An electronic home security system can bring peace of mind to your home, however, shopping for home security can cause a lot of anxiety. To help you decide how to shop for a home security system, ask yourself the following questions, then consider the answers provided.
Do I need a home security system?
Burglars' methods are generally quite simple, so they target homes that are simple to burglarize. Research how safe your home and neighborhood have been recently by contacting your local police. If your area has been safe and no homes have reportedly been robbed, your home would probably be made even safer with these less expensive alternatives:
- Deadbolts on doors
- High-quality window locks
- Outdoor motion sensors
- Watchdog or even a "Beware of Dog" sign to warn invaders
You can also develop habits such as locking doors when you're away, putting lights on timers and asking friends to pick up your doorstep newspaper and putting a hold on mail when you're on vacation.
Do I want an advanced system?
Basic systems are usually connected to a central control panel in the home that will activate when windows or doors are opened while the system is armed. More advanced systems include fire and carbon monoxide alarms, motion sensors and glass-break detectors.
Additionally, some companies such as Vivint, have systems that combine both home security and home automation into one so that you can unlock/lock doors, activate/deactivate your security system, and control home lighting, thermostat and even small appliances all from a computer, smartphone or any other web-enabled device. If used appropriately, a combined home automation/security system can lower a household's monthly utility bill to a point that the savings can more than cover the cost of the system.
Do I need monitoring?
A popular feature of advanced security systems is home monitoring. The security system monitoring center will call your home any time there is an alert. If you don't answer the call, the center will contact the police. This feature can be expensive, and you may have to pay an ongoing monthly fee. Be aware that your alarm system will work without home monitoring.
Does this system meet the needs of everyone in my home?
A well-designed home security system should be effective while not drastically affecting your family's routine. As you shop for a system, think about the habits and other behaviors of those in your home.
- Pets: If they frequently enter and leave the house, they could trigger the alarm.
- Family: All family members should know how to operate the system. Make sure the system is easy to operate, but also be sure your children do not tell everyone how to turn deactivate the alarm.
- Neighbors: You may need to tell your trustworthy "back door" neighbors about your system so that they don't accidentally trigger it when feeding your pets while you're away. Alternatively, with a home automation system, you can remotely unlock a door and deactivate the alarm when they arrive and lock the door and reactivate your security system when they leave.
What functions should the system provide?
Depending on your budget, you can have a system that ensures security for all aspects of your home life. In addition to asking yourself how advanced your system should be, consider the helpful functions many home security systems offer:
- Deterring burglars: This is the main function that sounds an alarm, turns on lights and calls the police.
- Recording activity: In addition to the main alarm, you can choose to add cameras to record suspicious activity. This footage can help identify and arrest perpetrators, so that failed attempts don't lead to more attempts.
- Calling for assistance: If you're having a medical emergency, your system can contact medical assistance.
What are other considerations I should make?
Depending on your circumstances or budget, the following additional ideas may help you choose the right home security system.
- Inquire about free relocation of security equipment in case you have to move.
- Research companies that offer a warranty on all products and services.
- Research the locations of monitoring centers.
- Ask companies what their fee is for false alarms.
- Ask the local police what their response time is.
As you gather more information, you will be able to purchase an effective home security system that meets your needs. You can avoid a lot of shopping anxiety and take proactive measures to bring greater safety to you and your family.