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Thinking About Installing a Home Security System? What Do You Need to Consider?

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Do you need a security system? Statistics consistently show that homes without security systems fall victim to burglary 3 times more often than homes with security systems. It is undeniable, burglars take notice of the haves and the have-nots in home security. Is it enough to buy a few motion sensors or call a company advertising an installation deal this month? Probably not, security systems are very personal, no one size fits all, you alone understand how to weigh all the options against the threats you are facing. When choosing a system, you have some thinking to do.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • What and who are you protecting? Is it you or more than one, and do you have any other consideration, items to protect?

  • What physical/structural challenges are in and outside your home?

  • Do you use smart assistants like Alexa or Google, or do you want that?

  • Do you want professional monitoring, or do you want to self-monitor your devices?

  • What is your budget and what monthly costs, if any, are you willing and able to bear?

  • How strong is your Wi-Fi? Can you improve it and is it adequately protected?

  • Wired or wireless?

  • What types of devices do you need?

There is a lot to consider, it sounds daunting, so start small, with some devices that protect what you determine are the most vulnerable points, adding devices, as you are able, maybe the way to go. Picking a system that you can easily expand is key. Let us expand on the above considerations.

What and who are you protecting: Most alarm systems out there, whether DYI or professionally installed, are controlled by an app on your phone as well as a controlling keypad or base station, if you opt for that. How many users do they allow, and how easy it is to share the app and customize the portions of the app that can be shared by each user. You may not want your children or even an elderly member of the house to have full, admin access to the system. Also, do you need extra fortification for particular rooms or items like jewelry or home office spaces?

Physical/structural challenges inside and outside your home: How many access points do you have in the house, doors (including garage doors), and lower-level windows? This will give you an idea of how many entry, or motion sensors you may want. Do not forget the home’s exterior. Lighting and cameras are essential to eliminate and protect dark corners created by landscaping or your home’s architecture.

Smart Assistant integration: Many people currently use a smart assistant like Alexa or Google, some are not there, yet, and others do not want to go there, ever. Where do you land on that spectrum? Some systems work seamlessly with these systems, some work best with only one of these, and are even owned by the same parent company, Google Assist, Google Nest, Amazon Alexa, Ring and Blink. Other systems are more known as standalone systems that don’t play nice with the third party assistants. If you currently use or are thinking you may use Assistants in the future it is important to understand this at the outset.

Professionally monitored or self-monitoring and costs:

When it comes to installation and monitoring decisions and the associated costs, there can be some big differences between security companies. Many fine security/alarm companies have products that will work without monitoring, but their product features are geared toward users that will get monitoring and they work best that way, Vivant and ADP are examples. A growing number of companies, offer a hybrid group of products that do not need professional monitoring, but offer the option of monitoring and have devices that are only supported when monitoring is purchased, like Ring, Google Nest, and Simply Safe.

Even without monitoring these options may have data storage fees that apply. Other companies, like Eufy, who pride themselves in offering products that have localized storage of data and are free of any monitoring requirement.

Wi-Fi consideration: Most systems, at least partially, work using your Wi-Fi (some with cellular backup). Having a strong internet connection, a reliable power source with, UPS Battery Backup, and some safeguards from hackers is worth thinking about. The First step is to call your internet or router provider and ask what safeguards are already built-in and available for you to take advantage of without upgrades. Ask about Password best practices, ways to boost signal strength, Encryption, WPS (Wi-Fi protected setup) accessibility, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) recommendations.

Wired and Wireless Choices: With more wireless installation and data streaming options, especially with security cams, it is even more important to have strong, secure internet to stream images in near real-time. In locations where cable or fiber optic is not available, this is something to understand upfront. Wireless options are great but sometimes wired products or some combination are best. Most security companies have wired and wireless options.

Device choices to integrate: entry sensors, motion sensors, glass break sensors, smart locks, doorbell cameras, flood lights, security cameras, landscape lights, garage sensors and cameras, control keypads, base stations, light and camera combinations, local and cloud storage, and the list goes on.

The information provided above should give you some guidance as you tour your home and property to identify basic vulnerabilities and what devices are critical to secure your unique home.

Plan for Safety

Andy, Senior Editor

Sources: Shield security systems, how to begin planning my home security systems?, complete guide to home security systems, safewise 11 simple ways to secure your home, law enforcement interview

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