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Home Security Systems: What to Look For and What to Avoid

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.”

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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

home security tips for seniorsSeniors 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!

29 Comments

  1. Don’t ever sign up with ADT they lied when setting up my system . When you call they will go over all their services, if you don’t like their quote or ask for discount they will forward you to a manager,, the will lie through all the additional equipment you will receive you agree. Once the Instaler gets to your home is when you find out they have no idea or clue of the service additional equipment you were promised. The installer’s job is to sell you those extra equipment that they promised when you call for service. He will ask you what did you order,,, in my case I asked and went over of all with what sales manager promised, then the instaler will say no you ordered a basic service.,, so when you call them back to confirm with the instaler that has no idea of your order and who ever answers says that you order basic equipment. They will deny what they promised ,, They ADT alarm system are very deceiving liars,,, Do Not Do Business With Them. Thank You
  2. Today, the best ways to protect your home are smart security systems. I installed a wireless system from Kangaroo a year ago at my house. I chose this system due to the fact that it is wireless, it works through a wi-fi network and has its own application on the phone, with which I can monitor my home. And for the price I really liked, I distorted not expensive but high-quality protection.
  3. I am a forner Adt employee Two things to caution you about. One is all service techs and installers are given an up sell quota . They have to do what they can to meet these numbers or risk job loss and discipline. Therfore are forced to sell based on quota rather than need. Also they are currently charging 39.00-99.00 to upgrade the cell communication on your alarm due to changing cell tower technology. The problem is , this occurred several years ago and they charged nothing . Refuse to pay it and they will be forced to change at no charge to retain customers.
  4. The growth of the home security system market is attributed to the emergence of IoT and wireless technologies, and increasing customer awareness . Moreover, the integration of AI and deep learning in home security systems and worldwide proliferation of “smart cities” initiatives are creating huge growth opportunities for players in the market. The home security system market is expected to reach USD 74.75 billion by 2023 from USD 45.58 billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 10.40%
  5. I really appreciate your tip to evaluate your lifestyle and think if any of your family members will incur any false alarm charges. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new security system since our neighbor’s house got broken into. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should try and check with our kids to see how responsible they would be with an alarm in the house!
  6. As suggested, I’ll be sure to allow myself enough time to do my research and shop around for professional residential security system installation services before making a decision. If I were to invest in such a system, I want to be sure that I am getting my money’s worth. Thanks for this really informative article about home security systems!
  7. My wife and I just moved to a new home, so we want to install a security system soon. I like your point about evaluating your lifestyle to figure out what kind of system you need. We’ll be sure to check out our home’s current features so we know what to shop for.
  8. I like what you said about understanding your needs. My wife and I are finally deciding it’s time to get a security system because we’ve been noticing some odd activity around the neighborhood and we just want to feel safer in our home. It’s also good to know if our teenagers are bringing any people over without us knowing and we just want to make sure and be on the lookout for anything suspicious going on. We’ll have to contact a security installation company that can help us get this figured out.
  9. Deciding among different types of alarm systems can be a daunting task. Thank you for making it easier and things I should consider before buying a home security system.
  10. I’m in the market for a new security alarm company, and I think that being able to get some tips would be good. I’m glad you talked about being able to get the contract and read the fine print. I’m going to have to look for a few good options and see what we can find!
  11. I found your suggestions very reassuring and incredibly common-sense-useful! Don’t give burglars any information about your alarm company, since it can be used to bypass your system. Instead, just post general alarm or monitoring signs.
  12. Noted! I’ll bookmark this when my husband gets home. I’ve been meaning to ask him for us to have a home security system. I’m also looking up some professionals who will provide this service. I’m going to ask him later. Wish me luck!
  13. My husband and I have decided to get an alarm control system since another house in the neighborhood suffered was robbed from. So thank you for suggesting that we give ourselves a lot of time to look at companies’ customers’ review so we can find the best company for us. We’ll be sure to make sure the alarm control system we use also has a great record with people.
  14. Very informative article. I strongly agree that choosing the right home security system really depends upon the need of the person. Someone chooses a simple burglar alarm while others go for smart home automation devices.
  15. It really does help to take the article’s advice and take your lifestyle into consideration when choosing a home alarm system. After all, if you have a lot of dogs that might need to go out early in the morning or late at night, then you might want to choose an alarm that you don’t have to disarm every time you open the door. If you’re not sure what kind of alarm to get, then talk to the company you’re buying from and see what they suggest would best match your lifestyle.
  16. Thank you for talking about choosing a security system based on your lifestyle. It makes sense that understanding this can help you make sure get the protection you need and get the responses you need. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to make sure they consult with several companies and compare their services before choosing one.
  17. Thanks for your point about how some people want a more sophisticated home security system, while other are happy with a simple alarm on the door. I feel like knowing what you want is the best way to make sure that you get it. It would also make sense to me to ask some of your like-minded friends to see if they have any thoughts on the options available.
  18. In our world today, it can be really difficult to trust anybody. My husband and I are looking to put a security system in our house to protect our family. I hadn’t thought of how lifestyle would affect what alarm system to choose, but as you said, knowing who is coming in and out of the house can affect which system you need. Thanks for sharing!
  19. Thanks for explaining what to look for in a home security system. I like that you mention evaluating your lifestyle. It makes sense that your alarm system should cater to how you live your life. There have been some break-ins in our area, so I definitely want something that can protect me and my family from any burglars. I also think it would be important to look for a fire alarm system. Hopefully, I can find a good company that will help me pick the right system.
  20. In your article, you stated that just under 80 percent of homeowners believe that their home security systems are effective, according to a Consumer Reports survey. My wife called me last night on my way home from work because someone was trying break into our house. I wonder if these types of systems can be installed in any type of house.
  21. I like your idea on understanding your needs when looking at home security. I would imagine that knowing exactly what you need would be really important when getting a system. I’m looking for a home security system so I’ll have to figure out my needs before I choose one.
  22. You advised considering your lifestyle before making a decision on a security system. My brother has been wanting to get a security system installed in his home for a while. He has quite a few kids who come in and out of his home a lot, so finding a system that can easily accommodate that will be a high priority. Thanks for the great read.
  23. I had a neighbor who recently had a break in in their home, so we want to make sure that our home is protected. I like how you point out that we should calculate our needs before choosing a security system. We will have to decide if we want something that will notify the police and fire department should a problem arise. I think that it would also help us to have better rates on home insurance. I imagine that the fact that we even have a security system will possible help prevent break-ins.
  24. I like the reminder in the article to take your time and do enough research and comparison between providers. It might be good to look into what other features could be added to your service in the future so that you can plan ahead a little. Investing in a home security system can provide the peace of mind that make your house a home again after an emergency.
  25. Your comment about understanding your needs before looking to buy a security system made a lot of sense to me. I didn’t realize there were so many options, but I can see how for one persona a burglar alarm might do the trick while another might prefer a full smart-home makeover. I would imagine that most security companies would be willing to discuss advantages of each of their different options with you.
  26. My wife has been asking me to get a new security system for a while. There are a lot of options, so it is easy for us to get overwhelmed while searching for the right one. I never thought about making sure that a security system fits with our lifestyle. We have teenagers who I imagine wouldn’t always be the best at turning the system on and off as they come and go. I’ll keep that in mind as I search for a new security system.
  27. Thank you so much for all this helpful information about choosing a security system. It makes sense that you should look at your lifestyle, and decide if you need one. It would be nice to see how we would benefit from one.
  28. My wife and I have been wanting to get a security system for a while now. It’s just hard to decide what we need, so thanks for the tips. It’s good to know that cost isn’t always the deciding factor, and that we shouldn’t just go for the cheapest.
  29. I think it is so important that people know to read the fine print when signing your contract. I am lucky my apartment building has it’s own security system, which really helps me feel safe. When buying a home I will make sure to invest in a security system that fits my needs.

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