More and more people are thinking about getting security systems to protect their homes and property, and more and more options to do it are popping up all the time. Some are relatively simple and you can even install them yourself, but do they do an adequate job? Some are complex and require professional installation and monthly fees for a monitoring service that will respond to alarms by automatically contacting your local police or fire departments, but do you need all that?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices and can’t decide what to do, here’s a quick guide to the kinds of security systems that are available and what they can do.
State of the Art Systems
The top of the line is a smart home security system that connects to your home’s Wi-Fi and is controlled by an app on your smartphone. These systems typically include window and door sensors as well as motion detectors, and can also control door locks, garage door openers, indoor and outdoor cameras, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, water sensors, thermostats, lights and sirens.
You decide how you want the components to interact. For instance, you can choose to have doors unlock when fire is detected, have a camera start recording when the garage door opens, or have a siren go off when a window sensor is triggered. Some smart systems store video locally on an SD card and others have the option of subscribing to cloud storage. Some even offer a dedicated storage drive with time-lapse recording that allows you to readily locate the video of an event if you know the time frame in which it occurred.
A bonus is that with controls on your phone wherever you are, you can also unlock a door for a family member who forgot his key or a trusted plumber who arrives when you’re not home, or turn on the air conditioner to cool down the house before your arrival.
Less Expensive Systems
If budget is top of your mind, you can choose a DIY system that is sold as a kit. Basic ones may only include a few wireless protocols and offer a limited number of add-ons, while more costly systems have a greater number of applications and support more add-on components.
While some DIY systems require you to do the monitoring and notify authorities when a break-in or fire is detected, many are configured to allow you to subscribe to a professional monitoring service. Rather than contract for 24/7 monitoring, some also allow the option of paying for that service only when you’re gone on vacation or away for another period of time.
When deciding which DIY system to get, consider how many sensors you’ll need for exterior doors and accessible windows, as well as how many hallways, stairways, and other places where you’ll want sensors to detect movement throughout your house. Then decide on optimum placement of cameras that will capture activity; you may only want them at entry points or you can also locate them in main rooms.
Connections are something else to consider when placing your hub and security cameras. Although there are wireless systems, most hubs will require wired a connection to your Wi-Fi router. Most cameras, both indoor and outdoor, require access to AC power. This shouldn’t be an issue with indoor cameras, but installing one outdoors means having or installing a GFCI outlet or threading a power cable through an exterior wall to an indoor outlet.
If you’re all thumbs, you can certainly hire a pro to install a DIY system for you. But for complete peace of mind, a professionally installed and monitored system is pretty much unbeatable. No matter where you live, in Chattanooga or Chicago security system technicians are available to provide customized solutions for your home. Some let you purchase the hardware outright rather than pay a monthly fee for it, and some require that you lease the equipment with ownership at the contract’s end, but all require service contracts that include penalties for early termination.
If you live in a condo, an apartment or a controlled-access community, you may only need a security camera and/or a video doorbell that records a person at your door and also allows two-way voice communication with him. Both kinds of devices will connect to your Wi-Fi and allow you to monitor them from a home computer or smartphone. While hard-wired versions can be more reliable, both are also available in battery-operated versions.