There are dozens of home security systems on the market today — each with different, customizable features and options to fit your needs. With so many available choices, the information can quickly become overwhelming. To help un-complicate the buying process, we at SafeWise have compiled a list of six things to consider when shopping for a home security system.
1. What’s your budget?
The first question you should ask yourself is how much you want to spend on your home alarm system. If your budget is limited, you may not want to pay for professional installation or monitoring services. Installation fees plus three years of monitoring, for example, can range from $2,000 to more than $4,000.
In addition to installation fees and monitoring costs, consider the price of additional equipment and home automation features. Adding security cameras, sensors, and other smart devices will increase the cost of your system. While all the bells and whistles may seem nice, if they don’t fit in your budget, they may not be worth considering. But having a small budget isn’t the end of the world: basic alarm systems can be purchased for as little as $20, so there’s something to fit any budget.
2. Do you rent or own?
Owning a home may no longer be the definition of achieving the American dream, but it certainly allows you more freedom when purchasing an alarm system. You can decide what you want and where you want it — whether it’s a new doorbell camera, electric door locks, or a motion sensor at every window.
Renting, however, is a different story. Not only can it be difficult to uninstall and take everything with you when you move after your lease is up, many rental locations won’t let you install a security system at all, or without prior written notice. It makes sense: management companies and landlords don’t want you to alter or damage their property by installing an security alarm system — not to mention the fact that they may need access to the property at any time without you locking them out or setting off an alarm when they enter. Securing your apartment is important, but contact your landlord or management company to see if they have any specific requirements before you decide to buy a system.
3. How long do you plan to be in your home?
Many monitored security systems require you to sign a long-term contract, which can be difficult to get out of when you move. Some companies will let you transfer your service and take the equipment with you when you move, but many won’t. Consider wireless, DIY systems that can be moved easily if your current abode is a short-term stay.
If you’re planning on staying in your current home for 3 to 5 years, more permanent security features may be worth it — and the price per month may decrease with a longer contract.
4. How large is your home?
The size of your home will most likely influence your decision when it comes to home security features. People in smaller homes may need only one alarm system at the front door, while a bigger home may require additional features to cover more potential points of entry for burglars. Back doors, first-floor windows, and garages are common targets for intruders, so you may find it worthwhile to include additional safety features for those areas if your home has them.
5. Do you want to monitor the home yourself?
It can get expensive to pay someone else to monitor your home, but it’s more affordable than dealing with a burglary. Monitoring services typically cost anywhere from $20 to $50 a month, depending on what’s included in your service. You can get a variety of benefits with a monitoring service, including 24/7 fire protection and free repairs or upgrades on equipment and software.
If you are home more often than you’re away, or if you have helpful neighbors that will look after your home when you’re not around, you may not need to pay for professional monitoring. And if you want total control over your home security, mobile access that allows you to monitor your system from a Web-enabled device may be a better option for you. This means you’re responsible for contacting the authorities, but you can also determine for yourself whether a situation needs the attention of the authorities.
6. Is there specific equipment you know you want?
Are there specific pieces of equipment or home automation features you know you want? Do you know you need home security cameras? Not every security system package comes with the same features, so if there’s something you know you want, look for packages that include those features specifically or will allow you to add them on later.
The best home security alarm systems give you the ability to see what’s going on at your home at all times and give you the peace of mind you and your family deserve. Now that you have a clearer idea of what you want in a home security system, take a look at our guide on how to choose the system that fits your needs best.