Having a home security system is vital in today’s world, where burglaries occur every 26 seconds and millions of Americans find themselves a victim of one of the most common threats to a home.
Contrary to popular belief, crime in the U.S. is on the decline in recent years, but this doesn’t mean you should be ignoring the risk of theft and damage to your home. Installing a home security system is one of the most effective methods to deter thieves and protect your family and belongings.
What to Expect
When it comes to installing a security system, the options are near limitless and can include unique combinations of alarms, cameras, sensors, lights, control panels and more. There are also numerous brands and companies to choose from, each with their own benefits.
These numerous options can cause a home security system’s cost to vary greatly, but regardless of setup, installation typically only takes a few hours to complete — making it one of the quickest projects to improve your home’s safety and your own peace of mind.
Hiring a Home Security Installer
While a crafty DIY-er might be able to mount some equipment or set up an alarm trigger, it’s best to leave your home security system installation to a professional.
Modernize can help connect you with a trusted, local contractor who can help you identify home security weak points, your best security system options and make sure proper installation is conducted to protect your home.
We understand every home and family has unique needs, and finding the right contractor for the job is important. That’s why we’ve developed a Contractor Checklist to provide you with a step-by-step guide on what to look for in a potential contractor, and what questions you should ask.
Before making a decision, it’s helpful to understand some of the common types of security systems, their pros and cons, and average costs. This will prepare you for some of the questions a contractor might ask and provide valuable insight before the installation process kicks off.
Types of Home Security Systems
Two of the main decisions you’ll need to make when installing your home security system are wired versus wireless and whether you want a monitored or unmonitored system. Each comes with pros and cons that we’ll explore, as well a look at the benefits of some common equipment such as cameras and alarms.
Wired Home Security Systems
In a wired security system, all home entry points are connected to an alarm panel via a low-voltage electrical circuit. Other devices such as keypads, cameras or motion detectors are also connected to this panel. When this circuit is disrupted, such as by a window unexpectedly being open, the alarm is triggered.
A wired system is extremely reliable since it doesn’t rely on sensors or radio frequencies to communicate.
Easy to maintain and only requires the homeowner change batteries when necessary.
Well-suited for large homes.
Less prone to hacking than wireless systems.
Rich in features including high-definition surveillance cameras and multiple control panels throughout the house.
Expensive installation fees.
Wirings and phone lines on the outside of the home can be cut, rendering the security system ineffective.
Extremely difficult to uninstall and often not able to be moved between homes.
Can only be armed/disarmed from one system control panel.
Wireless Home Security Systems
A wireless security system features similar components to its wired counterparts, but as the name suggests — there are no wires. Rather than the alarm being triggered when the electrical circuit is broken, wireless systems rely on a series of sensors that use radio-frequency transmitters to communicate with the control panel and set off the alarm.
Easy to install and uninstall.
Systems are easy to upgrade and move/swap components.
Since there are no external wires, thieves can not disable the system by cutting lines outside the home.
Easy to integrate with smart devices and mobile apps.
Wireless systems rely on a large amount of batteries that will need to be tested and replaced regularly.
Burglars can hack wireless systems to disable them, especially lower-grade equipment that doesn’t use encrypted signaling.
These systems are vulnerable to interference, which can come in the form of large objects blocking the signal or thieves jamming the radio frequency.
Monitored Home Security Systems
A monitored security system is one of the most common systems on the market. These systems work by alerting an alarm company call center or emergency services dispatcher when the system is triggered.
The systems typically include a combination of motion and door sensors, security cameras and sirens. You can also opt for self-monitoring solutions that seamlessly connect your system to your smartphone or tablet for easy observation or alarm activation/deactivation.
Company-monitored systems can work even if a home’s power goes out.
Sirens will often frighten and deter intruders.
Cameras, if installed properly, can cover your entire house, including blind spots.
Trained professionals will act when the system is set off and ensure the proper emergency services arrive at your home.
System will need to be engaged before going to sleep or leaving the home.
If the system is accidentally triggered, and you don’t have a mobile integration, you will need to answer a call from the alarm company to disable.
If police or security are dispatched to your home without an actual emergency occurring, you could be responsible for a fine.
In order to be monitored, the system typically requires a monthly fee and/or contract — making it a more expensive option compared to other systems.
Unmonitored Home Security Systems
An unmonitored home security system works by setting off a deafening siren and/or lights when the system is triggered and relies on you or someone nearby to contact authorities. These systems feature many of the same equipment and smart device integrations of their monitored counterparts.
These systems are typically easier to use and operate.
While not as sophisticated, they often provide an adequate level of home security.
Unmonitored systems are more cost-effective since you won’t need to pay monthly fees or lock in to a contract.
Since there isn’t a monitoring company, these systems are dependent on the homeowner and aren’t as effective when they are away.
Contacting and communicating with emergency unit dispatchers can be difficult or burdensome during times of distress.
These systems are less secure and robust compared to monitored systems.
Security System Equipment
Home Siren Alarms
Home alarm sirens are an essential component to most home security systems as they startle and deter burglars, while also alerting the homeowner — and potentially neighbors — to the emergency. They can be installed independently or as part of a larger system, and available in both wired and wireless varieties.
Home Security Cameras
As camera technology has improved through the years, so have home security cameras. From traditional blocky devices mounted near entry points to doorbell cameras, home surveillance has exploded in popularity — and become more affordable.
Homeowners exploring cameras as part of their home security system will have to consider wired and wireless options, with wired providing higher quality recordings and wireless more versatility in placement location; frame rates, with higher rates providing more detail and lower rates offering more recording storage; lens size, which can impact area of visibility and image quality; and low-light versus infra-red cameras.
Home Security Motion Sensors
The two primary sensors found in home security systems are motion sensors that trigger an alarm when a protected area is breached and door and window sensors that rely on two components that create an electrical circuit — when this circuit is broken, the alarm is triggered.
Best Home Security Systems
With home security systems increasing in popularity, and technological advancements, there are numerous companies to explore. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common companies selected by homeowners.
Frontpoint Home Security
No cost installation, but professional installation option
Known for good customer service
Smart home integration
No contracts for monitoring, but costly monitoring fees
Vivint Home Security
High-end technology and components
Custom packages and short-term contracts available
Free in-home consultation
Higher overall cost and termination fees
SimpliSafe Home Security
No contracts and 60-day money-back guarantee
Affordable monitoring services
Custom plans and equipment available
Higher up-front costs
ADT Home Security
Fast response times
Known for customer guarantees and over 140 years of experience
Free home risk assessment
Long contracts with no trial period
Costly termination fees
Ring Home Security
Low-cost equipment packages available
Compatibility with Ring doorbells and cameras
Ring Neighbors app
Limited alert configuration
Home Security System Costs
Home Security System Costs
Home Security Company
Cost bundled with contract
Next Steps for Home Security
If you are looking for ways to improve your home’s security, make sure to consult Modernize’s 2021 Home Security Checklist. You can also use Modernize to connect with home security professionals in your area.
After telling Modernize more about your project and expectations, we can quickly connect you with trusted, local contractors to complete your home security system installation. By using the information in this guide and by leveraging our handy Contractor Checklist, you’ll have the tools you need to select a contractor and move one step closer to a security system that protects your family and your home.
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Here are the top articles that homeowners found useful when planning their home security system installation and the professional hiring process.