Choosing a home security system is no small endeavor. After all, the right one can protect both your home — likely the biggest investment you'll make in your lifetime — and its precious inhabitants. But with so many options out there, how do you know which home security system is best? Let's take a closer look at several things to keep in mind when selecting a home security system.
Understand Your Needs
Home security systems vary widely in terms of everything from price to features. Do you need a basic burglar alarm that will sound an alert should someone try to enter? Or are you interested in something more advanced, such as a wireless monitoring system which will notify the police and fire departments should a problem arise, and will also offer protection against environmental dangers, such as carbon monoxide and fire?
Or maybe you're looking for something even more sophisticated, such as visual real-time monitoring via your smart device which offers a glimpse into your living room or backyard and/or detailed data on who entered your home and when?
All of these options — and more! — are available thanks to today's breadth and depth of home security system offerings.
Evaluate Your Lifestyle
Many people fail to factor in their lifestyles when deciding on an alarm system. For example, households with kids, pets, and frequent guests may be better suited to one type of alarm than another.
Not to mention that an alarm is only effective if it's being properly used. Will all the members of your household turn the alarm off and on when they enter and leave? Are you likely to incur many costly false alarm charges?
The better you understand how a home security system will realistically integrate with your life, the more likely you are to choose on that will offer the most appropriate protection.
Regardless of what type of system you have in mind, it's particularly important to know what you're looking for before you begin shopping. Why? Not only will this save you time, but it will also put you on firm ground with salespeople trying to make a quick sale.
How to Choose an Equipment Installer
An increasing number of homeowners are opting to install their own home security systems. If you go this route, look for one which offers walk-through service to guide you through the installation.
If you're leaning more toward having the system professionally installed, however, be aware that all equipment installers aren't created equally. Make sure to look into multiple systems to get the best sense of what you're getting for your money.
As Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers' Checkbook, told the Chicago Tribune, “We see a lot of variation in price and no real relationship between quality and price. We found some of the lower-cost places rated very high in terms of quality, and some of the high-priced places don't rate particularly high.”
In fact, Consumers' Checkbook's findings indicate that the exact same installation and three-year monitoring package can range from less than $2,000 to more than $3,300.
Be sure to allow yourself ample time to do your research, comparison shop, and make the most informed and educated choice. Choosing a reputable service provider with a solid track record and plenty of positive customer feedback can further boost your consumer confidence.
Consider the Contract & Read the Fine Print
Home security systems promise an extra level of security, but they can also cause headaches for homeowners who don't read the fine print. Always read the contract thoroughly and know what you're signing and under what conditions. Contract clauses such as early-termination fees, exclusions, and limited liability should all set off alarm bells.
Also, avoid signing a long contract. Even if one company did your install, you can always switch if you find better pricing on monitoring — unless you're locked into a long-term service contract, that is. On a similar note, avoid companies selling proprietary systems which they claim work only with their monitoring systems. If you do sign a contract, be especially wary of those which automatically renew.
Lastly, make sure to choose a company which allows you access to all pass codes and other programming options.
While choosing home security system can be an overwhelming process, there's good news: Just under 80 percent of homeowners believe that their home security systems are effective, according to a Consumer Reports survey. By following these tips, you can also enjoy this enhanced safety and peace of mind.
Home Security And Safety Tips For Seniors
Seniors tend to be an easy target for criminals. Scams, fraud, and financial abuse are the first things that come to mind when I think of crimes against seniors. Unfortunately, seniors and their homes tend to be targeted as well. Even though they are the least victimized population, seniors have a higher rate of fear of being victimized, which can lead to isolation and a sense of loneliness.
Seniors may be easily targeted by criminals for a variety of reasons:
- Seniors who live on their own may be isolated and not communicating daily with the outside world
- Decline in cognitive and physical function make seniors vulnerable
- Older seniors often aren't in touch with innovations, such as home security systems, which makes the home easily accessible to criminals
Property crime is the second most common type of crime against seniors. Property crimes includes burglary, larceny, auto theft, and petty theft. So, in order to prevent, or at least lower the number of personal property crimes against seniors, we have come up with some home rules that seniors (and every homeowner!) should implement as a part of their everyday life.
Basic Home Security Protection
- Lock your doors, no matter how safe the neighborhood is: Regardless of the type of neighborhood you live in, all doors should be locked. This doesn’t mean you should be paranoid and live in fear, but locking the doors falls into that old saying ‘better safe than sorry’.
- Make sure your door has a peephole: Decorative door glass looks great, but it isn't really safe. Anyone can see you moving inside and the glass is easily broken. If installing a peephole isn't possible, and you have decorative glass, use privacy film on the glass and replace your standard glass with unbreakable “safety” glass.
- Solid Doors: If you are just installing your door, choose solid wood or metal for both your front and back door (and any other door that leads into the house). The frame of the door is the most important element of any door so have the current one reinforced or have a metal one installed.
- Don’t neglect windows: Plexiglass or security film should be placed on the inside for better protection; they increase safety and make it more difficult for the glass to be broken.
- Do you have gates?: Make sure all gates are locked when you are alone at the house; for all those who should enter – they can call to say they’re coming. Don’t buzz in anyone you don’t know.
- Keep phone close by: Whenever someone comes to the door, have a wireless phone with you so you can call 911 in case of an emergency
- Keys: No matter for how long you are leaving the house for, never leave the key under the mat or in a flower pot, or in an old shoe (or any other place of that matter). Give a copy to a member of the family and a trustworthy neighbor to check in on your apartment/house from time to time.
- Home Security System: The foundation of any home safety plan is a good Home Security System. They are great as prevention from thieves, but an amazing support for medical emergencies and fires, too. If you live alone and/or plan on spending a period of your retirement traveling, then a home security system is a must.
- Sensor Lighting: Whenever someone is at the door or in the yard, you’ll know when the lights go on. They are also great prevention from vandalism, too. If you live in a condo or apartment building, have sensor lighting installed in hallways and shared entry points.
- Travel: Have a trusted neighbor or family member pick up newspapers and packages while you are away.
- Security Survey: Many police departments will perform a home security survey when requested by the homeowner.
If you have experience with a home security system, we would love to hear about it in the comments section below!