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The rapid growth of the home security industry means that more options are becoming available to homeowners every day for protecting your property. One debate is whether or not to go with a professionally-monitored and installed home security system or go the do-it-yourself route. Here are the pros and cons of each system: The unmonitored DIY system If you didn't already know, DIY stands for "do it yourself." This means when it comes to setup and installation, you're on your own. These have become popular in recent years because the cost is all up front — mostly for equipment such as video cameras and control panels. With this, you can avoid the monthly fees that come with a professionally monitored system and pay one fee outright. You can purchase these systems at just about any major hardware store and spend a weekend installing them. They might even have features that will send video feed or push notifications to your smart phone in the event of a break-in. Another plus for these systems is that you can place the security cameras precisely where you choose. Maybe you only have one room of memorabilia or collectibles that you'd like to keep an eye on. If that were the case, a DIY system might be very tempting. Having the freedom of placing the cameras and door monitors exactly where you want might be a major plus to some, especially those that are handy and feel confident installing these systems on their own. With that said, it shouldn't be surprising that the one thing missing from a DIY home security system is the middle man. When you hire someone to perform a professional installation, you know it's being installed for optimum performance. However, this may come as a major inconvenience to you. The installers will likely be drilling holes through your walls for security cameras, switching out your locks, and generally making a lot of noise. Scheduling an installation time might also be a hassle. The professionally installed and monitored system A professionally installed system would be installed by a crew of in-house, certified technicians with experience and expertise. These technicians are intimately familiar with the equipment and can show you how to properly operate it. The system might even have smart home features like automatic thermostats or remote door locks. The biggest turn-off for most people is the monthly monitoring fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars per year. However, it's not uncommon to find home security monitoring contracts that run for as little as $20/month. Some of these companies will even offer free equipment when you sign the contract, which usually runs for at least three years on average. When you get ready to sign for that monitoring service, be sure you can make the monthly payments for an extended period of time. With a professionally-monitored system, you also have a connection to your local police and you're not responsible for repairs if something goes wrong with your system. The police connection is arguably one of the most important features of a home security system. If something trips the alarm to the room with your prized stamp collection, the police will be notified immediately through and can rush to your home even if you're on vacation or away for the night. Many systems will also have an extended warranty that will entitle you to a free repair if something goes wrong. That's one less weight on your shoulder. So with both of these options, what's to be done? Here's a suggestion: The best of both worlds Did you know that there are professionally monitored home security companies that offer DIY packages as well? It's true! Many top rated companies in the home security industry are taking action to put the installation in the hands of the consumer to provide more freedom. This way, the home security system is also easier to disassemble and reinstall if you move to a different location. But remember to take a good look at the contract — some fees may apply depending on the company. With these systems, you get rid of the middle man while still enjoying the amenities of a professionally-monitored system, such as police correspondence and smart home features. Some of these smart home features can be tethered to your Amazon Echo or Google Home devices to allow for voice control on features such as door locks, thermostat regulation, and lighting controls. Of course, these features are more common among professionally installed systems but aren't unheard of among DIY systems. If you've found yourself at this point, you're likely considering the purchase of a home security system. The best thing you can do is take a look at top rated companies and see what companies have the features and price tags that fit your needs. Less than the price of a cable TV subscription, home security is likely more affordable than you thought. Take a look at the best of the best and see what's right for you.
Home security systems are rapidly becoming more affordable as technology continues to advance. In recent years, systems have also adopted home automation tools like thermostat regulation and remote light switches. Regardless, all systems can operate the basics of arming your doors and windows and emitting an alarm when the sensors are triggered. Here's an in-depth look at how home security systems operate and what that means for you. Components To understand how a home security system operates, you should understand a few of the basic components to a home security system: Keypad—This is the "brain" to your system. All of your sensors and cameras communicate with this unit, usually attached to a wall in a central location in your home. With some newer systems including smart home features, your smartphone could double as a keypad. Video cameras—These are more common with a DIY unmonitored system but are offered by many professional monitoring companies as well. Often, you can stream live footage to your smartphone and receive notifications when the cameras detect movement. Window and door sensors—These sensors come in two pieces: one piece is attached to the edge of a door or window, and the other is attached to the edge of the door or window frame next to it. These are the most standard features of a home security system. When the system is armed and the pieces become detached from each other, the magnetic sensors inside them are triggered and your system registers a break-in. Yard sign—More useful than you may think, the mere presence of a yard sign indicating a monitored security system tells would-be burglars to back off. You'll be able to arm and disarm your system at will from the central keypad, your smartphone, or both, depending on the package you ordered. When a sensor is triggered, the brain of the system will send a cellular, landline, VoIP, or internet signal to a professional monitoring station. But first, it has to be installed. Installation When it comes to installation, most home security systems will be installed yourself or by a licensed professional. Do-it-yourself systems are fairly common. You can pick them up at most major hardware stores and install them in a weekend. However, these systems usually consist of only video cameras and don't have the full capabilities of a professionally monitored system. Some top-rated companies have taken the best of both worlds and adopted a system of providing consumers with do-it-yourself installation while still providing professionally monitored service. In regards to professional installation, you know you'll have a team of certified professionals installing a security system when they show up at your door. However, this means that they'll need to set an appointment in order to come to your home and install all the equipment, which may come at an inconvenience to you. You might have to take a day off work and put up with a lot of noise before your system is fully installed and operational. Once your security system is installed and activated, it will immediately be monitored by a remote team of representatives. Monitoring An alarm monitoring station (aka a "central station") is a location where home security systems are monitored for burglaries, fires, carbon monoxide, and other disasters. These stations are monitored 24/7 to make sure whenever a disaster strikes, there is someone on task to react accordingly. The best central stations will be certified by Underwriters Laboratories, a leader in measuring and accrediting performance capabilities. The organization has strict certification standards that cover a variety of different industries, so keep an eye out for them when considering a home security company. Keep in mind that a professional monitoring station is important because this is the station that will send a signal to local police. When a signal is sent to the station from a security system encountering a break-in, fire, or another disaster, a professional at the monitoring station can dispatch local authorities to check on your residence. Sometimes these signals can be accidents, like opening your window after you've armed your system, but in any case, a professional is available to keep an eye on your system all day, every day. So what? Maybe you're thinking a home security system isn't a big deal. After all, only 17 percent of U.S. homes operate with a security system. But if you've decided that you want to take the extra measure to protect your home and your valuables, look into top companies that offer the best in pricing and equipment.
There's no way around it; having your house broken into is jarring and emotionally taxing. Your home is supposed to be your safe haven, a place to rest and be with your loved ones, so when an intruder with dark motives breaks through to steal your valuables, the feeling of violation can be overwhelming. What do you do when this happens? Here are a few things you need to do right away to ensure the process is done properly and to prevent future incidents from happening: Don't touch anything! Seriously, hands off. Instead, cancel whatever else you have going on and whip out your camera. Take as many pictures as possible and save them somewhere where they won't likely get deleted. Don't move anything. Take pictures of damage done by the burglars, things you've lost, or anything else that looks out of place or missing. These pictures will be useful when you contact the police and your insurance agency. If you've got a security system, consult the footage from the break-in. If you or your installers placed the cameras correctly, you should have footage of the perpetrators' faces, which will make them easier to identify and prosecute. Do what you can to access and save the footage so you can use it as evidence in the future. File a victim's report Now that you've taken pictures, call the police immediately. The sooner you call, the more likely you'll be able to get your stuff back and find the burglars. When the police arrive, they'll be able to survey your home and might even be able to figure out how the burglars got in. More importantly, they'll help you get a victim's report filled out, which will put the incident on file. Your police officer should give you details on your reporting options. The police might be willing to take a file of the security footage, but if not, make sure you record the sex, approximate age, race, and clothing of the burglar(s). If you were outside your house while the burglary occurred and you happened to see the burglars, don't intervene, but do record where they went. File an insurance claim Take a copy of your police report to your renter's or homeowner's insurance company immediately after you contact the police. You'll need an itemized list of everything that was stolen. Record as much as you can remember. Also, keep a tally of everything that was broken during the burglary, including windows, doors, furniture, and anything else you can think of. After you report all this to your insurance agency (including whatever else they request), they should send a claims adjuster to your home to investigate in person. When the adjuster comes to your home, be prepared to explain the situation of the break-in and your income and provide as much proof as you can. It's not a bad idea to stay in a hotel or with a friend or family member until the adjuster shows up. Do as little as you can to tamper with the scene because there might be important evidence that could still be found. Get to know your neighbors If you haven't already, get to know your neighbors. Talk to them and explain that you experienced a break-in, and you could help them prevent the same situation. They might also volunteer to keep an eye out if they notice anyone suspicious in the neighborhood. In future incidents, your neighbors could be useful in helping your home look lived in while you're away. Set up a mutual relationship with them where you do yard work or take out the trash occasionally when the other is gone. Do some research to see if your neighborhood includes a watch program. This will provide a great network of other individuals who will help keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Rebuild and repair This can be the hardest part. Having your home broken into can be a traumatizing experience, and moving on from that is no simple task. It's natural to feel distracted or hazy during the days and weeks following the event. Seek the support of family and friends. Clean up the mess left by the burglars, and do your best to bring your home back to normal. It can be difficult overcoming the feelings of shock and disbelief, but over time your house can feel like a home again. Also, check local classifieds, including Craigslist or pawn shops, to see if any of your stolen items have turned up. This would be helpful information to turn over to the police, and you might even have the opportunity to get your items back. You can replace things like TVs and jewelry, but it's comforting when you can get your original items returned and the burglars one step closer to prosecution. Consider a home security system This is a great precaution if you don't already have one. Some top-rated home security companies offer systems for as little as $20 per month, which is about the same price as a pizza delivery. These systems come armed with door sensors, window sensors, and video cameras to keep tabs on important entry ways in your home, and can record surveillance footage to a cloud storage system for later reference. Home security systems can even decrease your homeowner's insurance cost by almost 20 percent per month. When you install one of these systems, your home is monitored by a team of professionally certified security experts that will keep tabs on your home 24/7, even on holidays. If a sensor is triggered, an alarm will sound and you can have notifications sent immediately to your smartphone. Sometimes, this is enough to send burglars off running, and you can avoid experiencing the hassle of calling the police, filing reports, and replacing stolen goods. Take a look at the best companies in the home security industry and see what options best suit your needs.
You want to safeguard your home a little more, but do you know the best way to go about doing it. A home security system with sensors and cameras is the more traditional home security model, but it isn't the only way. Many Americans have decided to own a guard dog as a home security measure. But the question is, is this effective? Ask yourself the following questions before you start relying solely on a dog as your home security measure: A regular barker isn't a great alarm If Fido tends to be very vocal, you might be thinking that he is just as good as a security system. Not exactly. If your dog barks frequently, then you and your neighbors are probably already used to all the noise. If someone breaks into your home while you're away and your dog starts barking up a storm, your neighbors may just ignore it because that's what your dog always does. Special training is expensive Your dog isn't going to make a very effective guard dog without special training. Sometimes, guard dog training can cost up to $40,000 and can take years. Guard dog trainer Leighton Oosthuisen has said the 95 percent of dogs will not protect their homes or home owners unless they're trained, regardless of whether they own an "aggressive" dog breed such as a pit bull or rottweiler. Considering the required investment of time and money, your efforts may be better spent elsewhere. Dogs are hit-or-miss deterrents This doesn't mean that dogs are totally useless when it comes to home security. As a matter of fact, some professional burglars will turn away completely from a home with a dog because it raises too many variables. If they see a dog, they won't want to take the risk of breaking in because the dog might not be friendly to strangers. It's wiser to just move on to the next house. On the other hand, some burglars know how to react to dogs. One Reddit AMA involved a burglar who claims he was very good with animals and knew how to calm them down in just a matter of minutes. On rare occasions, experienced burglars will have some steak or tranquilizers with them to neutralize the dog if they react too aggressively. For the most part, though, dogs are an effective deterrent and will cause burglars to pursue the next target. Dogs are great companions Nigel Barber Ph.D. made an astute observation in Psychology Today that dogs behave very similarly to humans in their social behavior, which makes them great companions. Humans and dogs are similar in that: They are territorial They hunt cooperatively They bond emotionally with pack members They greet each other enthusiastically after they've been separated About 40 percent of owners identify their dog as a member of the family. In the same article, Colin Groves of the Australian National University said "the dog-human relationship amounts to a very long lasting symbiosis. Dogs acted as human's alarm systems, trackers, hunting aides, garbage disposal facilities, hot water bottles, and children's guardians and playmates. Humans provided dogs with food and security. . . Humans domesticated dogs and dogs domesticated humans." Dogs require upkeep This will vary depending on the size and breed of your dog, but owning a dog is no small responsibility. Dogs must be fed, be walked regularly, and should have regular medical exams along with spaying/neutering and shots. According to a study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, you could be spending well over $1,000 off the bat to own and care for a dog. This includes spaying/neutering, medical exams, a carrying crate, and a collar or leash. The annual expense of dog ownership is about $700. This includes food, the aforementioned medical exams, toys, treats, pet health insurance, and a license. Consider having a stash of $1,000 to $2,000 saved in case of a vet emergency, as well. Make sure all of these elements are factored into your monthly budget when considering adopting a dog. The verdict Ultimately, dogs shouldn't be relied on as the sole source of security for your home. Unless your dog has received special guard dog training, it's probably not ready to guard your home from potential intruders. The upkeep of owning a dog can also be expensive if you're not already used to the price tag. In essence, dogs can be a great addition that will help deter burglars from your home and are a wonderful addition to many families, but it'd be best to rely on a traditional home security system as a primary source of security. Some top rated home security systems can cost as little as $20 per month and feature licensed professionals that will remotely monitor your home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For an extra cost, home automation features are also available such as thermostat regulation, remote lights, and remote door locks that can be activated from a smartphone. Compatibility with devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are also becoming more popular. When you consider the cost, home security is also much more affordable, especially if you're considering guard dog training. Depending on the home security company, a $25 per month plan will only cost half as much as the annual upkeep of owning and caring for a dog. Be aware that some companies will charge higher monthly fees along with high initial start-up costs, but the best companies in the industry are doing away with these. It would pay to do some research before deciding what options are best for you.
The first home security system was invented in 1966, and household burglaries have decreased dramatically since. As industry leaders continue to innovate and make systems more affordable, the frequency of burglaries decreases. As a matter of fact, burglaries in the United States have decreased by 56 percent between 1994 and 2011. Now Google is stepping into the market to continue driving that innovation. Google acquired Nest Labs back in 2014 and has since then acquired Dropcam, a startup that specializes in automatically recording security cameras, which has made its place in the home automation market. Now it looks like Nest is taking another step onto the home security stage. The Nest Secure system is Nest's attempt to make a splash in the home security industry. Is it worth it, and will the splash really be that big? Here's the breakdown. Nest Secure features One of Nest Secure's biggest selling points is the price tag of $499. This is pretty impressive considering some of the more well-known home security companies will charge a hefty installation fee along with a large monthly monitoring fee. However, some of the other leading companies will offer services like free installation and a monthly monitoring fee as low as $20 per month. This equates to nearly two years of service for the same upfront cost of the Nest Secure system. The biggest attention grabber is the Nest Secure's sleek design. Many home security companies haven't upgraded the design of their systems for several years, so they can occasionally look like an eyesore. Nest Secure also operates using entirely wireless and cellular signals, which enables you to communicate with it using a mobile device. Basic packages for home security systems usually operate using landline connections that don't feature smartphone connectivity. Nest Secure's sensors also function as motion detectors, and you can arm and disarm them with just a push of a button on the sensors themselves. For standard home security systems, arming and disarming your system involves turning all of your sensors off at once. Nest Secure has taken a forward-thinking approach that will surely be more convenient for consumers. How does it compare? How do these features really measure up with other top-rated home security systems and their features? To give an adequate comparison, here are Nest Secure's basic features ($499 upfront) and Protect America's basic features ($20 per month). Nest Secure Wireless/cellular communication The Nest Guard brain unit Nest App functionality Two Nest Detect Sensors Also function as motion sensors and can be disarmed individually "Pathlight" function activates a small light, allowing you to see in the dark Two Nest Tags (key chain fobs to turn the system on and off) Protect America Landline communication Standard control panel Three door/window sensors Motion detector Yard sign Professional monthly monitoring As you can see, there are important differences in the features that each basic system offers. The Nest Detect Sensors are impressive, but you only get two of them when you order a basic $500 system. With Protect America's most basic package, you get three sensors for your doors/windows, but they can't be individually disarmed. The Nest Tags are convenient tools to arm and disarm your system without punching in a numerical code, but you don't get a yard sign for your home. And, believe it or not, yard signs can be enough to ward off burglars. The biggest difference of all is the professional monthly monitoring. Nest has yet to announce what the price tag will be for professional monthly monitoring. Until the company announces what its pricing plans are, it'll be difficult to make an accurate comparison. The fact that the company didn't announce this with the system hitting store shelves next month means it may not be as low as consumers want. Some competing systems like Ring's Protect system have promised monitoring plans for as little as $10 per month, which is unheard of, so Nest has some stiff competition. Contract Most home security companies operate on contracts that span multiple years. It's incredibly rare to find a home security company that lets you use your system on a month-to-month agreement, and even then, that company probably charges a high installation fee. It's fairly standard for a home security company to lock you into a 3 to 5-year contract. Take Protect America, for example. If you purchase the company's basic $20/month package, you're locked into a contract for three years. In essence, this product is going to cost you at least $720 in the long run, which is much more than Nest Secure's initial cost of $499. If you want to get out of this contract, you usually have to buy out of it, so you need to be absolutely sure it's what you want for the next three years. This is also one of the most reasonable contracts in the industry. To put things in perspective, companies like Vivint operate on 5-year contracts and charge at least $40/month, so expect to pay at least $2,400 over the long term. Currently, Nest Secure hasn't said anything about a monthly contract. More details should become clear as its monthly monitoring costs become public. Warranty According to Nest Secure's specs, the system comes with a 2-year limited warranty. This is adequate; however, companies like Guardian Protection, Vivint, and Protect America offer lifetime warranties on their equipment. Maybe after two years, your college student visits home and drops a bunch of textbooks on your Nest Guard brain unit. Then what? You're out to buy another one. If you were with one of the aforementioned companies, they would send you new equipment with minimum hassle. The takeaway The Nest Secure is really cool. It's sleek and stylish, which is something most home security systems don't have going for them. Despite its numerous strengths, the biggest potential weakness of the system is still under wraps. If it turns out that Nest Secure's monthly monitoring price isn't much different than a typical home security system, you might as well go with a traditional company that won't charge you the upfront cost of equipment. Maybe monthly monitoring isn't a big deal to you. If that's the case, the Nest Secure is seriously worth considering. But if you want to be absolutely sure your home is secure even when you miss a notification, Nest Secure probably isn't for you. Take a look at the best home security companies to see if another system fits your needs.
Purchasing a contract for a home security system can feel like a big step. Maybe you're currently on the fence, wondering if it's really worth the cost of installation and a recurring monitoring fee. It's obvious that a home security system helps protect your valuables, but there are many benefits of a home security system that might surprise you. In the following, we'll break down the important aspects of purchasing a home security system. But first, here's why it's important. The Facts Did you know that a burglary happens in the US approximately every thirteen seconds? That's no joke, and it's one of the main reasons why the home security industry is growing so rapidly right now. For the most part, bolting your doors and locking your windows will help you keep your home pretty safe, but sometimes it isn't enough. No one is without risk when it comes to a break-in. Here are some things you may not know: Approximately 2 million burglaries are reported in the United States every year 66% of burglaries are residential break-ins Homes without security systems are 3x as likely to be burglarized 33% of residential assaults are the product of burglaries Despite all this, only 17% of US homes have a security system You might find the numbers surprising. Thinking a little harder about joining that seventeen percent? Well, here's what a home security system can do for you if you choose to opt-in. Burglars Will Pass You By According to the Electronic Security Association, nine out of ten burglars will pass up a home if they know the home is armed with a security system. A study by Rutgers in 2009 also showed that home security systems help protect other homes in your neighborhood. That's right! If multiple homes in a neighborhood have home security systems, that neighborhood as a whole is less likely to be targeted by thieves and burglars. Some ways that burglars can tell if you have a home security system include video surveillance cameras and security company signs outside your home. Many home security companies will give you a small sign you can place in your yard to indicate that your home is monitored twenty-four seven. Cameras placed by doors and windows will also be a deterrent for nosey crooks taking a closer look at your property. Burglars want an easy target. The quicker they can get in and grab a couple thousand dollars worth of merchandise, the more likely they are to strike your property. They'll rarely attack at home that's fortified with multiple security measures. In the rare case that an intruder is brave enough to force entry into your home, alarms will sound on your security system to deter them. Within seconds, police will be notified of the break-in. This is when the would-be robbers will peel out. Reduced Homeowners Insurance Cost On average, a home security system can help you save approximately 20 percent on your homeowner's insurance because it makes you less likely to file a claim with your insurance company. Homeowner's insurance typically costs about $35/month for every $100,000 that your home is worth, so if your home is worth $300,000 you might be saving over $250/year. In some cases, that covers the cost of the home security system itself. What this means is that your home security system isn't costing you any more money than you're used to and your home is fortified against burglaries, fires, water damage, carbon monoxide poisoning, and so on. The cost of your homeowner's insurance will vary depending on your coverage, payment options, location and so on, so the above mentioned is a generalization. It's safe to infer, however, that your homeowner's insurance will decrease when you install a home security system. The best course of action is to find a home security system that you're interested in and contact your insurance agent to see what it will do to decrease your premiums. Helps You Regulate Your Home Some home security systems come equipped with features such as smart thermostats that will help you maintain steady energy use. This is done by regulating things like your home's temperature without the need of getting up to change the thermostat. When you have your home's temperature regulated, you can save up to 33% on your heating and cooling costs! This is great to know if you are trying to decrease their carbon footprint. Smart thermostats will also allow you to adjust your home's temperature remotely. Most systems will have an app you can download to your smartphone so you can control the temperature even when you're not home. This is helpful in situations such as spontaneous parties or dinners where you'll want to make the house comfortable for guests, or maybe when you forget to turn off the air conditioning before you leave on vacation. Both are just small benefits of having an automatic, remotely controlled system. Aside from temperature controls, a home security system is also great for video surveillance. Most home security companies will offer wireless video surveillance that you can access from your phone. For example, Protect America currently offers an HD wireless video camera that produces images at 720p and 30 frames per second, all accessible remotely from your smartphone. The system also includes night vision and audio. Not only is this good for monitoring your home for things like burglaries, but also for simple things like seeing if the kids are home. Lastly, home security systems are beginning to become compatible with devices such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo. With these devices, you can lock your doors, turn on lights, or arm your system with as little as a vocal command. Small Scale Deterrents There are some things you can do now to help you fortify your home against burglars, and they might be easier than you think. Install large window and door locks in plain sight. Install deadbolts on all your exterior doors. Call your local police officer and ask them to do a home security check for you. They can point out the weak spots in your home's defenses so you can improve them. More often than not, this service is free. Get motion-activated lights that turn on and off based on infrared signals. These can usually be installed anywhere outside your home and can be purchased at any major hardware store. Install thick doors. Approximately 70% of burglars enter your home through a door, so installing a door that's harder to break through will increase the security of your home. Don't forget the deadbolt lock to match. It should be noted that some of these measures will cost as much if not more than a home security system. For example, a steel entry door can cost over $300, which could cover the cost of installation and several months of monitoring. Both options are good measures to deter burglars, but home security systems definitely offer more variety and options. The Next Step There it is. You've got the basics. There are a plethora of things you can do to protect your home without subscribing to a monthly fee, but with home security systems as readily available and affordable as they are, it's likely not out of your budget. If you're serious about obtaining a home security system, there are dozens of home security companies that are ready to help. Websites like BestCompany.com have done the research in determining who are the best home security system providers on the grounds of price, equipment, and customer satisfaction. A list of the best providers in your state can be found here. Most companies offer plans for as low as $30/month, but some companies such as top-rated Protect America offer basic plans for as little as $20/month.
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