What to Look For in a Smart Security System

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The global home smart security system market is expected to grow to about $58 billion by 2022.

The growing crime rates, consumer awareness, and remote monitoring are factors that’ll fuel the growth. The ever-increasing competition among manufacturers has brought about technological advancements in the systems.

As such, you’ll realize that the smart security system models available come with many different features. However, not all of them will be useful in your security situation. Others are features you can’t afford to miss for enhanced security.

Before you invest in any smart security system, take the time to do some background checks. In this brief, we’ll highlight what you should look for when looking for a security system.

1. Wireless vs. Hardwired Systems

A wireless smart security system requires no wires or cables for installation. The only cord it features is the electrical cord on the control interface. Hardwired systems require some drilling on the walls to run the wires.

The wires have to find their way to the central circuit breaker box.  

2. Home Security Systems vs. Burglar Alarms

When thinking of burglar alarms, take note that they refer to totally different items from home security systems. Burglar systems serve to alert the police when an authorized person has gained access to your home. It provides no monitoring benefits.

On the other hand, a smart security system provides more than just alerts for break-ins. They monitor the activities around your home while making recordings for the same. You can get other alerts for fire breakouts, flooding, or even a high level of carbon monoxide.

Home security systems are usually a mix of lighting, cameras, sensors, and alarms. Some come with features that let you connect to the internet through gadgets and appliances. Other features include:

  • Panic buttons
  • Two-way communication
  • Motion detection lights
  • Flood sensors

Before signing up with a security company for security gadgets, check what you’re getting.

3. Monitorings

The heart of every alarm system lies in its monitoring capabilities. Go for a system that protects your home at all times, keeping you safe in emergencies. Monitoring systems come in three different types that you can consider.

These are landline, cellular, and broadband. Some monitoring types are more prone to tampering, and this should be at the back of your mind as you decide. You also need to think of your location, as some types don’t work well in some areas.

For example, if you live in an area without cell coverage, your only option might be a landline. If you need to add more automation features, a cellular or broadband connection may be the best option for you.

I). Landline

Landline monitoring is the use of a phone line to communicate with the monitoring center upon triggering the alarm. This method was the only available option many years ago. It’s now becoming outdated because of the new developments.

It’s not as secure as the newer monitoring options, but on the upside, it’s more affordable if you only need a basic package. Choose a landline if you live in a remote location.

II). Broadband

Broadband technology uses an internet connection in monitoring. The type of connection it provides is safer and faster than a landline connection. It’s also more affordable than a cellular connection.

With a broadband connection, you have the option of adding more home automation features. You can back up the connection with a landline connection in case of loss of connectivity. This will cost you a little more but will be worth it in the end.

The downside of a broadband connection is in its reliability. When the internet connection is down, your security system will suffer.

III). Cellular

Cellular monitoring is becoming the new standard because it has a more reliable connection. It’s also less prone to tampering by burglars.

The connection is also faster and easier to install. It requires no wires for installation.

Unfortunately, cellular connections are expensive to install and maintain.

4. Installation

One crucial factor you should check is the installation process. Consider whether you want to have it professionally installed or you can do it yourself. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.

Some factors that determine which installation option to choose are costs and ease of installation. You should also consider the type of monitoring you need. For the landline option, you’ll need a professional to handle the installation.

I). DIY Installation

When you do the installation yourself, you’re in total control of the process. You’ll decide where the devices and sensors go and how everything pieces together. Wireless security systems are easier to install than their wire counterparts.

If you get stuck in the installation process, you can always call a technician to walk you through.

II). Professional Installation

Having the security system installed professionally means that a technician handles the whole process. It’s upon the technician to assess the home layout and decide where the devices go. They’ll also address any questions you might have and ensure everything is done the right way.

Professional installation will attract a fee unless the company offers the service for free. You’ll also need to set a few hours aside for the installation to be done.

5. Technology

Smart security system installation will make your life easier. The more home automation features on the system, the more convenience and control you’ll get. A well-automated system will let you control the lights, adjust temperatures, and lock or unlock doors, among others.

Most of these functions you can do using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Most advanced systems connect to Alexa, Nest, and IFTTT (If This Then That) mobile applications. This gives you more control over your home.

For a system with more technological features, you’ll need to buy a higher-tier package. You can start with a basic package and upgrade later to the advanced one. As you upgrade, ensure that the package you choose has all the capabilities you need.

6. Customer Experience

When buying your smart security system, look for a dealer with excellent customer service. The quality of customer care increases confidence in the purchaser. Check out reviews about the company on sites like Consumer Affairs and Consumer Reports.

Even with the reviews, try to get firsthand experience by calling the company. Take note of things like how detailed the information you get from the reps is. Observe how willing they are to explain issues to you and their level of patience with you.

Since this is a long-term investment, you need to be sure that you can get help whenever you need it. Pick a company with knowledgeable, caring, and attentive representatives.

7. Ask About Power Outages

Power outages are inevitable. Before you invest your money in any smart security system, ask how it’s affected by power loss. The ideal security system should continue to operate when the power goes off.

Most of the systems on the market are low voltage. As such, they don’t require much power to run. Besides, most of the systems come with a backup battery.

Your other option is a solar-powered system. It’s more costly than other options, but also more environment-friendly. You can set it up just for outdoor security or use it to run the entire home security.

8. Camera Qualities

Home security systems will do you no good if the camera quality is poor. The image quality is very vital, especially for monitoring. Four main attributes of a good camera are lens aperture, resolution, zoom range, and lens quality.

In matters of the resolution, almost all cameras use CCD’s as the sensing element.

The resolution is the number of pixels that a camera captures in an image. The more pixels, the more detailed and precise the image is.

The lens aperture is the maximum opening of the camera. The bigger it is, the more the light that will be gathered. This will mean high-quality images and footage. Unfortunately, this specification is mostly ignored.

The lens zoom range is the focal length that determines magnification. This feature allows you to get high-quality images and footages.

The quality of the lens also determines the sharpness of the images. A poor quality lens exhibits chromatic aberration, meaning that colors don’t come to the same focus. They show up as colored fringes.

9. Package Features

Finding the best homes security system depends on your needs. The package refers to the features of the system. For example, if you only need basic alarm monitoring, an introduction package would suffice.

If you need something that allows you to monitor your home remotely, go for a system with mobile access capabilities. It should also feature email and text notifications. You can add more home automation features if you go for a high-end security system.

Look for a package that meets your specific needs, as well as one that can allow for future upgrading.

10. Pricing

Purchasing a smart security system is an investment you shouldn’t take lightly. When shopping around for one with the best features, you’ll also check the prices. Some of the pricing options to consider are monthly fees, service fees, activation fees, relocation fees, and cancellation fees.

The charges vary from company to company. You may want to create a spreadsheet to help track the differences across various brands.

You also have the option of leasing the equipment from a renting company. Whether you lease or own the equipment, each option has its upsides and downsides. Leasing comes with a lower upfront cost, but the cost of the equipment is rolled into the monthly payments.

How to Avoid Rip-Offs

Some unscrupulous players have penetrated the market. Their target is to rip off new buyers. Be wary of these home security dealers.

One way how you can be ripped off is not being issued with a physical copy of your contract. They make you append your signature on a smartphone or tablet. The terms and conditions are hardly legible, meaning that you’re likely not to read them.

For obvious reasons, this is all wrong. The seller will promise you anything but still rip you off, especially because the system has your signature on it. Buyers don’t like lengthy contracts, but at least read the last part to see what you agree to, for how long, and at what price.

You should also check to see the conditions under which you can end the contract. Here’s what you can do to reduce the chances of being ripped off:

  1. Ask the company you intend to buy from if they require a contract. You should at all costs avoid signing long-term contracts, which usually open you to the hidden dangers rollover provisions.
  2. Find out about the monthly monitoring fees to determine affordability
  3. Ask about installation costs, which depend on the number of doors and windows you want to protect. Initial costs of installation can be anything between $600 and $800.
  4. Check to see that the monitoring station is approved and offers fire detection services.

Avoid dealing with the first company you come across unless you’ve done proper background checks. Take the time to compare different companies and work with referrals whenever possible.

Smart Security System – In Review

Home security is an issue of concern for any homeowner. The process of choosing a smart security system can be quite overwhelming. With the many models available on the market, you can easily get duped into buying one that won’t meet your needs adequately.

One of the factors to consider when choosing a system include the type. Would you like a burglar alarm or a complete home security system? Do you prefer wired or wireless gadgets?

Think about the installation as well. Wireless gadgets are easy to install without the involvement of a professional. The wire type takes more time to install and requires the input of a professional.

When making a purchase, keep wary of unscrupulous dealers out to rip buyers. Do a background check of the price and associated costs before parting with your money. Avoid signing any contract if you’re not comfortable doing so.  

After purchase, always keep your system in good working condition. This will guarantee the security of your property whether you’re home or away.

For more information, be sure to check out our home security section.

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