There’s a general sense among the population that crime is on the rise and that the world is becoming a more dangerous place. But despite popular perception, both the overall crime rate and the rate of home burglaries in the US have declined in recent years.
It’s not a big leap to connect the decline in burglaries with the growing accessibility and popularity of home security systems. Chances are, if you’re buying a new home, you’ve considered installing a system in your own home. But there are umpteen home security products and even more system installers out there. How do you know which is the best home security system for you? Here are some of the factors you should consider before you decide.
What Are You Protecting?
Depending on whether you’re protecting a single-family home or an apartment-style dwelling, your needs will vary. If you live on the 17th floor, alarming your windows might not be of paramount concern. On the other hand, second-floor windows are entirely vulnerable to resourceful burglars. Some condo associations frown on members drilling holes in the walls and messing with electrical equipment. But today’s wireless systems can solve that problem for you. Do you often leave your children home alone? A system that incorporates cameras that alert you whenever someone approaches your property might give you even greater peace of mind.
How Much Do You Want To Know and Control?
Once upon a time, the role of a home security system was to alert you and your community’s first responders in the event of a security breach. You simply set it and hoped to be able to forget it. But today’s systems can provide much more information if you want it. Many integrate with other smart home equipment. You can unlock the door for the plumber while you’re at work, open the garage for your landscaper, and even turn up the heat before you come home, all from the comfort of your smartphone or tablet. Ask yourself, “How comfortable am I with technology?” and perhaps more importantly, “Do I need all those bells and whistles?” before selecting a system.
What’s Your Budget?
Home security systems run a wide price gamut. Feature-laden smart systems naturally come with a higher price tag. But smart systems that offer simple DIY installation often provide wide-ranging functionality at a lower price. Of course, the cost of the hardware itself is only a portion of what you’ll need to pay for full protection.
Your system will only be as effective as the entity monitoring it, whether that’s you or a professional monitoring service.
System monitoring often represents the lion’s share of a home security budget. Some security system companies offer month-to-month service. Others require that you sign a long-term contract and assess heavy fees for cancellation. Another cost to bear in mind as you plan your budget is the false-alarm fees that most communities assess when a home’s security system summons first responders in a non-emergency. False alarms can happen for a wide range of reasons, from operator error to faulty electronics. Systems that are subject to a lot of false alarms can cost you a bundle. Do some research and read reviews of various security system brands and installers. Frequent complaints of false alarms should cause you concern.
On the positive side, installing a home security system can reduce your homeowners’ insurance premium. Check with your insurance company to learn whether you can factor those cost savings into your calculus.
Regardless of whether you decide to install a home security system, there are simple measures you can take to decrease the likelihood of being burglarized. In interviews with law enforcement officials, convicted burglars have shared some of the most effective burglary deterrents. Keep trees and shrubbery neatly trimmed to avoid creating hiding places for crooks. Install exterior lighting so burglars can’t operate under the cover of darkness. Keep blinds and shades closed when you’re not home so thieves won’t be tempted by expensive electronic equipment and other highly prized items. And by the way, a big, noisy dog can’t hurt either.