Designing Your Home Security System

When it comes to home security, there are many things to consider. You must remember that you are installing a security system to protect your family and your possessions.

What does an Alarm System do?

An alarm system does all of the following depending on the equipment that you choose:

  • Notify you of doors or windows that are opened
  • Notify you if windows are broken
  • Notify you of movement inside your home

These are all things an unwanted intruder would cause, but other things can harm your family or your home. Home Security Systems can also provide notifications for the following:

  • Early warning of a fire
  • Early warning of Carbon Monoxide gases
  • Early warning of freezing
  • Early warning of flooding

When designing your alarm system, you must consider multiple levels of Protection. If you consider that 50-60% of burglaries happen when the intruder breaks through the front or back doors, you could install an essential security system.

Essential Security System


An essential security system provides contacts on your main entry doors and a motion detector in the main pathway of your home. In most homes, this is the hallway leading to the bedrooms. This type of system assumes that if the intruder enters your home through an unprotected opening, such as a window, the motion detector will detect them and sound the alarm. It is always best to see an intruder before they have entered your home. If they start to make entry and the alarm system sounds, the burglar can choose to run away and not ransack your house. This system has adequate coverage when your system is armed in away mode because all sensors are armed. If you are asleep at home, the system is armed in stay mode, automatically shutting the motion detector. There are two times when your home and family are most vulnerable and when you are away from home and asleep in your home. The essential home security system will only provide the best coverage when you are away.

Full Perimeter Protection

The goal of having a security system is to be notified if an opening to your house is violated. You want to receive this notification as quickly as possible. To have this happen, you must have contacts installed at every window and door in your home. This forms a security curtain around your home so the potential intruder cannot get undetected. If you want typical full perimeter protection, you will install contacts on every door and window.

Advanced Full Perimeter Protection

The intruder must open a door or window for full perimeter protection to work. In many cases, the burglar will break a window and reach inside to unlock the lock and open the window or door. In this scenario, the alarm system will sound. If the intruder does not extend the window or door, the alarm system will not display. In this case, the intruder will be detected only if they pass by the motion detector. This is why the motion detector is a secondary or backup device. The goal is to keep the burglar outside the home. To do this with advanced Protection, you can install glass break detectors. This type of detector is built to hear breaking glass, and the alarm will sound when it does. Another advantage of a glass break detector is that it can be programmed to be a 24-hour device. This means they will sound the alarm even if the system is not armed. When you incorporate the following types of Protection, you have utilized every form of Protection available for your home and family.

Additional Protection available from your Security System

So far, we have only talked about Protection from an unwanted intruder of the human variety. A few unwanted intruders are potentially more detrimental to your home and family and should be incorporated into your total home protection plan. These unwanted intruders are:

  • Fire
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Flooding
  • *Fire Facts:

Chances are you will have a fire

Several homes fire your household can expect in an average lifetime: 5 Chances your family will have a reported home fire in an average lifetime: 1 in 4 Chances that someone in your family will suffer a fire injury in an average lifetime: 1 in 10 Chances that someone in your family will suffer damage in a reported fire in an average lifetime: 1 in 89 Households can expect to average a home fire every 15 years or five fires in an average lifetime. (According to the Statistical Abstract, life expectancy now averages 78 years in the U.S..) That is one of the results of the latest survey of unreported fires conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2004-2005, combined with NFPA’s annual tracking of reported fires.

Most of these will be small fires resulting in little or no damage and will not be reported to a fire department, but even a trivial fire causes at least some temporary anxiety. Your household has a one in four chance of having a home fire large enough to be reported to a fire department during an average lifetime.

Someone in your household also has a one in ten chance of suffering a fire injury in a home fire in an average lifetime. More likely than not, this will be a minor injury you sustained in a fire that did not report to the fire department. You might not even remember the damage a month after it happened. About one out of nine of these injuries will occur in a reported home fire, which means someone in your household has a one in 89 chance of suffering a fire injury in a reported home fire in an average lifetime.

As you can see, the likelihood of having a fire is high, and the best Protection is a smoke detector. A smoke detector provides early notification so that you can save your family and your processions. The average damage can be far worse than the loss from burglary, but many people still neglect to ensure they have a working detector.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Protection

Carbon monoxide is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. Poisoning from this gas occurs after enough inhalation of the toxic gas. Unfortunately, most people do not know that they have been affected. Poisoning results from incomplete combustion of organic matter due to insufficient oxygen supply to complete oxidation to carbon dioxide. Older motor vehicles, gasoline-powered tools, heaters, cooking equipment, wood-burning stoves, electrical generators, and propane-fueled equipment often produce it.

The danger of toxic poisoning increases during the winter due to increased fuel-powered devices and enclosed spaces. Each year, almost 200 children die from poisoning, and 20,000 more go to the emergency room. Symptoms of poisoning include headache, nausea, and drowsiness.

Protection from Flooding

A few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. From 2008 to 2012, the average residential flood claim amounted to more than $38,000. Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself from devastating financial loss.

Here are some startling facts:

Property damage from water damage due to plumbing failures and freezing pipes is the second most common cause of homeowner loss.

Water caused $9.1 billion in annual homeowner policy property losses from 2007 to 2009 – approximately 23 percent of all homeowner property losses.

“Water damage claims have been growing faster than other components of homeowners insurance.” – American Insurance Association.

Designing the Layout of your Alarm System

Now that you know the different types of protection work, you can begin to lay out your alarm system. I have always used the following method in setting up my alarm system installations. Grab a piece of paper and start at your front door. Go to each opening in your home and write down the name of each door and window. Make sure that you have the following column titles on your list:

Zone Type Zone Name

I always walk clockwise around each new installation. This ensures that I do not miss any openings in the home, and I also have a list with all the names of the doors I will use later for programming the panel. At the end of your walkthrough, you will list all the areas you want to protect and their names. Ensure you include at least one motion detector in the house’s main hallway. If you have a two-story home, you will want to see if the motion detector can be located to include the stairway. You will use this list if you decide to install it independently (DIY) or have a professional provide you with a quote.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.