The Best Home Security Cameras of 2017

security cameras

Security Cameras 2017

One of the biggest benefits of a smart home is being able to know what’s going on when you’re not actually there. Whether you’re checking in on your kids, pets, or an exotic jewel collection, a home security camera is a great tool for keeping an eye on things from afar.

Although capabilities vary from device to device, surveillance cameras allow you to monitor what’s going on in your home through live or recorded video. But not all cameras are created equally. Some have alarms or can send you notifications when they detect activity, some offer two-way audio, some are meant to monitor your baby, and some even double as full-on home automation hubs.

We’ve tested lots of home surveillance cameras over the last few years, so we know what’s important to look for. For instance, you want a camera that’s simple to set up and use. Additionally, one of the very first qualities we notice is an attractive—though discreet—design. It’s important that the camera looks like something you actually want in your home, but depending on your needs, you may not want it to stand out too much.

Device support is critical as well. Our favorite cameras allow you to check in from anywhere, whether it’s an app on your phone or a Web browser. Additional features vary from camera to camera, and each of our top picks offer just enough variety to set them apart from the rest of the competition.

Here are some other important factors to consider when buying a home security cam:

The View

Even though 1080p is generally the standard resolution for cameras we’ve tested, and you won’t find any that stream or record in 4K any time soon, there are benefits to cameras with higher resolution sensors. Few home security cameras have optical zoom lenses, but almost all have digital zoom, which crop and enlarge whatever the camera is recording. The more megapixels a camera sensor has, the more you can digitally zoom in and still be able to see things clearly.

Besides resolution, consider the field of view as well. All security cameras have wide-angle lenses, but not all angles are created equal. Depending on the lens’ field of view, it can see between 100 and 180 degrees. That’s a big range in terms of the camera’s vision cone. If you want to watch a large area, you should consider a camera with a very wide field of view.

Placement

If you want to keep an eye on the rooms of your home, there are plenty of options. If you want to keep an eye on your driveway, backyard, or front porch, you need to be more choosy. Not all home security cameras are rugged enough to be mounted outdoors. You need a camera that’s waterproof and can stand up to rain, snow, and sun, and survive the extreme temperatures of summer and winter. The Nest Cam Outdoor and Netgear Arlo are two models built specifically for use outdoors, while the Nest Cam Indoor and the Netgear Arlo-Q might not survive the next rainstorm if you mount them over your garage door.

Connectivity

Most security cameras use Wi-Fi, but not all rely on it exclusively. Some add Bluetooth for local control and easier setup through your smartphone, while others incorporate separate home automation networking standards to interact with other devices, like ZigBee or Z-Wave. For most cameras, all you need to do is follow instructions on an app to connect them to your home network.

Once your camera is connected, you’ll almost certainly be able to access it through your smartphone or tablet. The vast majority of home security cameras today have mobile apps, and many focus entirely around those apps for doing everything. Some have Web portals as well, which add flexibility for accessing your videos and alerts from anywhere.

Cloud Storage

The videos your camera records probably won’t be stored on the camera itself. Most home security cameras use cloud services to store and offer remote access to footage. Some models have microSD card slots so you can physically pull the video from them when you want to review footage, but this is a rare feature.

Keep in mind that not all cloud services are alike, even for the same camera. Depending on the manufacturer, your home security camera will store different amounts of footage for different lengths of time. This service is often a paid subscription on top of the price of the camera itself, though some cameras offer free cloud storage to varying degrees. Cloud storage service is usually offered in tiers, letting you choose between keeping footage for a week, a month, or more.

Price

As you can see from our picks, most of the top-rated home security cameras on the market are roughly in the $200 range, but some of them also require an additional fee to store recorded video in the cloud. We break down any extra fees in our reviews, so it’s worth taking a look at each to find out which one fits your budget. Then again, you can’t really put a price on peace of mind.

Featured in This Roundup

  • Icontrol Networks Piper nv

    $279.00
    $279.99 at Amazon The Icontrol Networks Piper nv is a unique security camera that doubles as a home automation hub. This time around it offers night vision, a more robust camera sensor, and a faster processor.

  • LG Smart Security Wireless Camera LHC5200WI (With ADT Canopy)

    $199.99
    $199.99 at Amazon LG’s Smart Security Wireless Camera LHC5200WI doubles as a home automation hub and offers contract-free professional ADT monitoring at a reasonable price.

  • Nest Cam Outdoor

    $199.00
    $189.99 at Amazon The Nest Cam Outdoor security camera offers sharp 1080p video, crisp night vision, and motion detection alerts in a stylish weatherproof enclosure.

  • Canary All-In-One Home Security Device

    $199.00
    $149.99 at Amazon The Canary All-In-One Home Security Device keeps tabs on your dwelling with 1080p video capture and sensors for air quality, humidity, and temperature.

  • Logi Circle

    $199.99
    $149.99 at Best Buy The Logi Circle is an attractive and easy-to-use home security camera that lacks a few of the more powerful scheduling and programming features of its competition.

  • Nest Cam Indoor

    $199.00
    $192.75 at Amazon The Nest Cam Indoor is a dual-band Wi-Fi surveillance camera that offers crisp 1080p video, motion and sound detection, and integration with other Nest devices. It’s a snap to install, but you have to pay to view recorded video.

  • Netgear Arlo Q

    $219.99
    $161.66 at Amazon The Netgear Arlo Q is a pricey home security camera that delivers sharp, colorful 1080p daytime imagery and clear night vision video.

  • Netgear Arlo Security System (VMS3230)

    $349.99
    $269.99 at Amazon With Netgear’s Arlo Security System, you can place wireless cameras just about anywhere to keep tabs on your home, but you’re trading some functionality for battery power.

  • Petcube Play

    $199.00
    $179.00 at Amazon The latest security camera from Petcube, the Play, solves all of the issues we had with the original by adding a 1080p camera, night vision, cloud storage, and alerts.

  • Zmodo Pivot

    $149.50
    $99.00 at Amazon Want to keep tabs on what’s happening at home when you’re not there? The Zmodo Pivot camera gives you a 360-degree view, delivers crisp 1080p video, and goes one step further by including multiple security and environmental sensors.

Article Provided By: PC Magazine

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Home Alarm & Security Systems

What matters most?

Cost
SecurityFor many people, the price of a home security system is one of the most important factors in deciding which alarm system to purchase. There are three basic elements to consider: upfront (installation) costs, ongoing (monthly) subscription costs, and equipment costs. Be aware that many home insurance providers offer discounts (up to 20%) for homes with monitored alarm systems.

  • Upfront cost: Installation is either professional or do-it-yourself (DIY): some companies let you choose an installation method, while others offer only one option. Professional installation costs can run $100-$500+, while DIY is free but requires time investment.
  • Subscription cost: Subscription security systems – home alarms monitored 24/7 by outside companies – carry a monthly fee, usually in the $20-$60 range.
  • Equipment cost: You’ll catch a price break on monitored systems, which often offer equipment at reduced cost in exchange for signing a contract. If you purchase a system outright, expect to pay $100+ for a basic system and $500+ for top-of-the-line equipment.

Contract
Many home security companies offer discounted equipment in exchange for a signed contract, similar to how your cell phone company offers low-cost phones. Some contracts are more flexible than others, so read through the contract terms (and online reviews) before signing on the dotted line.

  • Length: Most contracts are for 2-3 year terms. Many allow for cancellation within the first 2-4 weeks of the contract’s term.
  • Terms: Pay special attention to a contract’s fine print: equipment warranties, cancellation clauses, etc.
  • Portability: Many companies make it easy to port your equipment to a new home, so if there’s a chance you’ll move during your contract, check first to confirm relocation possibilities.

Installation
There are two basic installation possibilities: professional installation and DIY options.

  • Professional installation: Many complex alarm systems, usually those that are hardwired into a home, require professional installation. This usually carries a hefty cost ($200-$500+), although some companies offer discount installation.
  • DIY: Do-it-yourself security systems are generally easy to install, often requiring just a few hours to read through the manual and place your sensors.
  • Third-party professional installation: If you purchase a DIY system but aren’t a DIYer, you can hire a local handy person to do your installation at an hourly rate.

Monitoring
Home alarm companies offer monthly monitoring via three types of connection: Internet (broadband/VOIP), phone line, or cellular service. Usually, Internet monitoring is the least expensive option, while cellular monitoring is the most expensive.

  • Internet: Monitoring via Internet is inexpensive, but be aware that if you have an Internet outage (or a power outage that disables your modem), you will be cut off from monitoring.
  • Phone line: Use your home phone line (landline) to connect with your monitoring company. Be aware that if a burglar cuts your phone line, your system will not work.
  • Cellular: Monitoring via cell phone connection is the most expensive option, but also the most secure.

Add-on features
Basic systems are just that: basic. You’ll most likely want to expand your system to meet your home’s specifications – number of windows and doors, outdoor lighting requirements, etc. – so look for a company with the add-on equipment and features that suit your needs.

  • Equipment: Equipment offerings vary greatly by company, so choose wisely before signing a contract.
  • Monthly plans: Monthly plans can range from bargain-basement monitoring via Internet connection to all the bells and whistles, including smoke detection, medical monitoring and home automation.
  • Service upgrades & downgrades: Lifestyle changes may require variations in your security needs; check with your company about the ease of adding services or switching monthly plans mid-contract.

Home automation
Home automation is a very popular feature of today’s home security systems – but one you’ll pay extra to access. Automation affords peace of mind and also keeps your house running efficiently (and inexpensively).

  • Security automation: Easily check that your alarm system is armed, your security cameras are functioning, your doors are locked, and other security features are engaged.
  • Energy savings: Adjust your thermostat while you’re out, double-check that your lights are off, conserve energy by pulling your shades down, and more.
  • Monitor the kids: Unlock the door for your children (or pet-sitter), check that the kids got home safely from school, and even ensure that they’re doing their homework instead of watching TV.

Remote access
Many security companies today offer remote access to the system via web-based dashboards and mobile apps. You can use the app to monitor your alarm or manage an array of home automation functions.

  • Internet dashboard: Log into your company’s website, e.g. mysecuritycompany.com, to have one-click access to your system.
  • Smartphone apps: Monitor your home via a free smartphone app.
  • Tablet apps: Many companies also offer comprehensive tablet-optimized apps to access remote security settings.
Article Provided by: ConsumerAffairs

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Alarm Monitoring Service: On-Call Emergency Responders

Alarm MonitoringHome alarm monitoring is one of the most essential services of your home security setup. After all, even if you have the best home alarm system that catches every burglar, this won’t do you much good if no one responds in your time of need. This article discusses central monitoring stations, how they work, and things to ask your alarm provider before signing on the dotted line.

Central Alarm Monitoring Stations

Lots of the top alarm companies will go on and on about the number and quality of central monitoring stations (the station that take your alarm alert and pass it to local authorities), and the inferiority of central monitoring stations other companies use. The bottom line is that you want an alarm company that doesn’t simply use a good central monitoring station(s), but does a good job of installing your system to your needs (or in the case of a self-install, helps guide you through the process), answers your security questions, and makes you feel comfortable with the service you are buying. You want your alarm system setup correctly and with adequate security measures (i.e. doesn’t allow cut phone or internet lines) to begin with. And just because someone has multiple monitoring stations, does not mean those stations are as reliable as the one that the companies that choose one excellent one use. See below under Rapid Response and Criticom for more info on the choice in monitoring station made by Frontpoint and ProtectAmerica, our top two contenders for best security system.

How Important Is A Monitored Alarm System?

According to research studies, homes with a monitored security system are 2.2 times less likely to be burglarized, and business with a monitored security system are 4.5 times less likely to be burglarized. In addition, 85% of police chiefs recommend the installation of monitored security systems.

Rapid Response

So who does our winner, Frontpoint, use? They use Rapid Response for their central monitoring service (the center that processes your alarm event and dispatches local authorities). With a 40,000 square foot headquarters facility in Central New York, Rapid Response Monitoring is listed by Underwriter Laboratories and certified by Factory Mutual. Rapid Response is one of fewer than two dozen Central Stations approved to monitor fire alarms in New York City. In addition to fire alarms, Rapid Response also monitors burglary, supervisory & medical signals, and offers GPS tracking/monitoring. Rapid Response performs monitoring of military, commercial, and residential accounts as well as provides answering service capability for its Dealers. Video, voice and data are processed by highly trained personnel to ensure error free handling of calls and signals. Check out the Rapid Response website for more information.

Do Alarm Companies Monitor The Communication Path?

A very common misunderstanding of alarm monitoring service contracts is that people think that alarm companies monitor the communication path between the alarm in the home or business and the actual Central Monitoring Station. This frustrates a lot of homeowners who assume, instead of reading their contract or asking the right questions.

Typically, you are paying your alarm service provider to process, treat and respond to alarm signals originating from your home that the Central Monitoring Station actually receives.

You are not paying for your alarm company to monitor the communication path, unless this is clearly stipulated in your contract with the associated fees necessary to perform this additional service for you.

Program Your Alarm To Send Self-Tests

Alarm panels can be programmed to send daily €œself-tests€ to the monitoring station once every 24 hours. There are some alarm companies who will notify their clients if their alarm panel €œmisses€ its daily self-test. However, some alarm panels which I have taken over were programmed for a self-test only once every 30 days.

Questions To Ask Your Alarm Provider

I suggest that you ask your alarm service provider to explain what happens if your alarm panel stops €œcalling€ your monitoring station and find out exactly when you will be notified (if at all).

If you have interactive services and your alarm panel is programmed for daily self-tests, you can receive a notification on your cell phone each time that your alarm panel calls the monitoring station, reassuring you once a day that a transmission test has been successfully made.

You should test your motion detectors, door and window contacts on a regular basis to ensure that your home is properly secured. I recommend activating the “door chime” feature so that your keypad(s) make a tone each time your doors and windows are opened and closed. If you open a door and don’t hear a chime, it’s time to verify the contact with your security system.

Alarms and Sensors vs Complete “Home Security”

First and foremost, I think I need to differentiate the term €œhome security system€ from the phrase €œsecurity alarm system€. An alarm system is just that, a system of sensors strategically located around the property designed to pick up motion or some other stimulus and trigger an alarm inside the home, alerting the residents and potentially the local authorities as well. A home security system goes much further than that, although it does include an alarm system within the whole panel of services.

Home Security Monitoring Is Key To Home Security Alarm Systems

Alarm Monitoring

Home security is primarily focused around the concept of €œhome monitoring€ now. Again, a system of sensors and possibly cameras are integrated into the home and then connected to a network that is logged into a central command center. This center is manned 24 hours a day and seven days a week by staff that are trained to respond to triggers in the system and react accordingly. This may include calling the fire department if a heat sensor or smoke alarm is triggered. It may include alerting the homeowner themselves if the temperature of the house drops below freezing and the residents are away so the homeowner can make arrangements to avoid having pipes burst and other problems. It also includes monitoring agents to contact ambulance services if they see a homeowner is injured in the home or an alert is sent via network. The constant watch of an all-time security blanket is a powerful tool and a huge selling point of modern home security systems.

Home Automation And Interactive Monitoring Are An Added Perk

More than just security is being sold by these home security companies. The ability to control your home remotely and have access to what is happening there in real time is extremely alluring for many Americans, especially those who travel frequently for work. They can be told via text message or email alert on their mobile device when a particular door has been opened and a code has been entered into the system, potentially indicating that one of their children has come home.  The possibilities available via home security systems with a networked home monitoring and management system are increasingly limitless as we become more and more connected everywhere we go.

Wireless Communication Signal To The Monitoring Station Is More Secure

Lastly, the technology side of things, many systems are switching to 100% wireless equipment, eliminating the need for extensive wiring and increasing the potential for securing and secluding the hardware required to make the system work. But, it is important to note that hard-wired with supervised wiring or a hybrid alarm system (which is a combination of both hard-wired and wireless components) are just as secure as a wireless alarm system so long as they are installed by a true security professional. But, a top priority no matter how your security system has been installed (hard-wired, wireless or a hybrid of the two) is a wireless communication signal to the monitoring station (such as a long-range radio or cellular communicator).

Article Provided By: A Secure Life

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Home Security Alarms: For Safety and Resale


For Safety and Resale

For Safety and Resale - Home SecurityHome security has become one of the top things people look for in a property. Along with lot size, square footage, and location, the kind of home security system a house has in place is now truly a deciding factor for buyers. Due to this trend, having a security alarm is not only important when living in a house, but when selling one, as well.

Security Alarm System Overkill
The demand for security alarm systems is increasing, and more and more options are becoming available for residential use. While having more options is certainly good news for homeowners, it can, at times, make it difficult to find the right setup for your household.

When installing a security alarm system that is meant to protect your family and possessions, it’s easy to go overboard and end up with a system that is intrusive (and, in turn, might not get used at all). Most people do not require a fingerprint identification lock, but other forms of keyless home entry might be a perfect fit. The best option for your home should be a system that provides a significant amount of protection, but doesn’t interfere with the day-to-day life of your family.

The Basic Security Alarm 
A standard home security alarm is often a good fit for most households. These systems generally include sensors on all the entry doors, some motion activated outdoor lighting, sensors on windows that are particularly easy to access, and, most importantly, a direct link to a monitoring service. This type of security alarm system will be an excellent deterrent for any would be intruders, but, at the same time, is generally fairly easy for a family to adapt to.

Security Alarm Benefits

Most would say that the biggest benefit of having a home security alarm is the peace-of-mind that comes with it. When something goes wrong (whether you are home or thousands of miles away on vacation), knowing that a system is already in place and that your house has a direct link to the proper authorities is very reassuring.

There may be immediate monetary benefits, as well. Having a security alarm that is connected to a monitoring service can offset the cost by sometimes lowering homeowner’s insurance payments up to 20%. Many monitoring services will also offer a plan to monitor your home for fire, which some insurance companies will also take into account when deducing your premium. In every case, it will decrease the likelihood of losing money due to burglary.

Increase your Home’s Resale Value
Along with presenting a clean home, there are many improvements that can be made to a property that will increase its resale value. Adding on a garage, finishing a basement, and remodeling a kitchen, while all good ideas, can be rather costly endeavors. Landscaping a yard for security, installing a home security alarm, and putting in outdoor lighting are much less expensive projects. Despite the lower initial cost, prospective buyers still look upon these kinds of home improvements as important additions to the property they are viewing.

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Article provided by HomeAdvisor

 

Home Sweet Home/Home Secure Home

Home Secure Home

Security-system innovations mean someone’s always watching.

Home Sweat Home/Home Secure Home
–Illustration by David Saracino

The days of dial-and-dash are over. It used to be that setting an alarm system meant hustling kids out the door while holding a pet inside the house with one’s foot, or juggling bags and car keys while setting the key code only to make a dash for the door as the beeps got increasingly closer together. No more—the era of the “smart home” has arrived, and with it, major innovations in home security driven by online and cellular technology.

In the old days, most alarms consisted of sensors on doors and windows, perhaps some motion detectors, or even a glass-break sensor. When these were tripped, the alarm company called the house. If no one responded, the police were dispatched.

Now, systems can be customized. Most security providers offer advances like water sensors that can be placed in the basement or near a sump pump to detect flooding, as well as smoke and carbon-monoxide sensors. Depending on the provider, if the smoke or carbon-monoxide sensor goes off, the furnace automatically shuts off so poisonous air doesn’t circulate through the house.

Wireless, infrared cameras can be set up inside and outside the home. When a door sensor is tripped, a 15-second video clip can be sent via text message or e-mail to the homeowner. This is particularly popular with parents who want to be sure children have gotten home safely from school—and to see who may have entered the home in their company.

Most importantly, no one needs to be home to access these services. Rather, a homeowner can watch video on a mobile device and arm or disarm the system online or from a cell phone. (With the ADT “Pulse” system, you’ll soon be able to use voice commands to manage your home system, so you won’t be texting while driving.) For that matter, you don’t have to arm the system at all; some can be set to arm automatically.

But that’s just the beginning. As homes have become “smarter,” security companies have increasingly started to widen their sphere of services into the lifestyle realm. Not only can one turn the lights off and on in the house from a computer, tablet, or cell phone, but, depending on your service and provider, you can get a text alert if the power goes off.

You can also remotely access the settings of the thermostat in your home, so if you’ve been away on summer vacation, for example, the house can be nice and cool by the time you get home from the airport.

Comcast, which is getting in on the home-security wave through its XFINITY Home service, offers something called EcoSaver. When paired with an XFINITY home thermostat, the system learns your home’s heating and cooling abilities as well as your personal temperature preferences and uses an algorithm to adapt the HVAC system to your needs by making small changes, which are designed to save energy.

Perhaps the best defense against an intruder is to simply lock the front door, but how often have you left for work and forgotten if you turned that deadbolt? New innovations allow for remote door locking. Or you can simply do away with the key altogether, says Peter Rogers, co-founder and senior advisor of FrontPoint, a security company based in McLean, VA. FrontPoint offers a slightly different solution than some providers in that theirs is a customized “plug-and-play” system that the DIY homeowner installs on his own.

“We’ve essentially gotten rid of our front-door key because now we have a key-pad door lock, and you can remotely open and close that lock and also set up codes so people can let themselves in and out and we can remove those codes,” says Rogers of his own home. Imagine, no more waiting around for the handyman: Now you can provide him an access code, get a text and a video showing him entering and exiting the home, lock the door when he’s gone, then erase the access code so he cannot enter again. This is also a useful function for owners of rental properties—no more chasing down spare keys or swapping locks.

As telephone landlines have disappeared, alarm companies have increasingly moved to new technology to connect their systems. Comcast’s XFINITY home app is available for both OSX and Android, which replaces the old dial-in pad, and the system works over broadband with a cellular-system backup in the event the Internet goes down.

Some providers, like FrontPoint, are relying solely on built-in cellular so there is no line of any kind that can be cut. Because most providers are producing strictly wireless systems, they can be disassembled and reconnected in a new home and can be used even in older homes.

A monitored home security system has many advantages. If the fire alarm goes off, instead of just making a lot of noise—which isn’t very helpful if the family is overcome by smoke or not home—it will alert the fire department.

And simply having that alarm company sign in the front yard is a deterrent to would-be burglars. For this reason, insurance companies often offer discounts on home policies if a house has a security system.

How much smarter and safer can a home get in the future?

“The home-automation element is at a plateau of sorts, so what’s happening now is enhancements to technology that exists,” explains FrontPoint’s Rogers. He points to geo-sensing as an example. “If you elect to use your phone to track where you are, when you leave home, it will automatically adjust your thermostat when you’re five miles from home or, if you did not arm your alarm system, it will alarm your system for you.”

“It’s adding a level of intelligence and analysis to events that are happening, so you now feel not just protected but more connected to your home,” he states.

 

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Home Security 101-Part 2


BUILDING A SECURITY SYSTEM

Smart systems consist of hardware that doesn’t look a lot different than it did twenty-five years ago. There are some specialized sensors and video cameras that weren’t common in the past and window and door contact switches have gotten a lot smaller, but the basics are the same: a control panel or console, magnetic contact switches, motion sensors, a siren. The new systems may also be connected to central monitoring stations, as do many old-style security systems. The big difference, however, is the degree of interactivity. New software platforms, such as alarm.com and iControl (pictured below) allow you to send commands, program home systems, view surveillance video, and receive alerts on a smart phone or computer—whether you’re at home or away.

 

Home Security - I Control Open Home Software Control PanelI Control Open Home Software Control Panel

 

When shopping for a system, review software platforms first. Alarm.com and iControl are the two biggest. The former has partnered with more than 2,500 dealers and the latter with ADT and Comcast. Among other things, you’ll have to decide between a “cellular primary” or “broadband primary” system. The former is a wireless connection to the monitoring station, making it immune to power outages or someone cutting a cable. It is limited, however, with regard to transmitting large quantities of video, so many cellular primary systems incorporate broadband for video. Broadband primary services, on the other hand, have cables running down the side of a house that can be cut, thereby disabling the system. Some services offer cellular back-up should this occur.

[Click to get help finding the right home security system now.]

Be sure to choose a reputable dealer; one that will sell you the equipment as well as a monitoring plan. Many dealers will install the system for you, but there are others that sell equipment and services for the do-it-yourselfer. Frontpoint Security, a national provider based in Virginia, for example, offers a GE-branded system, the Simon XT, that can easily be installed by the homeowner (along with alarm.com features, and a third party monitoring plan). Installing the system yourself can save you several hundred dollars and make you more knowledgeable about how it works.

Smart home security systems do not restrict the type of security hardware you use, although a dealer may limit your choices. The inside-the-house components may connect by wire (known ashardwired) or via radio frequency (wireless) or RF radiation. While hardwired components were considered the standard because they are more difficult to disable and don’t rely on batteries for power, the reliability gap has narrowed—or even disappeared—with new technology.

Alarm.com and its partners, for example, offer “smash and bash” protection for wireless home security systems. As soon as a point of entry is breached, the central station is immediately sent a pending alarm signal. It doesn’t wait to find out if the person who entered is you or a bad guy. If the system is not disarmed within the programmed amount of time, the alarm is treated as an intrusion. In this way, a smashed controller won’t stop the central station from calling the police.

A conventional system, on the other hand, does not send a signal for a period of time (typically 30 seconds while it allows time the homeowner to tap in a code and then more time for the dialer to call the monitoring station). It doesn’t sound like much time but for a smart burglar, it can be enough to disable the security system or to grab a purse or valuable and run.

Wireless hardware is, of course, much easier to install than wired components, making it more appealing to do-it-yourself homeowners. You can also take it with you should you move.

Home Security - Layout

Look for a home security system with a full line of wireless peripherals, including modules for controlling lights and appliances, thermostats, cameras, motion sensors (some can distinguish between a pet and a person), water sensors, and glass break and vibration sensors. Look for long-life battery power, too. Lithium sensor batteries, for example, can last three to five years. When they do run low, the system lets you know well in advance. Choose a controller with back-up battery so the system will stay active in the event of a power outage or if the Internet is down. If you will be installing smoke alarms you’ll need the extra power of a 24-hour battery back-up, not the 4-hour back-up offered by many manufacturers.

 

Smart systems all require a subscription to a third-party alarm monitoring service. Ask about which central station will be handling your account and be sure that it is UL certified.

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Home Security 101

Home Security 101 -Intuder

Home Security 101… It wasn’t so long ago that when an intruder broke into a home, the home security system would sound an alarm. If it was a monitored system, the central station would call the police to report the intrusion. This assumes, of course, that you armed the system, the batteries were still good and the intruder wasn’t quick enough to disable the system before it sounded the alarm or dialed the central station.

The revolution brought on by wireless technologies, smart phones, and mobile apps have changed all of that. Today, home security systems can still sound alarms, but are much more difficult to forget about or foil. A software-supported security system can send you a text message every time a door or window is opened, whether you’ve armed it or not. It can stream live video or send still images of what’s happening in your garage, living room, backyard or wherever you deploy a security camera. You can even be alerted before the break-in, the moment the burglar pulls into the driveway!

And that’s not all. Home security has teamed up with home automation so the same interactive service can give your home the appearance that someone is home. Lights, TVs and radios can be turned on and off at random intervals, or according to the schedule you choose. Even motorized blinds can be raised or lowered upon your command.

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Home Security 101 - wireless driveway alarm

The Mighty Mule wireless driveway alarm.

Home security systems can give you peace of mind in other ways, too. Whether you’re home or away, they can inform you of hazards like fire, elevated carbon monoxide levels, and power outages.  They can alert you if someone is tampering with a safe, a locked tool chest, or a medicine or gun cabinet. You might even use it to check on the safe arrival of a child returning home from school. Or, if you lose sleep wondering whether the water heater is flooding your basement, you can have your system set up to alert you of that as well.

With interactive systems come other benefits as well. Prefer not to hand out house keys to housekeepers, or other service providers? You can unlock a door for them from wherever you are, whether you’re at work or on a trip, with systems such as Kwikset’s SmartCode.

You can also use the system to program your home’s temperature so you don’t waste energy heating or cooling your home unnecessarily. During cool seasons, it can automatically lower settings when you’re sleeping or away—and raise them just before you wake or return home.

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Article provided by Yahoo! Homes