Security Basics 101

What Should a Security Alarm System Include?

Most systems rely on a combination of contacts placed at doors and windows and motion sensors.

It is best that all exterior first floor potential points of entry have contacts that sense when they are open. Glass break sensors are also available and recommended.

Motion sensors should not be used as the primary means of detection because they do not detect someone until they are already in the house.

The basic elements of a standard home security system include:

  • Control panel: This is where the system wiring terminates, the backup battery is located and where it is connected to the phone lines if it is a monitored system.
  • Keypad: This is where the system is armed and disarmed.
  • Siren
  • Inside motion detector: These sense changes in a room caused by human presence. Special motion detectors are available for people who have pets.
  • Door and window contacts: This sounds the alarm when the door or window is opened (and the system is on).
  • A central monitoring: If the system is monitored, and the alarm is set off, the control panel sends a message to a central monitoring station, which is manned 24 hours a day.

    After attempting to contact the homeowner, the central monitoring station will contact the police, fire department, or medics.

Additional items that can be added to the basic system are:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Glass break detectors
  • Panic buttons
  • Closed circuit TV to allow monitoring and/or recording inside or outside a home.

Beware of the door-to-door company

Is the "Free" Home Security System really free?

For example, a salesperson will arrives at your door and offer you a "Free" security system. Normally the justification is that you are in a high profile location and they would like to put their signs and stickers on your property in lieu of fees. All that is required is signing a monthly contract and this free system is yours.

Like many things in life that sound too good to be true, this is as well. The "Free" system is normally inadequate for most homes, and the contract is of term and rates that make this far more expensive than a purchased system. In this case you have paid well more than market rate for what was advertised as "free". Reputable companies do not use this tactic to sell security systems.

Security Systems pay for themselves!

Homeowners insurance companies may offer premium discounts for home security systems that may cover your monthly monitoring fee.

Several insurance companies offer premium discounts on homeowners policies when there is a functioning home security system. These discounts vary from one insurer to another and depend on the types of security system installed. Some insurance companies may offer a 5 percent discount for installing dead-bolt locks and a basic burglar alarm. Many insurance companies offer as much as a 20 percent discount for home security systems with monitoring services.

The best thing to do is talk with your insurance agent or company and ask about their home security discounts. It may be worth the peach of mind, and cost of installation to install a home security system. If your insurance company doesn't offer a discount it may also be a good time to find one that does.

Wireless or Wired Security System?

Many homeowners wonder whether they should invest in wireless or hard wired home security systems. There is no one simple answer. It depends on how your home was built, if you have experience with security systems, and the amount of money you wish to spend on the system.

There are several factors to consider in deciding if you want to install a wired or wireless home security system. If you are building a new home, a wired system may work well, as they are relatively easy to install and cost less than wireless systems. One problem with a hard wired, system is that if your home has already been built, you will need to do a lot of physical work and drilling to install the components.

The wireless home security alarm system has many benefits. First, you do not have to drill holes or plan your setup before installation. Additionally, once your system has actually been set up, it will not need nearly as much maintenance as a wired security system. Because wireless home security alarm systems are more technologically advanced than wired systems, and because you can add features like wireless security cameras, you can be sure that your system is creating a truly safe environment for your family.

Wireless home security systems have their own limitations. They are commonly more expensive than their traditional counterparts, often have a complex installation process, and may be limited in their range. This is not necessarily the case, as each home is different. Your mileage may vary, so it might be worth checking with a professional.

In the end, your choice of security system depends on your home system. Whether you are building a house, or adding a security system to your current house, whether you have a great deal of money to spend, and whether you trust your experience with security systems are all factors that can contribute to your decision. Whichever type of system you pick, however, will undoubtedly be a great improvement to your personal and family safety.

Quick Tips

  • Don’t even consider a company that tells you it won’t need to send a representative to your home.
  • Make sure the contract guarantees no fee increase during its duration.
  • You don’t need every door and window integrated into you security system. It helps to think like a burglar. Some windows or entry points just aren’t logical entrances when a burglar is trying to break into your home. Be selective when choosing which doors and windows to have connected to your security system, but make sure you cover all feasible entry points.

Burglary Statistics

  • Each year in the United States, a burglary occurs every 14 seconds*.
  • Most burglaries occur during the day between 6am and 6pm*.
  • Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property in 2015; overall, the average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,079*.
  • Most residential burglaries occur on the first or ground floor.
  • The point of entry is usually made at the rear or by a side door, the second most common access is via the garage door.

*2015 FBI Crime Statistics