Which Home Security System Is Right for Me?

Home security comprises a number of different technologies, tools and techniques. This can make the prospect of choosing the right home security system daunting for homeowners. To find home security that is right for your family, your needs and your budget, keep in mind all of the options available.

Security Basics and Low-Tech Security

The objective of just about any home security system is to either prevent unwanted access to your property, or to mitigate harm if intruders manage to enter. Therefore, it makes the most sense to secure at least the most common entryways in a home, as well as take steps to protect the people and belongings inside.

As The Washington Post explained in an infographic on burglary in the U.S., crime experts have identified numerous patterns followed by residential thieves on a regular basis. Knowing these common security weak points helps homeowners prioritize the implementation of relatively simple security measures.

  • 34 percent of home burglars enter through the front door, while 23 percent use first-floor windows and 22 percent opt for the back door. That's why securing these possible entryways should be a priority. Install strong deadbolts and locks on all doors to prevent forced entry. Windows can be made safer using bars, locking pins or similar products.
  • Exterior doors can be further secured with reinforced deadbolts and locksets designed to withstand significant force. Reinforcing doors may require purchasing and installing new locks, frames and other materials.
  • If burglars do gain access to a home, they tend to hone in on places where valuables are usually stored, such as dressers, closets and common hiding places like the freezer. If you have to store anything of value in your home like jewelry or firearms, invest in a safe. A good safe should be tough to break open and secured to the floor so that it can't be easily removed, either.
  • Above all, burglars look for the easiest targets. Homes that appear unoccupied are often their first choice. Fortunately, they are usually deterred by even the slightest sign of activity. Installing motion-sensitive lights near entryways of your home can be enough to scare away criminals. If you know you'll be away for a long period of time, try to make it appear as if someone is home by setting some interior lights on a timer or leaving a radio on high volume. Be sure to cancel mail and newspaper delivery as well.

Advanced Tech and Services

Beyond beefing up your home's physical security, homeowners may also consider installing one of the many digital security systems available. Alarm systems have been common for many years and are still a good, affordable choice for most.

Residential alarm systems can be either monitored or unmonitored. The latter option uses sensors on doors and windows to trigger a loud siren if any of these are opened when activated. Monitored systems tend to be more sophisticated, usually connecting entryway sensors as well as smoke detectors and flood sensors to a professional service. If any of these devices are triggered, the service can contact police or fire departments, even if no one is home. Of course, monitored services will charge a regular fee for this convenience.

For those willing to spare no expense in home security, there are other more advanced options to pick from. Some monitored security services may employ conventional alarms as well as video cameras, motion detectors and pressure-sensitive mats to detect almost any activity in and around a home. These services can then remotely keep tabs on a home at any time, ideally preventing the false alarms that are common with basic systems. This high level of surveillance comes at a significant cost, and may lead to concerns about privacy as well.

Some of the latest home security systems give homeowners full control over cameras and sensors through an internet connection. These services may use all of the above devices, but allow the owner to log in remotely to get a live look inside their home and take action if needed. While these systems still require a fair amount of upfront and recurring expense, they may come out to be cheaper than full-fledged active surveillance in the long run. This is ideal for homeowners who just want some peace of mind while they are away for short periods of time.

Which security system is right for you? That all depends on what you want to get out of it, and the amount you are willing to spend. Make sure you carefully research any companies offering security system installation and services to be certain they have a good track record and will provide exactly what you expect out of a home security system.