Recent years have seen a major shift in the home security market, with the adoption of new technologies and features that makes yesterday’s old-fashioned alarm systems look as clunky as a rotary-dial telephone. If you’re shopping for a home security system, make sure you’re aware of the features and functionality that will maximize the safety and convenience of your home. You should expect these features to be included in your total security offering, for little or no additional charge.
The Best Home Security System is Monitored 24/7
Professional, round-the-clock monitoring is not new to home security. However, the type of monitoring your alarm system includes is now critically important. There’s more to home monitoring than the facility and staff at the monitoring center. The other critical element is the method of communication between the alarm system and the monitoring center itself. It’s important that the connection between your home and the center be reliable. The best security systems these days have cellular monitoring.
Cellular-based alarm systems include their own cellular communication device. The old-fashioned kind of security systems depend instead on your landline phone or internet cable. Unfortunately, phone and internet lines are vulnerable, as we have all experienced in our day-to-day lives. The internet is particularly unreliable, and not something you want to depend on in an emergency. A variety of factors, including power and weather, can also disrupt phone connections. But the burglar himself is your biggest problem in this regard. A crook can disable a wired alarm system simply by cutting the lines before breaking in.
A cellular security system, on the other hand, signals for help over a secure cellular network. You don’t need to own a cell phone, because the signaling device is built into the alarm system’s control unit. Don’t worry if cell coverage is poor in your area; that’s usually not a problem, because the signal strength required for a security alert is very low – much lower than what’s required for a phone conversation. Your alarm company should test your signal before sending out the system.
Industry experts and consumers agree that cellular signaling/monitoring is best, for safety and reliability.
Wireless Security Equipment – The Simple DIY Approach
Wireless security sensors and cameras are another popular element in today’s best home security systems. Wireless equipment has many advantages, compared to yesterday’s hard-wired equipment.
A basic home security system consists of sensors placed throughout the home, which stand ready to detect signs of trouble. These signs could be a window breaking, a door opening, smoke particles in the air or water leaks in the laundry room. If your security sensors are wireless, they won’t need hard-wired connections. That means you can set up wireless equipment yourself, without drilling holes in your walls. You also won’t have to worry about complicated programing or links to the control unit.
The new wireless DIY (do-it-yourself) approach is popular with alarm system customers, because they can skip the hassle of scheduling an installation technician and waiting on him to show up. Wireless systems also have much more flexibility, allowing the customer to move or add sensors any time. You can even pack up the whole system and take it a new house. Wireless home security has done away with messy, time-consuming installations – and eliminated installation fees!
Mobile Apps – for the Best in Interactive Security
Can you remember the old style telephones, which kept us tied to our desk or wall? Old-fashioned alarm systems have gone the way of the curly cord and the payphone, replaced by the new age of home security, which includes mobile apps and interactive features.
Today’s best home security systems give you access and control – no matter where you are. You can talk to your alarm system, and it can talk to you, over any internet-connected device – your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can also customize the system, with features like unique user access codes and individually named sensors, so you can immediately isolate the cause and location of any security threat at your house. You should never be in the dark about what is happening at home, especially when it pertains to the safety of your family and the preservation of your assets. Your system should keep you informed, sending alerts via email or text.
Video Cameras – The Best Systems Show You What’s Happening
Video has become part of our everyday lives, and the best home security systems will include a video monitoring feature. With security cameras, you can check on your house with your own eyes, via live streaming video, available anywhere you have an internet connection. Usually these cameras include motion-activated recordings, triggered when someone moves. You can receive and view these video clips over email. For simple setup and use, opt for a wireless security system that includes wireless cameras.
Home Automation – The Best in Smart Homes
The concept of a “smart home” is relatively new, but aligns perfectly with the capabilities of today’s smart alarm systems. If your home is “smart,” you can automate and control it from anywhere. Common applications include control of lights and thermostats or other climate-control functions. Home automation gives you added convenience and comfort, while saving you money on your energy bills. It also enhances the security of your home, especially if you program lights to go on and off on a schedule, simulating activity, even when the house is empty.
Today’s best home security systems can integrate several home automation functions, so you can access your household devices through your central control unit, communicating via your online alarm system portal.
The Best Home Security System for You
So, with all the options out there, how do you choose the best security system for your home and lifestyle? Analyze the features available to you, and determine your highest priorities for enhanced safety, convenience and simplicity. Then compare offerings based on the total package and the total cost-of-ownership. Beware of companies that charge extra for the features you want and need.
And, as with any buying decision, make sure you check out the reviews and industry ratings, to see which systems have the best track record. Check with the BBB for accreditation and with other customers just like you, to make sure you’re choosing a company and a security system that will take good care of you.