Even though most security companies offer a package for your home an educated person will always customize their home security for their needs. Depending on your situation you may decide to install your own system. Or you may have a professional installation. Either way, by knowing what’s important you can make sure your system is designed specifically for your home.
There are different types of equipment for different areas of your home. This article will guide you through the most important aspect of a home security system, the design. It doesn’t matter how great your alarm monitoring or security equipment is if it isn’t designed to protect your home and family.
Door Protection and Security Systems
Your system set up will be largely depending on the size, the amount of rooms and entry points, and the layout of your home. These are all factors to consider before settling on any alarm package.
The first thing you want to do is count the number of entry doors that are accessible from the outside. If you took a look at our infographic you know that most break-ins happen through a door.
Don't forget about any doors in your garage. If you have an attached garage, protecting it is even more important. If you have a detached garage that is less than 100 feet from your home the same wireless security system should be able to be connected to your home and garage.
Depending on your budget you may decide to have the door coming into your home protected, any exterior door that comes into the garage, or both. Most people keep expensive items in their garage. If that's the case it's strongly recommended to have all of the doors protected.
As for the actual garage door, a traditional door sensor isn't the best solution. If you have an electric garage door you have a couple of options. A tilt sensor is a door sensor that is used for garage doors instead of traditional door sensors. This sensor will work just like any door sensor but it is primarily used to let you know when the garage door is left open. Protecting a manual garage door can be more important than an electric one. It's pretty dificult to used force entry on an electric garage door.
If you want to be able to open and close your garage door remotely you will need a different type of sensor. That type of smart garage sensor is more of a smart home service than a security service.
The one advantage of a tilt sensor over a smart garage sensor is that it doesn't count on your internet connection. It can work with the same cellular communication as your home security system which is the safest type of communication with alarm monitoring stations.
Motion Detector Protection
The next factor you want to consider is how you will protect the interior of your home. Motion detectors are used most often as a cost effective way to protect the inside of your home. If used correctly, they are very effective as an alternative to window sensors that will need to be installed on each window.
If you have pets a motion detector may not be the best alternative. There are pet-sensitive motion detectors that can be used if you have a small dog. Some motions can be adjusted for larger dogs but I wouldn't suggest using a motion if you have pets over 40 pounds. If you have cats, I wouldn't recommend a motion detector at all. Why? Cats are one of the most common reason for false alarms.
If you decide to use a motion detector, the placement is also key. You want to cover as many opening as possible while avoiding false alarms.
You have to think like a burglar when designing a security system. The two most important questions to ask yourself:
Where will a burglar most likely gain access to my home from?
Where will they leave from?
Most often, large rooms with multiple windows that have easy access from the ground level are protected by motion detectors. Another area that is normally protected with a motion detector is a hallway that is connected to bedrooms.
When installing your motion detector you want to avoid mirrors or windows that are facing the sensor to avoid false alarms. Extreme temperatures and vents also want to be avoided for the same reason. It's always best to speak with your professional security consultant to make sure you are installing your equipment in the best place to be effective.
Using Glassbreak sensors
If a motion isn't going to work for your home another sensor that is used as an alternative, or in combination with a motion detector, is a glassbreak sensor. These sensors use the sound of breaking glass to trigger your alarm. Glassbreaks can be used to cover an area with windows but depending on the size and even the acoustics of your home you will need more glassbreak sensors to cover the same square foot area as a motion. I have heard salespeople tell people that one glass break will cover an entire house and that's simply not true. You can test your glassbreaks with a glass jar with pennies in it to mimic the sound.
The disadvantage of glassbreak is that loud noises can often cause false alarms as well. One place I wouldn't use a glass break is the kitchen. Drop a glass and you may set the alarm. Even a television can set them off depending on the quality and technology of your security equipment. In general, glass breaks are very effective if installed properly.
Ranch or 2 story house?
If you live in a multiple level home it's recommended to focus on protecting the ground level. That's not to say there aren't areas on the second floor that are never vulnerable but in general burglars will not spend the time to break in on an upper level. According to home security facts, the average burglar will spend no more than 60 seconds to gain access to a property.
If you have a one story home you can protect your home with a combination of sensors. Because of the layout of a ranch type home it isn't uncommon to need more equipment than a 2 story home.
In my opinion, bedrooms on the bottom level should always have some type of protection if your budget allows. The master bedroom, in particular, is a prime target for burglars. Depending on your budget, you can use a motion in the hallway for protection when you aren't home or you can use window sensors and/or glassbreak sensor in a bedroom on the bottom level of a home. Since motions detectors are normally turned off when you are home these other types of sensors may be more effective for burglaries that happen when you are home.
Again, that's why it's so important to speak with professionals that have your best interest in mind. A technician or security consultant can help you design the right security system.
Keypads, Fobs, and Apps
Having convenient access to your home security is also important. Often, people forget about this key piece of equipment but it will be used daily and needs to be installed in the correct place. Depending on the alarm panel and the communication you will have it is important to make sure there is the right amount of connectivity.
If it's cellular, you will want to make sure you have the right carrier for the best signal strength. Think of it like the bars on your cell phone. Except you don't want to ever lose this signal!
If it's broadband, you will want to make sure you have access to the router. Broadband connections have become more reliable in the recent years. However, you know your home. If you are worried about your Internet going down you may want to use cellular communication instead. Some security systems have the ability to use Wifi. Generally, it's better to use an Ethernet connection that is hard wired. Using Wifi as a backup form of communication or dual path connectivity like our IQ Panel is always recommended.
Placing the keypad somewhere that is convenient is also important. There are some alarm systems that don't have to use a keypad. This can be a benefit of having a discreet alarm. However, if you won't be the only person using the system, I would strongly recommend having some type of keypad.
Whether it's a basic keypad or a beautiful 7-inch touchscreen is up to you. Both have their advantages. If you want something that will look nice on your wall and double as a picture frame the touchscreen panel is a better fit. If you will only be using the keypad when others, like the kids, get home a basic keypad will be fine.
If you won't be counting on your keypad then you will most likely using your smartphone to access your home security. These are becoming a standard with most systems but make sure you ask your provider Just because they say the app is free doesn't mean the service is included. More and more systems are using this as their basic way to communicate with the alarm panel and are a great option. It is nice to still have the keypad in case your phone dies or even if you leave it at work. Rare situations but they can happen.
The key fob is also a nice feature to have with your system. If cyber security is important to you I would strongly suggest using an encrypted key fob. This isn't standard it today's systems. Some security companies offer encrypted key fobs but you will have to ask them about it.
The reason key fobs should be encrypted is because they send a signal to arm or disarm security systems. These signals can be stolen, very much like garage door openers. While door sensors that aren't encrypted don't offer much of a risk, any piece of equipment that can arm, or disarm, your system is vulnerable if encryption technology isn't used.
If you do use a key fob, they are very handy. The one benefit of the fob that separates it from your smartphone app is the ability to send a duress signal. If there is an emergency a panic button will dispatch police right away. This is something to consider when designing your home security system.
The other factor to consider is the safety of a fob. If you lose your key fob, or if it is stolen, you will be giving access to your alarm system to the person who has it. The good news is that you can call your security company to disable the lost fob right away. You want to verify the remote programming ability with security companies you speak with.
Smart Home Services
If you want to add smart home services to your design they can make your system work even better than a traditional home security systems. This is something you will want to talk to your security dealer about. Having someone that has the ability to come out to your home if there are any issues is a big benefit. Often, local security companies with great service will offer this with self-installed or professionally monitored DIY security systems. In a future article, we will go into detail about designing smart home systems. There are too many services to cover in this article. The main feature that you should inquire about is having remote access to your alarm system. That is if you use a smartphone.
More to Consider Then Cost
When looking at ways to protect your home and family it can be tempting to only consider the cost. Even though the cost of your home security is important it isn't as important as the functions and the ability to use your system. If it isn't effective, you're paying too much.
You will want to consider the overall value of your system design and the long term benefits when choosing a security system.The right security company, the right customer service and the right security equipment should all be just as important as the cost of your protection.
The design of your security system is just as important as the service. This guide will help you in determining what you'll need. All the research in the world still doesn't take the place of having a consultation from a professional. If you decide to install your own security deal with a company that focuses on customer service. Looking at reviews and making a call or two will help you make the right decision and may avoid you years of hassle.
You can also leave a comment below and we will respond as soon as we can. At All About Security, we can't install another company's security equipment but we will always do our best to help you have the right type of home security. Our advice is free!
Until next time, stay safe and informed Indianapolis!