5 Top Home Security Systems
by Nate Edwards
Sometimes home security can seem like an arms race, with new technology constantly coming out to keep homes safer and stay one step ahead of the bad guys. While change is constant, a few things stand out as vital parts of any home security system.
1. Infrared Cameras
Infrared or thermal cameras allow you to monitor your home in low- to zero-light conditions. A good infrared camera will give you the best visibility at night, and many models are weatherproofed so they can be used indoors or out.
One minor problem: Most infrared cameras give off a red glow, making them difficult to hide for those wanting a hidden camera security solution. There are a few models which employ various tricks to hide or eliminate the red glow, including an infrared camera that disguises itself as an alarm clock.
2. Magnetic Window and Door Sensors
The windows and doors are the key entry points to your home. With wireless, magnetic sensors, you and your home security system will immediately know if they’ve been opened. These cheap, simple, discreet sensors are the most direct way to prevent a break-in.
On most models, each sensor is made of two parts, one on each side of a door or window opening. With a magnetic seal, the pieces know if they are together or separated. When the alarm system is on, the sensors detect any opening and can immediately notify your smartphone or central home security system.
3. Pressure Mats
Another simple, effective piece of technology: a pressure mat placed on the inside of your door or under a rug. When stepped on, it will produce a loud, piercing alarm that can scare off burglars or alert you to activity in another part of your house.
Pressure mats are made to be sensitive so they can be placed under more discreet items and still register a footstep. They’re a simple but effective piece of a home security system, though less useful for potential window break-ins. If you have large dogs, you may want a model that allows for sensitivity control.
4. Motion Detectors
Behind the first line of defense at the entryways, motion detectors can let you know when someone passes by in any other specific place around the house. Using wireless transmitters, they then send warnings to your central home security unit.
False alarms used to be a problem for people with pets or other animals like raccoons passing by outdoor detectors, but specific newer models are able to adjust for that and only detect human movement. Look at the description for your motion detector; many models describe a specific animal weight or size limit before they sound an alarm.
5. Home Security Smartphone Apps
There are dozens of home security options which now use the power of your smartphone. Look for home security solutions or cameras with dedicated apps so you can check on your home anywhere you go. It seems like such a simple idea, but it’s the biggest revolution in home security technology in the last decade.
There are so many things a home security app can let you do: watch live video footage from security cameras, get mobile alerts from a motion detector, or even check your home’s air quality while on vacation. The right app will always keep you in control and in the know.
Nate Edwards is a New York-based freelance writer from the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina, where he worked in the family furniture store making beds, dressers and anything made of wood. He's as comfortable swinging a hammer for community volunteer projects as he is writing about home renovation
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