By Maura Keller
We’ve all felt it—that shudder of fear upon hearing a strange noise, seeing a fleeting shadow or discovering an unlocked door or window in your home. As a homeowner, you are likely to be concerned about your property’s security and your family’s safety. For the majority of homeowners, today’s technology puts affordable home smart security options within your reach, and puts your valuables beyond the reach of criminals.
With home security systems costing as little as $100 to as much as several thousand, many people can now affordably protect themselves.
And best of all, security systems can be tailored to meet the specific requirements of your home and surrounding property. It’s like a smorgasbord. You can pick and choose components of a system to create the level of security for your specific situation.
“Home security products have gotten better and more reliable, and in some cases more affordable,” says Jeff Beckman, owner of J&K Security Solutions in Madison. “Cameras have become more affordable and prevalent in the residential segment, as has the ability to access and control your security system via smart devices, which allow homeowners to get a text or email when a problem occurs.”
In its basic form, a home security system is a low-voltage electrical circuit with sensors on entry doors and windows. When a door or window is opened, its sensor detects the interruption in the flow of electricity and triggers an audible warning signal or a silent alarm that is monitored by the security company and the local police.
Many security systems also include motion detectors that monitor areas inside and outside a home. When something moves within the detector’s range, a siren sounds. The most sophisticated motion detectors are able to distinguish between the nocturnal wanderings of a pet and the threat of an intruder.
As with any technology, significant strides are continually made to improve security technology to meet the changing needs of the home environment. Just as would-be thieves become more adept at their efforts, so too do the security systems used to stop them in their tracks.
“Not a lot has changed in home security itself over the last few years,” says Michael Creeden at Digital Innovations in Spring Grove, Ill. “If you include camera technology in that discussion, we have seen many evolutions there. Security-based homeowner requests are still one of the higher things we get asked about. The evolution of cameras from analog to IP is one of the larger areas of change we have witnessed. The largest change we see is a single app interface on smart phones being used to control all forms of technology while in and away from the home.
As Creeden explains, the technology to incorporate smart phone technology with home security technology is actually not that new.
“However, most of the individuals who had been selling it were not that good at the IT side of it,” Creeden says. “That knowledge is critical in viewing your home while away from it.” Now, new built-in cloud-based features within the camera recording devices (DVR or NVRs) make this a bit easier to set up and maintain.
“The invention of intuitive smart phone apps to view things have also helped further this technology,” Creeden says.
Indeed. Today’s smart phone apps play a key role in home security functionality, allowing you to view your property or unlock a door remotely to allow a service provider access without meeting them. In addition, these apps provide the ability to install a thermostat to allow off-site adjustment of the temperature in your home or vacation home.
As with any high-tech device, each year improvements are made in the technological prowess of home security systems. Teeming with bells and whistles aplenty, these systems offer everything from remote access monitoring of your home to
tracking the potential for theft before it happens. Over the last several years, security technology has changed significantly and has resulted in key “must haves” in any high-functioning home security system, which include a solid home network, cameras and automated smart lighting that complements the system.
In addition, Creeden recommends homeowners consider investing in upfront early design of innovation security technology programs, a centralized control system of the home’s technology, lighting control and motorized window treatments.
“Mobile technology being utilized in helping homeowners manage their home security systems has been huge in this industry,” Creeden says. “They have almost single-handedly changed how people interact with everything within their homes. Whether they are in the home or half way around the world.” The newest burglar alarm systems now allow users remote access to check the status, as well as arm and disarm them from a cell phone. And network connections allow any function that can be completed on a keypad to be done through a network browser.
Beckman stresses that today’s homeowners also need the ability to arm and disarm their alarm system with a phone or smart device. “Having the ability to view cameras on your smart device is also key, as is the ability to adjust temperature of your heating or cooling system on your phone or smart device,” Beckman says. “Everyone seems to have a smart phone and we all use them. The ability to ‘do all’ from these devices is appealing and convenient.”
As Beckman explains, there are multiple “automation platforms” available to allow a homeowner the ability to control anything through a single app.
“Of course there is a cost involved in getting into this and the amount is dependent on what you all want to control,” Beckman says.
The types of electronic security systems vary from a simple system costing a few hundred dollars to more elaborate systems, which monitor both interior and exterior spaces, provide video coverage and cost thousands of dollars.
The overall approach of security must be addressed by any homeowner. There are property considerations that will decide the type of investment. For example: how long will the homeowner be at the current location? Most security systems are not easily relocated. Is the property rented or owned? Traditional alarm systems are considered part of the property when they are installed.
When you begin to evaluate the home security system investment, one thing’s for sure—you find the “latest and greatest” in security equipment by finding a reputable security consultant or security system integrator. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you do your homework with regards to proper background checks and references on the company you hire.
And remember, there is no magic “one size fits all” home security system. Each location and each customer presents unique sets of challenges. A good security professional treats each project individually and can only recommend a system once they get a clear understanding of the security challenges the location and owners are facing.
So what does the future hold in home security “bells and whistles?” In the future, voice recognition devices that complement the already installed smart devices within the home will also provide additional security for homes.
“Having the ability to start and stop an oven or stove remotely, or adjust temperature has already hit the market,” Beckman says. “Advancements will keep coming for years as long as the demand is there for more control. It’s a fun business to be involved in and I am constantly looking and thinking about ‘what’s next?’”
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