So you’re having a home security system fitted and you want to make sure that you get the right one. Here’s a quick checklist before I start the main body of this post, to help you get started in the right direction:
- 1: Ask your insurer. If your chosen alarm system is not on their list then go back to the drawing board. Unless of course you want to end up voiding your home and contents insurance.
- 2: Choose a brand with a good reputation. To do this research your prospective house alarm system on social media streams. That’s what they’re there for ; )
- 3: Set your budget. You can get a perfectly adequate system for your needs in line with your budget, as long as you know what the budget is in advance. Pick a sensible figure and stick with it.
OK so now we’re onto the main event. Given that you have kept the above three points in mind, we are choosing the best system for your home. First question: wireless or hardwired?
There has been an amount of talk in the industry recently, suggesting that wireless alarm systems are not as reliable as hardwired systems – there are fears that they may work less well in some circumstances, or that they can be hacked. The latter is certainly true – but then it is also true of hardwired alarm systems, as was terrifyingly demonstrated when two hackers (in the employ of a digital security company) test-hacked a car alarm system in two hours and took total ownership of it.
What’s that got to do with your house alarm system? If it has any GSM capability (i.e. if it interacts in any way with a mobile telephone) then it is open to hacking and owning. The two hackers in question (I actually posted about this in another recent blog) pointed out that any security system that sends messages to your mobile when it is breached, can be reverse engineered so a mobile can breach it. My point: some hardwired systems also alert mobile phones, so they can be hacked just as easily as wireless ones.
Basically it’s a matter of cost and convenience: hardwired costs more and is generally viewed as being more robust, while wireless is quicker to set up and can be moved with you if you move house.
The items you choose to have within your system can range from simple sensors and alarms to CCTV and off site monitoring. In general terms you’ve got to arrays of sensors: one array protects your doors and windows while the second protects individual locations in your home. The window and door sensors will normally work by having contacts on the door (or window) and the frame, which when broken trigger the alarm.
Motion sensors and pressure pads inside the home do the same thing.
The real differences in home security systems are defined by what your system does when an alarm is triggered. The most basic system (which is not very helpful unless you are at home) will sound an alarm intended to scare an intruder away and to alert the surrounding area to a breach. However, given that most urban areas are so inured to alarm sounds that no one is likely to do anything about it, you’re better advised to invest in an alarm system that also contacts either you or a third party security service.
There are varying levels of third party involvement that you can have – from a quick response by a designated key holder to full emergency services response. The more intense the response level you require, the more you will pay for the service.
If you want an alarm system that really fits with your home I’d suggest choosing a core provider like Honeywell or ADT. Also consider that the big name providers like this tend to offer monitoring services of their own – meaning you get the assurance of a respected name not just on the equipment that triggers your house alarm, but on the people whose job it is to respond to it.
About the Author:
The above article is composed and edited by Roxanne P. She is associated with many home security companies and holidays communities as their freelance writer and adviser. In her free time she writes articles related to family weekends, home security related articles etc.