What Are Common Components of a Security System?

A home security system consists of different components, including motion sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, glass break detectors, door and window sensors, yard signs and window stickers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. These alarm system components work together to keep you and your family safe from a variety of threats.

Whether you just want to learn more about security system parts or are considering going the DIY route, here are the major security system components you should be aware of.

 

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Motion Sensors

Motion sensors are an essential part of any home security system. They have a wide variety of uses: turning on indoor and outdoor lights, activating cameras, setting off alarms, and more. For this reason, they are often incorporated into other home alarm system equipment.

Indoor and Outdoor Cameras

Security cameras are another core security system part. Cameras can be used to record areas of your home or yard, and some can also send the feed straight to your smartphone or tablet.

Cameras are also used in new and clever ways, from doorbell cameras that are all but invisible to smart cameras, like the Nest Cam, that record in crisp 1080p HD and automatically store footage in the Cloud for safekeeping.

Glass Break Detectors

Glass break detectors are handy sensors that detect the frequency the sound of shattering glass makes and set off an alarm. These are useful to let you know if someone attempts to enter your home by breaking the windows or glass doors, making them an essential alarm system component. Typically, these small sensors are placed indoors near windows or other glass you’re concerned about someone breaking. They tend to be inexpensive, so they make great, simple investments to boost security.

Door and Window Sensors

Door and window sensors detect when the door or window they are attached to opens. These devices use two sensors: one on the door or window, and one on the frame. When the door is closed, the two sensors form a closed circuit. When the door is opened, the circuit breaks, triggering a burglar alarm or text alert. This is an older technology, but it’s one that works. And like glass break detectors, they tend to be inexpensive, making great first investments in home security.

Yard Signs and Window Stickers

One burglar alarm part that might be easily overlooked is the signage that comes with it. You might not think these are all that important, but the presence of these signs and window stickers can deter would-be burglars from entering a home. Make sure to display your signs prominently!

Smoke Detectors

Most homes have smoke detectors installed, but if you need to install your own, you can get one as part of a comprehensive home security system. If you’re looking to upgrade, there are also smart smoke detectors that speak alerts out loud, letting you know what room the smoke is coming from.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are less common than smoke detectors, but they are just as important. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. Without a detector, there is no way to know this gas is present. This can be extremely dangerous—thousands of people go to the hospital each year from CO poisoning in their homes.

This covers the basics of a security system. If you’re considering purchasing a system for your home, check out our picks for the best home security systems.

Compare the best home security systems

Brand
Best for
Lowest monitoring price
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Smart home compatibilityIcon Tooltip  Dark
Learn more
Read review
VivintVivint
Best overall$599.00
Icon Yes  LightNo *
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
FrontpointFrontpoint
High-end DIY pick$99.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
SimpliSafeSimpliSafe
Reader favorite$229.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google
CoveCove
Best customer experienceQuote required
Icon Yes  LightNo *
Amazon,
Google
ADTADT
Most experienced$0.00
Icon No  LightYes
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
AbodeAbode
Best DIY automation$279.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon, Apple, Google, Z-Wave, Zigbee
RingRing
Best outdoor cameras$199.99
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Blue by ADTBlue by ADT
Best optional monitoring$199.15
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
WYZEWyze
Best budget pick $85.98
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google
BrinksBrinks
Most safety sensor options$199.00
Icon No  LightYes
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave

Info current as of 04/12/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*$0 due up-front with consumer financing.
†No-contract options available with outright equipment purchase.
‡Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer)
**With $99 installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies. See full disclaimer for full offer details, terms, and conditions.

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help people find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She continues to report on local news as a volunteer with the community paper. For the last six years, she’s led a Girl Scout troop, teaching girls about safety and preparing for whatever life throws their way.

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