Home Security 101 – The Basics of Protecting Your Home and Family

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Why do we need home security?

Every year there are approximately 2.2 million burglaries in the U.S. That means, on average, someone’s house is robbed once every 14-15 seconds. Last year the average loss per break-in was $1,675.

No one wants to be part of those statistics. The idea of a break-in is even scarier if we have family at home. More than anything, we want to keep them safe. Invaluable peace of mind comes from knowing no harm will come to the people we love or the possessions we worked hard for.

How does a home security system work?

A security system is built to detect trouble and sound an alarm. If the system is monitored – and it really should be, to keep you safe – there is also a team of people ready to react to the alarm and send immediate assistance.

The elements of a home security system are 1) equipment 2) monitoring and, 3) with the best systems you also get advanced features that let you access the system controls remotely.

Equipment

A basic home security system consists of sensors and a control unit. Many of today’s more advanced systems also include video security cameras.

Sensors – these are small devices that may look something like a common smoke detector. There are a wide range of security sensors, each designed to watch for a specific danger sign. A motion detector, for example, will trigger if someone moves in the room. A glass-break sensor triggers if a burglar breaks a window. Comprehensive home security systems include sensors to detect a variety of safety-related issues, such as doors opening, smoke, heat, water, freezing pipes or carbon monoxide.

Controls – while sensors are simple devices, each with its own specific job, a home security control unit is sophisticated technology, capable of communication and customization. It is the central operations hub of the entire system. When a sensor triggers, the control unit receives the alert and then signals the monitoring center. If the control has advanced interactive features, it will also communicate with you, sending out a text or email alert.

Video Security Cameras – Cameras are increasingly popular components in today’s home security systems. You can position them to watch the front door, guard a room with lots of ground-floor windows, or monitor the backyard or garage area. The cameras generate live streaming video, which you can view yourself, from anywhere, over the internet. Many cameras can also capture brief video clips anytime they detect motion. In addition to the added security, many users find these cameras useful for watching over kids and pets.

Monitoring

Monitoring is a critical component of a safe home security system. Without 24/7 monitoring, an alarm system is nothing more than a noise-maker – and certainly won’t do much to protect your home if you’re not there.

A team at the center works round-the-clock, ready to take action in the event that your alarm system signals an alert. Monitoring personnel first contact you, to confirm that the alert is real. (False alerts are common, in circumstances such as when a family member comes home after the system is already armed.) If the alert is real, the monitoring team dispatches the appropriate local authorities, such as the police or fire department.

Interactive Features

Today’s best security alarm systems include advanced online and wireless technology that keeps you informed of security events at home, regardless of where you are. These interactive systems allow for two-way communication, so you can both receive alerts, and send commands or customize the system, from the road. With online access, you can connect with your system from a computer or mobile device.

What is wireless home security?

Traditionally, home security components were wired together, to enable the necessary communication between the sensors and the control unit. Today, wireless is a major trend in the home security market, because wireless alarm systems are easier to install and operate. They also provide better functionality and a higher degree of safety.

Setting up wireless security equipment is so easy that most homeowners choose to do it themselves. There is no wiring or complicated connections. Users have the flexibility of setting up the system at their convenience, without having to arrange a professional technician’s visit. Wireless sensors can easily move from one location to another, and you can add new sensors to enhance your system at any time. Of course most users feel the biggest advantage is having no installation fee.

Many wireless home security systems offer an option for cellular monitoring, and this is the feature that will increase your level of safety. A cellular-based alarm system has a cellular signaling device built into the control unit. The system then uses a secure cellular network to communicate with the monitoring center, rather than using your home phone or internet lines. The cellular connection is much more reliable, because hard-wired lines are vulnerable to weather, power outages, and even burglars. Burglars learned to defeat wired security systems by cutting the phone lines.

How do you choose the right security company?

If you’re in the market for home security, you have many providers to choose from. Start by checking out the customer reviews and industry ratings, from consumer advocate resources such as Consumer Reports. The BBB (Better Business Bureau) is also an excellent source of unbiased information. Look for a security company that is accredited by the BBB. Also keep an eye out for home security companies that get negative reviews. If their current customers are unhappy with their service, chances are you could be, as well.

The reviews will tell you which alarm systems have the best features – such as mobile apps and cellular monitoring. They’ll also mention with security companies provide the best customer service. Ultimately, you want to put the safety of your home and family in the hands of a company you can trust.

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