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What to Look for in a Home Security System

June 30 2008

There are a variety of home security options when looking to secure your house. No matter what system you pick, the end-goal should be the same: safety, security, peace of mind and an added resale feature down the road. Here are some tips about what to look for in a home security system.Home Security Systems

Safety audit

Before installing a home security system, do a “safety audit” of your home and property to determine all possible points of entry including windows, doors and skylights. Do you have a thick canopy of trees or bushes on your property? Your landscaping might offer ample hiding spaces for intruders.

Wireless vs. hardwire

A home security system generally consists of detectors or sensors, speakers, lights and a computer or control pad that links everything together. There are two main kinds of systems: hardwire and wireless. Hardwire systems are more complex, and involve cords and wires. Only a professional should install them.

A wireless system is easier to install, in fact, most people could set it up themselves. Wireless doesn’t require draping cords throughout your home. The downside is that wireless signals can be blocked or interfered with.


Motion sensors detect physical movement in your house or yard. When movement is detected, an alarm turns on and police are contacted. Be sure to have your motion sensor carefully calibrated so that birds and pets don’t trigger the alarm every time they enter your yard.

Heat sensors are also helpful. These sensors detect sudden changes in room temperature, caused by the presence of a warm-blooded burglar or a fire.

Lights, camera, action

Security lighting that activates when a presence is detected on your property at night makes an excellent weapon in your home security arsenal. Don’t go overboard on your wattage though. Keep in mind the idea is to scare away burglars, not to annoy your neighbors.

Video monitoring systems

Video surveillance cameras can either be put in plain view or hidden. In plain view, they might frighten off potential burglars. You run the risk, however, of having your cameras disabled by determined intruders. A hidden camera won’t scare anyone but it will provide useful footage for police in case of a home invasion or break-in. Even fake cameras in plain sight might be helpful to keep bad guys at bay.

Panic buttons

You can install panic buttons around your house that will trigger your alarm and send for help when you press them.

Security signs

If you install a security system, be sure to affix a sign on your door alerting intruders that your place is protected. The sign alone might ward off burglars or vandals!

Remember: criminals always go for the lowest hanging fruit. If they think your house is too secure, they will pick another easy target. In addition to securing your property, remember that a properly installed security system will make potential buyers feel immediately at home. Take your time selecting the right one.