, and monitoring costs.
Equipment costs will vary depending on which security system you buy, so make sure to pick one that, while not necessarily the cheapest, is a good price for the included benefits.
Installation fees can be avoided if you choose to install every device yourself, but the activation and continual monitoring fees are mandatory and cannot be avoided.
Most contracts for a home security system will require a 3-year commitment, although some companies may have a higher minimum contract length. Even rarer are security companies that offer short-term contracts or none at all. It should be noted, though, that providers who offer this last choice require that buyers pay for every piece of equipment up-front.
If signing up for a security system’s long-term monitoring program — or paying a large amount of money up-front — doesn’t appeal to you, then make sure to do your research beforehand to avoid unpleasant surprises like this when finalizing the purchase.
Most monitoring options for home security systems allow you to choose between professional and DIY monitoring.
Professional monitoring — which comes with a monthly fee — lets you connect your security system to an around-the-clock call center that, in case of an emergency, can immediately contact local emergency services in your area.
DIY monitoring — sometimes referred to as self-monitoring — lets you keep a close eye on your home’s security through a smartphone app. If an emergency were to occur at your home, the responsibility of contacting emergency teams would fall on you. To help with this, alerts and notifications will be sent to your phone when one of the alarms is triggered or when a camera senses movement.
When deciding to go with professional monitoring, a connection to the monitoring center will be necessary. Three connection options are available to choose from: landline, broadband, and cellular.
A landline will enable the home security provider to access your home’s landline, then use the connection to immediately alert the monitoring center in an emergency. While it is possibly the least expensive connection available, it is also the easiest for a criminal to eliminate by simply cutting the power.
A broadband connection is an excellent choice if you have high-speed internet. Like using a landline connection, the home security monitoring center will be notified in the event of an emergency. Also like a landline, the link is liable to break if the power goes out.
The best of the three connection options is a cellular connection that has a built-in chip that sends instant signals to the monitoring center if any security device senses something not quite right at home. Security devices with a cellular connection can also send notifications to your phone if you have a security plan. Unlike the earlier connection types listed above, it cannot be easily tampered with and will most likely not go out with the power, ensuring your home is connected to professional monitoring regardless of any circumstances.
As new home security systems appear, the level of connectivity with the home continues to increase. Security apps like Google Home and Apple HomeKit, which allow for high levels of smart home integration, can connect to other security devices for a greater sense of home protection. These oftentimes wireless smart home integrated security systems are incredibly convenient and can even save you money by controlling your fan, thermostat, and lights.
Some of these integrated security systems can also be controlled by your voice, allowing a deeper sense of personalization to your home’s automation.
If you have a large house and would prefer not to spend a large amount of money on home security devices, some providers offer the choice to lease the equipment you’ll need instead of outright purchasing it.
Additionally, you’ll have a choice between buying wired security devices or wireless security devices. Both can be the right decision depending on your specific situation.
Wired security devices boast greater reliability since they are constantly plugged in, have no danger of losing power (except for the occasional power outage).
Wireless security devices are also great if you plan to move soon or have children or pets that could trip or bite on cords leading to the equipment meant to protect them.
Every home security provider includes different security equipment with their devices, although many share the same general accessories due to their efficacy in keeping a home protected. Check out the most popular and useful home security devices below and decide which ones are best for you and your house.
What They do: Both indoor and outdoor security cameras offer the ability to send live footage of your home directly to your phone. Some, like the new Arlo Pro 5, even offer an unparalleled 160° view, preventing anything or anyone from walking by unnoticed.
What They’re Good for: With constant recording capabilities and the ability to be triggered by any and all motion, home security cameras are a staple of any home’s security. Both wired and wireless security cameras come with the ability to even detect the faces of your family members, although these cameras are usually quite expensive.
What it Does: The control panel is the center of your home security system. It connects all your security devices together to provide an experience that cannot be rivaled by one or two devices on their own. The new Arlo security system even offers a way to switch your home security for when you’re at home or away on vacation.
What it’s Good for: A control panel easily allows you to both arm and disarm all your home security devices for a family gathering or other large event where many visitors will be arriving that may trigger your home’s alarms, sensors, and cameras. Once the event is over, simply return to the control panel and switch everything back on so that your home can be completely protected once again.
What They Do: Simply put, door and window sensors detect when any door or window has been opened either by someone within the house or by someone from outside. Like wired or wireless security cameras, entry sensors such as these are one of the most popular security accessories for any home. Their simple, yet easily programmable designs allow them to let you know when many varied circumstances occur.
What They’re Good For: With door and window sensors, you can rest easy knowing that any attempts to enter your home without your permission will be instantly noticed. These home security devices, when triggered, will give you time to contact local emergency teams for help.
What They Do: Motion detectors are constantly on the lookout for any movement, no matter how brief, within a set zone. When motion has been detected — usually when the infrared beam of light which they use has been broken — they activate an alarm or send an instant update to your phone that helps you know something is amiss.
What They’re Good For: The loud alarm on a motion sensor can startle criminals or animals that approach your home at all hours of the day. Many motion detectors also offer an ‘away mode’ that you can choose to activate when your home will be empty for long periods of time.
What They Do: Video doorbells are one of the most popular home security devices since they can record visitors, both expected and unexpected, that approach your door while sending alerts to your phone at the same time. Some doorbell cameras also have a two-way talk feature that lets you easily communicate with people at your front door.
What They’re Good For: The recording feature of video doorbells helps track everything that happens in their area of vision. Thieves who either steal delivered packages or try to break into your home can be deterred from doing so by way of the two-way talk feature. If, however, a crime still occurs, doorbell camera footage can be shown to local law enforcement to help them apprehend the thief and recover your stolen goods.
What They Do: Carbon monoxide detectors serve one incredibly important purpose: detecting high levels of CO inside your home. When carbon monoxide is found by the installed home security device, it will activate an alarm that will ring throughout the home while sending an immediate alert to your phone, as well.
What They’re Good For: These special detectors serve an even greater purpose than many other security devices: keeping you alive from invisible threats. While wireless security cameras, video doorbells, and motion sensors take care of most physical threats, carbon monoxide detectors keep a lookout for dangers that other devices cannot see.
What They Do: Like carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors constantly check your home for rare instances of smoke or fire. They do this by closely scanning the atmosphere in your home for any dangerous chemicals or compounds that are associated with fires. If the detector notices these atmospheric changes, an alarm will sound that immediately alerts the entire house (if more than one smoke detector is installed) that smoke or fire is present.
What They’re Good For: Smoke alarms, with their unmistakable beeping, can instantly alert the inhabitants of the house that something is amiss and they should make their way outside. It’s likely that your home is already equipped with smoke alarms, so you should already know the standard procedures to take when you hear them activate.
What They Do: Depending on where you live, flood sensors can be completely necessary additions to your home security setup. Even if you do not live by a large body of water, leaks can still occur in the home, so it may be a wise idea to install a leak sensor to help let you know when a home appliance that uses water begins to break.
What They’re Good For: Immediate knowledge of potential floods or leaks can enable you to shut off whatever is causing the problem and avoid costly repairs and flood-related damages. If properly hooked up to a home security system, you will be sent a phone alert letting you know something is wrong and will then be able to react quickly and effectively.
What They Do: Also known as freeze sensors, temperature sensors notify you when extreme changes in temperature are detected. HVAC unit malfunctions or instances of frozen pipes in the winter can be serious problems, but these useful sensors will notice the rise or dip in temperature soon after and will alert you to the change.
What They’re Good For: On days when the temperature is extreme, losing the ability to regulate the cool breeze or warm heat in your home can make a once comfortable environment into an extremely uncomfortable one. With temperature sensors, you can take immediate action once an all-important home appliance breaks down and send for repairs to get your house back to 100% functionality and comfort. Detects temperature to alert you before your pipes freeze in cold weather.
What it Does: If a window breaks or a loud noise occurs around the home, a glass break sensor can make you aware of the problem (if you did not hear it when it happened). In addition to detecting glass breaks throughout the house, the sensor will automatically send out a high-pitched siren that will let you know of the problem.
What it’s Good For: A glass break sensor can help to deter criminals attempting to enter your home through a window or even an animal — such as a deer or bird — that accidentally crashed into your house.
What They Do: Panic buttons, while not the most well-known home security devices, can nevertheless be crucial for the elderly, those with medical conditions, or people who live alone. When a frightening or uncomfortable situation arises, such as not being able to get up or in the case of an oncoming medical emergency, that person can hit the panic button and have a team of medical professionals dispatched to their location.
What They’re Good For: In situations where it’s impossible or extremely difficult to call emergency services, a panic button carried in a pocket, worn around the neck, or even on a safety app can be a literal lifesaver.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the perfect home security camera for you and your family. It’s helpful that so many are available, but it may still be rare to find a security system that has the best balance of features and cost.
Even if the home security system you choose does not feature all the requirements on your list, it will still be incredibly effective in stopping crimes and in-home emergencies before they occur.
While there is a lot of information that you’ll have to think about, the benefits of having a fully functioning home security system are well worth the trouble and will ensure that your home is safe for years to come.