The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home Security System

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You decide it’s finally time to invest in a home security system to protect your castle and everyone in it. But one glance at the overwhelming options and it feels like you need a security detail just to figure it out. Before you barricade yourself indoors, take a deep breath. This comprehensive guide breaks down the basics so you can find the best system to safeguard your space. We’ll explore key questions to ask yourself, dig into different types of equipment, and help you choose the right monitoring option for your home and family. By the end, you’ll feel equipped to select a setup that keeps your house secure and lets you sleep soundly at night.

Determine Your Home Security Needs

When choosing a home security system, first assess your unique needs and priorities:

  • How many points of entry do you want to secure? Consider all exterior doors and windows, plus garage doors and basement entryways.
  • Do you need whole-house coverage with motion sensors? Or just entryway monitoring? Determine which rooms require detection.
  • What about outdoor security cameras? Decide if you want cameras covering your yard, porch, or driveway. Consider camera resolution and night vision capabilities.
  • For additional peace of mind, evaluate monitored security systems that dispatch emergency responders automatically. Compare monthly fees for professional monitoring.
  • Make sure the system integrates smart home devices you already own or want to add later – smart lights, thermostats, door locks, etc. Consider compatibility and automation features.
  • Determine your budget upfront. Prices vary widely based on equipment, installation, and monthly fees. Narrow down costs before choosing a system.

Prioritizing your unique home layout, security risks, smart home aspirations, and budget will help you select the ideal system to meet your household’s needs. Consulting with a security professional can further assist in tailoring options for your living space. Defining these parameters first provides the groundwork for making the right home security decision for your family.

Compare Home Security System Types: DIY, Professionally Installed, Smart Home

When choosing a home security system, the main types to consider are:

  • DIY (Do-It-Yourself)
  • Professionally Installed
  • Smart Home Security

Each type offers different levels of control, complexity, and cost. Here’s a comparison to help you choose the best solution for your home.

DIY Security Systems

DIY security systems are user-installed and easy to set up on your own. You can buy them from retail stores or online. Many are wireless and allow you to place sensors and cameras around your house without running wires. Popular DIY brands include SimpliSafe, Ring Alarm, and Nest Secure.

  • Pros: Affordable, flexible, no contracts, upgradeable, can move with you
  • Cons: Limited professional monitoring, minimal home automation

Professionally Installed Systems

Professionally installed systems require an expert to assess your home and hardwire sensors and other components. They typically have the most advanced features and security options. Top providers include ADT, Vivint, Brinks Home Security.

  • Pros: Reliable 24/7 monitoring, full home automation capabilities
  • Cons: Expensive equipment and monthly fees, long contracts

Smart Home Security

Smart home security leverages products like cameras, doorbells, lights, and locks connected to an app on your phone or smart speaker. Brands like Amazon Alexa Guard, Abode, and Samsung SmartThings offer integrated smart security.

  • Pros: Flexible, scalable, remote access, automation features
  • Cons: Upfront cost of smart devices, possible connectivity issues

Evaluate your budget, lifestyle needs, and existing smart devices to decide which type of system works best in your living space. Many providers offer free quotes to help match you with the ideal home security solution.

Key Features to Look for in a Home Security System

When choosing a home security system, there are several key features to consider:

Cameras

Cameras are a must-have for any modern security system. Look for indoor and outdoor cameras that capture high-definition video and have motion detection and night vision. The ability to live stream footage or receive alerts on your phone when motion is detected is also handy. You’ll want cameras covering entry points like doors and windows as well as high-traffic areas.

Sensors

Sensors detect activity in your home and trigger the alarm. Entry sensors for doors and windows are standard. You also may want glass break sensors, motion detectors, flood and temperature sensors, and more. Opting for a system with a range of sensor options allows you to customize protection.

Home Automation Integration

Many systems today integrate with smart home platforms and devices. This allows you to arm, disarm, and monitor your system using voice commands through smart speakers. You can also set rules to have lights turn on automatically when motion is detected or locks engage when the system is armed. This takes convenience to the next level.

Professional Monitoring

Going with a professionally monitored system means your home security provider will dispatch emergency services if your alarm is triggered, making response time faster. Monitoring fees vary but add an extra layer of protection and peace of mind.

Power Options

Choose a system with battery, cellular, and broadband backups to prevent outages and offline attacks. This ensures your system stays up and running if the power or internet goes down. Hardwired systems also have more consistent connectivity.

Trusted Reputation

When reviewing brands, check third-party consumer sites to ensure the provider has positive feedback and responsive customer service. An established company with a track record of protecting homes makes for a wise investment.

Doing your homework on must-have features will help you select a system tailored to your home and family’s unique needs and budget. And remember, the best security lies in layers of protection.

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Top Home Security Companies to Consider

When shopping for a home security system, you’ll discover there are many reputable companies to choose from. Here are some top contenders to consider:

ADT

  • A well-known home security provider that offers a wide range of advanced equipment and monitoring options
  • Their professional installation process makes it easy to get set up
  • Contracts typically involve multi-year commitments and high monthly fees

Vivint

  • A national home security company providing smart home integration and advanced technology
  • Can remotely manage locks, lights, thermostats and more from a single app
  • Requires professional installation with lengthy, expensive contracts

Frontpoint

  • A mid-sized provider that offers DIY or professional installation
  • Lower monthly monitoring fees than brands like ADT and Vivint
  • Wide selection of equipment from basics like sensors to video doorbells and cameras

SimpliSafe

  • A top DIY installation option focused on affordability and flexibility
  • No lengthy contracts – cancel anytime
  • Easy set-up that doesn’t require drilling holes or wiring

Ring Alarm

  • Primarily a DIY solution for basic whole home protection needs
  • Integrates well with other Ring smart security devices
  • Lower monthly fees but equipment itself can get pricey

When evaluating home security systems take stock of your budget, comfort with DIY versus professional installation, and smart home aspirations. This will help narrow down the most fitting security provider for your household.

Tips for Getting the Best Deal on Your Home Security System

When choosing a home security system, you’ll want to find the best value for your needs and budget. Here are some tips to help you get the most security for your money:

  • Shop around and get quotes from 3-5 companies. Prices and packages can vary widely, so take the time to research. Look at both national and local providers.
  • Ask about promotional offers. Many companies will offer discounts for signing multi-year contracts or bundles with other services. Just make sure you understand the total costs long-term.
  • Inquire if you qualify for any discounts like retirees, students, military, or multi-policy. Every dollar saved is a bonus.
  • Focus more on the quality of equipment and monitoring service rather than a lot of fancy bells and whistles you may not use. Prioritize your core security needs first.
  • Consider DIY systems as a more affordable option. They allow you to self-install and monitor your own system through an app. If you’re pretty tech-savvy, this may work.
  • Don’t feel pressured into purchasing add-ons or upgrades unless you really want them. Know what features you need versus what’s nice to have.
  • Ask what the charges will be if you need to cancel early or make changes later. Make sure you know any potential fees.
  • Read reviews and do research to determine reliable companies known for fair prices and policies. Avoid shady operators.

Taking the time upfront to shop smart could save you hundreds of dollars down the road without sacrificing quality and reliability. Knowing the right questions to ask will lead you to the best home security deal.

Conclusion

So there you have it – the ultimate guide to choosing a home security system. You now know what types of systems are out there, what features to look for, how to compare prices and contracts, and what questions to ask installers. Armed with all this information, you can shop smart and find the ideal system to help protect your home and family. Just take your time, figure out your needs and budget, do your research, and don’t feel pressured into buying more than you want or can afford. Get a system that checks all of your boxes, gives you peace of mind, and fits your lifestyle.

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