Welcome to Security System Guides! Having been through the headache of understanding the true value of a given security system offering ourselves, we decided to create these guides to help others see through the sales pitch to what might best fit their families.
Types of Home Security Systems
The first step in considering the right home security system for your purposes is to know what’s available. Let’s break down your options and look at the pros and cons of home alarm types.
Monitored vs. Unmonitored Home Security Systems
If your alarm system is triggered at your home or apartment, do you want emergency personnel to be notified automatically, or is it enough that a loud alarm sounds to drive off the intruder, alert neighbors or wake those inside the house?
Non-monitored systems are more affordable than monitored alarm systems, and those built by top brands offer good dependability. Additional benefits of non-monitored home security systems include:
There is no monthly monitoring fee
You own the system, so you take it with you if you move
Most can be expanded should you move to a larger dwelling and have more doors and windows to monitor
DIY installation is usually easy
Video cameras can be part of the system
Systems can include monitoring doors and windows, and monitoring for motion, heat, smoke, fire, water and cold
Those are the advantages of non-monitored alarm systems, often referred to as local alarm systems.
The primary disadvantage of non-monitored home security systems is obvious – help won’t be on the way unless you or someone hearing the alarm calls emergency personnel. This puts you and your property at increased risk in rural areas where there are no close neighbors to hear the alarm or in areas where others are likely to disregard the alarm.
The advantages of a monitored home security system are that it has all the capabilities of a non-monitored system plus signals a monitoring center whenever an alarm is triggered. The monitoring service then attempts to contact the home, and if there is no answer or you provide a password signifying trouble, police or fire is contacted. Other pros of monitored home security systems are:
Lower home insurance rates from many of the top insurers
Mobile apps that allow you to monitor your home’s security system and video feed
Some home security companies provide and install the equipment for free with a monitoring contract, but you don’t own the system
The cost of monitoring starts at about $15 per month and can cost as much as $50 or more.
Home Security System Monitoring Options
There are three ways for your home alarm system to be monitored by the security company. Each has its pros and cons.
Landline: A landline is a great choice where cellular or broadband reception is poor. The chance of signal interference is eliminated too. The system can use wireless monitoring, but the security console, the system’s control central, must be connected to a landline. Cellular backup is available on some higher-priced systems for use if the landline is cut.
Cellular: Signals are sent to the monitoring service via a cellular uplink. Cellular is faster than a landline, and landline wires can be cut. The potential downside is interference with the cellular signal or the call to the monitoring service being dropped.
Broadband: This type of home security system uses your broadband internet connection to send alarm signals to the monitoring company. It is faster than a landline and cellular and cheaper too. The disadvantage is that broadband can be interrupted more easily than cellular or a landline connection.
What Type of Home Security System is Right for You?
Here are a few issues additional issues to consider as you make your choice:
In rental situations, wireless systems are more acceptable to landlords who don’t want wiring holes drilled, plus a wireless system goes with you when you move
Homeowners who plan to move in the next few years often go wireless too, so they can take their system with them
Any time a move is possible, and you prefer a monitored alarm, choose one of the home security companies that has a moving program that keeps your contract in effect from house to house
If you use home automation, choosing a system with cellular will allow you to control the system remotely including the ability to turn the alarm on and off, lock and unlock doors, adjust lights and thermostat, get notifications of issues and monitor the system’s video feed and sensors
Get to know your system options and the capabilities of each. Consider your lifestyle, where you live, how likely you are to move and your budget. These factors combined with this information should help you select a home security system you’ll be happy with in the years to come.