- About 60% of the burglars who were interviewed chose a target based in part on whether it had an alarm system.
- About 50% of the study subjects reported that they leave immediately if they find a security system, and 37% said they sometimes leave.
- About 43% said they never break into a building if they see an alarm before entering.
- More than 80% don’t try to disable the security systems that they find.
Security systems can record someone breaking in using motion sensors and cameras. They can even notify the police, who can use the camera footage to help with their investigation. Moreover, another study showed that security cameras can cut down on crime in public areas and aid in the apprehension of criminals.
Another perk of a home security system is that many homeowner’s insurance companies will reduce your premiums if you have one. Scott Holeman, director of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute, says that you could get a discount of between 5% and 20% if you install a security system. Plus, if you have to file a claim, camera footage will help document the damage.
However, a home security system isn’t a panacea; if someone wants to break in, they will find away. And even if you have professional monitoring, that doesn’t mean that police will respond immediately. Police departments are busy, and many cities have a high rate of false alarms from security systems.
Nevertheless, for added security and peace of mind, a good home security system is probably worth it. “The only person who shouldn’t have one is someone who can’t afford it,” says Doug Huey, co-owner of Executive Security Consultants, which specializes in home security systems. “We no longer even have to convince most people that they need one.”
For more information, see Why Get a Home Security System?
There are several steps to follow when buying a home security system. They include:
- Decide how much protection you need. This depends largely on crime in your area, the parts of your home you want to monitor or protect, and whether you want protection while you’re home or just while you’re away.
- Determine your budget. Alarm systems aren’t as expensive as they used to be, but the costs can add up depending on how many sensors and other gadgets you install, as well as what type of monitoring plan you choose. Get the protection you need, but don’t go overboard.
- Choose DIY or professional installation. Are you good at electronic gadgets? Do you have an hour or more to install sensors, cameras, and other equipment? Are you comfortable designing your own system without an expert on-site to assist you? If so, DIY installation can save you money over a professionally installed system.
- Schedule an in-home consultation. If you want to have your system professionally installed, consider scheduling a representative from the security company to visit your home for a consultation, and to prepare a proposal.
For more information, see How to Buy a Home Security System.
Whether you choose a professionally installed or DIY home security system essentially comes down to how comfortable you are with electronic gadgets, how complex your system is, and how much money you want to spend getting it up and running. With a professionally installed system like Vivint or ADT, someone from the company will explain your options and recommend the type and quantity of equipment that’s best for your circumstances. In addition, the installer can adjust your equipment package if necessary after coming to your house. This eliminates guesswork and will save you hours or days of labor, depending on the size of your home, the complexity of the system, and your technical abilities. However, a professionally installed system often will lock you into a long-term contract, and the installation itself can cost $100 or more.
By contrast, installing a DIY system like Frontpoint or Abode requires only your time and possibly an activation fee, and most DIY companies don’t require long-term contracts unless you want professional monitoring. The downside is that you’ll have to study the available equipment, determine what to buy, install each device properly, and ensure that everything works correctly. Many DIY companies make all of this relatively painless, offering equipment that’s designed to work together seamlessly, step-by-step installation instructions, and phone support if you have a problem. Nevertheless, getting a robust DIY system up and running may require significant time and effort.
Independent security consultant Mike Silva says DIY equipment has gotten much better in recent years and often compares favorably to equipment that comes with a professionally installed system. However, he believes a DIY system might not be sufficient for more complex security requirements. “If your needs are very simple, like a small condo with a few doors and windows, DIY can be fine,” he says. “If you have specialized needs, you probably would be better served by a professional company.”