When we buy a car we know who the manufacturer is, but that’s not true of home security systems. In almost all cases, the company who sells and supports the security system is not the company who makes the alarm equipment. Obviously you want reliable equipment you can depend on during an emergency. So if you’re trying to pick the best home security system for your home and family, it may help you to know a little about the equipment, and the company that makes it.
Security 101 – Basic Functionality
The basic components of a home security system include:
- Security sensors – located throughout the home to detect signs of intrusion or other dangers
- Control unit – a centralized system control through which all communication takes place
- Monitoring center – a centralized facility to monitor alerts from your alarm system, usually 24/7, and take immediate action in times of emergency
- Advanced features – additional equipment such as video security cameras and home automation devices now enhance many home security systems
In an emergency, an alarm system follows this chain of events:
- Sensors detect an issue – like a window breaking
- Sensors send an alert to the control unit
- Control unit sends an alert to the monitoring center
- Monitoring team dispatches the proper local authorities, as needed
Wireless vs. Wired Equipment
There are two primary categories of home security systems: wireless and wired. Wireless alarm equipment is battery-powered and communicates over a wireless frequency. The components of a wireless security system do not need to be physically connected to each other, or to the system’s control unit. A wired system performs the same functions as a wireless system, but all the components are hard-wired to the control unit, and the control unit is hard-wired to the home’s phone line or internet connection.
If you’ve done much research on the home security market, you probably know that the industry is trending strongly toward wireless systems. Wireless technology offers many advantages and hard-wired systems are now considered “old-fashioned.” In this blog we’ll only be addressing wireless security systems, which we highly recommend, for the following reasons:
- Simpler – a wireless system is easier to set up and use
- Costs Less – no installation fee
- Saves Time – the DIY setup takes less than an hour
- More Convenient – you don’t have to work around a technician’s schedule, or wait for him to show up
- Less Invasive – no strangers in your house or holes in your walls
Wireless Security Equipment Providers
Some of the most recognized names in home security equipment manufacturing are GE Security, Honeywell and DSC. However, the past decades have brought change and reorganization to the market, with many large companies acquiring other companies. For example, Tyco owns DSC and used to own ADT (which was recently spun off into a separate company), but ADT used Honeywell product instead of DSC. Folks in the alarm industry have long scratched their heads over that one.
Of the world’s leading home security manufacturers, GE Security is generally the highest rated, and receives the best home security reviews. GE Security is the manufacturer we recommend. It is considered to provide the most reliable equipment, and was also among the first to realize the advantages of wireless, leading the industry innovation that today brings customers safer, simpler, smarter home security systems. All GE Security systems have 24-hour battery back-up, while competitive offerings usually only provide 4-hour batteries. GE Security teamed up with Alarm.com to integrate safer cellular monitoring into their control panels, as well as offer convenient interactive services.
Security Equipment Options
Home security systems these days are both simpler and more advanced than they used to be, thanks to wireless and interactive technologies. The best home security systems offer remote access capabilities, so you can program and exchange information with your alarm system from the road. Smart home security companies leverage these interactive functions to integrate additional systems within the house, such as lighting or thermostat control (home automation). Customers today can think of their alarm system as the control and communication center of their whole home.
Here is just a sampling of the equipment options available in a home security system:
Security Sensors – Detect signs of intrusion, such as a door opening, a window breaking or a person walking through the room. Examples: door, window or glass-break sensors
Fire and Environmental Sensors – Burglary is not the only threat to your home and family. These sensors detect elements such as smoke, fire, flood, water leaks, burst pipes and carbon monoxide.
Video Cameras – Video monitoring allows customers to watch live or recorded video footage of their home on their computer, tablet or smartphone. Examples: indoor, outdoor, pan-and-tilt cameras
Home Automation – Adds convenience and intelligence to common devices in the home, saving money and energy, while enhancing security. Examples: light, thermostat and door lock controls