Home security is an important topic these days. Unfortunately, a home burglary happens once every 15 seconds in the United States. This translates to a staggering 2.2 billion burglaries each year. Burglars targeting residences will mainly strike during daytime hours when they assume most homeowners are at work. Many people are surprised to learn that the main point of entry for burglars is through the front door. Deadbolt locks help a lot, but they are not enough to deter a determined burglar. A home security system can be a crucial defense against thieves. The best security system for you might take some research - but we hope this guide will help you make the right decision for your family.
What Are the Advantages of a Home Security System?
Most people purchase home security systems mainly to protect their homes from burglars. In addition to serving as an effective deterrent against property crimes, these systems can also save your home from excessive fire damage and protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. They are typically equipped with several types of sensors that can notify a team of experts of problems around the clock. This way, if you leave an appliance on and it begins to smolder, the security company can have the fire department at your house within minutes to contain any flames.
Another advantage to having this type of system installed in your home is that most insurance companies will reward you for being proactive. They do this in the form of significant discounts on your home insurance policy. These discounts can range from 2 to 20 percent and this can help to mitigate the cost of 24/7 monitoring of your home.
What Features Should I Look for in a Home Alarm System?
When it comes to deciding on a home security system, think “layered security.” Layered security is having more than one type of protection. This can include sensors on the doors and windows that trigger home alarms, alarm services that include security cameras mounted outside your residence, and motion sensors that can turn on lights and activate alarms. Glass-break sensors are also a smart addition, as many wireless sensors will not detect the shattering of glass.
Some features that you can expect the best home security system companies to provide include:
- Control panels and keypads
- Smoke and heat detectors
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Motion sensors
- Wireless window and door sensors
- Glass break sensors
- Pressure mats
- Panic buttons
- Alarmed screens for your windows
- Video monitoring
- Flood monitoring in your basement, bathroom and garage
- The ability to monitor and control your system remotely
Not all of these features may be important or appeal to you. The best home security system for you is one that offers everything you want at a price you can afford. There are many home security companies out there, so there is no need to compromise and give up a feature you want just because the company you choose does not offer it.
How Do I Select the Best Home Security System Provider?
Hiring a home security system provider is easy; hiring the best home security system provider takes a bit a research. Consumer Reports recently noted that the range of services and costs among home security companies varies significantly. Because you have many options and the prices can vary greatly from company to company, it's a good idea to make careful comparisons when you shop.
- Assemble a list of providers near you. You may want to include both smaller, local companies and large national companies in your list.
- Compile a list of features that are important to you. Eliminate any companies on your list that do not offer those features.
- Research each of these companies online. Sites such as Consumer Reports and Angie’s List will provide unbiased reviews of the companies you are considering. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that the companies you are considering are trustworthy. Eliminate any companies that are rated poorly by these sites.
- Research price quotes from companies on your list. Keep in mind that there may be additional, less obvious fees such is if you must pay to lease the equipment used each month or if there are added costs if the service alarm is activated.
Based on the rates, narrow you list down to three or four companies and arrange to have each of them come to your house to give you an quoted price for installation and monthly service fees.
An important factor to consider when choosing a home security system is customer support and monitoring. Customer service should be friendly and efficient and the representative who came to your home should have been knowledgeable about what the company does and does not offer.
Home security systems include round-the-clock monitoring and can range from $20 to $60 per month, depending on the company and the features and services you choose.
Beware of Hidden Costs or Pitfalls
Scams and of hidden fees may be charged by one company, but not others. For example:
- Early termination fees: Some companies will require you to sign a contract for a given number of years. Sometimes this is required of all customers and other times it is offered as a way to get discounts or free installation. Be aware of high early termination fees that are are applicable even if you move out of the house.
- Promises by a salesperson: Sometimes, less scrupulous sales personnel will make promises to entice you, but if these terms are not in the contract you sign, you could be locked into an agreement that isn't ideal. Be sure to get all sales agreements in writing and included with your contract.
- Security company liability limits: If your home is broken into or damaged, your home security company may be liable for a portion of your losses. The liability limit your security company has may cover the deductible on your home insurance policy, or it may be used to cover your entire loss. Some companies have very low limits for how much liability they will pay and you may be agreeing to these low limits when you sign the contract. Be sure to ask about this and read the contract carefully.
Do Not Rely Exclusively on Your Burglar Alarm
While home security systems can alert authorities of an intruder in your home, unless you live next door to a police station, you should not expect the police to arrive instantaneously. Burglars will still have time to grab some belongings and run. This is where layered security comes in. By taking additional precautionary steps, you can minimize your risks.
Some things you can do to keep your property safe include:
- Always lock your door when you are not at home
- If you have an alarm system installed, be sure to use stickers on your window or signs on the lawn to alert potential burglars that you are protected
- Even if you do not have a dog, “beware of dog” signs may give a burglar pause
- Keep your lawn and front porch clean and well kept, so that the front door to your home is easily visible by passers-by
- Leave a radio on and tuned to a talk station when not at home
- When you go on vacation
- Ask a neighbor put some garbage in your cans and put them out on collection day
- Put in a stop mail request with the post office
- Put some lights on timers
- Avoid advertising that you are on vacation by posting on social networking sites
Get Peace of Mind Knowing that Your Home Is Protected
Of course, home security systems are not all created equal. The brands available to you may vary depending on your home's specifications, and it is possible that one company might better meet your budgetary and some security needs than another. The important thing is that you review everything that your prospective companies offer before making a decision about which is the best home security company for you.
Once you have chosen a home security system and install it in your home, you can breathe a little easier knowing that your family and your possessions are safely protected from the dangers of fire and theft.