A Beginner’s Guide To Choosing The Best Home Security System
PART 1 – INTRODUCTION
Your home is your sanctuary. It is the place where you should feel comfortable and safe. For many, this involves installing a home security system to achieve a sense of security and peace of mind. But how do you go about choosing your ideal home security system, given the numerous options available on the market?
At the end of the day, it is about being prepared and doing your homework. Understanding the various systems, their features, and your needs can help you make an informed decision. Fortunately, there is no need to go in blind with the help of our guide.
PART 2 – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS
2.1. Benefits Of Having A Home Security System
Some might question the need for a security system when Singapore often ranks among the safest countries globally. But we believe you can never put a price on safety. And to quote Singapore’s famous crime deterrence campaign slogan, “Low crime does not mean no crime”. Besides, there are various advantages to having a robust home security system. Who knows? You may end up thanking yourself for this brilliant investment.
Benefit #1: Safeguards your valuables
Of course, this benefit is a no-brainer and probably the primary reason for installing a home security system in the first place. After all, nobody wants to lose an irreplaceable family heirloom to a home invasion. Such security solutions are more reliable than a home safe (which can be broken into) as they typically feature a security alarm system that can scare off would-be burglars and notify the authorities in the event of a break-in.
Benefit #2: Acts as a deterrent to criminals
As the saying goes, prevention is the best cure. Instead of entertaining the possibility of a break-in, letting would-be perpetrators know your property is safeguarded by a robust security system will deter them from targeting your home in the first place.
Benefit #3: Offers peace of mind
Criminals often target properties when the homeowners are away. However, the last thing you want when you are away on holiday is to worry about the security of your home. With a home security system installed, you can rest easy knowing your home is well-protected when you are away. Moreover, you can check in on your property from anywhere in the world now that most modern security systems are connected to the internet.
Benefit #4: Lowers home insurance premiums
If you have ever purchased insurance, you would know that the premium scales according to the risk associated with the insured. This logic also applies to home insurance. The underwriter will deem a property with a home security system to be less risky to insure, resulting in lower premiums. Additionally, CCTV surveillance footage can help when filing your insurance claims.
Benefit #5: Provides remote access to your home
Modern security systems allow you to remotely monitor what is happening in your home via a smart device. This feature is a godsend if you have young children, pets, or an elderly living with you. You can keep an eye on them and ensure they are safe while you are at work or away from home on an errand. If an accident were to occur, you would be aware of the incident and can seek help immediately.
2.2. How Do Home Security Systems Work?
As with any purchase, you will want to comprehend how something works before investing your hard-earned money. It is the same when purchasing a home security system. Understanding the essential features you require and how each component functions to safeguard your house will be crucial in your decision-making.
Naturally, everything begins with your home’s entry points, primarily the doors and windows. These access points are where intruders can gain entry to your home. So they must be secured with security sensors. Subsequently, when the security alarm system is set and activated, the sensors will immediately notify the control panel in the event of a breach, thus sounding the alarm.
Homeowners can also opt for indoor motion detectors, which will transmit a similar “zone breach” signal to the main control panel when it detects any activity while the alarm system is activated. The monitoring station will be notified immediately if one’s security system is paired with professional monitoring. Subsequently, the monitoring station personnel will immediately take action and alert the homeowner. They can also notify the police or first responders on the homeowner’s behalf if necessary.
In contrast, security systems not linked to a professional monitoring centre are referred to as non-monitored or self-monitored systems. The responsibility of keeping track of any alert rests on the homeowner’s shoulders. They will typically receive an email or a text alert. Some systems even send a push notification to a smartphone through a home security app. Homeowners can then investigate the incident and contact the relevant authorities when a breach occurs.
2.3. The Different Elements Of A Home Security System
Now that you better understand how a home security system functions, it is time to familiarise yourself with the equipment’s fundamental elements and compile a list of the necessary components for your house. Not every security system contains all these features. And you do not have to purchase everything. It is about picking and choosing the components that best fit your needs.
1. Security sensors
Security sensors are the backbone of your home security. You will require entry sensors affixed to your house’s various access points (doors and windows) and motion detectors installed around the living space. Should any entry point be breached or any motion be detected, the system will automatically sound the alarm and notify you of a break-in.
Entry sensors contain two components – a magnet and a sensor. These two parts generate a magnetic field when in close contact with each other. Subsequently, when a door or window the sensor is attached to opens, this magnetic field is disrupted, and a signal is sent to the control panel, triggering the security alarm system.
Meanwhile, motion detectors emit an invisible light when tripped, which will sound the alarm. More advanced motion sensors even utilise infrared technology that can detect body heat. These motion detectors (PIR sensors) only trigger when it detects body heat from a moving object, thus reducing the rate of false alarms.
2. Sirens and alarms
If you are getting security sensors, you will need to pair them with a security alarm system. These loud sirens (usually around 100+ dB) are guaranteed to halt any intruder in their tracks once they appear on a CCTV camera or trip a motion detector.
3. CCTV cameras
Picture a robust security system, and it would likely feature security cameras. In fact, we will posit that a CCTV system should be an essential component of your home security, as its presence alone is often sufficient to deter an intruder.
With continuous recording, you will always be updated on the happenings within your home. If a break-in occurs, you will have the evidence the police require to locate and apprehend the culprit.
We recommend getting cameras that deliver HD image quality to identify the perpetrator adequately. Additionally, you may want to look for CCTV installations that let you monitor live streams from a connected smart device, like your phone.
Learn More: What To Look Out For When Choosing A CCTV Camera
4. Video intercom system
You would probably be familiar with a video intercom system, having come across it either at a condo or an office. However, do you know this device will be excellent for private residential property too? It is true! Such systems are designed to supplement secure access to a location. Rather than allow unauthorised personnel access to your property, you can screen the individual beforehand using the video intercom system.
You can ascertain the identity of the visitor by communicating reciprocally using the intercom system. This way, you can deter criminals or unauthorised personnel from entering your house, thus enhancing security. It also saves you the time and effort of heading to the entrance only to discover the other party is a door-to-door salesman. Instead, you can politely dismiss them remotely.
5. Door access system
Speaking of enhancing the security of your home’s access points, you may also want to consider installing a fingerprint door access system. With it, you no longer have to worry about misplacing your door keys. The entrance will be tied to your biometrics, with a built-in sensor to detect your fingerprint. When the sensor detects a match, the door unlocks automatically.
Besides being nigh impossible to replicate a fingerprint, you can rest easy knowing the door access system is designed to be more robust to prevent tampering. Additionally, with features like auto relock, you do not have to worry even if you forget to lock the door after unlocking it. The system will automatically secure the entrance again after a period of time.
PART 3 – WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A HOME SECURITY SYSTEM
3.1. Factors To Consider When Choosing A Home Security System
Every home is different and has its unique security needs. So as you begin identifying your ideal home security system, you must ensure it fits the layout of your home. Let us share the crucial factors to consider during your search.
Factor #1: Size of your home
Larger homes mean more areas to monitor than smaller homes. For example, you will require outdoor CCTV installations to cover the large open space in a private house and eliminate any potential blind spots. Conversely, you may only need an intercom system or indoor CCTV cameras to safeguard the walkway outside your home and your valuables, respectively.
Factor #2: Features of the security system
Again, every home has different security needs. So you may find that you only require specific equipment while disregarding other security devices. We recommend consulting a security expert who can recommend which features you require after assessing your residence.
However, whether you seek an alarm system combined with indoor cameras and motion sensors or are only interested in a door access system and an intercom system, it is best to ensure your products function perfectly together to create a fully integrated security system for your home.
Factor #3: Monitoring options
Some security providers offer professional monitoring, providing users with round-the-clock protection from experts who can assist to investigate and contact emergency services when an alarm is triggered. Naturally, such security services come with an additional fee.
Of course, you can choose to monitor your security system yourself, but the onus is on you to notify the authorities when necessary. Some homeowners might prefer this, as they will still receive alerts and notifications if their security alarm system is triggered.
Factor #4: Type of connection
You must establish a connection to the professional monitoring centre if you opt for this security service. The two standard connection options include landline and broadband. The former is more affordable but easier to disrupt, as it utilises your home’s landline connection to notify the monitoring centre of any alert. Once the landline is tampered with, the notifications will no longer reach the monitoring centre.
Meanwhile, security systems utilising broadband connection can communicate wirelessly with the monitoring centre, eliminating the concerns associated with landline connections. However, the link to the monitoring centre can still be disrupted if the power goes out. Therefore, you should ensure your security system contains backup batteries to ensure it remains functional even when the Wi-Fi cuts out.
Factor #5: App integration
A great home security solution should be intuitive and user-friendly, allowing you to connect with and control the system via a one-stop mobile application. The application should be reliable and compatible with all security and automation solutions installed in your home. This way, you have everything at your fingertips regardless of where you are in the world, which is handy when you are abroad.
Factor #6: Professional installation
There are home security systems designed for DIY installation. Nevertheless, these products still require technical know-how to install and set up correctly. For example, you might be required to wire your own sensors or alarm, which can be risky if you do not have experience working with security equipment.
Besides, do you know that you require a Security Service Provider licence to install a CCTV system? To save you the hassle and ensure you comply with regulations, we recommend hiring a professional to help set up your system. This way, you can rest easy knowing the installation process is error-free and your devices will work as intended, ensuring maximum protection for your home.
3.2. Why Your Home Security System Should Be Professionally Installed
Should you get your home security system professionally installed? To help answer this query, you shoulder consider the following:
- Are you a busy adult?
- Are you non-tech-savvy?
- Are you inexperienced at handling tools?
- Will you be staying in your current home for a period of time?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should definitely hire a professional technician. It is the best choice for you and will ensure every piece of equipment is operating correctly. Also, you stand to enjoy the following benefits.
Benefit #1: Saves you time and hassle
Why lift a finger when you can have a professional technician set up everything for you? All you have to do is arrange an appointment with the security provider to come by your home and install the system and its various components. You no longer have to spend hours toiling over the process or agonise over whether you set up the system correctly.
Benefit #2: Everything is set up flawlessly
Installing the security system yourself can often lead to a trial-and-error approach. However, if things do not work right, you will have to troubleshoot and identify the issue before redoing everything again. Conversely, a professional technician knows precisely how to install your home security system. Everything will be set up flawlessly, with every component, from the cameras and sensors to the control panel, properly secured.
Benefit #3: You get a walkthrough of how the security system works
Your home security system could be hiding more features than you realise. Unfortunately, you may not discover these hidden innovations if you are unfamiliar with the equipment. Thankfully, the technician will walk you through the system and show you how to utilise its features to the fullest after the installation is complete.
PART 4 – FAQs ABOUT HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS
We hope what we shared has provided you with a clear idea of what you need and how to select your ideal home security system. Nevertheless, we understand you might have several outstanding queries that were not addressed in our comprehensive guide above. So let us endeavour to answer as many of your questions as possible by compiling the common queries we receive from our customers.
Question #1: Is a home security system right for me?
Given Singapore’s low crime rates, we can understand why some might not see the need to invest in a home security system. But the truth is, a security system should be considered like any other appliance at home. A refrigerator or stove is often considered a necessity. While a security system is not quite at that level, you should not go without one either, especially since they have become more affordable and easy to use.
So how do you know if you require a home security system? Well, you can consider asking yourself the following questions:
- Are you out of town often due to frequent travelling?
- Do you have an elderly living alone or with you?
- Do you have small children or pets at home and want them to feel safe?
- Do you have valuable possessions and mementoes at home?
- Has your home been broken into in the past?
- Have you noticed unsavoury characters loitering around your neighbourhood?
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may require a home security system.
Question #2: Is it better to get a wireless or wired home security system?
It comes down to your preferences and requirements, as there is no “better” option. Wireless security systems tend to be easier to install, making them DIY-friendly. Conversely, wired equipment usually requires professional installation. However, they often provide a more reliable connection since they are not tied to a router.
Question #3: What is the most budget-friendly way to get started with a home security system?
There are usually two options available – users can either install a self-monitored system or consider the piecemeal route. The former is self-explanatory, while the latter involves purchasing and installing one component at a time, like a video intercom system, before integrating new security features as and when necessary.
Question #4: How can I avoid setting false alarms?
Despite the advancement in security technology, false alarms can still happen. These occurrences are due to various factors. So let us share how you can minimise the chances of a false alarm:
- Active pets are often the cause of false alarms. Installing pet-immune motion sensors with sensitivity settings that ignore pet movements can prevent false alarms while letting your furry companion roam freely around the house.
- Memorise and practise entering your security code so that you know it like the back of your hand. The other members of the house should also familiarise themselves with the code so that they enter it correctly to prevent the alarm from triggering.
- Low batteries can cause false alarms. So inspect the battery level of your security system regularly and change the batteries if they are running low. Most equipment will notify you when the batteries are running out of power.
- Stray objects, like drifting balloons or rolling balls, can trigger the motion detectors and set off the alarm. So keep your living space free of clutter and tie down anything that can be blown around by the wind, fan, or air conditioner.
- Ensure your windows and doors are secured and closed tightly before leaving your house, as loose hinges can trigger the alarm.
Question #5: How often should I test my security system?
You must test your home security system regularly to ensure it works correctly. We recommend inspecting your alarm once a month. With that said, there are a few other general guidelines to follow:
- Test your security system after setting it up for the first time.
- Test your security system after any maintenance work has been carried out.
- Test your security system after every significant modification or renovation in your house.
- Test your security system after any significant alteration to your phone or internet service.
PART 5 – CONCLUSION
We understand that selecting a home security system can appear intimidating at first. After all, there are plenty of options available on the market, and you must decide which is most suitable for your living arrangement and lifestyle. But the better your understanding of the various options, the more likely you will find the ideal system that makes sense for you. Hopefully, our guide can assist you in making the best choice!
Fortunately, you do not have to search far to find your ideal security provider. With more than 40 years of experience in the industry, Astrol Security is more than capable of assessing your security needs and advising you accordingly. We offer a comprehensive range of security solutions and provide valuable after-sale services, including CCTV maintenance, for our products. Do not hesitate to contact us today if you require assistance in selecting a robust security system for your home.