Haven’t times have changed?
When I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s my old grandmother would tell me that when she was a young, they’d never think about locking the door when they left the house.
Apart from the fact that working people had anything to steal back then -it was the 1930’s – people lived in a more village-like environment.
Neighbors knew each other and a stranger in the street was something people noticed.
Well those days are over.
However there are very few problems that we encounter in the modern world that can’t be overcome by technology.
Home safety and security is no exception. If you’re thinking about a home security system but don’t know where to start you’re in the right place.
This article covers some basics to get you on your way.
A good security alarm will:
- deter an intruder from attempting to rob you
- quickly detect the intrusion if an intruder does break into your home, and
- send you a notification so you can respond.
And unlike the neighbours your home security system is always on the job, 24/7 protecting your home and family.
You can choose a professionally installed system or install a system yourself. There a lot’s of choices when it comes to DIY systems and a few things to look out for.
Lets get to work…
House alarm systems
Protecting your home from a break-in starts outside.
A good, properly installed system will have a couple visual deterrents as a first line of defense:
(1) An external siren in a prominence location. It doesn’t have to become a ‘feature’ of the house but needs to be clearly visible from the street
(2) A surveillance camera that can ‘see’ someone approach your house from your front gate or driveway.
These can be ‘dummy’ devices.
By that I mean they don’t need to actually work, they are a visual deterrent, your first line of defense.
Remember, an intruder can choose any home in your street to break into.
If he can see you’ve taken precautions against robbery or home invasion (many of your neighbours haven’t) he’s likely to try another house.
He knows from experience that whatever treasure he can steal from your home will also be available at the house next door, across the street or down the road.
Why increase the chances of getting caught? He might be a bludger, but he’s got good survival instincts if he makes his living from burglaries.
If a thief does choose your house, you want to be ready for him. Lets look at the second line of defence:
A good quality Home Security Alarm System
Here are the bits and pieces that make up a system that will be effective at protecting your home.
The security panel or alarm panel is heart of the system. It contains the electronics to run the alarm system including the detectors and sirens. It also houses the back-up battery so it’s important to keep it out of sight.
I would recommend mounting it in a cupboard as high as possible, then it’s almost impossible for a determined intruder to disable the system.
The control panel needs to be plugged into a power point.
It will also need to be connected to your internet router if you require alarm notifications.
It should never be installed in the ceiling space.
Next, we need to work out what type of alarm sensors to use and where to install them.
Passive infra-red (PIR) motion sensors are the most common type of intruder detector.
They should be installed in the corner or a room for best catch performance
A good quality PIR sensor will detect an intruder up to 12 metres away and be virtually free of false alarms.
That means an average sized 3 bedroom house can usually be protected with 3 PIRs.
The best locations for an average 3 or 4 bedroom house are;
· Entry hall or lounge room, positioned so it can ‘see’ the lounge room and front entry
· Living room
· Master bedroom
If you have a two-storey home it’s a good idea to put one upstairs as well.
PET TOLERANT PIRS
If you intend to leave your pets inside the house when the alarm is armed you’ll need pet tolerant sensors.
The good ones are designed to reliably detect an intruder while completely ignoring movement from you dogs or cats. If you’re installing the system yourself make sure you follow the installation instructions to the letter! If pet sensors are not placed and calibrated correctly you’ll get false alarms.
And if that happens, your pets will be subjected to very loud sirens for at least 60 seconds.
A professional installer should be consulted for advice if you’re in doubt.
DOOR ALARM SENSOR
These devices detects if a door or window is opened or closed. It has two separate parts: a magnet, and a special switch, called a reed switch.
The magnet is mounted on the door and the switch is mounted on the door frame.
When the door is closed, the magnet and reed switch are brought close enough that the magnetic field acts upon the switch and causes it to close.
When the door is opened, the magnet is moved away from the switch opens, triggering the alarm.
Door alarm sensors provide a reliable way to protect a door or a window.
Beware! They will not detect if an intruder enters your home by breaking the window.
Wireless outdoor detectors have evolved to become very reliable at detecting people and ignoring dogs, cats and vermin.
They provide an early warning that someone has entered the boundary of your property who may be:
· walking up your driveway towards your home
· prowling round your shed or workshop
· approaching the boat or caravan in the carport.
The early warning these sensors provide gives the homeowner a chance to respond before the intruder has decided what to try and steal. This gives you a huge advantage in preventing theft of your property.
These types of detectors are wireless and can be connected to most burglar alarm systems.
One of the most important things in any burglar alarm system is to make sure you have a least two loud sirens inside the home.
The reason is two-fold
A super loud siren inside informs the intruder that his break-in has been detected before he’s found your valuables.
Suddenly he’s lost control of what will happen next.
Will a nosy neighbour investigate?
Will a suburban police patrol car be driving by,hear the siren and stop to take a look?
Perhaps an alarm notification been sent to a monitoring centre and a patrol car is being sent.
The super-loud sirens prevent him hearing someone entering the house in response to the alarm.
This is enough reason for him to leave immediately.
If he can’t hear you coming home, or a patrolman or friend entering the house to investigate, he could easily find himself trapped in a room with no way to escape.
In a home without a burglar alarm there’s no loud sirens to mask his hearing, nothing but sweet silence!
The crook can methodically go through all your cupboards and drawers looking for your hidden treasure.
Believe me, he knows exactly where to look!
He will also have prepared his escape path – opening a door or window at the back of the house.
With no sirens sounding, he’ll easily hear a car pull up in the driveway, or the key in the front door lock or the garage door opening.
Once he knows someone is coming, he’ll slip out through his escape route – along with your goodies.
Home Security Alarm Systems
The hardwired alarm is a popular option for lots people. Not everyone has the time or inclination to install their own alarm system.
The sensors, codepad and sirens of a hardwired burglar alarm are all connected to the security control panel with wires.
Everything is powered from the security panel so you never have to remember to replace batteries in the sensors.
There’s also a huge variety of sensors that can be connected to a hardwired system. If a sensor works on one hardwired system, it will work on almost any hardwired system.
As an added bonus, most hardwired systems can have a wireless module attached that allows wireless sensors to be used as well.
That’s why professional alarm installation companies prefer them. It allows for complete flexibility in detector choice so there are no compromises.
A hardwired alarm also has many more programmable options that allow the installer to set the system up to suit an individual’s unique requirements.
I would recommend you have a professional installation company install this type of system.
Wireless Burglar Alarm Systems
Wireless systems make installation very simple.
Until recently they were considered the poor cousins to hardwired systems.
Advances in technology means that wireless alarms are now a reliable alternative to having a traditional hardwired alarm. If you want to install an alarm system yourself I would recommend you use a wireless alarm.
Consider these benefits:
- Installation takes around 2 hours. A hardwired alarm can take 5-8 hours to install properly.
- The installation is neater because there no wires* to be run in the roof and down your walls
- You can easily take the system with you when you move house
- Because they’re wire-free it’s easy to add new sensors to an extension to your home or a granny-flat in the back yard
- Battery life in wireless sensors is 3-5 years.
Many of the same types of sensors used in traditional hardwired alarms are also available for wireless alarm systems.
CONS OF WIRELESS ALARM SYSTEMS
The sensors use batteries. Although the battery life is long, you still need to remember to replace them when the time comes. Your system should alert you when the batteries are getting low.
Compromise in detection. In order to get 3 to 5 years from the battery in a motion sensor, a comprise in performance made: when the alarm is armed, the sensor will only detect movement from an intruder once and then go to sleep for three minutes to conserve the battery. After the three minute ‘sleep-timer- has reset, the sensor wakes up and is ready to detect further movement. This is not a deal-breaker but something you should be aware of.
Wireless code pads have limited functionality and don’t give you feedback of the status of the system.
Wireless alarm systems have their own propriety ‘eco-system’ This means your choice of sensors is restricted to the ones designed for your panel. You can’t mix and match sensors from different manufactures like you can with a hardwired system. Ness wireless systems only work on Ness alarm systems. Likewise with Bosch, Hills and Risco.
This is usually fine for a basic system that you’ll never need to expand. Check the range of available sensors and other add-ons before you buy.
Systems purchased online can have flimsy remotes, lack of range on motion sensors (5-6 metres as opposed to 12-15 metres for hardwired sensors) and limited range of sensors and peripherals
Home alarm system prices
PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION PRICES
A home alarm system installed by a professional installation company will cost around $900.00 for a hardwired systems and $1,400.00 for a wireless system.
Of course, if you need any extras or choose some handy extra’s expect to pay a bit more.
l A two story home may require and extra sensor upstairs.
l If you need pet-tolerant sensors expect to pay around $50.00 each to upgrade from Standard PIRs.
l Will you need to arm and disarm the alarm from and app, and receive alarm notifications?
Some systems require an extra module to be fitted inside the security panel for this. The module for the Bosch Solution 3000 for example is around $180.00
Remember, a professional installer knows how to get the best out of the equipment he’s installing. Using his skill and knowledge he’ll get most homes protected with 3, maybe 4 good quality motion sensors. You won’t see any unsightly wiring and he’ll clean up when he’s finished.
DIY HOME SECURITY PRICES
If you want to save some money there are plenty of Do-It-Yourself alarms available online. Some great, some useless! Here’s some helpful tips.
A good, basic DIY system can be purchased for around $300.00 and installed in an hour or two. Fancier systems can set you back up to $900.00
You can purchase additional sensors, remote controls and smoke detectors to expand your system if it becomes necessary.
Make sure the system you choose has the ability to add extra wireless internal sirens or it’s not going to be an effective home security system.
DIY HOME ALARM SYSTEMS – ALL-IN-ONE VERSUS MODULAR
If you’re thinking about installing an alarm yourself, there are two types of security systems to consider.
(1) An all-in-one security system. This type of alarm has the electronics, siren and battery all housed in a single control unit. They are simpler to install but not as secure as the next type:
(2) Modular alarm. Modular security systems similar to the more traditional type of security system.
The alarm panel, or ‘brains’ of the system can be hidden out of site because there is no built-in siren.
The codepad, external and internals sirens are all coded into the system within a few minutes and mounted in their required locations.
The installation manual that comes with the system will give you a good idea about where the various components should go.
They are wireless so installation is simple.
I recommend at least two sirens for inside your home
The more noise the system creates during a break-in, the better.
The latest generation of the first type, the DIY all-in-one systems use a ‘hub’ with built in siren
It’s not possible to connect additional sirens on the one’s I’ve tested.
The only noise it makes comes from the unit itself.
That means the unit can’t be hidden away in a cupboard, it has to be out in the open for the in-built siren to be effective – the siren is useless if the hub is locked away in a cupboard.
The hub needs to be connected to a power source and your internet router, so it makes sense to sit it next to the router.
The problem with the hub being out in the open is that it’s extremely vulnerable to being quickly disabled by an experienced thief.
Once inside your home, the built-in siren will obligingly lead him directly to the hub – the brains of your burglar alarm.
He will fill a bucket with water (or bring one inside with him) and drop your new “security system” in.
Its ‘game over’ for the burglar alarm – no notifications, no sirens, nothing!
After that minor inconvenience, the burglar can get on with the job of stealing your valuables.
If you do decide to go for an all-in one type system, make sure you mount it high, near the ceiling so it can’t be tampered with.
Use screws or a bracket or other fixing method to make sure it can’t be moved or attacked easily.
SELF-MONITORING & ALARM NOTIFICATIONS
Another essential part of a good home security alarm system is the ability to receive alerts on your smartphone when you’re out and about.
A good system will send you a detailed message that tells you exactly what is happening at your home
‘Motion Sensor Lounge room is activated’
‘Back Door switch is activated’
‘Mains Power switched off’
‘Alarm turned off by User 3’
‘Smoke detector is activated’
‘Low Battery Hall motion sensor’
Notifications can be sent either as a text message or a ‘Push’ notification using an app.
The type of notifications you receive depends on your system.
I would recommend an app-based system over text messages. The app gives you the ability to arm and disarm the system directly from your phone.
Some text message systems can as well although the process can be fiddly.
If you’re serious about home security, consider adding an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to keep your home internet router running during a mains power fail at home.
If your router goes down you won’t receive alarm notifications.
Jaycar electronics have a suitable unit for less than $150.00.
Definitely worth considering.
Adding a low-cost wi-fi surveillance camera is a great add-on to any security system alarm set up.
If you receive a notification from your alarm, simply log on to the camera and connect to a live feed of your home.
Then you get a true picture of the nature of the event and can take appropriate action
You’re response to a curtain blowing in the wind because you left the family room window open needs a simple response:
l Disarm the alarm from the app
l Bypass the family room motion sensor
l Re-arm the alarm to keep the rest of the home protected.
Seeing a stranger going from room to room will need a completely different response.
In this case you can call the police and inform them you have visual verification that an intruder is in your home and request they attend.
Without the camera, you don’t have enough information to make the right choice of response.
Some of the latest DIY home security systems have the video verification already built in.
You don’t need to log into a separate camera app – all the information is on one screen.
Getting your home protected is really quite easy. First,decide whether you’re doing to install the system yourself or have a professional installation company take care of it for you.
Then decide how many sensors your need and if you’ll leave your pets inside when the alarm is armed.
There are several good DIY systems available. I’m working on a review I’ve my three favorite systems that meet all the requirements to protect your home so check back again soo. Or fill in the details below and I’ll send you an email when its done.