Choosing a Home Security System

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Installing a home security system can give you real peace of mind, because you know that whether you are at home or away, your home and family are protected. Depending on the type of system you choose, your insurance company may offer you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance policy, too, because homes that are protected are less likely to be robbed, vandalized or damaged.

Home security systems vary, and most security companies customize each package to include the features that meet the individualized needs of the customer. Typically, home security systems include features that protect your family and home from intrusion and burglary, fire and smoke, flood and water damage, carbon monoxide poisoning and/or extreme temperature changes. Many security companies also offer personal emergency response systems for individuals who live alone and want the security of knowing that someone will come to their aid should they face an emergency situation.

When an emergency occurs within your household, your system detects a break-in, fire or other security breach, your alarm is activated and sends a signal to the provider’s central monitoring station. Two-way voice communication is established, or if no one in the home is able to answer, the provider contacts the appropriate authorities – police, fire department, ambulance, etc. Exact protocol varies from company to company, so make yourself familiar with your security company’s processes before having your system installed and activated.

What features can you expect? Again, every security company is different, so it’s important for you to discuss the available options with the various providers you contact. Here are some of the more common features that may be included in (or added to) a home security system:

  • Wireless motion detector - senses when an intruder enters your home.

  • Smoke detector - alerts the security company when fire breaks out so that they can dispatch fire and rescue crews.

  • Carbon monoxide detector - senses an abnormal level of carbon monoxide in the air before it can cause damage to your health.

  • Flood sensors - detect flood activity early, preventing or reducing the effects of water damage.

  • Temperature sensors - protect you and your home from the damage and dangers of freezing or overheating.

  • Phone line monitor - alerts the security company when someone has tampered with your phone lines.

  • Two-way voice communication system - enables you to speak directly with a representative of the security company when an emergency arises.

  • Interior siren - alerts you when an intruder breaks in, fire breaks out or another emergency arises.

  • Key fobs  - enable you to arm and disarm your system remotely.

The costs incurred by a home security system typically include installation and activation fees as well as a monthly monitoring fee. To compare various systems, ask each security company about the following:

  • Contract length.

  • Warranty.

  • Installation fee.

  • Activation fee.

  • Monthly monitoring cost.

  • Any additional charges (be aware that some home security companies consider two-way voice communication an upgraded feature).

Sources: ADT Security Services Canada, AlarmForce, Home Security Dealer Canada.