How to create the ultimate home security system
If you’re worried about your belongings being stolen, you’re not alone, but a good home security system can drastically reduce your chances of being the victim of a crime. According to one study, installing outdoor security lights alone can make your home up to three times more protected against burglary.
In this buying guide, we will explore the different products that make up a home security system, the benefits of having one, and how to choose the best system for your home.
What is a home security system?
A home security system is a combination of devices that work together to provide protection against burglaries and intrusions. That means if an intruder manages to bypass one system, they’ll be caught out by another. Having multiple layers of outdoor and indoor security also keeps you protected from any unforeseen faults. In the unlikely event that one of these items fails, you’re not left unprotected.
Why should I get a security system?
There are many reasons why you should consider investing in a home security system, including:
The presence of a home security system is enough to deter many intruders from breaking into your home. A well-designed system with multiple components can provide a comprehensive barrier against break-ins.
Keeping an eye on your home
An advanced home security system allows you to monitor your home remotely, so you can keep an eye on your property even when you're away. Some systems, like smart security cameras with two-way microphones, let you communicate with delivery drivers and others remotely. This can be especially useful for those who travel frequently, or anyone who works from an office.
Reducing insurance costsInstalling a home security system can reduce your homeowner's insurance costs, as some insurance companies offer discounts for homes with security systems. If you want to buy a home security system for this reason, make sure to check with your insurance provider first, as they may have rules around which security brands are covered by the policy.
What makes up a home security system?
From sensors and cameras to alarms and control panels, there are a lot of products that can make up a home security system. Let's break down each one now and explain what it does. Soon, you'll be able to make the right decisions about whether to add products to your own security system.
Burglar alarms are the backbone of any home security system. They can be triggered by a variety of factors, including motion, sound, or door and window contacts. When an alarm is triggered, it makes a very loud racket that can be heard from across the street, alerting you – even if you're asleep – as well as anyone else who's nearby. In the vast majority of models, this alarm will not turn off unless it's deliberately deactivated with a code.
As well as making a very loud noise, many modern burglar alarms will send out different alerts depending on how you've programmed it during the set-up process. Common alerts include notifications that appear on your smartphone and an alert sent to the alarm manufacturer, who can then call you to tell you about a possible break in. Some alarms can even call the police for you!
There are two main types of burglar alarms: Wired and wireless. Wired systems are connected to your home's electrical system and require a professional installation. On the other hand, you can install most wireless burglar alarms yourself, so long as you have the right tools for the job.
Security camerasSecurity cameras are almost as essential as a burglar alarm. They can be used to monitor the inside and outside of your home and provide footage of any intrusions or break-ins. They can also be used as effective nanny cams for small children or receiving delivered packages remotely, if you choose one with real-time monitoring.
When choosing security cameras, it's important to consider the quality of the video footage and the storage options. Some cameras offer high-definition video and cloud storage, while others have lower resolution and rely on local storage. Something else to be aware of when buying a security camera is the law. Different countries have different rules about where you can place a CCTV camera, so make sure you follow these.
There are lots of different kinds of security cameras, from indoor security cameras that connect via Wi-Fi to outdoor security cameras that catch criminals in their very own spotlight. It's such a complicated subject that we've written a whole separate category just for them. Read our security cameras buyer's guide to learn more.
Security lights are designed to deter intruders by illuminating areas around your home. Most modern security lights use a motion sensor to activate them. That way they only turn on when something moves into their field of 'view'. This saves energy and also makes them more effective: You'll know instantly if something is in your garden because the spotlight has suddenly turned on. It's also kinder to your neighbours.
There are different types of security lights, including floodlights, wall lights, and porch lights (also known as doorway lights). When choosing security lights, it's important to consider the strength of the lighting and the coverage area. For brightness, a good starting point for security spotlights is 700 lumens, as this will provide enough brightness to startle and properly illuminate an intruder.
Many products, like burglar alarms or security lights, come with their own motion sensor, but you also buy them separately. They can't protect your home on your own, but what they can do is extend the range of the products you already own. For example, you can buy an extra motion sensor for your burglar alarm so that it covers an extra room in your house. This is ideal for homes with more than one easy break-in point.
There are different motion sensor technologies, and some are more capable than others. For example a passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor is better suited for security lights, since they're tough and inexpensive. Microwave sensors are more accurate, so they tend to be better for burglar alarms. Some motion sensors use multiple detection technologies together to cut down on false alarms. Others are equipped with pet immunity, so they won't be triggered by your pets.
Connecting your security system to a smart homeSmart home appliances are all the rage right now. They allow you to monitor and control all kinds of appliances – from smart lighting to smart thermostats – from your smartphone with an app. Security products that are compatible with a smart home are extremely popular, because of the following reasons:
There are many benefits to connecting your home security system in a smart home system, including:
With a smart home security system, you can monitor your home from anywhere in the world using your smartphone or tablet.
Easier to control
It's far easier to control your home security system from a single app than using the control panels built into the devices themselves. Also, security lights and similar products may only be controllable through the app.
With a smart home security system, you can customise your security settings to meet your specific needs. For example, you can set your security lights to turn on only when motion is detected, or you can set your burglar alarm to disarm automatically when you enter your home.
To connect a home security system in a smart home system, you'll need a central hub that connects to your security devices. This hub is almost always a smart speaker or similar device that has voice assistant compatibility. If you're going down this route, make sure the products you buy are compatible with your chosen smart home system, since not all of them are.
Other tips for buying a home security systemTo finish, let's consider a few extra tips to help you find the perfect security system for you.
Consider the size of your home and the areas you want to protect when selecting a security system. Make sure the system you choose covers all the important areas, such as doors and windows, and that you have enough devices to provide adequate protection.
BudgetHome security systems can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the type and number of devices. Determine your budget before making a purchase and consider the costs of installation and monthly monitoring fees.
Decide whether you want a self-monitored system or a professionally monitored system. A self-monitored system will send alerts to your phone when a device is triggered, but you'll need to respond yourself. A professionally monitored system will have a central monitoring station that will respond to alarms and contact the authorities if needed.