How to Choose Home Security System

How to Choose the Best Security System

Are you trying to pick the right security system? It can be a frustrating process, especially when you're busy with a new home, or a new arrival in the family.

Don't be tempted to rush. It's more important than you may realize. Choosing the right system will set you up for years of peace of mind, with a huge range of benefits you may not expect. Choose badly, however, and you can leave yourself unprotected, or lumbered with an expensive inconvenience for years.

To Choose the Best Security System and to make the best choice, use this checklist of essential home security features.


Basic Security System Sensors and Components

Home security systems are made up of many individual sensors—battery-powered devices ranging in size from a pack of gum to a box of large matches—and other components, such as keypads and alarm sirens.

Here, we define the parts you will usually find in basic home security systems, arranged in order of their importance to the overall system. DIY security system kits usually include a base station, keypad (or touchscreen control panel), contact sensors, motion sensors, and key fobs.


1. Base stations:

Base stations act as the brain of the security system, wirelessly connecting to all the sensors and components, and acting as a bridge between the individual components and the internet. These devices usually include a built-in siren and feature backup batteries and backup cellular connectivity for power and/or internet outages.

2. Contact sensors:

These sensors attach to doors and windows to alert you (and/or authorities, if you have professional monitoring) when they’re opened and closed.

3. Motion sensors:

Great for rooms with multiple doors or windows, these sensors detect the movement of people. Some are calibrated so that pests won’t set them off.

4. Keypads:

With some systems, you’ll use a 10-digit keypad to enter access codes to arm and disarm the alarm.

5. Touchscreen control panels:

Similar to a small tablet, this could take the place of a keypad. On the panel, you can arm and disarm the system, enter access codes, and control other smart home devices.

6. Key fobs and tags:

Similar to the key fob for your car, these fobs have arm/disarm buttons and some contain RF tags, so you can tap the fob on the system’s keypad or base station to arm/disarm.

7. Range extenders:

Most base stations have a range of a few hundred feet. For larger homes, some systems utilize extenders to increase the wireless range of the base station and connect to more-remote sensors. In other systems, the wireless components (as well as range extenders) act as signal repeaters that further extend the base station’s range.


Add-On Sensors and Components

Most security systems also offer a variety of add-on sensors and components—at an additional cost—for other types of monitoring, such as personal safety, fire, and carbon monoxide. Below, we define the most common add-on components you’re likely to see as you shop.


1. Security cameras:

While not required, most systems work with wireless security cameras and video doorbells that allow you to see what’s going on at all times. They typically record footage when the alarm is triggered.

2. Environmental sensors and alarms:

Most systems work with environmental sensors and alarms to monitor your home for fire, water leaks, extreme temperatures, and more. These devices include smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, alarm listeners that listen for the sound of those alarms, and leak and freeze sensors.

3. Sirens:

Standalone sirens can be placed away from the base station. If you live in a larger home, you might consider installing multiple sirens.

4. Glass break sensors:

These sensors can detect the sound if, for example, an intruder smashes a window to get inside.

5. Garage door tilt sensors:

Placed on the interior side of a garage door, these sensors can tell when the door is open or closed based on their horizontal or vertical orientation.

6. Panic buttons and pendants:

Physical panic buttons are a quick and easy way to alert a monitoring service that you need help. Panic pendants work the same way, except they can be worn by the user, making them useful for, say, an individual who's at risk of falling.


There's one more, very important reason why getting the right security system matters. Smart technology is fast becoming a must-have, and you'll soon want to upgrade your home. combines all of these devices into one harmonious system with everything working together, controlled through a single command center on your smartphone or computer screen.