In this day and age, sad as it seems, more and more homeowners are choosing to install home security alarm systems. While choosing a home security alarm system may seem like a straightforward task, there are actually many considerations involved in choosing the correct alarm system for your home.
Your home alarm system can be as simple as a few relatively inexpensive devices placed at each door and window or as complicated and as expensive as you wish to go. You can choose monitored services and unmonitored. You can choose to have security cameras, not have security cameras, or put up fake security cameras. You can choose home security systems that alert you in a case of fire or carbon monoxide. Again, you can have a monitored system where someone on duty is alerted to your danger before you even become aware and calls emergency personnel for you.
As you can see, one factor which will have to be considered is cost.
HOME SECURITY SYSTEM COSTS
Obviously, it isn’t easy to place a price on the peace that comes with knowing that you have adequately protected your home and your family. However, in the real world, we often have to evaluate the costs of things we desire or need, which extends to home security systems. Parts and pieces of a home-built security system are available from such sources as Radio Shack, which you would expect, and Wal-Mart, which you might not! Even do-it-yourself systems such as these can cost a few hundred dollars and, while providing basic home security, usually will not provide monitoring in the event of your absence. Some do-it-yourself components can be found to notify emergency response activities without you having to take action yourself. Still, the cost will go up with every bell and whistle (literally) which you add.
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Now, when I was talking about a do-it-yourself home security system, you probably thought I was giving the good news first. As you read about how expensive this can get, you probably thought that was either the bad news or the good news going sour.
Wrong. I started with the BAD news.
The two major advantages I see to do-it-yourself security systems are that you can buy one unit at a time for a relatively low cost, and, if you are the handyman type, you can have the joy of installing the stuff yourself.
Here’s the good news.
There are many good-quality home security companies out there. You may or may not have heard of ADT, Brinks, and Great Alarms, but you may NOT be familiar with their services and costs. While offers change from time to time and vary from company to company, prices are actually quite reasonable considering the services provided. When writing this article, a quick survey of just a few companies found installation costs ranging from free to a little over $300.00. Since these generally are monitored systems, you can expect to pay a monthly fee for the monitoring service, but it usually is only about $30.00 per month. Again, this may vary from company to company, so by all means, shop around.
I personally believe that when you consider what you get with a professionally installed and monitored home security system, you will probably skip the trip to Radio Shack or Wal-Mart and hire one of these companies to install your system.
COMPONENTS AND SERVICES OF A MONITORED HOME SECURITY SYSTEM
Actual components and services will vary from company to company, but here is an overview of the components and services you might expect to get from a home security system.
Home Security System Components
*Command Stations: This may be referred to by various names depending on the service provider. Great Alarms calls it a “command station,” ADT a “touchpad,” and Brinks a “keypad.” From this commanding point, the system can be armed or disarmed; help can be summoned, warnings can be given to others in the house using a device such as a horn, whistle, chime, or similar item. It is often possible to get more than one station or keypad installed, such as one in the living area and one in the bedroom.
Many professional companies expect to make their money off the monthly monitoring.*Door And Window Sensors: These are generally simple devices, but when you buy them one by one yourself, their cost can really add up. Home security companies can acquire these items in bulk at much lower prices than you or I would pay, and that is why installation as a package is often much less than what you would have to pay just for the items if you bought them individually yourself.
*Motion Detectors: Should an intruder approach your home or by some means gain entry, motion detectors can be used to sense their presence and activate alarms or summon help.
*Remote Controls: In addition to the command station, touchpad, or keypad, many systems include a remote device that you may carry with you. These range from small units suitable to be carried on a keychain to larger units intended to be carried from room to room within your house.
*Sensors: Sensors are available to detect fire, carbon monoxide, heat, moisture, breaking glass, and flex.
*Alarms And Other Warning Devices: The old familiar “alarm” is almost passé. You can get sirens, chimes, and even strobe lights to warn you of break-ins or other emergencies.
*Security Cameras: While most home security systems that the average family can afford will not use security cameras, this is still an additional option.
Home Security System Services
Once you have seen the shortlist of components above, you will have a pretty good idea of what services can be provided. Most commonly, intrusion or activation of a sensor by other means, by fire or carbon monoxide, is the cue for the monitoring team to go into action. Primarily, they can summon police, fire, or emergency medical personnel for you if you are incapacitated or away from home. Since this service is around the clock, it provides you and your family with a sense of security and buffer of safety that may well be worth the cost. Some companies also provide security review services to help you judge your particular home security situation and options for defense. Again, these services and their costs vary from company to company, so shop around.
HOME SECURITY ON THE CHEAP
If you honestly feel that a home security system is out of your price range at the moment, there are a few inexpensive steps you can take to improve your situation possibly.
First, make sure that all your doors and windows lock. If several people may have had access to keys previously, go ahead and change the locks and make sure that only the people that need them have keys. This trip to Wal-Mart or Home Depot will be nowhere near as expensive as the cost of a break-in. Ensure all your windows can be locked and ARE locked, except when YOU want them to be unlocked.
Second, light the areas around your home at night where someone could get close and a break-in. There are solar-powered lights that can be used to cut down on your electric bill. Lighting can be attached to inexpensive motion detectors.
Third, put all emergency services on speed dial, and make sure numbers are prominently posted near all phones anyway. Don’t assume that 911 will always do the job. Sometimes a call directly to a fire department may get a faster response.
Fourth, make a plan for an emergency and ensure that everyone realizes their job and where to meet up if people get separated.
Fifth, buy an air horn and don’t be afraid to use it. You can apologize to the neighbors later. Sixth, there are places where you can buy signs for your yard and decals for your windows. Nobody has to know you never got around to buying the system, do they?
Seventh, get your hands on some fake security cameras. I don’t exactly place a lot of personal faith in this one. Still, some reasonably realistic-looking fake security cameras are around, and just “not knowing” may be enough to deter an inexperienced burglar from looking for an easy score. The cameras I have seen the movie and have a pulsing red light which makes it look official.