Home security has changed drastically over the last 50 years. If you are old enough to remember when all security systems were hard wired to a home’s electrical and telephone system, you know just how different things are today. And with all the new technologies have come more opportunities to be overwhelmed by it all. Wireless home security is anything but simple.
If you have avoided even thinking about home security because you think it is too difficult to understand, you may have a point. But technology has advanced to such a degree that making an effort to learn could pay off big time.
As a writer with many years’ experience covering home security and smart home automation, I want to help you make sense of it all. I have broken down home security into four categories that should make the larger concept easier to understand.
Category #1: Security
This first category may seem like a no-brainer: security. But remember, we are breaking down the various components of home security to make them easier to understand. Components in this category include window and door sensors, alarms, and home security hubs.
Window and Door Sensors
Window and door sensors are two-part devices attached to the frames of windows and doors. The two parts are designed to maintain contact when windows and doors are closed. When a window or door is open, that contact is broken. Breaking contact sounds an alarm if the home’s security system is active.
Home security systems can act as alarms, monitoring systems, or both. An alarm is essentially a noisemaker. When a home’s system is active, any event that triggers the system will also trigger the alarm. The system will emit a high-decibel noise designed to alert anyone in the vicinity to the potential problem.
A home security hub is a device through which every piece of equipment on the system is connected. In many cases, the hub is located on a wall just inside the front door. That makes for easy activation and deactivation as homeowner’s come and go. That said, wireless technology allows consumers to put their hubs in other locations. They do not need at-the-door access because they can activate and deactivate their alarms with their phones.
Category #2: Safety
The next category includes devices that are considered safety features more than security enhancements. There are four main devices in this category. Rarely are they included in an entry-level system. More often than not, they are added as extra components. Here they are:
Though smoke alarms can be installed completely separate from a security system, integrating them into a security system offers the added benefit of around-the-clock monitoring. A monitored smoke alarm not only alerts occupants to a fire, but it also alerts remote monitoring personnel. They immediately notify authorities to get them on scene more quickly.
Along similar lines are carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. They constantly monitor ambient air while measuring the amount of CO present. If CO levels get too high, a detector triggers an alarm to alert occupants of the danger. And just as with a monitored smoke alarm, remote monitoring personnel are prompted by the alarm to notify the local authorities.
Homeowners can now include water sensors in their home security packages. A well-placed water sensor can alert to the potential for spring flooding. It can warn of burst pipes, a faulty water heater, or any other incidents involving standing water in a home.
Rounding out this category are medical alert systems. A medical alert system equips vulnerable occupants of a home with pendants they wear around the neck or on the wrist. In the event of a medical emergency, a wearer need only activate their pendant by pushing a button. That alerts a monitoring company who can respond by sending help.
Category #3: Surveillance
The surveillance category pretty much explains itself. Surveillance in a home security setting involves strategically placed cameras inside and out. Vivint Smart Home, a nationwide provider of video surveillance cameras and home security systems, says most consumers start with one or two exterior cameras.
An exterior camera giving full view of the front door is the priority. Any other first-floor entrances would be good candidates for cameras as well. Exterior cameras should be in full view for maximum deterrent effect.
As far as interior cameras are concerned, common locations include kitchens, family rooms, and just inside the main entryway. Cameras deter criminals and provide evidence when crimes are committed.
Category #4: Home Automation
A decade ago, home automation would not have been considered part of home security. It is today. Companies like Vivint Smart Home now design and sell systems that fully integrate both security and automation features. If you are getting one these days, you are likely getting the other.
Examples of home automation devices include:
A smart lock is an electronic lock that features keyless entry and remote access. It is both a home automation and security device at the same time. For home automation purposes, keyless entry and remote access make locking and unlocking the door very convenient. From a security standpoint, smart locks make it possible to know who is entering and leaving the home at all times.
Doorbell cameras combine traditional doorbell functions with limited video surveillance. Most modern devices have built-in audio systems that allow homeowners to communicate with a visitor using their phones, eliminating the need to open the door.
Smart lights can make turning lights on and off more convenient. They can also save energy by ensuring that lights are not on when a home is an occupied. There are obvious security features to automating smart lights as well.