Home Security Systems 101
Unlike a throw pillow or a new brand of shampoo, you don't get a home security system without doing a ton of research first. The good news is that security equipment has become more broadly accessible in terms of contracting, pricing, and smart technology integration. The not-so-good news is that accessibility has created a myriad of considerations when it comes to equipment and monitoring, so it can be tough to determine what security setup is right for you.
Don’t worry! The experts at MIProTechs are here to make the process of choosing a security system for your home as simple as possible. Let’s dive into some basics to get you started.
What Level of Protection Do You Actually Need?
The most logical starting point in choosing a security system is to think about why you’re even considering having one installed in the first place, and what purpose you expect it to serve. Do you store a lot of expensive items on your property? Do you have small children, elderly, or disabled relatives living with you? Are you frequently out of the house? Do you have a lot of packages delivered? How big is your home? What does the layout look like? These are the kinds of questions that you should be asking yourself as they will determine the form your security system will take.
Keep in mind that most security systems these days are scalable; meaning you can always call on us at MIProTechs to help you build upon it later as your needs change. But definitely be careful to not let it scale into a “Frankenstein” system that is too large and thus more difficult to maintain and monitor.
What Type of Security System Do You Need?
Security systems fall into one of three broad categories: home automation, intruder detection, and environmental monitoring. You are certainly not limited to just one. Rather, you might use a mixture of all three, depending on your needs.
Home Automation: This is the most advanced form of home security. These systems are usually comprised of a network of devices (including cameras) connected to each other that can be remotely controlled individually or as a whole, whether from a smartphone, tablet, voice assistant or integrated command center.
Intruder Detection: These systems are designed to protect your home from burglars. Related devices include motion-activated lighting, alarms, motion sensors, window sensors, and more.
Environmental Monitoring: These systems can detect non-human threats like fire, carbon monoxide, gas leaks, water leaks, and more. Many of these devices nowadays are “smart” in that they can send alerts directly to your phone or tablet, and even the proper emergency response authorities, the minute they detect any of the above.
Now that you have an idea of the types of security systems available to you, let’s take a closer look at the equipment that comprises them.
Cameras: This is one of the most basic components of a home security system, and perhaps the most effective. Cameras enable you to actually see what’s going on inside and outside of your home on a live feed, which makes verifying an actual emergency easy. Moreover, cameras can help solve burglary cases more efficiently as they aid police in suspect identification. Many security cameras have integrated night-vision and/or infrared features in addition to regular video to accommodate all light conditions.
Video Doorbells: These are a more lightweight alternative to a security camera network, but just as effective at seeing who’s around your house. A video doorbell will send an alert to your phone or tablet the moment it detects someone within its field of vision and will save footage of the encounter to its proprietary app for later review. They also offer the benefit of two-way communication, enabling you to interact with whoever is on your doorstep from the safety of your living room, rather than having to answer the door and open yourself up to potential stranger danger.
Window & Glass Break Sensors: These devices react the minute they detect a door or window being opened, usually in the form of a loud alarm and/or an alert sent directly to a smartphone or tablet. The downside is that burglars can bypass them by simply breaking the window. This is why many people opt to combine them with a glass break sensor as a countermeasure.
Motion-Activated Outdoor Lighting: Most burglars are opportunists who actively avoid drawing attention to themselves. For this reason, many rely on the cover of night to shield their illicit activities. Motion-activated outdoor lighting destroys that the moment they come within range, surprising them into panic mode and likely causing them to abandon the break-in altogether rather than risk being seen by a neighbor.
Home Protection Devices: This category of devices includes smoke/fire alarms, carbon monoxide/natural gas detectors, flood/freeze sensors, panic pendants, and more. Many even feature support for smartphones and tablets, which notify you the minute an emergency occurs to keep your family and property safe - even when you’re not home. We go into more detail about home protection devices and why you need them in a separate article.
Self-Monitoring vs. Professional Monitoring
Now that you have an idea of what kinds of security systems and devices are out there, the next thing you’ll have to think about is what level of monitoring is best for you. This falls into one of two categories: self-monitoring and professional monitoring. You might use one or the other or both. It all depends on what you need based on your schedule, budget, and security concerns.
Self-Monitoring: This means that you are 100% responsible for your home’s security via an app we’ll help you set up on your smartphone or tablet. In the event of an alarm being triggered, an alert is sent directly to you, and you must contact the proper authorities to handle the situation. Self-monitoring tends to best for those on a budget because it’s typically free for most systems, or those with more relaxed schedules.
Professional Monitoring: A team of real people in an emergency monitoring center respond to alarms with or without you. If you don’t answer for whatever reason, the team can verify what’s going on and contact the proper authorities for you. Professional monitoring is typically an add-on that you can pay for either monthly or yearly in most cases. But it can be a worthwhile investment, especially if you have a particularly busy schedule, travel frequently, or just simply want added peace of mind that you’re covered in the event of disaster even if you can’t immediately react.
Choosing the right home security system for your needs can be a daunting task, but definitely worth it in the end. If you are still unsure of where to start, have any questions, or are ready to get started building a security solution, contact the experts at MIProTechs. We are Southeast Michigan’s premier provider of home technology, security, network, and control. When it comes to keeping your home and family protected, we are here to help you every step of the way.
Call us at (248) 987-6171 or schedule an appointment online!