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What to Look for in Home Security Systems



Angie’s List
Saturday, November 18, 2017

The holiday season is prime time for burglars. So, if you’ll be away from home a lot over the next few months, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place to deter would-be intruders.

Do Security Systems Deter Crime?

Experts say an alarm system plays more of a role in scaring burglars away from a home than it does in prompting a quick response from law enforcement. But that can go a long way in keeping your family and belongings safe.

Approximately one in every six American families has an alarm system, according to the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, and the number of security-protected residences is rising. That’s because homeowners who have installed burglar alarm systems statistically stand a better chance of avoiding invasion than those without protection. In fact, homes without an alarm system are three times more likely to be burglarized than those with an alarm system.

How Do You Choose the Right Security System?

Look for an alarm system that suits your needs and fits your budget. The standard home security package will include a master control panel, a control keypad, sensor pads for doors and windows, and a motion sensor device. Some systems are connected to an off-site alarm monitoring service, while others have in-home alarms. You can install many products yourself, while others will require the help of a professional.

Examine the security measures included in each package. Then evaluate the applicability of each to your particular needs. If you experience frequent power outages, for example, you’ll benefit from a security system that uses a battery backup. And if your family travels frequently, you may want to have a monitoring service handle alerts while you’re away.

Many providers offer extras such as infrared sensors and closed-circuit camera systems that fully monitor your home inside and out. Other popular add-ons include automated lights, video surveillance and intercom systems, water sensors and carbon monoxide monitoring. These features are especially helpful to homeowners who spend a lot of time away from home.

Home Security System Cost

Angie’s List members report paying an average of around $739 for a home security system. Of course, the features and monitoring services included in your security package will greatly affect the overall cost of your system.

In many cases, you can recoup a percentage of your security cost through a homeowner insurance credit. The exact discount will vary by insurance company.

Watch for Red Flags

When hiring a company to install or monitor your home security system, check to see whether your state requires them to be licensed. Also, check references and get as many referrals as possible.

If you do purchase a monitoring subscription, be sure to read the contractual fine print. Details such as the number of monthly alerts routed to the service are included in the contract and can increase costs. False alarms happen, and some cities impose fines for multiple false alarm calls.

Be careful when it comes to door-to-door salespeople and companies that make one-time offers you can purchase that day only.

These factors rush your decision-making process, frequently resulting in a negative outcome. Finally, be wary if a company offers a lot of freebies in exchange for your business. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.