Make a thorough evaluation of your home security needs and the layout and set-up of your home before taking the plunge on a system
If you have decided that installing a home security system is the next important home improvement project you and your family will undertake, making a thorough evaluation of your home security needs will be an important first step. A home security needs assessment will help you frame the questions you will need to ask any home security provider. An important step in this assessment will be to evaluate your home security system setup prior to evaluating a system or selecting a home security professional. A clear-eyed view of your home from the standpoint of securing it will help ensure you get the best results.
Ask the professionals
Most home security system companies offer a free evaluation and estimate of your home security needs as an initial step. Take them up on this. Remember, when a security professional says “no obligation,” you are under no obligations.
Designing a security system on your own can be painstakingly difficult, especially since most of us really want to believe that we’ve done everything we can to keep our loved ones and our valuables safe and well protected. Unless you are a trained security expert, there’s an excellent chance you’re going to miss something. Of course, the reverse could also be true and you could pile on security features that you don’t need or that compete or cancel out other components of your security system. In this case, too much can be as damaging as too little.
A little self-awareness is a good thing, though. Even if you choose to get an evaluation and estimate from a home security professional, understanding what goes into such an evaluation will make you a better-informed consumer. Better-informed consumers make better choices.
Entry points – your home’s first line of defense
One of the first evaluations you want to make regarding home security is just how many “entry points” there are to your home. Once you start thinking this way, you could be surprised at just how many fairly easy ways there are to gain access to your home:
- Doors – there are typically two to four exterior doors on the average two-story house that allow instant access into your home. These doors are commonly targeted as a way in by criminals and should be defended appropriately. Although there are many types of hardware you can implement, door alarms with sensors and automatic locks are commonly installed and integrated into your home security system because of their cost-to-benefit ratio.
- Windows – these offer another access route for burglars into your home. Homeowners will typically install window alarms or sensors that send a security breach message to the home alarm and/or to a monitoring center. These are typically the best way to defend your windows, but there are some other options. The installation of window bars or security curtains can be expensive but can offer a good level of protection. More and more common is the installation of “break window” sensors that can be more sensitive to intrusion and can also be harder for criminals to override or by-pass.
Other components to consider
In addition to good locks and alarms, consider some of these other components that may be helpful when building your home security system:
- Motion sensors – are an excellent addition to a home security system. Motion detectors can be added to lights, triggering them when there is activity in an area. Motion detectors can also be added to alarms and surveillance cameras and can be set for varying levels of sensitivity. Modern motion sensors can be set to accommodate pets or even some local wildlife so that they aren’t routinely giving off false alarms.
- Smile, you’re on camera – despite the cost of installing and maintaining video surveillance or security cameras, they can provide an excellent defense in keeping unwanted visitors and intruders away from your home. Cameras can serve as a deterrent to potential criminals as well as an important archiving tool should you suffer a home intrusion. Cameras can be linked to mobile devices (even your smartphone) allowing you to keep tabs on your home when you are away on vacation. The recording of footage can also be stored digitally on a hard drive or even by using cloud technology, relieving you of the need to have enough “tape” to record with.
- Monitoring – is an important element for your home security system. Monitoring can entail something as simple as a tie-in to your cellular phone or Internet service where you can survey any triggering activity. Many home security systems are supported by an off-site monitoring center where operators can report to the appropriate authorities should a triggering event occur, as well as reporting to you, the homeowner.
A system for your lifestyle
Whatever components you ultimately decide on for your home security system, be sure that the entirety of the system is compatible with your lifestyle and the general pattern of your family’s activities. If you or a member of your family works from home, you may have different security needs, especially if you have clients or customers routinely visiting your home office/sales space.
If your house is on a larger lot or has acreage, you may have different needs than a family with a home in a tight-knit neighborhood with homes on smaller lots. Likewise, if you have outbuildings or barns or outside storage sheds, your security needs are going to be different and your security system should accommodate those needs.
Do you have kids? What are their ages? Having a home security system that accommodates the schedules and activities of your kids (and the friends who come to hang out with them) is important.
Do you have pets? Are they inside pets, outside pets, or some combination? Pets can inadvertently wreak havoc with certain home security components so be certain to include them in the equation when making any needs assessment.
Your home security system should also be flexible enough to suit your family. If you happen to be a family that enjoys outdoor activities at certain times of the year and are away during the weekends, your security system should comfortably support that lifestyle.
Home security systems are as unique as the homes they protect. What works for somebody else may not work for you. While you can easily find off-the-shelf solutions to certain security issues, developing a complete plan to keep you and your family safe and your valuables protected will, in the long run, serve you best. One good first step would be to visit with a qualified home security expert. Whether you ultimately use that person or not, getting a clear picture of what your home security needs are will be improved with an expert’s advice. Reply! can serve as an excellent resource by putting you in contact with local home security experts, eager to help you develop the best system to protect you and your entire family.