What are the different types of home security systems?
A home should be safe heaven. A place where you feel secure at all times. However, malicious minds are an inevitable part of the world we live in. The kind that stops at nothing to get what they want – even if it means defiling the sanctity of your home. The mere thought of it is unnerving, let alone experiencing it. Therefore, ensuring the security of your home is an absolute imperative. Fortunately, doing so is easier than ever, with all the different types of home security systems available today. Today, Consumer Opinion Guide is taking a closer look at what they are, how they work, and what are the pros and cons of each.
Security in the US – a quick overview
Before we dive into the types of home security systems, it’s important to know exactly why you need them. Home invasions are a common occurrence in the US. According to the FBI, around 2.5 million burglaries take place in the US every year. That’s two every minute. Out of those, 66% are home intrusions. Those are quite alarming numbers. However, they are no reason for panic. The flip side of that medal is much more encouraging:
- Burglars are three times less likely to target properties with a security system. In the vast majority of cases, they’ll move on the moment they realize your home isn’t easy picking;
- Only 12% of all home intrusions are premeditated. Meaning: burglars seldom plan in advance.
- Burglars tend to ignore the sound of dogs. The sight of one, on the other hand…
- Most thieves scout out the property before going in. If they see or hear anyone inside, they’ll avoid it;
- Crime rates are dropping all over the US. Since 2008, the number of burglaries in the United States has decreased by 37%;
- Violent burglaries are quite uncommon. On average, only 7% of home intruders resort to violence.
Drawing a conclusion from this info is quite simple. Thieves don’t want to bother disabling security systems, Hollywood-style. Or risk getting caught – even on camera. They want to go in, grab what they can see, and get out. In other words, they want an easy score. And having a the best home security system makes your belongings anything but.
Unmonitored (local) alarm systems
The most basic type of home security system, local alarms are a “one-trick pony.” The principle they work on is as simple as it gets. They consist of two sensors, that form a closed circuit when installed. Once the circuit is broken, the alarm triggers and starts emitting sound. And, that’s about it. Local alarms offer little in terms of security. Therefore, you should only use them as a last resort.
- Price: Local alarms are incredibly cheap. They rarely cost more than $100, and that’s if you’re buying “high-end” ones.
- Availability: You can find local alarms online or in local stores without too much effort.
- Easy to install: Local alarms come in a form of a DIY kit, with all components included. All you need to do is follow the instructions, and they’re good to go.
- Basic: No advanced options, no monitoring, no possibility of upgrading.
- Unreliable: Local alarms are quite easy to disable, especially for someone who knows what they’re doing.
- User dependant: Unmonitored systems don’t have an option to notify you or the authorities in case of a break-in. They rely on you or someone in the vicinity to do it.
Monitored alarm systems
You can’t buy a guardian angel – but you can certainly get the next best thing. Monitored alarm systems mean you always have someone watching over your property. It can be the system itself or dedicated personnel providing full-time surveillance. This is, by far, the best choice on the market right now.
- Real-time surveillance: You can monitor the security by yourself, via the controller or a mobile app. Or, you can have a security company do it for you.
- Video evidence: In case the authorities don’t reach your place in time, you’ll have CCTV footage to back up your claims.
- Affordability: Self-monitoring systems are budget-friendly.
- Monthly expense: If you opt for a Company Monitored System, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee.
- Silent: Most monitored systems don’t have the initial repellant mechanism (sirens, flashing lights, etc.)
- Limited CCTV coverage: CCTV Cameras are quite expensive to buy and install. Therefore, if you’re on a budget, you’ll have to choose the areas you want to be covered.
Wired Home Security Systems
A Wired System is by far the most popular one due to its high durability and reliability. It offers protection superior to virtually all other types of home security systems, especially if you opt for a monitored variant.
As the name suggests, the components are hard-wired directly into your home. Motion detectors, sensors, cameras, and other peripheral devices are strategically placed for complete coverage. Then, they are wired back to the control panel(s) that give you complete control over the system.
- Reliability: The only way to disable a wired system is to physically cut the phone line or wiring. And, let’s face it, ain’t no burglar got time for that.
- Scaleability: Wired systems can boast a large number of peripheral devices. As such, they’re an amazing choice for large homes.
- Ease of maintenance: Since the wired system draws power directly from your home grid, there’s no need to worry about batteries.
- Expensive: Components of the wired systems are pricy, as are the installation services.
- Intricate: There’s no DIY option here unless you’re a certified home security system expert. You’ll have to rely on professionals to install or upgrade it.
- Difficult to uninstall: If you’re moving to a new home, chances are you won’t be able to bring the old equipment with you. Furthermore, some companies flat-out refuse to dismantle and re-install used systems.
- Stationary: You can only control the systems from the control panel(s) inside your home.
- Vulnerable: Burglars can still cut the wires if they’re dead set to gain access to your home. Doing so isn’t easy, but remains a possibility.
Wireless Security Alarm Systems
Wireless security systems are the next best choice when you want to improve the safety of your home. They are virtually identical to wired ones, sans the wiring, of course. The base components and peripheral devices are slightly different, but they do the same job. And, they do it well! In short, wireless systems offer the same benefits as their more traditional counterpart. Therefore, they’re worth considering.
- Installation: Wireless systems are much easier to install than wired ones. Since there is no wiring to set up, there’s no need to drill a million holes or break down wall sections.
- DIY friendly: Wireless systems come as DIY kits which you can easily set up yourself. However, it’s still advisable to have a professional do it, at least the first time.
- Disassembly ease: This type of home security system is easy to transport. Just unplug it, bag it, tag it, and it’s good to go.
- Versatility: You can switch and upgrade virtually every component of the wireless system with ease.
- Difficult to disable: Since there are no wires to cut, burglars will have a hard time switching off your security. Unless they’re master hackers, which is highly unlikely.
- Remote controlled: This is where wireless systems shine. You can access and control them no matter where you are. All you need is a corresponding controller or a smartphone app.
- Batteries: Wireless devices aren’t hooked to your home power grid. You’ll have to periodically check on them and replace batteries. This makes wireless systems more suitable for smaller homes.
- Hackable: Weaker or non-existent encryption makes the cheaper wireless system easy to hack. But, if you don’t skimp on it, you have nothing to worry about.
- Price: The components for a wireless system are even more expensive than wired ones.
- Signal issues: Electrical installations and equipment, or large objects can cause signal interference. This is quite uncommon, but it happens every once in a while.
Which type of home security system should you opt for?
While every home security system is worth investing in, not all provide the same level of safety. Therefore, it’s critical to choose between the types of home security systems you’ll gain the most from, without obliterating your budget. With that in mind, it’s time to do a side-by-side comparison.
Wired vs wireless?
This choice comes down almost exclusively to the location. Both systems are quite expensive but offer a lot in terms of security. However, wired systems take longer to install and, once installed, they’re practically impossible to move. Therefore, they are the best option only if:
- The house already comes with the wiring, and;
- You own said house and don’t plan on moving.
If you’re renting or living in an apartment, wireless is a much better option. It’s easier to install and you can take it with you if you move.
Monitored or unmonitored?
The clear winner here is a monitored system and by quite the margin. They are more responsive, reliable, and autonomous. Moreover, you have a reliable team watching your back and reacting the moment something happens. It doesn’t get more secure than that. And, yes, they do require a monthly fee. However, it’s a small price to pay for your peace of mind.
Investing in a home security system is always a good choice
Now that you know what types of home security systems exist, as well as the pros and cons of each, it’s time for the final question. Is it all worth it? And the answer is a resounding “yes.” This is an investment that will not only secure your belongings but a serene life for you and your family. Or, if you wish, you can think of it as health insurance or a home warranty. It is better to have it and never need it than to need it and not have it.