Beginner’s guide to home security systems

A Beginner’s Guide to Home Security Systems

September 21, 2020 by

Finding the right home security system is not exactly a straightforward process. You want to guard your family and property against intrusions. And there are other threats you need to watch out for, like fire, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, unsupervised children, water leaks and flooding, poor thermostat control, and so on.

Understanding your needs and knowing the security options on the market will help you identify the features that you need from your home security system. Here are some home security basics to keep in mind:

DIY vs. Professional Installation

Today, many of the home security systems on the market are designed for easy DIY installation and self-monitoring through an app or with paid professional monitoring. They are sold as starter kits for greater convenience so consumers can gradually add more sensors and components. Professionally installed home alarm systems, on the other hand, are normally significantly better systems, more reliable, and can use a more secure and reliable dedicated cellular connection instead of WiFi. They are also set up by a technician sent by your provider, and usually have 24/7 professional monitoring.

Professional Monitoring

Compared to DIY security systems where you have to monitor your home and call for help in the event of an accident, professionally installed systems are monitored round the clock by trained dispatchers. They can verify triggered alarms and inform the authorities without your intervention.

Though you will incur a monthly cost for the monitoring service, you also enjoy peace of mind because you don’t have to check for emergencies at home yourself. A non-monitored security system, missing an alarm or alert, could result in more losses or damage since you will be at the mercy of those near your home to call the authorities when the alarm goes off.

Keep in mind that even self-monitored security systems have access to on-demand monitoring services. You can sign-up for professional monitoring temporarily, like for one or more months.

Standard Security System Components

A basic home security system comprises several sensors installed on your doors and windows to alert you and the police when someone breaks into your home.

It’s different from a home security system with additional sensors and features to monitor more threats such as fire, carbon monoxide, floods, and so on. A burglar alarm or basic home security system is comprised of the following:

1. Base station

This is the central control unit of your home security system to connect and relay signals between the various sensors and components wirelessly. It comes equipped with an alarm siren and backup cellular connectivity and backup batteries to keep your security system functioning in the event of internet outages or power failure.

2. Sensors

These can be contacts, motion sensors, or glass break sensors. Contact sensors are attached to your doors and windows to alert you or your monitoring service provider when they’re opened. If you have multiple windows in a single room, you can install motion sensors to detect movement across a particular area.

3. Keypads, touchscreen control panels, key fobs, and tags

These are located on your security system panel to help you arm and disarm your alarm. Some touch screen panels also allow you to control other connected smart home devices, like the lights and thermostat.

4. Range extenders

These are not necessary as most homes are within the range offered by the base station of a few hundred metres. But if you have a larger home, you can use range extenders to boost your base station’s wireless range and connect more sensors.

Keep in mind that your security system can be wired or wireless. Wireless networks are easy to set up, keep your rooms looking tidy, and won’t allow intruders to cut the signal transmission.

Add-On Security Components

Suppose you want a more comprehensive home security system. In that case, there are several sensors and components that you can add to your basic security package for greater peace of mind, at an additional cost. They include:

1. Security cameras

There are different types of security cameras with various features for indoor or outdoor video monitoring. For instance, you can use an indoor camera to keep your eyes on your baby or young ones while asleep or in the play area, so you have peace of mind when performing other chores.

Some security cameras have two-way audio systems — like video doorbells — to communicate with your visitors. You can also install a video surveillance system that records footage when the alarm is triggered so you can review an incident later on.

2. Glass-break sensors

These operate on sound, detecting when an intruder or object smashes your window.

3. Sirens

Sirens alert you when an incident occurs while at home so you can evacuate or take the necessary action to escape danger. You can opt for a standalone siren that is apart from your base station, or multiple sirens to cover your large property.

4. Environment sensors and alarms

A comprehensive home security system should monitor other dangers such as carbon monoxide, fire, water leaks, and so on. You can request your security provider to add the sensors and alarms you need, including fire alarms, smoke and CO sensors, and leak sensors.

5. Panic pendants and buttons

These wearable devices are equipped with fall-detection technology to automatically send a signal to an emergency response center when the user falls. They also have a panic button that you can press to call for help immediately. They are used by senior citizens and vulnerable people living alone to call for help in the event of an emergency.

Find out whether you can adjust the sensitivity of connected sensors, especially if you have pets in your home.

Smart Home Add-Ons

Recent market research reports suggest that about a quarter of the population is interested in owning a smart home security system. This is because they can now double as smart home hubs for centralizing the control for thermostats, water and temperature sensors, smoke/CO detectors, lights, locks, and other connected devices via a smartphone app. You may be interested in buying a security system with the ability to integrate compatible smart home features.

You should find out whether you can easily interact with connected systems via a smartphone app, keypad, or touchscreen. A smart home hub can add greater convenience to basic home security operations, like automatically arming or disarming your home alarm system when you lock or unlock a smart lock. You can also integrate other controls, like the lights turning on or increasing the thermostat setting when you open a smart lock.

Contract Duration

If you have a professionally installed home security system with a remote monitoring service, you will be required to sign a 2-to-5-year contract to subscribe to their security services.

You will incur a recurring monthly fee, but this also means that your security system will be regularly maintained and updated so you can take advantage of the latest security features. 24/7 monitoring also gives you peace of mind when you’re away from your home because the service providers will automatically respond to any events that trigger your alarm without your intervention.

What do you need from your home security system?

Home security systems are becoming a must-have for the safety of your loved ones and investments—every security system guards against intrusions and burglary. But if you want additional protection, then you should consider a more comprehensive home security system with professional monitoring; multiple sensors for smoke, fire, and leaks; panic pendants; smart home integrations with app control; and so on.

To learn more about home security basics and systems, call the Canadian Security Professionals at +1 877-494-9911 or contact us here.

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