A Quick and Easy Guide to Home Security Systems

With all the craziness going on in the world today, home security is an issue that everyone is concerned about. People put multiple deadbolts on their doors, as well as using every other trick they can find to ensure their home is safe, both for when they’re home and when they’re away.

But no amount of locks on doors and windows will truly make your home safe from someone who really wants to get in. The saying goes that locks keep the honest people honest. But they do one more thing; in addition to that, they make it harder for criminals to break in, without making any noise.

Noise is the enemy of the break-in artist. Noise attracts attention; causing people to look at what they are doing, and possibly even remember their faces. Those people tell the police, leading to arrest and imprisonment. So the more you can do to make your home secure, so that they have to make noise, the less likely it is to be broken into.

Having said that, over 50% of home break-ins happen to unlocked homes. The residents either leave a door unlocked or a window. Thieves, finding this, open the door and just waltz right on in. If there is no visual record of their visit, the likelihood of them getting caught and punished is minimal.

So it’s not enough to just put locks on your doors and windows, expecting those locks to keep the criminals out. You have to develop a security mindset, where you are making sure that all your doors and windows are locked, all the time, even when you are at home.

But there are times when just locks aren’t enough if your home looks like a good enough target, criminals may be willing to take some risks. More than that, you may have inadvertently made it easier for them, by the location of your home, the landscaping you used and the kinds of neighbors you have.

Today, most “professional” home break-ins happen during the day, when the family is at work and school. Professional break-in artists know that most homes are empty from 8:00 in the morning, till 4:00 in the afternoon; so that’s when they do their work. Amateurs don’t know this, so they tend to work in the evening, breaking in when the family is home.

If your home is isolated enough, hidden enough by your landscaping, or if all your neighbors leave their homes empty to go to work every day, criminals know that there is less chance of them getting caught breaking in. Adding more locks won’t help, as they know how to defeat those locks. The average man can kick open a deadbolted front door in one kick, if he wants to.

Adding A Home Security System

This means stepping up your security and adding in a home security system. These can be broken down into three areas:

  • Do it yourself alarms
  • Professionally installed alarms
  • Security camera systems

Even within these three broad categories, there are a wide range of possibilities. Increases in technology have made much more complex and robust systems possible, as well as brining the cost of video monitoring systems down considerably. Most of today’s systems are wireless, making them much faster and easier to install, as well as eliminating unsightly wires.

Systems today also rely heavily on motion sensors, rather than just on door and window switches. This means that even if someone manages to break in, they’re likely to be spotted. There is no problem with thieves tricking switches on windows and doors (which are magnetic, so can be fooled with a magnet), anyone crossing in front of a broad area before the motion detector trips the alarm.

The key to this sort of system is the placement of the motion sensors. Ideally, they need to be placed in areas which make it impossible to move through the house, without tripping them. One key area to alarm is the master bedroom, as this room typically has more valuables than any other.

Professionally Installed Systems

Home security companies like ADT, Simplisafe and Protection 1 offer turnkey solutions where they install a security system in your home and provide monitoring service. Any intrusion will trip the alarm in their monitoring station, causing them to call you to verify that you did not set off the alarm. If you did not, their next call is to the police.

These systems require a telephone line that the alarm control can use to call the monitoring station. There is also a necessary delay between the time the criminal enters your home and the time the police are called. Then there will be additional time before they can reach your home. Considering that the average in-house time for a thief is 90 seconds, chances are they will escape before the police get there.

However, these alarms are silent, so they do not inform the perpetrator that they have tripped the alarm or that the police are in route. Therefore, criminals who take longer in your home will stand a pretty good chance of being caught.

Do it Yourself Alarms

For those who like saving money by doing things themselves, there is also the option of installing the home security system yourself. Some of the companies listed above also offer packages that you can buy for installation in your home. Other manufacturers also provide individual components and full systems for those that prefer to put in their own system.

Installing your own system means that you will not have the services of the monitoring station. Your system will either need to call your phone or it will need to sound an audible alarm to chase the intruder off. Some new systems work in conjunction with an app on your phone, allowing you to monitor your home and react to any intrusion.

Security Camera Systems

Both professionally installed systems and do it yourself systems give you the option of adding in security cameras. Once limited by cost to high-dollar businesses, security cameras have come down incredibly in price, while also providing much better image quality.

A typically security camera system comes with four cameras, which are connected together at a hub, which is then attached to your home computer. The hub converts the camera’s signals into digital information, which can be stored on the computer’s hard drive. Typically, only 24 hours worth of video is stored, as video takes up a lot of storage space. If you don’t tell the system to save a particular video clip, it is overwritten by new footage.

The big advantage of security cameras is that they provide evidence which can be used by the police and the district attorney’s office to apprehend and secure a conviction of any criminal who has broken into your home. This ability makes the expense worthwhile, as you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have been vindicated.