How to Figure Out What You Really Need In a Home Security System

Let me help you figure out what you’ll need in a home security system.

There are many options these days, some of which are flashy and cool and very tempting. But you want to make sure and cover the essentials.

If you’re just getting started or maybe even just thinking about maybe getting started, you may not even know about all the options available. You’ll need even more help.

I’ll guide you through sorting it all out.

Type of home security systems

In addition to your budget, your options vary with the type of system you are looking at:

  • an “all-in-one” system,
  • a traditional “big name” system, or
  • a DIY system where you buy components individually

This series of articles focuses primarily on developing your strategy so you can figure out what you need. This applies to any type of system. Even if you’re thinking about a traditional big name alarm company’s system, this may prove helpful so that you don’t end up getting more than you really need (and paying for it!).

Develop a strategy

Before you start thinking about the system itself, you should develop your strategy. And even before you think strategy, you should make sure you’re not expecting a home security system to be your first line of defense. My nextpodcast episode (“The 4 Levels of Home Security”) will deal with that. Check it out next week!

Your strategy can consist of elements addressing

  • early detection (i.e., while a burglar is still outdoors),
  • entrances (detection of entry via doors & windows),
  • indoors (detection of an intruder inside the home), and
  • notification & control (what you do once you’ve detected the intruder)

Piece your ideas and plans into a strategy.

Lots of options

To help get the “wheels” of your brain spinning, here’s just a sampling of the many options available to you:

  • “at-home” (or “stay”) mode for protection while you’re home
  • motion sensor-free rooms to use as pet rooms
  • panic buttons
  • a “duress silencer” (to command the alarm off if an intruder forces you too but with immediate duress signal to monitoring company)
  • glass break sensors
  • internet-based monitoring
  • modes to permit certain windows to be opened for fresh air but with the rest of the system armed
  • keypads for enabling & disabling near multiple doors
  • enable/disable via keyfobs
  • driveway car/person motion detector
  • cameras at doors (for seeing who’s at the door)
  • integration with smoke & fire alarms
  • being able to choose who monitors your system

Of course, there are many, many more options!

Strategy: outdoors

It’s possible to have a very elaborate system that detects an intruder coming on to your property, video cameras all over the place, and so on.

But, for most of you, this is way over the top, beyond your needs and your budget, so I won’t spend much time on this part of your strategy as it relates specifically to a security system.

However, what I do want to encourage you to do is to not overlook the outdoors in your overall strategy and invest some effort in trying to keep a burglar away from your place in the first place.

Use outdoor lighting liberally. Don’t let your landscaping work against you: Keep shrubs and trees trimmed and away from your house and think twice about trees, shrubs and fencing that blocks the view from the street and the neighbors.

Letting a burglar know you’ve put thought into security is a good first step to making him think twice about targeting your place. Failing to consider the outdoors was a big part in my being robbed.

Strategy: entrances

The basic strategy here is: “cover your home’s entrances”.

The catch, however, is that this can get expensive and it’s also easy to overlook or discount certain entrances.

Any first floor door or window is a potential entry point for a burglar. So are many second and even third floor windows.

If you have a basement, its windows or even doors can be targeted. These are often neglected in security system planning.

Developing your strategy involves determining how best to cover all these entrances. If you have the luxury, you can simply put sensors at each door and window.

But, you can often simplify things by relying on motion sensors and/or glass break sensors (both of which we’ll get to in the next article) to cover entrance points or detecting the burglar once he starts moving about inside.

For example, if you have a room with lots of windows and you can’t justify putting a sensor at each window, you could instead have a glass break sensor cover the entire room, or a motion sensor in the room, or in the hall just outside the room (it might depend on what you keep stored in the room or how soon you’d want an alarm to go off).

Until next time…

Again, this is just the first article in a series. Watch for part 2, where we’ll pick up where we left off and talk about strategising indoors.

Please leave your comments. Do you already have a home security system? How did you go about figuring out what you need (or what do you regret not doing)?

I’d love to hear what you think!

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