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Today's marketplace gives you more options than ever, with packages ranging from budget-friendly, basic home monitoring with equipment you install yourself, to technician-installed systems that include smoke and flood detectors.
Before you determine which home security system is right for your needs, it's important to understand why you should have one. Although crime rates have been dropping in some areas, there are still nearly 2 million break-ins nationwide every year, resulting in losses of at least $2,000 on average. And, even if a burglary doesn't lead to a big financial loss, there's no way to put a monetary value on the peace of mind that vanishes when you find out that an intruder was inside your home.
Friday, October 22nd
Frontpoint has been leading the pack for over a decade, as the first nationwide alarm company to include smart security in every home system they sell. Frontpoint has always had a great reputation, and it only keeps getting better: since the time of our last review, the company's rating with the BBB has gone from a respectable "A" to a flawless "A+", indicating that they show no signs of slacking off when it comes to responding to any of their customers' concerns.
30 day risk-free trial
One way they take great care of their clients is with a 30-day risk-free trial. If you order a Frontpoint system and don't love it, you'll get a full refund when you return the equipment. Not only will they pay for the shipping to your home, but they also cover the costs if you have to send it back. Compared to other retailers of home security systems that lock you into a lengthy contract and then make you keep paying even if your protection isn't working properly, Frontpoint comes out way in the lead with their customer-friendly guarantee.
3 home security packages
Frontpoint continues to offer three packages for home security systems:
Free personalized quote
So, how much does the equipment cost? Like many home security systems companies, Frontpoint lets you request a free quote; once you've entered your name, number, email and some basic details about the level of coverage you need, you'll get a call from one of their sales reps to help determine what equipment fits your situation.
4 pre-made home security packages
But, you can always click on the "Shop" button at the top of the page (or the "Shop Online" button after you've requested a free quote) to see what pre-made packages might be a good match for your home. Here are some to consider:
Home security customization
Any of Frontpoint's packages can be customized to add any extra monitoring devices or sensors you may need. You may want to add a carbon monoxide sensor ($89.99) or a flood sensor ($44.99) in the laundry room or bathroom. Or, you could be looking for home automation options like a garage door controller ($69.99) or a smart door lock ($179.99). It's easy to add them to your equipment, and you won't pay extra for your monthly monitoring when you include additional devices.
At the time of our most recent review, Frontpoint was offering a free doorbell camera with any purchase over $69. Keep an eye out for any promotions that might be in place when you shop the site.
All of the equipment they offer is self-installed. Many customers love not having to endure a pushy in-home technician/sales rep, and people say that every component is easy to set up DIY-style. And, if you need any extra help, Fronpoint's friendly customer service team stands at the ready to answer your questions and help you get it all set up with minimal hassles.
Room to grow
Because you pay for your equipment upfront, it could be more expensive initially to get a home security system from Frontpoint. But, the good news is, you can add equipment at any time. So, if you're on a tight budget, maybe you'll start with one of the $69 starter packages until you can afford to add the extra coverage you'd like to have.
No long-term contract
Frontpoint doesn't lock you into a service contract, but they do lock in your rates: you'll never get an unexpected price increase on your monthly monitoring fees. Good luck finding another home security systems company that offers you that promise! Of course, you may need to upgrade your monitoring plan if you start with basic equipment and then add video monitoring, for example, but that will always be your choice, no unpleasant surprise rate hikes.
If you're looking for the industry's best home security systems, your first consideration should be Frontpoint. From 24/7 monitoring that you can afford to equipment packages with all the bells and whistles you could ask for, this company gives customers all of the peace of mind they want. And, if problems arise, you're protected by an exceptional satisfaction guarantee and refund policy in your first 30 days, with no contracts to lock you into a service you don't need or want. Frontpoint continues to earn our highest rating among providers of home security systems.
SimpliSafe wants to make it beyond easy for you to have a home security system that works for you, without any high-pressure in-home sales pitches or requirements to have a technician for the install. Every piece of equipment they offer can be set up quickly and easily by even the least tech-savvy consumers in just a matter of moments. (But, if you'd prefer some expert help, SimpliSafe can refer you to a certified pro in your area.)
Low monthly monitoring
SimpliSafe has the lowest monthly monitoring costs on the market: no matter how many sensors and devices you have on your system, you'll just pay $14.99 per month. You get the same round-the-clock protection as the home security companies that charge four times that amount.
60 day trial
This is also one of the only home security systems on the market today that lets you try it for 60 days. If you don't love it, you can get a full refund - and you won't even have to pay for the return shipping on your equipment. That's a big plus over their competitors.
That being said, you do have to pay for your equipment upfront when working with SimpliSafe: you don't get it for "free" (in other words, paying for it through higher monthly monitoring fees) or on an installment plan.
5 ready-made home security packages
While you can always create a customized a la carte package for yourself - SimpliSafe clearly displays pricing information on every sensor and component, which we appreciate - there are also a few ready-made packages to choose from:
Not seeing what you're looking for in those packages? The Stonefort, the Keep, and the Fortress have varying arrangements of sensors that might be a good fit. For example, if you live in the South and never have to worry about your pipes freezing, you can select a package that takes out the freeze sensor but adds on a camera or an extra control pad. You can also custom-build your own package with whatever devices you need.
SimpliSafe is also the only home security system in our review that offers refurbished equipment packages, which could save you some extra cash when setting up your protection for the first time.
SimpliSafe has some features you may not find with home security systems. The two that really stand out to us are the Secret Alerts and the Duress PIN. Do you have an area in your home that you want to monitor without setting off loud alarms (maybe the cabinet where you stash your favorite candy or the closet where you hide the Christmas presents)? You can get a notification through Secret Alerts that lets you know - without the person doing the snooping finding out! And, if you're ever in the unlikely-but-terrifying position of being forced to disarm your system, the Duress PIN (separate from your regular arm/disarm PIN) makes it appear that you've complied while still sending a silent alert to the authorities.
SimpliSafe also uses redundancy in their monitoring centers, in six different locations throughout the US. So whether a hurricane is pounding the Florida panhandle or California is experiencing wildfires, you can be assured that no disaster - man-made or natural - will interrupt your home security system's coverage.
At the time of our most recent visit to the SimpliSafe site, there was a promo in place offering a discount of 25% off any new system, plus a free camera ($99 value). So, be sure to look around for any sales that might be in effect when you're shopping for your home security system.
Mixed customer reviews
SimpliSafe continues to enjoy an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. We recognize that this means the company has done a good job at responding to customer complaints. That's important because we found mixed reviews about SimpliSafe's customer service after their home security systems are installed. While the average of the reviews linked to from the SimpliSafe website was a strong 4.6 out of 5 at the time of our review, most of the comments described customers who were happy with the purchase and install process.
On the other hand, the reviews posted to the BBB site focused more on the customer experience with the monitoring service and equipment - people were frustrated that parts of their system stopped working and they couldn't get anyone to help them get it up and running. Another troubling comment was that the system often triggered false alarms and sent the police to the home - even after the customer had cancelled the monitoring service twice and removed all of the equipment. You'll definitely want to pay close attention to your home security system and how it's working for you in the first two months - knowing that you're protected by SimpliSafe's 60-day satisfaction guarantee if it doesn't meet your expectations.
Because of their upfront pricing, extremely reasonable monthly fees, and top-notch rating from the BBB, we still recommend SimpliSafe as one of our favorite providers of home security systems.
With more than 1 million subscribers, Brinks offers some of the most popular home security systems available today. J.D. Power and Associates named this company as their top-rated provider for customer satisfaction, clearly demonstrating the business' success in providing peace of mind through excellent security system coverage.
Choose professional installation or do-it-yourself
Brinks gives you lots of choices. Do you prefer professional installation or do-it-yourself? Would you rather order online or over the phone? The decision is yours. That's a breath of fresh air, compared with many of the big-name home security systems providers that won't do anything until you meet with an overly eager sales rep.
4 home security packages
Let's take a look at the four home security systems packages Brinks offers:
30-day satisfaction guarantee
We appreciate that Brinks offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If you don't love your home security system, you can end your service without paying a termination fee. While we'd like to see them up the ante by offering a refund of any fees already paid, this is still a decent way to give you a low-risk way to see if their coverage and equipment is a good fit.
While you can get home security systems that are less expensive equipment-wise, you can't go wrong with everything Brinks has to offer if you're willing to spend the money and don't mind committing to a 3-year service agreement on most packages. Their reputation is stellar, and your safety is in very good hands with any Brinks home security system.
Xfinity has come a long way since our last evaluation. In the past, you were only able to use their home security systems if you were a subscriber to their X1 TV service. While it's still true that you'll get more out of your package if you have it - like being able to see your cameras and more directly on your television - you can still get a robust package of equipment and monitoring as a standalone service.
2 home security monitoring plans
We like that Xfinity keeps their options simple. You only have to choose between two plans:
You may also find an autopay and paperless billing discount as you go through the ordering process. That brought our monthly costs down to $30 or $40/month.
3 home security equipment packages
Then, choose your equipment package. Each one can either be paid for in interest-free monthly installments over two years, or as a one-time fee:
Xfinity also offers an array of add-on equipment that can be monitored. For example, you can get a smoke detector ($70), an outlet controller ($50), or a Zen thermostat ($120).
The biggest drawback to the Xfinity Home Security System is the limited service area. Unless you have Xfinity available in your area, you can't subscribe to their service. For example, in one major metro area we tested, we were referred to their partner, Spectrum. Unfortunately, Spectrum doesn't offer any home security systems with their TV/Internet/Phone packages. That could eliminate a lot of prospective customers.
If you live in an area where Xfinity is available, congratulations! You've got access to an affordably-priced, contract-free home security system that has all of today's bells and whistles. If not, you'll need to check out the other providers we evaluated to find the one that's right for you.
With almost 70 years in the home security systems market, Guardian Protection has delivered peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of customers. The company has won several awards for their monitoring center's fantastic service and even won the coveted Angie's List Super Service Award.
As you can see, Guardian Protection has an excellent reputation, as demonstrated by an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau and hundreds of 4- and 5-star reviews from satisfied customers. From the sales associates to the installers and customer service reps, Guardian does a fantastic job of being friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient.
3 home security plans
Since our last review, Guardian has changed its packages for home security systems. Here are the three plans you can choose from now:
Every system lets you arm and disarm from anywhere using your internet-connected tablet, smartphone or computer. You'll also get event-driven email or text alerts when a sensor has been activated or the alarm goes off. Regardless of which one you choose, all packages require professional installation by a Guardian technician.
Limited service area
Guardian has a limited service area. You may want to consult their coverage map to see if your area is included; if you don't live in Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Indiana, Tennessee or Arizona, you may not be able to use Guardian as your home security system provider.
What we don't love about the Guardian website is that it is extremely tight-lipped, so to speak, about what you'll pay for their services. Many of today's top providers of home security systems are very transparent with their equipment costs, installation fees, and monthly service charges, but Guardian - like several of their "old guard" competitors - require you to speak with a sales rep to assess your security needs and get recommendations for equipment and monitoring features.
Costs may vary
From what we gathered from other customer comments, it's safe to assume you'll pay installation fees of at least $99 with Guardian - but as for what the equipment costs and what you'll spend month-to-month, that depends on your service area, any deals or discounts the rep may offer to try and close the deal, and so on.
Because Guardian Protection has established such an outstanding reputation for service and quality, we've kept their rating steady at 3.5 stars. But, to really compete with our top home security systems, this provider would need to be much more open about their costs and have a greater coverage area that could serve a wider range of customers.
ADT enjoys some of the highest name recognition in the home security systems industry. It's no wonder - with more than 140 years of experience providing security of many different kinds, this company has been around for a long time.
Reliable 24/7 monitoring
One of the advantages of ADT's size is their 24/7 monitoring centers: with six locations throughout the US, you don't have to worry that a natural disaster or other event will disrupt your coverage. This is a huge benefit compared with smaller companies that use a single location to provide their monitoring services.
One of the most expensive
As with many products, however, brand names can equal more money from your wallet - and ADT is one of the most expensive home security systems available today. Their entry-level package, the Basic, sounds like a good deal at just $27.99/month - but you'll have to have a landline. That's great if you haven't made the switch to purely mobile for your phone usage; otherwise, you'll need to factor in the costs of installing a landline and paying for its monthly service separately from your ADT package.
Big price jump
There's a big price jump from the Basic to the next level of service, ADT Pulse. You won't need a landline because this package is monitored wirelessly, but you'll be paying $53.99/month for the service. And, if you want to add video surveillance to your home security setup, ADT charges a hefty $58.99/month for their highest level of coverage.
3 home security packages
There are three main packages offered by ADT, which may be named differently depending on your part of the country and the partner provider servicing your area. In a nutshell, here's what you can expect:
Professional installation required
All ADT systems require professional installation, with fees starting at $99 and increasing as you add more equipment. Also, be aware that all of their prices may vary, depending on where you live. ADT doesn't publicize their rates on their main website, because the monitoring, installation and equipment charges depend on your local service area.
Limited 6-month guarantee
ADT offers a 6-month money-back guarantee. It states that you "may receive a refund" of the installation price and any monitoring fees already paid if the company can't resolve any service- or installation-related concerns, but certain restrictions apply. Looking at the fine print, these conditions just require you to have all equipment fully removed before your refund is processed, and any system-related issues can't have been caused by you.
While ADT gives you the advantage of a long history and the comfort of brand recognition, their prices and packages are not transparent - and many customers complain about hidden fees, the lengthy contract requirements, and charges they didn't expect. Most of the home security systems ADT puts together can be found with other providers - who charge much less, with no required contracts.
Alarm Relay is one of the most confusing home security systems on the market, in our opinion. Customers are instantly attracted to the low monthly monitoring costs of just $8.95 - an incredibly low price for a service that usually costs at least $30 per month. And, looking at both the "A+" rating from the BBB and hundreds of reviews from satisfied customers, your impression will probably be a favorable one.
What do you get?
What's the catch? The Alarm Relay site makes it really hard to find out what exactly you get for that $8.95/month fee. Digging around, you'll discover a few things. First, that monthly fee is actually billed annually. So, figure on spending $107.40 right out of the gate for your first year of service. There's also a one-time administrative fee of $35, so that Alarm Relay can program your system.
Home security monitoring
What system? Great question. In order to use the Alarm Relay service, you must have an active alarm system connected to a landline. if you moved into a home with equipment already installed, this could be the ideal setup - to use the sensors and other components already in place without having to use the original monitoring company. Or, if you found a great deal on a used system from Honeywell, DSC, GE or one of the other manufacturers supported by Alarm Relay, you could use Alarm Relay as your monitoring system.
If you're not confident that you can install or set up your equipment, Alarm Relay can refer you to a third-party contractor in your area who can help. Naturally, fees will vary based on the partner you select.
Optional services available
The $8.95/month fee covers standard burglary and fire signals, restorals, and a monthly communications test, as well as trouble signals like low battery power and AC loss. There are optional services, like weekly or daily communications testing, but you'll have to speak to a sales team representative to get more information on what Alarm Relay offers.
Confusing home security equipment offerings
It took some surfing around, but eventually we found where Alarm Relay offers equipment for purchase. Sifting through the packages and individual components felt overwhelming. What would we need? How would we get the right equipment for our needs? Even on the front page, Alarm Relay advertised a simple plug-and-play, DIY alarm system, but when we clicked on the button for more information, it took us to two security systems that were definitely NOT simple or DIY.
While Alarm Relay may be the absolute best deal with respect to price and reputation, their website makes it hard to understand how their service works - especially for a consumer who may be brand-new to shopping for a home security system. If you already have equipment in your home and are just looking for the absolute lowest monitoring price, you might like what this provider has to offer. Otherwise, you might feel more comfortable getting your home security system from a provider that holds your hand just a little bit more as you get everything set up for the first time.
Since our last evaluation, Protection 1 has undergone some massive changes. Why? The company merged with well-known security company ADT in 2017. That means that everything you see on the Protection 1 site - from service plans to links to their Better Business Bureau rating - all redirect to ADT.
What's the difference?
That left us wondering if there were any significant differences between starting the process of ordering a home security system through the Protection 1 site vs. going directly to ADT. Here's what we found: first, it looks like you'll still get Protection 1-branded equipment. If your system includes a control panel, and if you use the mobile app, you'll see Protection 1 on all of it.
Pricing, number of plans
Next, the package naming and pricing between the two companies is not identical. Where ADT's entry-level Basic monitoring package is priced at $27.99/month, Protection 1 charges $34.99 for the same coverage in their Secure plan. On the other hand, Protection 1 offers three higher tiers of service, ranging in price from $44.99 to $54.99 per month, where ADT only offers two (and they cost more!).
3-year contract, professional installation
In every other aspect, we found Protection 1 and ADT to be the same. Both companies require professional installation of your home security systems, with a fee of $99. You'll also have to sign a contract for 36 months of monitoring (24 months if you live in California) - and, on top of that, you may be charged the full balance of your contract if you terminate service before the end of the 24 or 36 months.
Looking at the whole picture, it seems that the only reason to go with Protection 1 over ADT is if you want to save a few dollars a month on some of the higher tiers of service. Other than that, everything they have to offer is functionally identical to what you'll get through ADT - and with ADT being the leader in terms of brand recognition and market share, there's no guarantee that your service won't be handed over to them anyway. (As a matter of fact, when you fill out the Free Quote form, it specifically tells you that you'll be contacted by either an ADT or Protection 1 specialist: their choice, not yours.) For all of these reasons, we recommend that you either start your home security system purchase through ADT itself, or that you go with one of the more affordable, no-contract-required options in our review.
CPI is a trusted name among providers offering home security systems. In business for nearly three decades, the company is well-known for its excellent customer service - including a "No False Alarm" guarantee that will credit your account if a system malfunction ever results in a fine from your local authorities.
3 home security packages
There are three main packages you can get from CPI:
Keep in mind that all of these packages are 100% customizable to your home's needs. Maybe you need sensors for 10 doors and windows, or you want an outdoor camera for both the front and the backyard. No problem! Your CPI sales representative will create a package and plan that addresses all of your areas of concern and desired coverage.
3-5 year contracts
When choosing among the packages and plans offered by CPI, it's important to know that you'll be obligated to a monitoring agreement of either 39 or 60 months, unless you decide to purchase your security equipment upfront. Equipment prices start at $499, increasing as you add features and devices beyond the basic package. Given that many of CPI's competitors give you the equipment for free with a contract, rather than spreading it out over 3-5 years, that makes their home security systems some of the most expensive on the market. On a more positive note, you'll get your equipment at a 0% interest rate when you choose one of the two contract lengths, so at least you won't be paying more than the original price.
Talk with a rep
What will your individual package cost? The only way to find out is by speaking with a sales representative. CPI tells you in their FAQ that monthly monitoring starts at a minimum charge of $29.99, with higher fees as you add more sensors and detectors in your package. Even the live chat doesn't connect you with an online rep - it's more of a glorified "contact us" form that gives CPI your phone number so that someone can call you.
3 security monitoring plans
Because you'll be speaking with a sales representative, the pricing and packages CPI offers you may vary. But, as a general guideline, here's a ballpark of what you can expect:
At the time of our most recent evaluation of CPI's home security systems, there was also a promo in place offering a free inTouch Doorbell Camera and Outdoor HD Camera as part of your smart home security package. That could be a good deal if you were already planning on installing one of the top two tiers of monitoring, but it wouldn't be a bargain if you were only looking for the most basic coverage.
Limited service area
CPI has a limited service area. Unless you live in the southeastern part of the United States (the greater metro areas of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Asheville, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta or Knoxville, to be exact), you won't be able to use this company's home security systems.
If you do live within their service area, you may appreciate CPI's strong reputation, as demonstrated by accreditation and an "A+" rating from the BBB over nearly 30 years of service, plus an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars over more than 200 independently-verified customer reviews.
While we give CPI high marks for having a strong reputation, we can't get past the fact that their home security systems are only available to a small fraction of potential customers in the US. And, with high equipment costs, lengthy contracts, and monitoring fees that are more expensive than some providers', CPI still winds up towards the bottom of our rankings.
If you've ever had someone knock on your door to talk to you about installing a home security system, chances are good that it was a representative of Vivint. With over two million customers in the US and Canada, this company is definitely a familiar one.
Appealing smart home integration options
One of the reasons Vivint home security systems are so popular is their integration: you can have all of your locks, cameras, lighting and thermostats connected through your hub or smartphone app, and they work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa too.
Can only purchase through a representative
Understanding what a Vivint home security system will cost is challenging - because you are required to purchase it through a representative, either in person or over the phone. That's a big drop in convenience compared with many of the home security services in our review that let you buy online and install it yourself. (By the way, your Vivint system will also require a professional to install it - for fees of up to $200!) Vivint feels intentionally vague: even their "what's the average cost?" resource page says that it "costs less than the average monthly cell phone bill" and there are packages that "start as low as around $1/day" .
Much more expensive than competitors
So, we turned to what customers have said around the internet to get a better idea, since every caller will get a customized quote (probably with lots of upselling, too). We found comments saying that people paid over USD $2000 for two cameras and four window sensors, all with a lengthy service contract. If that's accurate for what the average Vivint customer will pay, you can definitely find another provider that will offer a home security system with the same equipment for much less.
Why does Vivint wind up at the bottom of our rankings among providers of home security systems? As you may have already guessed, it's because of their reputation. It's hard to get past an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau, where we found nearly 5,000 complaints filed in the 3 years preceding this review! Customers describe significant issues with billing, Vivint not fixing systems that stop working (or never worked to begin with), and not being able to transfer service when moving. Out of more than 20,000 reviews outside of the BBB, 20% rated Vivint as "poor" or "bad" (1 or 2 stars), and we noticed that among the positive reviews, almost all of them were brand-new customers who said that the sales and installation process went great but didn't have anything to say yet about how the system actually worked. On the other hand, most of the reviews that were at least a month post-installation were very dissatisfied with Vivint's service.
Fraudulent sales tactics
And if that's not enough, Vivint entered into a settlement agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission for fraud surrounding the use of credit reports and adding third parties to contracts as cosigners without their knowledge and permission. You know it's bad when your home security company actually poses a risk to your (financial) safety!
Look elsewhere for home security systems
We're all for home automation and having access to the latest tech, but with Vivint it's just not worth it. You're too likely not to get what you paid for, leaving you with an expensive hassle at best. We strongly recommend you look at any other home security system before choosing Vivint.
You may feel like your home won't be a target because you live within a gated community or you have strong deadbolts and motion-activated floodlights. While those preventative measures can make it less likely you'll be the target of a home invasion or robbery, the most determined criminals can still gain access to your house. For that reason, the experts strongly recommend that you invest in a 24/7 monitored home security system. Not only does it make it less likely that a criminal will target your house to begin with, but it also ensures that any attempts to break into your home will be detected immediately and reported to you and to local law enforcement.
When considering the many home security systems on the market today, you'll quickly see that they vary widely with respect to features, provided equipment, and service fees. Some providers give you all of the sensors and other equipment at no cost, with the understanding that you'll install the needed components on your own. Other services require you to make an appointment with a technician who will set up your home security system for you. Also, while most systems are monitored using wireless connections, some companies still use landlines - which can add to your costs if you are one of the millions of homeowners who rely solely on mobile phones and need to add a landline to use the home security system.
As you look through home security systems reviews, it's easy to get bogged down in the numerous packages, price points, and add-on features. Keep in mind the following basic criteria, to help you narrow down the options to find the right protection for your home:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best home security systems available today. We hope this information gives you all of the insight needed to identify the home security system that will protect you and your loved ones now and in the future!
There are many terms used by home security companies to describe their products. Here we have described what many of these terms mean so you can use them when looking at our home security systems reviews.
Here are a few things you can expect to find in a home security system:
These panels are the 'brains' of home security systems. They are physically or remotely attached to electronic sensors and detectors throughout the house. They usually have a keypad with them to allow you to control, disable or activate your home security system.
Home security systems can use sounds to alert you to the presence of an intruder, but it's important to remember that alarms can be useful in the case of carbon monoxide, fire, flood or other disasters too. Safety systems should be installed in your home along with home security systems.
Door and Window Sensors
These home security sensors have two parts - one that goes on the door or window itself, and another on the corresponding frame. Magnets keep a charge running through the home security sensor while the door is closed. When a door or window is opened, the circuit is broken and the sensor triggers an alarm via the main control panel. Keep in mind that window sensors won't work on windows that don't open - for that, you'll need a glass break sensor to recognize the sound of a window being broken.
Motion detectors are ideally used in large areas that either aren't or can't be secured with door or window sensors (for example, a large room with many windows or a backyard). They can generally detect motion from 40 to 80 feet away and can be connected to your home alarm system or to a security camera. There are two main types of home security motion sensors: active detectors, which emit light, sound or other forms of energy and recognize when that energy is being disturbed; or passive detectors, which recognize incoming signals sent from the disturbance, such as heat or sound waves.
CCTV cameras are used for surveillance and are designed to transmit images to a specific place and a limited number of monitors. Analog or digital surveillance cameras are simply a camera attached (either by a cable or wirelessly) to a digital video recorder (DVR) that's used to record the images picked up by the camera.
IP/network cameras are similar to analog/digital cameras, but have an IP address assigned to them, allowing owners to view images on their computer through the internet, anywhere in the world.
Outdoor perimeter Protection
Fences, gates and outdoor lighting are all simple ways to deter intruders. However, there are also motion sensors and security cameras similar to the ones in your home that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Perimeter home security systems can also be used to sound alarms before an intruder crosses the border into your property (let alone into your home). Infrared, microwave and radar detectors, and buried cables are activated by someone crossing the boundary and can be placed around your yard for added protection.
These can be set up to sound a home alarm or turn on outdoor flood lights. They can also communicate with your systems within the house to alert you or your home security company of the breach. Outdoor protection can be mistakenly activated by natural factors such as trees, wind, and animals.
Homeowners today have a variety of options they can use to tailor a home security system specific to their needs.
The first thing anyone needs to realize in any given home security situation is an unfortunate truth: if a smart, determined, burglar wants to get into your house while you're out, they will.
But now for the good news: you can stall most, if not all burglars, long enough for them to be discouraged and move onto easier targets. How? Simple. Here are three easy things to consider in order to make your home more secure.
Simply being aware of your surroundings can save you, your loved ones, and your neighbor's headaches later. Google, or your local police department, has statistics on crime in your local area.
For example, recently a Seattle woman witnessed two suspicious men emerge from a neighbor's backyard. She took down descriptions of the men, a partial license plate and called the police. While police discovered her neighbor had indeed been burglarized, the woman gave them enough of a description that police recognized the suspects from previous offenses and were able to make an arrest.
Being aware also necessitates that you're aware of your property's weaknesses. Take the time to scan your property. Look for any easy entry points a burglar could use to invade your home. Once you've done that, consider ways to prevent it. It could be as simple as taking down a lattice on the side of your house for ivy, or installing more secure window and door locks.
Don't open the door for unexpected strangers, even if they claim it's an emergency. Home invasions, where criminals force their way into your house while you or loved ones are inside, are on the rise and the perpetrators are using increasingly deceptive methods to gain access to a home.
Fortunately, the same precautions used to prevent burglaries can help to prevent home invasions. Peepholes, or windows around the front door, are a good method of identifying and judging a stranger before opening your door. Doors with solid cores, bolt locks and reinforced windows can also buy you the time needed to call the police if an invader tries to force their way in.
Finally, talk with your family about burglaries and invasions, and be sure to discuss home security plans for both situations.
Upgrade Your Home
Adding upgrades to your home can also help prevent burglaries. A solid core door and deadbolt locks can go a long way in deterring potential pilferers. Upgrade the locks on your windows, make sure you have a thick glass and prevent your windows from opening more than six inches with dowel. Even small things, like buying signs showcasing your security oriented thinking, can make a criminal reconsider a possible burglary.
Get strong outdoor lights which automatically turn on when movement is detected at night. Burglars hate being bathed in light, and besides, a sudden light coming from your home while you're away can alert a neighbor to a potential burglary in progress.
Home security systems are an excellent way to protect your home and family. The best home security companies offer affordable systems that utilize the latest in technology, including wireless systems, motion detectors, and remote access while you're away. If you're considering a home security system, make sure you choose one that has a good reputation and a budget that meets your needs.
Finally, if you're going to be gone for a long while, perhaps on a vacation, consider purchasing light timers which can turn lights on and off automatically while you're away.
Lock Up, Be Safe
Lock your doors and lock your windows. That's the easiest and most overlooked way to prevent robberies or home invasions.
The vast majority of burglaries occur through open, or unlocked, windows and doors. If you want to prevent any trespasses, closing and locking any obvious entry points into your home is a good start - even if you're only out of your home for just a few minutes.
Do you keep a spare key? Do you have a nice hiding spot for it? Is it under a rock (or in a fake rock) near your front door? Unfortunately, that's too easy. Burglars know all the good hiding spots for spare keys. The first solution is, of course, to not lose your keys in the first place. The second solution, according to home security experts, is to give your spare keys to a trusted neighbor for safe keeping.
Burglars often discover the layout of a targeted house by posing as salesmen, delivery men, or contractors. They plan before they strike, and usually target someone they consider to be an easy victim. You can prove them wrong by planning ahead and being prepared.
Not all burglaries can be stopped, but most can be prevented. By knowing what a burglar is looking for in a target, you can better anticipate what home security measures you should take.
Here are four ways a burglar targets homes:
They Look For The Right House
Burglars often look for nice, out-of-the-way houses with, as retailers call it, "curb appeal". Typically they'll look for houses that are both remote, and have enough overgrown vegetation to keep their illegal activities relatively secret.
They also look for homes with easy access to the inside. Homes with windows that can be opened at ground-floor level, represent an easy mark, especially if the house doesn't have a home security system.
Homes with small compact backyards, are secluded from neighbors, or are located next to forests and woods are frequently targeted thanks to both the ease of access, and the ease of escape.
They Stake It Out
Staking out a house is no small matter to the professional burglar. In fact it can often be the most difficult part of the job.
There are a few ways crooks can learn your habits. First, there's the traditional stake out - where the burglar sits in a car, or a nearby hiding spot, in order to watch and observe the habits of whomever lives in your home.
Then there's the kind of intruder that you invite in. Not intentionally, of course, but ill-meaning contractors, such as plumbers, painters, or home renovators, can take the opportunity track you and your family's habits while working on your home. They can determine whether you have an active home security system, which can be a strong deterrent to their plans. They can also use this opportunity to make their theft all the easier by leaving doors and windows unlocked for when they return.
They Learn Your Habits
Most burglaries take place in the middle of the day when homeowners and their neighbors are away at work. But they typically don't just pick a house at random and wait for everyone to leave. Instead, during their stake-out phase, they learn the habits of a household in order to get a better understanding of what they're dealing with.
Through the stakeout they also discover ways that you get in and out of your house. Say, for example, that you have a spare set of keys hidden nearby that you, or a loved one, frequently uses. If this is used too often, burglars will see it and discover an easy way to enter your home. Burglars can also learn what sort of items you may have in your home. While a burglar may not steal your 60-inch big screen television, but they'll know you can afford it, and probably have small, more manageable possessions they can swipe.
Burglars also tend to keep track of family habits. They can easily learn what time everyone leaves the house and when they return. Some burglars may even keep track of the habits of nearby neighbors for an added touch of awareness.
The more risky burglars, and the ones more likely to get caught, will sometimes walk right up to a targeted house and knock on the door to see if anyone is home. If someone answers the door, they'll typically make up a cover, like they're landscapers looking for work. If not, they'll poke around the perimeter of the house looking for a way in. If your house isn't protected, they can easily gain entry this way.
They Steal, Then Steal Again
Unfortunately, statistics show that if you've already been the victim of a burglary, you're at a high risk of it happening again. A burglar will often hit the same home a second time after the homeowner has replaced their stolen items and have fallen back into their normal habits. Unless home security precautions are taken, it's not hard for the burglar to do, especially considering they've already hit the home once before and know the layout of the property.
There are a variety of home security system sensors to choose from today, many which can provide multiple functions. Here's a quick run-down of the most popular home security sensors available today, and what they can do for you.
Door and window home security sensors
Door and window home security sensors are the basic sensors of home security. These sensors protect their respective elements by using magnets, and alert the main control panel if one is disturbed. If a sensor is disturbed in an unauthorized manner - such as late at night or while you're away during vacation - they will result in an activated alarm.
Door and window sensors are ideal for homes with only a few entrances and opening windows. In large houses with many entrances, it may not be practical or cost-effective to arm every single window in the house, but in a small house these home security sensors can provide a good deal of security. Door sensors can also be programmed to sound a chime to notify owners when a door is opened, which is ideal for households with small children.
Glass break home security sensors
Unlike window sensors, glass break home security sensors are more useful for windows that don't open and close. Like their name implies, these home security sensors are capable of recognizing the sound or sensation of glass breaking. If a break-in occurs, the home security alarm is raised. If you're concerned about people breaking your windows rather than forcing them open, they can be installed along with regular magnet window sensors.
Such home security sensors don't have to be an external accessory, either. Some windows are built with thin strips of metal in them that, when broken, can also trigger a home security alarm.
Motion home security sensors
Motion sensors are usually set up inside the house as another layer of protection after door and window monitors. These home security sensors can easily monitor an entire room, and are best used at night or when the house is vacant.
But motion home security sensors can be an imperfect solution. When armed, they can go off for any detected motion, including a family member or a pet. It's best not to place these home security sensors in frequented areas of the house (for example the kitchen or bedrooms). With recent technology, some motion security sensors have logic that can differentiate between an animal and a human moving around a room. This can cut down on the number of false alarms if you have pets.
Also, remember that motion detectors aren't necessary in every room of the house. Rooms without windows or doors can only be accessed from other rooms, so it's a better idea to spend money on extra protection in those more accessible rooms instead. Some motion sensors also include glass break sensors, so check the features of the model before installing both.
Security cameras can be positioned around your house with a home security system as a way to identify intruders if they break in. They can also be useful if you like to keep tabs on your household throughout the day - to check who's at the front door, make sure the kids are playing safely, and ensure that the pool door is closed.
If you're away from home on a regular basis, you can have network cameras installed that will allow you to "see" into your house through the cameras and your computer from wherever you are.
Outdoor perimeter protection
Arming the outdoor perimeter of your property is especially beneficial if you have a large or rural property that can't be adequately covered by motion sensors or home security cameras. These home security sensors notify you when someone crosses the boundary into your property and can either sound an alarm or alert you of the trespasser.
There are many ways you can customize your home security system. Here are a few options for your consideration:
Wired or Wireless
When choosing a home security system you can opt for one that is installed with wires or without. A home security system with wires is usually best to install when the house is being built. Otherwise, the home security company will have to tear through your existing walls in order to install the system. Wireless home security systems, on the other hand, can be easily installed into either new or existing homes.
For example, a wired home security camera can be tedious to install into an existing home. Since a wire needs to run from the camera proper to the recording device, it needs to be either safely secured to the walls, floors and ceilings between the two devices, or it needs to be installed within the walls, a process that can significantly increase the cost of the equipment installation. Wireless home security cameras, on the other hand, are much easier to install and move after installation. Wireless home security cameras can take high quality visual (and audio) footage.
The downside of a wireless home security camera system is that it is more susceptible to interference from microwaves, the Internet, bad weather, cell phones, and so on. This interference can result in grainy or even lost footage. Because of the cables, wired home security camera systems aren't affected by interference. Wireless cameras are also much more easily hacked by outsiders; their wired counterparts are more secure.
Monitored or Non-Monitored
Many homeowners find that they're able to set up a non-monitored home security system on their own. That's mainly because installing the desired wireless features and connecting them all to one control panel is a relatively easy task.
These systems, when activated, will produce a loud alarm with the intention of notifying the owner to a break in or to scare off the intruder. The owner (or neighbors, if the owner is out of town) is then responsible for dealing with the situation or calling the authorities if necessary.
However, there is also an option, which is to have your home security system monitored by a home security company for a monthly fee. Monitored systems give owners the peace of mind that their home is being watched at all times, whether the owners themselves are at work, having dinner, in bed, or on vacation. They can wait a predetermined amount of time to see if the alarm is deactivated by the owner (in case of accidental activation). If it isn't deactivated, the home security monitoring company will call the appropriate authorities, whether it's police, fire or medical.
Choose Your Features
There are many different features available for home security systems and there are many different ways to customize those features. Home security can range from something as cheap and simple (albeit quite unreliable) as a fence and some floodlights to an expensive high-tech, multi-device, monitored, wireless, internet-connected system. With some systems you can install the home security monitors and sensors yourself, and some home security systems require a professional installer.
What is a non-monitored system?
A non-monitored home security system is composed of whatever features you select for your home which aren't monitored by another human through a digital connection. Door and window sensors, motion detectors and surveillance cameras can all be set up as a non-monitored system, and can be installed either by you or by professionals. Non-monitored systems can be wired or wireless - technological advances allow wireless systems to be accessed remotely from your smartphone, tablet or computer to make it easier for you to keep tabs on your property when away from home.
What is a monitored system?
Monitored systems have the same components as a non-monitored system, but include the added security benefit of being monitored 24/7 by a security company. If an alarm goes off, the company will give you a few seconds to rule out accidental activation. If you don't enter a code into the alarm, or if you're not home, the security team will contact the police, fire or medical departments depending on what type of alarm has gone off.
Companies charge a fee for monitoring services, and those fees will have to be paid in addition to any costs associated with the equipment you choose to have installed. Most companies provide a lease service, allowing you to not rent the security features instead of outright buying them. These rental costs are added to your monthly fee to cover the equipment.
Pros and Cons: Non-Monitored
Pros and Cons: Monitored
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