In 2019 alone, around 13 million homes experienced break-ins, car theft, burglary, and related crimes. This number alone makes many people consider the benefits of an alarm system. Other, less criminal issues like nosey neighbors can also make a security system a desirable upgrade to your home.
Of course, that leaves homeowners with a pressing question of whether to sign on with a security monitoring service or installing home security systems themselves. If you fall into the camp of people who prefer DIY solutions, keep reading for our guide on alarm systems.
Security System Options
Before jumping into the questions of installation, you must consider what type of security system you want. The DIY security market offers a lot of options that range from the fairly basic to the technically sophisticated.
Probably the most basic of alarm systems, a current alarm works by passing an electric current through sensors at critical spots like doors or windows. If the sensors stop getting electricity because a door or window opens, the alarm goes off.
You can think of these as a local home alarm system. These set off loud noises when tripped, but they don’t send a signal anywhere. Current alarms are one type of unmonitored system, but you can get systems that trigger alarms for other hazards.
Wireless systems rely on radio frequency or RF sensors to send signals to a control panel. In most cases, these systems also send signals to your phone via text message or a dedicated smartphone app.
Any of these options can work for your home, depending on your security concerns, and all generally prove less expensive.
Almost all security systems rely on sensors attached to your doors and windows, but these only represent one kind of potential sensor. You can get a variety of sensor types, including:
- Infrared sensors
- Photoelectric beam sensors
- Motion sensors
As a general rule, you get these sensors as part of a package. However, some homeowners will upgrade a more basic system by adding extra sensors.
Cameras and Lights
Many people also invest in systems that include cameras and lights. In most cases, you get closed-circuit cameras that send a signal to a monitor inside the house. Some systems include a limited amount of memory for footage and some do not.
Some systems also include motion-activated security lights. These cameras use the same kind of motion sensors you get in your security system. When they detect motion, the lights kick on.
More sophisticated security systems let you integrate security cameras and lights.
Selecting A System
Your selection of a security system will depend on a few factors, such as your budget, technical know-how, and overall security concerns. If your budget is tight, you’ll likely end up with a basic system like a current alarm system that monitors doors and windows.
Those with less restrictive budgets may invest in more sophisticated systems that include bells and whistles like cameras and motion sensors. In most cases, though, the more sophisticated systems rely on a wired or wireless Internet connection. You’ll need to set up that connection and may need to configure the software.
If you have serious security concerns, you may decide on a more expensive system regardless of your budget. These systems give you more control and can provide remote alerts.
You will need some basic tools to install most home security systems. At a minimum, you will likely need Philips and flathead screwdrivers and a drill to install basic sensors and wires on doors and windows.
For a more sophisticated system that includes cameras, exterior sensors, and lights, you’ll likely need a ladder for some of the installation process.
Though less common these days, some systems are hardwired in your home’s electrical system. It’s almost always a bad idea to handle wiring these systems yourself.
It’s very easy for someone inexperienced to damage the electrical system or injure themselves with an improper wiring job. Faulty wiring can also make the system less effective or useless. If you get a hardwired system, get a professional electrician for the wiring
Installing Exterior Alarm System Components
Installing exterior components typically prove fairly straightforward. Most devices, such as lights or cameras, attach to the exterior of your home using anchors and screws that fix a base to a wall or eaves. Then, you attach the light or camera to the base.
Sensor installation is a little trickier since most sensors rely on line-of-sight. In addition, motion sensors only cover approximately 180 degrees. Make sure you install them where you get a little overlap in coverage and fixed objects won’t block them.
Cameras also provide a limited range of coverage. Again, try to position them so you avoid dead spots in the feed.
Photoelectric beam sensors use a two-part system that also depends on a clear line of sight. When you install them, the beam must leave the transmitter and follow a direct line to the receiver. They require precise alignment.
If you don’t feel certain about installing the system yourself, you can go with a monitored security solution. Companies that offer these services typically include the installation of the system with the service.
If you’re more concerned with privacy than security, you can also consider house window tinting. This can help you and your family avoid the curiosity of nosey neighbors and strangers.
Alarm Systems and Your Home
When it comes to an alarm system, the system you can afford is always better than no system at all. If you can afford a self-monitored system with lots of sensors, lights, and cameras, that will provide your home with more robust protection.
Yet, a basic current system can prove a very effective deterrent if you post stickers or signs saying your home is protected by an alarm system. After all, criminals will almost always opt for a home without an alarm system before taking on a home with an alarm system.
Looking for more home security tips? Check out the Security section in our blog.