How to Customize Smart Home Security Systems for Apartments and Condos

How to Customize Smart Home Security Systems for Apartments and Condos

Arby Babaian Alarm System, Home Security Tips, Smart Home Security, Wireless Security Systems Leave a Comment


In our last article we talked about options for security systems if you are renting. We covered the main options that were available as well as what to look for in a security company.  Lastly, we covered one of the non-traditional options available and how video alarms worked.

Today, we will look at some wireless home security systems and how to customize them so they are better suited for tenants and landlords alike.  



There are many folks who live in an apartment who want to protect their home and loved ones with an alarm system but don't think they can. But that ususally isn't the case. It's always advised to check with your apartment complex, or landlord, before purchasing an alarm to prevent future potential issues. If you do, you will find most won't have a problem with the right system.

For that reason, you want to make sure that you are finding alarm systems that aren't going to damage, or place any permanent fixtures on the property. If you talk to your landlord about getting your home protected, you'll want to have options that aren't going to affect their investment negatively. By following these steps you'll ensure that there won't be any issues in the future. 

In fact, more and more apartment complexes are including security with their rental packages.  Modern living for tenants means having some basic interactive service and home automation services to make life safer, and more convenient, in today's world.

Wireless Security Systems for Rentals

It isn't difficult to find advertisements for home security.    It's even easier to find wireless security systems, but just because most new alarm systems are wireless doesn't mean they are all the same. When looking for an alarm system for an apartment, or any rental, there are some key features to look for.



Alarm Systems and Smart Home Security

When it comes to security systems, one trend, that is here to stay, is the new smart home security system. This doesn't mean you have to have all the features that are available right away. It is more about having the ability to customize your home security and have the ability to have as little, or as much, as you want. The main feature that separates traditional alarms and smart security is the ability to upgrade the brains of your system without changing the hardware. This is the biggest way to save money in the long run. Nothing is worse than calling your security company to see about an upgrade to find out that you have to start all over with all the equipment and installation. 

Many alarm companies don't have the ability to use any of your existing equipment. This is especially true when you have a wireless security system. That is because many organizations in the industry have a difficult time adapting with new technology. By using existing security equipment, alarm companies are also affecting their profit margins. By using their own proprietary equipment these company's make it difficult to switch providers as well. With new technology that has the ability to take over most existing wireless sensors you are no longer locked into a situation you may not be happy with.  For apartments and rental properties this can be a huge benefit. If you move into a place that has an existing system you are no longer locked into the same provider. You can now find an organization that can provide features that save you time and money, while still giving you the service that you deserve!

Alarm Panels and Keypads

With wireless alarm systems, the alarm panel and keypad are usual built into one piece of equipment.  Even though a system is wireless, there are normally some types of wires needed for the initial set up. The alarm panel still will need a power connection unless it is powered by a battery.  That one wire will be needed for almost all quality equipment. Battery powered alarm panels should only be used when an outlet isn't an option. You don't want a system that can easily be disconnected. Even though all security companies will tell you the monitoring station will immediately dispatch police if this happens, it isn't always true. There are some security companies that have a feature to protect you if this happens but it isn't the same thing as a traditional tamper.  For example, ADT has security equipment with a tamper switch but it doesn't have a  feature that will notify their central station the same way a traditional burglary alarm is dispatched. 

If you decide to have your alarm panel and keypad to be mounted on a wall, like most security systems, than make sure you are using a professional technician to run the wire in a location where it can easily be removed when you move. Some security companies will even come back and spackle any types of small holes that were needed during the installation.  If you are in an apartment and don't want to lose your deposit this can be a deciding factor when choosing a security system company.

The second option with a alarm systems keypad is to have the keypad placed on a stand and not have the system mounted on a a wall at all.  There are benefits and disadvantages to this type of set up. Obviously, you don't have to worry about making a hole and running any wire which can make your installation even easier. This is also great if you decide to go with DIY security system. However, since the siren is usually built inside of the a wireless alarms keypad this can make your first line of defense vulnerable if there is a break

So, what steps can you take to make your security as secure as possible if you go this route?

  •  Placement - Since your alarm panel is the brains of the system it's important to have it set up somewhere that is both convenient and inconspicuous. Even though it's possible to move your equipment, it isn't something you will be able to do without reconfiguration and placing your system on test. Place the keypad somewhere that you plan on keeping it. Often a desk stand on a cabinet or nightstand can be used if it is close enough to the entrance that is used most often.

  • Inconspicuous Alarm Panels - Another great feature of some   smart home security systems is that they are designed to have a different look than a traditional keypad. One way to hide your keypad is by having it double as a digital picture frame. Having pictures of the family , or the last vacation, on a beautiful touchscreen is a nice way to make sure your alarm system isn't an eye soar as well.

  • Mobile Access - More and more people are using their smart phones to access their alarms and other appliances in their homes.  One way to hide your keypad is to put it in a closet. If you are planning on putting your keypad somewhere hidden away than make sure you have the ability to access your system via smart phone or tablet. Many people don't use their keypad and will use their smart phone as it's replacement. A key fob can also be helpful but make sure you have your fob with you at all time. If you will have a key fob, you may want to consider an encrypted version. There are some safety concerns with fobs that go beyond losing it. Your security company should be able to disable and program key fobs, and other security equipment, remotely.

There is another option instead of traditional keypads as well.  With the popularity of mobile access and using an app to control your smart home security some people find the keypad as an extra piece of equipment that isn't needed. Because of this, one popular option is to get rid of your keypad all together. Having a system that is "unbound" and not tied to a wall has the benefit of having a low profile alarm system while still having all the features and benefits of other smart home security systems.

Even though this is a fairly new way to customize your home security, it is one of the safest and most reliable systems on the market. The Helix system is the first of its kind. The technology has even won awards for most innovating product in 2014. This system is also one of the easiest types of security for a DIY alarm system.  Not only does this particular system use encrypted technology on all their sensors but it also gives you the option of having a more affordable broadband connection instead of a more vulnerable phone line. Cellular communication can also be used instead of an internet connection, or even as a back up.

If you don't plan on staying in your apartment or rented home for the long term, this system may be the perfect fit. It's easy to install, to move, and to use.  It is also great for starting with a sensible system and adding other features as you go.

Smarter Security 

Depending on your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle there are different manufacturers of alarm equipment that you can choose from. In my opinion, the best security for apartments are the one's that will be easiest to install without causing permanent damage while giving you the security and the added benefits of smart home services.

By shopping around and doing your research you will find a select group of security companies that have more affordable options and superior service. Often, they will have better products and services than some of the much larger organizations. Sometimes, smaller local alarm companies will have more flexibility with their pricing and a better set of options as well. That's because you are more than an account number to local alarm companies. Local companies will often appreciate your business and have a sincere desire to help their clients.

Instead of doing business with a company, you are doing business with people who care about the communities they serve.

Monitored Alarms or Non-Monitored Securitysecurity-system-alarm-monitoring

Now that you have a good idea about the different types of security equipment that will work well for apartments, condos, and rental homes, the next step is to find the right service for your security monitoring.  Alarm monitoring is just as important, if not more important, than the security equipment you have protecting your home and family. However, when you are renting in the short term you may decide to have a non-monitored alarm.

 Alarm monitoring is the service that you pay a monthly fee for and will be the reason that police respond if your alarm is triggered. When living in a community where there are multiple units this may, or may not, be important to you. Now, I don't recommend to have a non-monitored alarm because it is nothing more than an expensive noisemaker. However, there is a better option that is similar to a non monitored alarm.

Self monitored systems are becoming more popular due to the smart home trend that has become available, and more affordable. If you decide to have a non-monitored type of  alarm, then you want to look for features that are going to benefit your lifestyle. These type of self monitored security alarms are much better alternative.  Do you want home security that is nothing more than a noisemaker? If so, there are other methods that are even more inexpensive than a wireless security alarm.

Self monitored home alarms are a little different.  These types of systems can notify you when your alarm system is triggered by sending you a notification on your smart phone with a text message or even an email. Some of the more sophisticated self monitored security systems can be combined with cameras and smart home features.  These systems, often, still have a monthly fee associated with them but are lower than traditional monitored alarms.

The cost of self monitored systems can be as low as low as $15 a month. The more equipment and features that are added in the higher the monthly rate will be.  The other factor that should affect your cost is your initial investment. As a general rule for all security systems, the higher your initial investment, the lower your monthly rate should be. 

The disadvantage of having this type of security is that you won't get a response for your emergency. However, if you want security that will alert you  at work or on vacation, this can be an affordable solution.  remember, you will have to purchase the equipment upfront for this type of system.

Comparing Security Companies Costshow-much-do-security-systems-cost

Many people don't realize most the expense of modern smart home security systems is due to having mobile access and smart home features. Traditional security that communicate through a phone line runs anywhere from $20 to $35 with most security companies.  Once you add in cellular monitoring and interactive service the monthly rate can be as high as $60, or even more. If you want to have a more modest monthly payment you  can find alternatives with security companies that will help you with affordable equipment and lower monthly rates. 

If you are living in an apartment or condo, your equipment needs should be less than a larger home. That's why we recommend using an alarm company that gives you the option of purchasing equipment with a lower monthly rate. While most companies will have a standard rate for each type of monitoring they offer, others will give you a couple of options. Even though a "free security system" sounds great, those service plans have a higher monthly rate.  Often, they include a 5 year contract. With any contract that has a monthly rate over $55 a month, is the equipment really free? The truth is these companies are financing the equipment cost into the monthly rate.  We all know the saying "There's no such thing as a free lunch". In my experience, customers end up paying more in the long run with these "free" systems. More often, the additional equipment that is sold is marked much higher than the fair price of security equipment.

One nice aspect of smart home security is the ability to add different products and services in the future. If you move into a larger home, you should be able to easily add additional sensors at that time. Some security companies will even allow you to add your own compatible equipment if you would like to do so. This is great because many of the smart home services are available at hardware stores and online. Just make sure you ask your security company if this is possible and what type of equipment you need to get. There are different types of technology with this growing industry so you want to make sure whatever you purchase is compatible with your alarm system. 

Do Apartments Need Security?

Security may not be the most fun purchase but it's one of those things that can offer peace of mind. Apartments historically have more break in than single family homes and they tend to be an easier target for criminals. Even  though traditional security isn't something that most people get excited about, smart home services are something that can save time and money. As long as the system is way to use and has the ability to be customized you may actually enjoy the process. The key factor is to deal with the right company and the right security

It's also better to have some protection when you aren't home before you actually need it.  When you incorporate the added convenience of home automation combined with the increased affordability, smart security can be a great way to make your life safer  and more convenient. If these features are more to your liking, security can be the added bonus. Traditional security alarms can be an additional monthly payment that doesn't benefit your lifestyle but not smart home security. These types of services are only going to get better and add more convenience in the near future. 


When you live in an apartment or condominium the type of security you will need will be similar, yet different, than a traditional home.  As long as you ask the right questions and deal with a professional you can make sure that the system will work for your home. If you have any questions about alarm monitoring or security you can always contact us at 317.559.3500. We are here to help find the right security solutions for our community. 

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Until next time, stay safe and informed Indianapolis!


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