Home Security Systems Buying Guide
Home security systems are more popular than ever, this is due to a myriad of factors, affordability, Improved response from police and emergency services, increase in population and the unintended consequence being increase in crime in certain areas. Police forces across the nation are keeping busy by responding to home alarms everyday, the New York times reported that in 2001 the Los Angeles Police Department responded to 127,000 burglar alarms, that’s means Los Angeles police officers respond to 347 homes daily. Across the country you will find similar statistics. Odds are if you live in Los Angeles you may have an alarm event that needs the authorities to show up to your property. These numbers may seem unnerving to the general population and this could explain why more and more people are purchasing home alarm systems.
The silver lining is with home security companies offering more features with their home security systems. The combination of reasonable pricing and for lack of a better word “cool” features and technology like smartphone apps that allow users to integratehome security systems with other things that improve peace of mind. Things like smartphone applications that give access thermometer controls, and alerts when family members arrive or leave, you combine that with the basic improved security and it makes sense to own a security system. With all this said not everyone lives in a big metropolitan area like Los Angeles, and some people that own security systems don’t necessarily live in high crime areas so its important to touch on why different people with distinctive needs choose home security systems as a solution.
Reasons Why People Purchase Home Security Systems
I’ve spent most of the past decade working with the home security industry, in various capacities. As a consultant I was on the front lines with home security system buyers, answering questions and designing the best home security system for their needs. The only way to design the best system for them was to understand what was most why they wanted a security system to begin with. This meant talking about their concerns, in some cases their fears and addressing uncomfortable and sometimes tragic matters, here are some reasons why people purchase home security systems.
Moving into a new house: Moving to a new house brings forth feelings of joy and excitement, a new beginning and a sense of accomplishment to name a few, but there could also be a feeling of insecurity about the moving into a neighborhood you may not yet know too well. The moving process is also tedious, whether you are moving into a new construction or an existing home its possible to feel somewhat vulnerable about your belongings in transit and how safe the property is during the moving process. With contractors on site installing expensive appliances the sooner you add a layer of security the more comfortable you may feel. These are common reasons and concerns people have when moving into a new home that could have them searching for a good home security company in the area.
Crime in neighborhood: When its established that there is crime and crime elements in the neighborhood, most people understand they need to up the ante on protecting their homes and more importantly their loved ones.
Recommendation: Knowing the type of crime being committed in the neighborhood and surrounding areas is a great first step, because you want to design your home security system to defend against the type of crime that’s prevalent in your neighborhood. Knowing if burglars came in through windows or doors, and if people were home during the time of burglary is also a great way to information to have. Owning a security system is a good way to help fight crime in your neighborhood, because it could bring more police attention to the area.
Protection your home from someone you know: This is typically a tough one, when people are calling to install a security system to protect them against an ex, a child of theirs, or friends or groups of people they used to hang out with. This presents a challenge because the threats could be familiar with your schedule and your daily patterns. They have also been in your house before so they know how to find their way around.
Recommendation: Using an alarm that triggers quickly and has ways to notify you by text or email as well as trusted neighbors or family members are important in this situation.
Travelling spouse or Home Alone: This situation is actually pretty common.Lets say we have a husband who travels for extended periods of time and leaves his wife and kids at home while he’s away may decide to get a home security to ensure that they have police response in the event of an emergency.Knowing his family is safe and the alarm has not been triggered will also give him peace of mind while he’s away.
Recommendation: A security system with full perimeter protection may be optimal for this scenario. We want to put a sensor on all the doors and accessible windows. Glass break sensors may also be a good fit here. I would recommend setting it up so that the alarm siren goes off and the police are dispatched as soon as the perimeter is breached, due to a sensor being triggered.
To protect children – Easy access to children’s bedrooms: Getting a home security system to protect children needs no further explanation. People who have ground floor bedrooms may be worried about an intruder abducting a child at night, or while the child is asleep.
Recommendation: Another full perimeter protection design, you want to alarm the bedroom windows and set the siren to go off as quickly as possible because you want to know that there’s been a breach quickly. With home invasions of this sort it is important for the adult in the home to be prepared to react and protect the child. Can’t wait for the police to show up on this before moving to protect your child. Contact sensors and glass break sensors are great alarm sensors for this scenario.
Add service to an existing alarm system in the home: Some homeowners’ call to add service to alarm equipment in their property. The former owner may have purchased a home security system before they moved and you’re the new owner. Call around to find out what home security companies can monitor your security system and choose your favorite.
Protecting a vacant property: People looking to protect a vacant property, maybe after the passing of parents or grandparents. Typically the rest of the family has to decide what to do with the property as they divide assets amongst themselves, during this time the home is very vulnerable. Disturbing as it is, opportunistic burglars will take advantage of anything and see the property as an easy target.
A similar situation is a business looking to protect themselves after hours for whatever reason. It is expected that the property should be vacant after hours, and in order to protect their valuables they may add a business security system, with access controls and security camera systems.
Recommendation: Cover wide areas with motion sensors, living rooms, hallways, reception areas etc. Always think about where a burglar would have to walk through in order to get to your valuables and ensure you have motion sensors covering those areas. Also invest in motion detecting lights and even strobe lights to go with the siren.
Protecting kids and teenagers: Keeping children in is just as important as keeping burglars out to some people. Some people mentioned occasions when their teenage daughters have gone out through windows in the middle of the night. During the tough teenage years parents can use home security equipment to keep tabs on their kids.
Recommendation: Put sensors on doors and windows on the main level, also purchase interactive monitoring so you can get notifications like text messages when the property is breached.
Fire Protection: Almost every home can benefit from fire protection. People worry about their valuables being destroyed in a fire but you really need monitoring when the concern is about protecting loved ones and pets. If you are concerned about a fire when you go to work and your pet is at home, monitored smoke and heat sensors included with your home alarm system is a great solution.
Recommendation: When it comes to protecting loved ones in the event of a fire you want a combination of standard smoke detectors that meet your local code requirements then add 24 hour fire monitoring with your home security system. The reason for both is the smoke detectors should alarm immediately to notify those in the house of the fire and wake them if they are sleeping and they know to get out. When the property is vacant and no one can hear the smoke alarms, fire monitoring dispatches the local police.
Medical Protection: A monitored home security system already has all the tools in place to help you in the event of a medical emergency. Adding medical monitoring definitely adds value to your existing home security-monitoring plan. The phone line it uses to connect to monitoring station can also serve as a way to get to the local emergency medical response team. There are medical pendants and bracelets that you can purchase from a reputable home security company and integrate with the security system. Medical alert systems save lives, so don’t hesitate to ask your home security company if they offer this service.
Now that we’ve covered the reasons why people want home security systems lets discuss the different types of security systems.
Different Types of Home Security Systems
Home alarm systems date back to around 1853 the electro-magnetic alarm changed the way people secured their homes. Dogs barking used to be the main way people were notified they had a visitor good or bad.
At the most basic level an alarm system is just that, it’s supposed to alarm or sound off for attention. This call for awareness is at the root of the functionality in even the most alarm systems to date. The ways and modes in which they notify the user and others are what have evolved over the years – well, their looks have changed considerably too.
The non-monitored alarm system: This as the name suggests is an alarm system that sounds of a siren at the premise, and doesn’t do much more. The goal of the non-monitored alarm system is to alert the inhabitants of the property that something has occurred in the building that they should be aware of. Sensors are connected to the control panel using wires or wirelessly, when alarm sensors are triggered by a door or window opening for example the built in mechanism triggers the alarm siren. The noise fills the area; people can hear it and respond to a potential threat.
Monitored Home Alarm System: Monitored alarm systems generally look just like non-monitored home alarms. Similar sensors design and positioning, the difference is they have an active connection to your home phone, broadband or cellular towers. Monitored alarm systems use their connections to contact a central monitoring station that is tasked with dispatching the police, fire or medical team. Some areas require verified response before the police are dispatched to your home. With verified response the monitoring station dispatches the private security company to your home to determine there is indeed a real emergency instead of a false alarm situation.
Hard Wired Security Systems: These used to be the predominant type of security system for decades, before there were reliable radio frequencies that the public could use. With hard-wired alarm systems the control panel is installed and connected to the electrical circuits in the home. The panel is then wired to the sensors around the house. The sensors are typically placed on all accessible points of entry (ground floor doors and windows) motion sensors and fire sensors can also be wired through out the property.
More and more builders are offering buyers the option of hardwiring a home security system before the dry wall is completely installed. This makes sense because it’s easier and more convenient to wire for an alarm system before the dry wall is up. For people with existing homes and for those looking for a portable home security system a wireless home security system may be the best option for them.
Wireless Security Systems: Wireless home security systems have similar components to their hard-wiredcounterparts; the main difference would the ability of wireless security system components to interact with the Control Panel wirelessly. They use radio frequencies to send communicate back and forth, limiting or eliminating the need for hard wiring in the property. Wireless alarm systems are more portable and easier to install than wired.
How do Home Alarm Systems Work?
As far back as the middle 1800’s actually in 1853 a patent was recorded for the first electro magnetic alarm. Even then, magnetic contacts were installed on windows, doors and other points of entry. The technology hasn’t changed much to date. By 1877 Edwin Holmes had a network of alarms that were being monitored in New York. His network of alarm systems used pre-existing phone cables to contact the central monitoring station. These fundamentals are still in place to date. On a basic level, a magnetic sensor is in proper but dormant state when the magnetic fields are connected or a door is locked. When the door is opened the magnetic contact is broken by the separation of the door from the wall frame. This separation triggers a message to be sent to the control panel to notify it of the door sensors change in status.
Needless to say the inner workings of the control panel allow it to complete the function of receiving messages from other devices, then waiting for a period of time to allow for the system code to be entered. In the absence of a code, the Control panel triggers the siren and/or calls out to the monitoring station.