Home Security Buyer's Guide

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When a homeowner considers a monitored house alarm system, it's usually for one of two reasons. Either they're getting a system installed for the first time, or they just experienced a loss caused by robbery, vandalism, or a break-in.

House alarm systems help deter intruders, discourage break-ins, and ensure family and property safety. When a monitored house alarm system detects unauthorized entry, it sends a signal to a central monitoring station or call any programmed phone numbers. These nationwide monitoring centers provide continuous service - 24/7/365 - and will alert local police to dispatch authorities to your home as necessary. If you prefer to simply program it to call your mobile, than you will save paying membership fees and monitor the property yourself.

House alarm standard equipment

A basic monitored house alarm system includes:

  • Control panels. This is the power source of the entire house alarm system. Typically, the control panel is hidden from plain sight - located in the back of a closet or in your garage - and is connected to all other alarm components including a standard phone line.
  • Security keypads. These are installed inside the main entrance of your home and allow you and your family to activate and deactivate the system with the push of a few buttons. A digital display notes whether the system is armed or disarmed. Additional panels can be set up and installed in other locations throughout your home - either by another exit or in a master bedroom so you can trigger it if you hear an intruder while in the house - for a fee (up to $100 per extra keypad).
  • Motion detectors. Also known as passive infrared (PIR) detectors, these devices sensing changes in infrared energy levels when an intruder is present, even if no break-in is detected. They are typically installed indoors at walls, doors, windows, and air ducts.
  • Door and window contacts. These magnetic devices are placed along door jams and window frames and trigger the alarm system when opened.
  • Glassbreak sensors. Also referred to as "audio discrimination", these sensors convert the acoustic shock waves of glass breaking into an electrical signal and set off the system.
  • Sirens. Loud bells, horns, and/or strobe lights can be installed inside and outside your home to draw immediate attention to the intrusion.
  • Signs and decals. Many companies will furnish you with signs to post on your lawn and stickers to place on the inside of your windows and glass doors warning potential intruders that a house alarm is protecting your home.
  • House alarm: Hard wired vs. wireless
    A monitored house alarm is available in hard-wired and wireless formats depending on dealer availability and customer preference. Existing wiring from a previous alarm system makes it easy to install a new monitored house alarm. Otherwise, a wireless system is more practical - you won't have to drill holes, lift carpets, or run lengthy wires throughout your house. However, wireless systems do require frequent lithium battery changes to ensure the system works at full strength.

    While the security keypads will be in plain sight, the main control panel, which is the brains of the house alarm system, is typically installed in closets or garages. This helps minimize the risk of swift burglars disabling the system.

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