While navigating through the minefield of determining the best home security systems for use, several factors should be kept in mind of which many homeowners may not be aware, such as reliability, the level of security provided, and the area of coverage. Finding the most reliable and secure home security system should be the main focus on any search, ahead of even pricing and convenience of use.
There are a few other concerns that homeowners should be aware of as well. Some security systems have shown vulnerability in certain key areas, including by hacking, as is shown by the recent vulnerabilities found in the Comcast Xfinity Home Security System. With criminals becoming more sophisticated with each passing day, vulnerabilities such as this can severely compromise the ability of a security system to reliably protect your home.
One other factor that is important to remember is the overall reputation of not only the security system itself but of the home security system installer and service provider. Consumers should be made aware of home security system scams, such as those detailed by the Federal Trade Commission.
This article hopes to provide the most important information regarding home security systems, as well as suggestions regarding reputable home security system brands and service providers. Other information such as the basics of a home security system and how they work will also be explained in detail, in order to properly educate homeowners on the necessary information for buying the best home security system.
What Is a Home Security System?
Home security systems are systems made up of a collection of different devices that work together to monitor and protect a home from invasions or break-ins. This is accomplished by using a number of different methods to monitor the home, detecting unusual activity, and then alerting both the homeowner and/or law enforcement through various methods.
Many home security systems also offer services in addition to the basic monitoring of a homeowner’s property, such as providing instant medical alerts to emergency services or parental monitoring of infants. Some other additional functionality and services can also be included, depending on the system manufacturer and monitoring provider. Since many home security systems are configurable, homeowners can often choose the exact features that they need, depending on the security system and the various devices available for it.
Types of Home Security Systems:
In recent years, there have been a number of different types of home security systems that have become widely used. Many of the earliest home security systems were very simple systems that only provided very limited monitoring and alerting abilities, but now there are many options for which type of system can be installed in a home. Out of all of these types of systems, there are four main types available, with many of them having additional features that overlap with each other.
- Monitored Home Security Systems
Probably the most popular type of home security system is what is considered a Monitored Home Security System. Monitored systems are those which provide a monitoring service for parts of the home, and provide alerts to a monitoring service whenever suspicious activity is detected.
Monitored home security systems most often require a monthly or annual payment to provide the monitoring services for your home. The monitored system is usually composed of several components, which can include door and window sensors, motion detectors, and a monitoring base. Many of these systems are monitored by calling out to a monitoring service either through phone lines or through the Internet, which in turn will allow the monitoring service to dispatch emergency police or medical services to the home, if necessary.
Monitored home security systems hold some notable advantages over other types of systems, which has resulted in their widespread use. Monitored systems are able to automatically notify emergency services whenever a problem is detected, which means that a homeowner can leave their home protected even when they are away and unreachable. Most of the monitoring services are priced very competitively, with many home security companies offering the systems themselves for free with a monthly or annual subscription to the service.
Along with the big advantage comes a few disadvantages. One of the largest of these is the tendency for monitored home security systems to provide false alarms. These are often caused by a wide variety of issues, ranging from forgotten security codes by the homeowner to faulty monitoring devices. False alarms tend to waste a lot of time and expense for emergency services in the area, as any police or fire department can attest to, and excessive false alarms can often result in a fine for the homeowner.
- Smart Locks
A new type of home security system has become popular in recent years, which is often referred to as Smart Locks. Smart Locks are devices which can replace the normal mechanical locks on doors and windows in a home, and will only provide access to those who have a digital key.
Smart Locks can often work in conjunction with a monitored home security system, although many of the recent smart lock systems have features that overlap with the standard monitored system, most notably the ability to alert emergency services whenever suspicious activity is detected. However, an added benefit of smart locks is that many of the features of the smart lock system are available for monitoring and use through smartphone apps. This allows the homeowner to enable or disable the system through their smartphone, lock and unlock doors and windows automatically, and even monitoring the status of their home security system while away from home.
Another additional feature of smart locks is being able to assign keys to friends or family members who may need access to the house. This provides a level of convenience and security that does not exist with many other home security systems. Keys can be assigned to others as needed, for family members such as a spouse and children who can have access to the house without needing a spare set of physical keys. Keys can also be assigned to friends or family on a temporary basis, such as when the homeowner is on vacation.
Along with these advantages come some disadvantages which also do not exist with other types of home security systems. Smart locks that provide monitoring services can be just as susceptible to false alarms as a standard monitored home security system. In addition, the online nature of smart locks monitoring and administering provides a vulnerability to hacking that just doesn’t exist with older home security systems. Although smart locks provide a level of convenience that is unmatched by standard home security systems, they also require more diligence in their use.
- Surveillance Cameras
Another recently popular type of home security system is Surveillance Cameras. Although these are relatively new in the home security system market, they have been in use for many years in governmental and business security systems. Surveillance cameras help provide a level of monitoring by the homeowner that is simply unmatched by most other types of home security systems.
Surveillance cameras, while often paired with other types of home security systems, are often used as their own standalone system. Their main advantage comes with being able to monitor the property by sight instead of just relying on sensors that are susceptible to false triggers. Many of these systems provide visual monitoring through several ways, either by recording the video through the use of motion sensors or by providing remote access to the homeowner, which allows them to monitor the property in real time and to access recordings of earlier times. Which features are available mainly depends on the types of cameras and security system that is being used, and can vary widely.
The biggest disadvantages of a surveillance camera system can depend entirely on the types of cameras and system being used. Surveillance cameras come in a large variety, ranging from very inexpensive motion sensor recorders to business level multi-camera systems. This means that the homeowner needs to spend a lot of time in finding the right system for their needs and setting it up. Small, inexpensive standalone cameras can often work but are limited in that they can only monitor whatever is within their field of view. The cheaper cameras often tend to suffer from poor image quality, especially if they are recording a dark room and do not have night vision. Larger multi-camera systems can monitor the entire property, including areas outside of the home, but this can often be mitigated by their high price tag. For homeowners who wish to use surveillance cameras, due diligence is a necessity when finding the right system for their needs.
- Smart Plugs
One other type of home security system that has recently become popular is Smart Plugs. Smart Plugs are often multifunction devices that provide more than just security monitoring. Many smart plugs are used to control the level and accessibility of electrical lighting within the house, and allow the homeowner to be able to turn lights on or off, even while away. Many smart plugs also come equipped with motion sensors, which allows lights to turn on or off automatically whenever motion is detected.
Due to these features of smart plugs, many homeowners rely on them as an inexpensive home security system. With smart plugs inside the house and solar powered lamps with motion detectors set up for the front and back entrances, smart plugs rely on the element of surprise and unawareness to provide security for the home. Any potential burglar will think twice about trying to break into a home whenever lights are turning on and off randomly.
The main advantage with smart plugs over most other types of home security systems lies in their low and very affordable price. Smart plugs are often by far the cheapest home security system available for a homeowner. On the other hand, they also have some large disadvantages in that their level of monitoring and security is far below most other methods of home security, due to their limited features in comparison. Despite this significant disadvantage, many homeowners see smart plugs as an affordable solution that is better than having no security system whatsoever.
Home Security Monitoring Services
Since many home security systems rely on monitoring services in order to maintain maximum effectiveness, any homeowner looking into buying a home security system should be aware of the best monitoring services available. Since a wide range of options exists, it is best to be aware of the exact services that are provided by each monitoring service, as well as which types of home security systems that they are able to monitor.
Below are some of the best known and highest rated home security monitoring services available.
Originally formed in 1874 as a conglomeration of smaller telegraph monitoring services, ADT is one of the best known and most widely used residential security monitoring service companies in the world. ADT provides home security, fire, and medical emergency monitoring services, and often utilizes their own security systems to provide these services for residential customers. With this being the case, anyone who uses ADT may need to purchase their security system either directly through ADT or through an ADT reseller.
Armorax has been a recent entry in the home security system market, and have been able to make a name for themselves by providing extreme versatility along with affordable prices. Armorax security systems provide a large number of additional features that easily match those of their competitors, and have been a top rated monitoring service the last several years.
Frontpoint has become one of the most highly rated security system providers due to their renowned customer service, as well as for providing security system monitoring options that match or exceed their competitors. Frontpoint relies on cellular monitoring, which means that telephone or broadband internet services are not necessary for their monitoring services. This flexibility allows homeowners to not rely on legacy communication options for their home security monitoring services but can be a drawback for those who live in areas with limited cellular coverage.
Based in Austin, Texas, Protect America is a relative newcomer to the home security system business but has quickly grown into one the largest and most highly rated home security monitoring services in the United States. Protect America relies on selling their own “do-it-yourself” home security systems and provides monitoring for them, which allows them to remain price competitive with most other top monitoring services. However, some of their services tend to be limited for their lower-priced options.
SimpliSafe has become a leader in affordable and portable home security providers by selling budget equipment that is easily moved to another location. This has made them a favorite of those who rent their homes, which means that there’s little additional cost to uninstalling and reinstalling their security systems whenever they move. However, their security systems and monitoring service options tend to be limited in comparison to their competitors.
Additional Monitoring Services
Along with the above top rated home security monitoring services, there are a number of others who provide similar monitoring services for homeowners. Any homeowner looking for a home security monitoring service should research the available options within their area to determine which one provides the best service for their own specific needs.
Considering a large number of available home security systems and monitoring options available now, homeowners have a large range of options available to them for an affordable price. Along with this wide range of options comes a hard road of finding the best and most reliable security systems and monitoring services. With each type of security system and monitoring service available, a number of advantages and disadvantages exist, which can lead to confusion regarding which ones to rely on for the security of a home.
Finding the best home security system will come down to the specific homeowner’s needs and infrastructure available to them, along with the types of monitoring services that they require. This will inevitably require much research on the part of the homeowner to find the right balance of equipment and monitoring services. However, with the enhanced capabilities available in modern home security systems, any home can be made safe and secure.