How to Choose a Home Security System

September 07,2019
How to Choose a Home Security System

There are many types of home security systems to choose from, and each system provides its own set of features that will help distinguish it from the rest. However, when you differentiate between various systems, you need to consider the following aspects:

  1. The technology and equipment that the system uses
  2. The installation method, i.e., whether the system is DIY or needs to be professionally installed
  3. Reliability of the system
  4. Whether or not the company offers good customer service
  5. What the system’s home automation is like
  6. How the system rates overall

Analyzing these categories will help you determine the best company and system that will cater most closely to your needs.

1. The Technology and Equipment That the System Uses

When it comes to choosing a security system, you need to be totally confident that it will be able to effectively communicate with the monitoring center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in case of any emergency. You can choose from one of three types of systems based on which method they use for communication purposes: landline, cellular, or broadband.

Landline

  • The system utilizes a landline phone connection in order to communicate with the relevant monitoring system whenever an alarm is triggered.
  • The entire system can be wireless; however, a landline would be needed for monitoring purposes.

Cellular

  • The system utilizes a cellular uplink to establish communications with the monitoring center whenever an alarm is triggered.
  • This system is generally more reliable when it comes to communications with the monitoring center as it can still function even when landlines have been cut or are otherwise inoperative.

Broadband

  • A broadband internet connection can also be used by certain security systems to transmit information to the monitoring center on the trigger of an alarm.
  • A broadband connection can effectively notify the monitoring center up to four times quicker than a conventional landline. While it is not as reliable as a cellular-based monitoring system, it does cost less.

Security Cameras

Security cameras are an integral part of a security system as they allow monitoring and recording of any actions by individuals that may be deemed intrusive. A security camera can also benefit you in numerous other ways, whether you are at home or not. When you’re at home, you can keep an eye on the entire property and each and every room to check on your family members, if needed.  A security camera at the front door is an immensely important tool that allows you to view any activity at your front door, including any visitors, without having to physically open the door or peep through the door viewer.

On the other hand, when you are away from home, security cameras can help keep you up-to-date with events at your house; for instance, you can keep an eye on your babysitter, observe what set off the alarm, keep a close watch on your maintenance workers, and observe when your children arrive home from school. Clearly, the advantages of security cameras not limited only to preventing intrusions.

However, before investing in a security camera, you need to decide whether or not you truly require one. After you have decided that it is actually worth the time and effort of investing in one, you can start researching options available from various security companies. Some of the companies and systems might not even offer the facilities of video monitoring or security cameras, so a homeowner must evaluate each of them carefully to get everything according to your preferences.

2. The Installation Method

Many homeowners assume that the best home security systems are expensive, mainly because of the high-tech equipment and the costs of installation involved. This isn’t entirely true, as you have an option to opt for DIY installation, at least with those systems that allow it. There is no right or wrong as far as the installation method is concerned; it is more of a personal preference.

To be able to make an educated choice in this regard, read on to find out the benefits of each of the method.

DIY Home System

A DIY home system is suitable for those individuals who prefer to have a more personalized security solution based on their specific needs. Some benefits you can gain from these ready-to-install systems are as follows:

  • Cost control – You can avoid paying companies who charge for a professional security system installation.
  • Customization – You will have more varied options to customize each and every piece of equipment in your chosen security system.

There is a disadvantage, however:

  • Complex installation – Despite the ‘ready-to-install’ tag, installation can be complicated, particularly when you have little or no knowledge of electronic systems.

Professional Installation

You may also wish to have a professional install the entire system for you. Here are some benefits of opting for this:

  • Professional assessment – You can have a professional security expert survey your home to determine the best security solution for your home.
  • Worry-free installation – Once a solution has been agreed upon, you have nothing to worry about as the technician would be responsible for getting everything together.
  • Ease of installation – As most of the home security systems are connected to some monitoring center, a professional will be able to hook the system more reliably to the monitoring station, without any input from you.

As for the disadvantage, cost remains the biggest hurdle for many. Some companies do charge for professional installation services. Do your research before placing an order.

Which technology to choose?

If you are a renter, a wireless system will be perfect because you will own the equipment outright and thus be able to move it around, no matter how many times you might change your address. The top four companies that offer a DIY installation wireless system include Simplisafe, Protect America, Lifeshield, LifeWatch, and FrontPoint.

Homeowners, on the other hand, can go with any system or company that you prefer, depending on budget and needs; however, with a more permanent setup, you can consider looking for comprehensive systems that offer cutting-edge features and provide enhanced protection for your home.

If you happen to move frequently, then you might want to look at the contract requirements of various alarm companies and whether the equipment delivered will be owned by you or not. For instance, the companies who require you to sign a long-term contract with them will not work out for you if you have to move out soon any way. However, many of the companies also provide moving programs. Such programs allow you to transfer all of your equipment and services without incurring any additional costs, but you need to consider the specific requirements for such moving programs.

In a case where you plan to move within a few years, you might want to consider getting a system that will allow you to own the equipment, so that you can keep it no matter where and when you move. Some companies such as Protect America, Lifeshield, and FrontPoint allow you to own the equipment.

3. Reliability of the System

When you are spending time and money on the installation of a home security system, you certainly do not want to compromise on reliability. Unreliable systems can give a homeowner more uncertainty than peace. Any weakness in a home security system can be exploited by burglars, criminals, or any other intruders. While it can be easy to bypass old security systems without triggering the alarm, modern systems have made this virtually impossible. This is exactly why you should read reviews regarding the best home security systems currently available.

4. Whether or not the Company Offers Good Customer Service

Good customer service is of paramount importance when it comes to a home security system. You need all the support and peace of mind you can get from a security company, without which it would render your efforts of getting a security system pointless to some extent.

Then again, check out the best home security systems to determine which companies offer the best customer support.

5. What the System’s Home Automation Is Like

Mobile access becomes necessary if you want to have a complete control of your home. Most of the security systems allow you to arm or disarm the system with the help of a web-enabled device, smartphone, or key fob; however, some companies also provide mobile access for home automation, through which you can control the thermostat and lighting settings. A home automation system will usually include the following:

  • Access of a full history of the events of the system
  • Adjustment of  thermostat and lights
  • Arming or disarming of the system
  • Getting notified if the selected locations such as the liquor cabinet, medicine cabinet, or the garage door are opened
  • Getting notified through video alerts, email, and texts when the children come back home from school or when your housekeeper leaves and arrives
  • Getting real-time notifications
  • Locking and unlocking doors
  • Monitoring flood and water sensors
  • Receiving security alerts
  • Seeing which doors and windows are open
  • Setting customized notifications
  • Viewing live video through security cameras

6. How the System Rates Overall

There are several factors that you need to consider when choosing the best home security system for your needs. While reviews of such systems provide valuable insight into the feature-set and reliability of these systems, it all ultimately boils down to your specific needs. Transparent reviews CAN help you isolate your choices based on your requirements.

Ask yourself what your preferences are. Do you need a DIY security system or want a professional to install it? Do you live in your own home or on rent?

Conclusion

Choosing the right home security system can be a hectic and time-consuming task, especially with so many options at your disposal. However, if you progress through the task in a proper manner by considering all factors and situations, as well as taking time out to thoroughly study each home security company, you will reach a much clearer decision. The safety and security of your home is extremely important, and therefore, you should take the best steps for it.

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