Just bought a home? You might be asking yourself whether installing a security system is a wise choice, or a waste of money. In this article, we’ll explore the different kinds of security systems you can implement to keep your home safe.
Are they really worth it?
In a 2013 study, a research team from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte gathered survey responses from over 400 convicted burglars. They found that “approximately 83 percent said they would try to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary, and 60 percent said they would seek an alternative target if there was an alarm on-site.”
Looking to save on costs? One way to offset some of the cost of a home security system is to find out if your homeowners insurance policy will offer a discount for having one. In some cases, you can save up to 20% on your policy just by having a system in place.
Monitored vs. self-controlled systems
There are two major home security categories to consider: monitored systems and self-controlled systems.
Monitored systems are generally going to cost between $10 and $65 per month, which includes 24-hour monitoring by a professional security service. When your alarm goes off, a trained pro at a call center will call to make sure everything is okay. If they’re unable to reach you, they will call the police or other emergency services as necessary.
Self-controlled systems can tend to be a bit cheaper than monitored systems, because as the name suggests, you are the one monitoring the system. If something happens to your home, you’ll get an app notification and you can decide for yourself whether or not to call for an emergency.
Hardwired vs. wireless systems
When choosing your home security setup, you’ll also want to consider whether to install a hardwired security system or a wireless system.
Hardwired systems are literally hardwired into your home, like a landline phone. Since wires need to be run and holes need to be drilled by a pro, there are higher installation costs associated with setting up a hardwired system. However, once it’s in place, there tends to be lower maintenance needs, less expensive components, and the system can’t be hacked remotely like a wireless one could be. It’s typically less expensive on a monthly basis to go with a hardwired security system, costing around $20 to $35 per month.
Wireless systems run on a chip, like a cell phone. This makes wireless systems a popular choice for renters and apartment dwellers, since you can easily DIY the install and upgrade or move components. On the other hand, since the system is operating wirelessly, there could be a risk of signal interference (from criminals or from other appliances). Depending on which system you choose, a wireless system can cost anywhere from $10 to $65 per month. These types of systems have become the more popular choice as smart home systems continue to grow in popularity.
Costs & Activation Fees
The installation cost of an alarm system can be anywhere from $500-$1,600. Depending on what type of package you get, it may also cost up to $600 for the equipment (control panel, sensors, etc.). This can vary based on what upgrades and extras you might want to add on, like smart home features or additional sensors.
Monitored systems will also usually have an activation fee on top of these expenses, ranging up to $200 depending on the company and plan.
Popular features and extras
Motion detectors are popular features to include. Anything that emits heat and is large enough to be a threat will trigger the detector, which uses infrared sensors to detect motion. This means large pets or children could potentially set off the detector. They’re often easy to move and don’t usually need to be drilled into your wall.
Duress signals are frequently included in most plans, and help protect you in the case of a break in occurring while you’re at home. A duress signal is a secondary code that deactivates the system while silently alerting your monitoring service that you’re being forced to turn the alarm off.
Security cameras are a popular choice, but it’s not clear how effective they truly are at preventing break ins. To some intruders, the cameras might act as a deterrent. However, they can also signal the presence of valuable items worth stealing. One convicted burglar wrote in a letter: “Security cameras are only good if you don’t wear a mask, plus they give information to me that there’s stuff worth money that you feel a camera is needed to watch over.”
Smart home integrations like smart locks, thermostat, lighting, smoke, fire, and CO2 detectors are all popular upgrades to a smart home security service and can create a complete smart home setup when integrated with security features and monitoring.
Other ways to keep your home safe
Make it look like you’re home: According to a study of 86 inmates currently serving time for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections, “most burglars feared someone might be home if they heard a radio or TV” and wouldn’t break in. Lights on inside the house and cars parked in the driveway also act as deterrents. To make the most of this low-tech security method, try keeping your system unpredictable by turning different lights on at different times.
Get a dog: According to the same study, “if a homeowner had a big, loud dog most burglars would stay away”. “Dogs are a deal breaker for me,” said one inmate. “Big breeds, home protectors are the best to keep people out.”
Put up security system yard signs: It’s definitely worth it to take a few minutes to display the sign. In the study mentioned at the start of this article, the majority of respondents said that security system signs were effective at protecting the home.
No matter what combination of security systems and other strategies you use to safeguard your home, taking any step already makes your home safer than doing nothing. Opt for a security system setup that will harmonize best with your home and your lifestyle, and then keep that lamp on when you leave!