How to choose a home security system with 9 tips to help you get the best return on your investment

Consider your budget

A security system will cost you money. You need to make sure that you can afford it. For example, the equipment itself might cost thousands of dollars, and a professional installation will probably run hundreds more. Once your system is installed and active, you’ll need to pay for ongoing monitoring services.

How much do home security systems typically cost? A lot depends on what kind of system you want to get. For example, if you buy equipment individually a la carte, plan on spending $100 or more per sensor [source: ADT]. On the other hand, in some cases, buying a full package may actually be cheaper than buying equipment individually. It all depends on what sort of equipment and services you need. Some companies also offer special discounts if you choose to pay upfront for the entire year in advance [source: SafeHome]. Additionally, installing a wireless home security system yourself might result in significant savings over hiring a professional technician [source: DIY Alarms].

Think about your home’s unique features

Home security systems are designed to detect motion, so if your home has unique features, it’s important to consider how your system will work with them. The easiest way to do this is by asking a few basic questions.

  • Does your house have more than one floor? If so, will motion sensors be able to detect activity upstairs?
  • Are there any large windows in your house? Will sensors be able to detect motion when potential intruders walk past these windows?
  • Is there a large glass door in the back of the house or a large window on the side of the house that faces away from street view? What about curtains or blinds that cover these windows and doors?
  • Are there trees or shrubs outside that may block signals from sensors inside your home?

Know where you’re going to put the control panel and sensors

The control panel is the brains of the security system. It connects all your devices and forms a communication network with the central monitoring station. This is where you arm and disarm the system and make programming changes, so you should place it in a location that’s convenient for you as well as secure from prying eyes.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • It should be centrally located in your home, or at least on a floor that houses most of your daily activities.
  • It should be easy to reach from all areas of the house so that you can quickly react to an emergency (like turning off the alarm if it goes off accidentally).
  • If possible, it shouldn’t be visible from outside your house.
  • You should put it near an existing landline or Internet connection, so that you don’t need to run new wires across your home.

Decide if you need indoor or outdoor cameras (or both!)

Next, you’ll want to decide if you need indoor or outdoor cameras (or both!). Indoor cameras are less expensive and can be placed in any room of the house. They are not weatherproof, however, so they won’t survive harsh climates like sleet and snow. Outdoor cameras tend to have a more rugged exterior and can withstand elements such as wind, rain and extreme temperatures. While the upfront cost of an outdoor camera is higher than an indoor model, it may be worth the investment if it saves you money in the long run.

After determining which areas need monitoring, consider your property’s layout. If there’s heavy foot traffic around your front door or driveway where people drop by frequently, then a front yard camera might be a good idea. However, if your property is very large with areas that receive limited traffic (e.g., a fenced backyard), then perhaps installing multiple cameras would suffice for security coverage instead of placing one at every entrance point or along fence lines

Opt for a system with features that make sense for your home

Once you’ve decided to invest in a home security system, it’s time to decide which features make the most sense for your home. Opting for a system with features that are important to you will help ensure that you get the best return on your investment.

Here are four questions to ask yourself when considering what kind of security system is right for you:

  • Do I want a wireless or hardwired system?
  • Would I prefer a DIY or professionally installed and monitored security system?
  • Do I want my home security integrated with other smart home systems?
  • Do I want an outdoor surveillance camera or indoor cameras only?

Choose a system that can be integrated into a smart home platform

One of the most significant benefits of a home security system is its integration with other smart home devices. Choosing a system that can be used to control your lights, locks, and thermostat can mean more convenience for you and more savings on your utility bills. While this option may not be a priority for everyone, it is something to consider if you’d like a more streamlined solution.

If you’re already using smart home technology in your house, it’s worth checking to see if the security system you’re considering is compatible. You may be able to save money by choosing a security system that’s compatible with the smart home technology you already own.

Choose equipment with a good warranty

What if your security system is damaged in a burglary or during a natural disaster? What if it’s stolen? One of the most important things to consider when choosing DIY equipment is whether it will be covered by a warranty. It’s vital that you find out what your warranty covers and how long it lasts. You should read the fine print, and work with a company that offers a good product warranty and makes it easy for you to file claims when necessary.

Make sure you can customize your equipment and monitoring plan

If you can’t customize your system or choose from a variety of monitoring plans and equipment, then you might be overloaded with choices in the future.

A home security system that is customized to your specific needs, style, and budget offer maximum value. First determine what equipment, sensors, and features are necessary for your home. Then customize those components with a quality security company to meet those needs. For example, if you need more floodlights for nighttime surveillance but don’t want to install them yourself (and prefer professional installation), then look for a company that offers custom installation services. If you want video surveillance but don’t want to buy cameras every month, look for a monitoring plan that includes video cameras. If you need specific sensors such as glass break detectors or recessed door contacts, look for the company that makes them available in the package that fits your needs rather than having to buy additional sensors separately. The ability to customize not only the hardware within your security system but also the monitoring plan means you get exactly what you’re paying for while still being able to save money by choosing an affordable plan after careful consideration of what type of security system best meets your family’s needs.

Ask about installation procedures and costs

Start asking questions about installation procedures and costs. Get a professional quote for installation. Find out how long it’ll take and if there will be any downtime during the process. Let’s say you have a working system already installed by a previous owner or tenant. Will the new system require rerouting cable, drilling holes, moving furniture, or other items? And when everything is said and done, will you need to clean up after their work?

Choosing the right security system requires research.

Choosing the right security system requires research. Before you make any decisions, ask yourself: What are your home security goals? In other words, what are you trying to protect against and what do you want the security system to accomplish? Make sure that the system you choose will fit your needs. This is a personal decision and only through research can you find out what’s best for your home. Asking questions will help narrow down your options. Ask professionals about their systems and don’t be afraid to get multiple estimates. Look into warranties, trial periods, and systems that can grow with you.

Once you’ve done these things, choose a system that offers protection through all entry points (doors, windows, and glass), provides video surveillance when needed, has easy-to-use technology, and protects against fire or carbon monoxide poisoning as well burglaries. Lastly, consider how protected the company providing your service is; look for advanced encryption methods that deliver an added layer of protection in case of cyberattacks on its network or servers.

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