How do I know what to buy?
Unless you’re comfortable taking all the responsibility for your family’s security and you’re an avid do-it-yourselfer, your best bet is to call a professional. Most security companies provide a no cost evaluation and will make appropriate recommendations for your home.
How expensive is a home security system?
Home security equipment costs can range from nothing upfront to well over $1,000. It depends on the features that you want and whether you are buying the equipment or leasing it along with a monitoring agreement. Some security companies will provide the basic equipment for free or a minimal fee when you sign a contract for their monitoring service but have additional charges for additional sensors and functionality. Comparison shopping for the specific features that you need can save you a bundle.
You can also buy a variety of home security equipment from home centers and electronics stores. There are single window/door alarms for as little as $10 or you can custom design a system to fit your needs. Just as using a security company, each window, door or other area of protection will generally cost more money.
Are there recurring costs for a home security system?
If you go for a monitored system, you’ll incur a monthly fee that will range from as little as $6 to well over $50 depending on the company and the options that you choose.
There are many companies in this business and they all offer a variety of plans. There are also differences in the reliability and type of monitoring from company to company. Monitoring plans are offered for basic burglary protection to live video from anywhere in the world and everything in between. The largest companies with great reputations tend to have the highest prices but generally offer the best overall service.
What do I need a monitoring service for?
Since most burglaries occur when your home is empty, your security system may not do any good without a monitoring service. A loud siren may scare off a burglar but you can bet that they’ll silence the alarm quickly if they do stick around. Some do-it-yourself systems are capable of dialing out, but beware as a telephone line won’t work after the burglar cuts it. Since most of the monitoring services use cell phone technology as the main or back-up communication method, you are protected even when your phone line is cut.
Do I have to sign a contract with a monitoring service?
Maybe; since there are so many different companies out there, they all have different terms and conditions. Generally speaking, the largest companies in the business as well as any company providing discounted or free equipment will require a contract. Three year terms are typical and I know at least one company that uses a five year contract. These are similar to cell-phone plans as they typically carry hefty penalties for an early cancellation.
If I invest in a security system, what happens if I move?
Most of the security systems installed today are easily moved. As hard wired systems are not cost effective to install, chances are you would get a wireless system that can easily move along with you. Some of the larger security companies have provisions for reinstallation upon moving built into their contracts. If you own the equipment, you can include it when selling your home as a security system does add value to a home for sale.
Can I get a security system if I rent my home?
Absolutely; in most cases the security company would require permission from your landlord prior to installation. I don’t know too many landlords who wouldn’t welcome the idea.
Do I lose my protection if there’s a power failure?
Any decent security system has a battery back-up that would power the system for hours, if not days. So when lights and other things that rely on electricity may not benefit your security during a power failure, you can have peace of mind with a security system.
Does a security company cover any losses from a break-in?
That would be a no. Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers any losses beyond your deductible. The only exception to this is in the contracts of a few companies where a few hundred dollars may be payable if losses are a direct result of negligence on their part. This would usually cover your insurance deductible. The good news about insurance is that you’ll get a discount on your premium after a security system is installed!
Can a security system do more than guard my home from burglars?
Today’s security systems have matured to the point of home automation. Fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detection are very common and thermostat and lighting control are available in many systems. Communication technologies and the internet allow monitoring and complete home control from anywhere in the world.