Home Security 101: From Systems To Components To Lingo Explained

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Burglar cartoonThere are many other elements to home security that you should consider besides installing a security system. Have you considered how to protect your family from items like carbon monoxide and fires? What about securing your home when you leave for vacation? Or how about how you can deter a burglar from targeting your home? These (and more) are all parts of securing your home that we can help you with. We’ve spent countless hours learning about this topic and love sharing our knowledge with others in hopes they can make use of our extensive research.

Home Security: What Do I Need To Know?

Home Security Components & Terminology

When most people hear the words home security, they think of a security system. A home security system is comprised of different sensors and devices to help monitor your home. The equipment mentioned here do different things individually but can also work in tandem to ensure maximum protection. Keep in mind that it’s not just burglars that you want to deter and scare away, but you also want to consider environmental hazards.

  • Cameras – can be installed inside or outside of your home to keep an eye on people coming and going (including recording video when they sense motion).
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors – detects carbon monoxide, an odorless gas that can be very dangerous (if this goes off, go outside and seek fresh air immediately).
  • Door & Window Sensors – also known as contact sensors, they attach to windowsills or door frames and activate when opened (they can also be used to monitor pretty much anything that opens or closes, like medicine or liquor cabinets, for example).
  • Door Jammers – quick and easy way to reinforce entrance doors.
  • Driveway Alarms – notify you when people and/or vehicles enter your property via the driveway.
  • Motion Sensors – usually in the corner of a room, or a high traffic area, they activate when they sense motion within a certain range (one motion sensor can cover several windows and eliminate the need for multiple window sensors).
  • Outdoor Security Lights – activates light when they detect motion within their range.
  • Smart Locks – use Bluetooth and/or WiFi to provide keyless entry.
  • Smoke Detectors – alert you when the presence of smoke is detected. It’s important to remember other fire safety measures included escape ladders and extinguishers too.
  • Z-Wave and Zigbee – wireless communication protocols used for home automation equipment. The two protocols broadcast at different frequencies and send data at different rates, so they are not equivalent to one another.

Keep in mind, every home is unique, so not all homes need the same security setup. For instance, a 4th story condo might not need window sensors since that would require quite the ladder. But they could benefit from a motion sensor. A stand-alone, ranch-style home, meanwhile, could benefit from door and window sensors as well as a driveway alarm.

Why Do I Need A Home Security System?

According to the FBI, in 2017, there were 7,694,086 property crimes in the U.S. (that’s just one of the many crime statistics we’ve gathered — you wouldn’t believe some of the others!). While rates vary by geographic area, home intrusions, property damage and burglaries can happen even to the best of us. In addition to general security purposes, there are many other benefits to having a home security system:

  • Find out if there are unwanted animals or intruders in your garage or yard.
  • Know when people are entering and leaving your home.
  • Let people in remotely via access codes (such as the cleaning person or babysitter), or unlock the door for them via your smartphone.
  • Receive alerts when smoke or CO is present in your home (a good way to keep pets safe when you’re not there).

Having a home security system can also help decrease the time it takes for police to arrive at your door. Instead of missing a break-in because you’re sleeping or hiding in a closet without your phone while a stranger ransacks your home, you could have someone else contact the police for you. You’d be surprised to learn what happens when you dial 911 and what the average police response time is.

Security When You’re On Holiday

Self-monitored home security systems have mobile apps that notify you when something triggers a sensor. This is especially handy when you’re away for vacation or a holiday and can’t check on your home easily. If you receive one of these alerts, you can contact police or a neighbor to check your home for you. In addition to having a home security system installed, we have more advice on keeping your home safe on vacation.

We also have more holiday specific safety tips to share with you to help ensure you have a safe and happy holiday season. Read our holiday safety tips.

How Do I Pick The Best Home Security System For My Home?

Installing a security system is an excellent way to monitor your home, but how do you choose a company? There are hundreds of home security companies on the market, and it can be time-consuming and overwhelming to sift through them all. We’ve done extensive research, taken our findings and put them into a comprehensive, detailed home security systems guide that can make your decision easier.

Do you have any home security tips to share?

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Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing products and services.

Kimberly has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering subjects such as home security and automation, identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems and more. In 2018, she had her first child, and that opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family.

Security is a passion of hers, and she knows it isn’t a one size fits all category. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

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Ethan Hansen
I found it interesting how you mentioned how the presence of cameras on your property deters thieves who were looking to steal from you. My wife and I are in the process of building our new home and we want to make sure it is the pinnacle of safety and security when we leave to visit our grandchildren. I will keep this in mind as we search for commercial security systems services near us that can install working cameras on our property!