A Beginner's Guide to Home Security Systems by Dan Miller - HTML preview

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Types of security systems

When considering a security system, there’s an important question you need to consider before proceeding. Do you want the intruder to be detected inside or outside your home? If you want the intruder detected while still outside your home, then you need to consider a perimeter security system. If you’d rather catch the burglar inside, then you’ll want to stick with an interior system.

That seems like a no-brainer question, but there’s logic and reasoning between both choices.

Perimeter system

As noted above, this is a system that is alarmed before the intruder enters your home. This type of system relies heavily on the usage of door contacts, window contacts and glass break detectors. The moment somebody opens a door or window, or breaks glass, then the alarm is activated.

Now put yourself in the intruder’s shoes. You managed to sneak up to a home and quietly defeated a deadbolt lock. Just as you’re slowly swinging open the door the alarm starts blaring. You haven’t even made it a step into the home and you’ve already been detected. The police are probably being dispatched right now. Is it time to continue into the house and grab some stuff, or should you just get out of there as fast as possible without getting caught?

As you can probably guess, most burglars would rather stay on the run and live to burglarize another day (or night). The odds of that burglar returning again are between slim and none.

A Beginner’s Guide to Home Security


There are two main problems with using just a perimeter system: the cost and the size of the system.

1) Cost. The cost is a big factor with this system. Each door and window contact costs money. Each glass break detector also costs money. Start counting all of the outside windows and doors (second floor windows too!), and multiply that by about $25. That’ll give you a good ballpark to start thinking about a perimeter system. A good security company will have a package deal and include a number of contacts for free, but that depends on where you live and the local companies near you.

2) Size. The size of the system is another factor. This will depend on your security system’s main control box, the control panel and your personal preference. If you want to know where the intruder is breaking into your home (either by the room or the actual doors/windows), then each set of windows needs to be in its own zone.
Zone 1 may be for the front door, Zone 2 for the living room windows, Zone 3 for the garage door, etc. A general rule of thumb is that most systems can handle between eight and ten zones. Otherwise, it’s going to need a zone expander or two to handle the size of your system. The system’s control panel needs to be advanced enough to be able to know about the zones and let you know exactly where the trouble is being reported. Again, not every system has to be this way. This is your own preference.

The good thing is that if need be all of the windows and doors can be combined into the same zone. When the alarm goes off the system won’t tell you exactly where in the house it is, but it’ll still work. If your home is monitored it will still report the alarm to the monitoring agency. The only difference is that you have to guess which entry point the burglar used.

A Beginner’s Guide to Home Security

Interior system

This type of security system is designed to “trap” intruders on the inside of your home. As opposed to the perimeter system with all of its door and window contacts, the interior system mainly relies on the use of motion detectors. As the name implies, the intruder needs to be inside the building before any alarms are sounded.

Believe it or not, but there are two main reasons on why it’s an advantage using an interior security system: simplicity and cost.

1) Simplicity. A security system based on using motion detectors is usually fairly basic and simple to install. Using the detector’s wide field of view and ability to use line-of-sight, you can create “secure zones” such as hallways, garages and stairwells. The far range and wide field of view gives a large square footage area of protection.
2) Cost. Generally, a security system mainly composed of motion detectors is substantially cheaper than using contacts in every door and window. Most security companies charge between $50 and $100 for additional motion detectors. A home that would need 15-20 contacts may only need two or three motion detectors to provide protection.

Again, let’s put ourselves in a burglar’s shoes and do another example. You managed to sneak up to the dark side of a home and found a window in the shadows. The window is easily forced open and you’re standing in the dining room. Seeing nothing of value you creep into the hallway and make your way to the family / entertainment room. After taking a step or two, all of a sudden the

A Beginner’s Guide to Home Security

alarm sounds. Somebody turns on an upstairs light and you hear footsteps. Are you going to stay around for a while and do some looting, or is it time to get out before anybody can recognize you?

It’s important to note that there are three main disadvantages to using an interior system: inside only, modes of operations and pets.

1) Inside only. The first problem was noted in the previous example. The intruder has to be inside the house before the alarm is sounded. Many people consider that idea revolting. They want that extra feeling of security by not allowing the intruder inside without being detected. This is especially true for families with small children or expensive possessions.

2) Modes of operation. The next problem is that the motion detectors are not to be used when you’re home and moving around the rooms. The best times to use the detectors are when you’re away or asleep. This may not be adequate protection if you’re living in a high crime area.

3) Pets. This is the main reason that animal owners stay away from using motion detectors. Different companies handle dogs with one of two different ways. First, they may use a special pet motion detector. These detectors need the animal to weigh at least 80 pounds before they’re detected. This allows most of the larger breeds of dogs to safely move around the home without setting off the alarms. The other method companies may use is to turn a regular motion detector upside down. This creates a small corridor near the floor so the pets can pass without detection. What if an intruder were to also stay low to the floor?

A Beginner’s Guide to Home Security

The other problem with pets and motion detectors involves ordinary house cats. It’s a well known fact that cats love to jump onto furniture, bookshelves and other higher places. The jumping is what is noticed by the detector, and it’s treated as if an intruder was in the room. Even people with pet motion detectors have reported false alarms because of their pet cat. The best way to use motion detectors while having a pet cat is to keep the cat contained in a different room while the detectors are active.

A Beginner’s Guide to Home Security The answer to this question lies with you and your protection needs.