In our last post, we talked a bit about whether or not a home security system is right for you. And if it is, there are a few more decisions you’ll need to make before you take the big leap and invest in a system.
First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page when we talk about home security systems. You may be confusing them with burglar alarms, and that’s a very common error. A burglar alarm is simply a set of sensors on your doors and windows that will let you (and perhaps local law enforcement, if the system allows it) know when you have a security breach in your home. While this is definitely helpful, a full home security system has many other features that help you protect your home. These can include alerts for environmental threats such as fire, carbon monoxide and possibly flooding, special devices to protect high value items, home automation services and technology that can assist you in case of an emergency.
The first thing you need to do is determine your budget. Check the prices for various packages with at least three providers in your area to see where you’ll fit on their spectrum. The cost of home security systems can vary widely from company to company, so you’ll want to compare systems of the same size and same features with each other to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money. Remember that almost every company will be willing to customize your system to your specific needs. It may cost a little more up front, but since you’ll only be paying for exactly what you need each month, it may save you money in the long run when you aren’t paying for services included in a set package that you don’t use.
Some services you may not use include asset device protection, personal safety and home automation. Asset protection devices can give you an added sense of security if you have high value items in your home. If you collect art, have high-ticket pieces in your jewelry box or have invested a lot of money in top tier electronics, these individual devices can let you know if someone has opened, tampered with or disturbed these items during your absence. They can provide greater peace of mind if you have housekeepers, babysitters or service people entering your home while you’re gone. Personal safety devices can include pendants or bracelets that feature buttons that can notify emergency personnel 24/7 when you’ve had an accident or need assistance when no-one else is home. Home automation services allow you to handle many tasks from your cell phone or tablet, including turning lights on and off, locking and unlocking doors, closing garages and communicating with your Alexa, Echo or Google Home device.
Once you’ve decided which services you need and what your price point is, you can look at some other factors. A big one is the type of monitoring you choose. Monitoring is the primary difference between burglar alarms and home security systems. Monitoring means that the system’s alarm is transmitted to a customer care center, which notifies the appropriate respondent for the problem for you. The least expensive monitoring is done through your landline telephone. It’s the least advanced technology, but is often sufficient if you’re going with a basic plan. It also may be your only choice if you live in a remote area that doesn’t get good cellular transmission. Broadband monitoring works through an Internet connection. It’s in the middle of the price scale, and will allow home automation. However, if your Internet goes down, so does the monitoring function of your home security system. You may choose to back up your broadband with landline coverage, or upgrade to cellular monitoring. The most advanced form of monitoring, cellular is the fastest and most reliable, and is the simplest to install. It is more expensive, but more and more companies are converting their systems to cellular only monitoring. If you don’t get good cell service, be aware of this limitation when choosing your company. Oh…and another thing to remember – a traditional home security system comes with a battery backup. If the power goes out, your system will continue to protect your home. Home security systems are also available in solar powered versions, which while a little more expensive, are the ideal “green” solution to protecting your home without electricity or battery power.
Another main concern is ongoing customer service. It’s important to research the track records of your top few providers for comparison before making a decision. Since most systems are long term investments, you’ll want a company that gets high marks. You also need to decide if you want the company to install the system for you – which may cost extra – or if you want to install it yourself. Many systems today are easy to hook up yourself if you have a basic knowledge of technology. Many companies also offer installation troubleshooting as part of their customer service.
Keep in mind that you should register your new home security system with the local police. Some locales may require that a system be registered before responders will be dispatched to your home to help, while others may send help, but charge you a fee later if your system is not registered.
Whatever home security system you eventually choose, remember that everyone at Ernest Signature Custom Homes wants you and your family to always feel safe and secure. If you have any questions we can help answer, don’t hesitate to let us know!