Surveillance Systems for Your Home

by Jessica Brita-Segyde

Home security is more important than ever. Because property damage and theft are common crimes all across the US, it's a good idea to install a surveillance system for your home.

The Basic Elements of a Surveillance System

Motion detectors – Motion detectors activate when movement is detected inside or outside a home. When the detector is triggered, it will perform a variety of tasks such as turning on lights, sounding an alarm, alerting the homeowner, or alerting the remote monitoring company. Most motion detectors attempt to disregard pets by ignoring movement of bodies under a preset size.

Interior and exterior cameras – Home security cameras can be installed as a closed-circuit system (just for you) or can operate as part of a remote monitoring service (see below). Most cameras come with smart technology and can be viewed from an app while you’re away. Some cameras include motion detectors to alert the homeowner or security company of movement inside or outside the property. Video doorbells are a form of outdoor motion detection that have become mainstream in recent years.

Remote monitoring service – Also known as remote monitoring, this means hiring a security company to monitor your devices and alarms when prompted. The service comes with a monthly fee and you may need to purchase hardware from the company.

Smart detectors for smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide – These devices alert local law enforcement and first responders to emergency situations in the home. They usually pair with an app that alerts the homeowner as well. Some can be programmed to activate a sprinkler system.

Alarms – Doors and windows can be outfitted with loud alarms that activate in response to attempted entry. The alarm can also be set to notify the homeowner, monitoring service, and/or local police.

Guard dog – Dogs are a great warning system and also provide a first line of defense against home intruders.

Neighbors – Know your neighbors and keep the lines of communication open. Ask them to keep an eye on your property when you’re away and be available to return the favor if asked.

Basic Settings: Home Versus Away

Two sets of protocol exist for arming your home surveillance system: home and away. You can customize the level of security and frequency of alerts within each setting. For example, many homeowners choose not to receive alerts when indoor motion is detected during a home phase. Others may disable interior cameras when their surveillance system is set to home.

Wired Versus Wireless

Wired home security systems make use of your home’s electricity, versus wireless systems that rely on battery power alone. One advantage of a wireless system is that it is easier to install; therefore, most homeowners can do it themselves. This saves on installation, maintenance, and upgrade costs. Both types of systems use internet connection and may also use radio signal. An advantage of wired systems is that they are harder to move or steal. Also, wired system data is stored on a local device, making it more secure. Wireless data is typically stored by the home security company for a monthly fee.

Home Security Companies

Companies providing home security could be a small business, locally-owned franchise, or a national corporation. Costs and services vary, so it makes sense to shop around. Many websites rank home security systems for their value and capabilities. Check out safewise.com and pcmag.com for recent rankings.

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