Your neighborhood has seen a rash of car thefts and home burglaries. You want to avoid the same consequences. You decide to invest in a home security system. But where do you start?
“The idea is simple,” says Andy Blakey, marketing director at Elite A/V & Automation LLC in Madison, Wis. “Do I want to catch someone in the act? You go for an intrusion system. Am I looking to see what’s happened after an incident? Then you want a camera system.”
But maybe you want both, and that is available, too.
“Most intrusion systems that are retrofitted into an existing home are wireless. Whether it’s do-it-yourself or professionally installed, they work very similarly,” he says. “So the question is, “Do I want to tackle this myself?”
Home automation is huge when you start considering security with efficiency. One button press can simultaneously arm your security system, lock the doors, close the garage, shut off lights, and lessen the burden on the HVAC system, Blakey explains.
What is the range of cost of home security systems cost?
It really depends on how you are charged, he says. Low or no upfront costs will mean a higher monthly rate (possibly $60 and up). Some companies will charge you full price for the install but offer low monthly costs, such as $599 install and $19.99/month. Also, some people can see a discount on their homeowners insurance.
Consumer Affairs says you can get a home security system with no contract if you buy the equipment outright or agree to pay a slightly higher monthly rate. Many home security companies also offer discounted equipment in exchange for a signed contract, similar to what your cell phone company or offers on phones when customers sign up for a new plan.
What is a wireless feature to a home security system?
The communication is most often Zwave, which is a very secure wireless transmission, Blakey says. The signal can be repeated and boosted throughout the home to window, door, motion and glass break sensors.
What types of burglar alarms in a security system are there?
You can choose both sirens and strobe lights.
Does a security system service with a monitoring facility worth the cost?
Blakey adds that it is based on the situation of the people in the house.
“Some people choose to use their system as ‘where are my kids’ type-of-thing, which works well. Monitoring rates vary on installation costs,” he says.
How do video cameras at the front doors help secure a home?
You can see who is coming and going as well as have notifications set according to motion, he adds.
What if someone plans on moving in the next few years, how would that affect the type of home security system or service contract they choose?
Professional installers will treat this as a separate location and charge accordingly. DIY systems can be moved, he says. The minimum home security system someone should have to start out with is based 100% on the area, the person and their needs.
What choices do you have when it comes to operating the system?
Consumer Affairs says home alarm systems can be monitored by internet, phone line or cell phones.
But there are cons to all of them – such as if a power outage disables your internet modem, you will be cut off from monitoring. If a burglar cuts your phone line, your system will not work. If your phone line is fiber optic, you’ll need a battery backup system to power your alarm. But monitoring with a cell phone connection is good because it will remain available even in the event of a power or internet outage.
What about fire, heat or carbon monoxide detection – how do those all get coordinated into a home security system?
These are tied in just as a door sensor might be where as if there is fire, water, CO2 detected, it will notify you and/or the authorities of the situation, Blakey says.
How can a home security system monitor water leaks?
“This is a two-prong style contact that upon water closing the circuit, sends a notification to the system,” he adds.
How can someone choose the right security company or home automation company?
“Sit down with a few and see who you like. They’re all very similar,” he says.
You can find out their reputation and customer service by researching them on Yelp, Google or the Better Business Bureau.