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Having a home security system does not mean that you have to sign up for service with a national or local security company!
If you’re looking for a security system that just sounds an alarm when it is activated and is not monitored by a company, then there are a variety of security options available to you. This is a great way to save money without being committed to a costly three, four or five-year contract with one of the regional or national home security companies. Depending on where you live and how well you build it, you may even be able to have your custom security system monitored directly by the local police or fire department. Here are three different ways of building your own security system: basic, intermediate (along with video surveillance) and advanced.
One of the most basic ways to detect intruders is with a little device that attaches to your doors and windows and makes a loud noise whenever the contacts are separated. You have to use a key to arm and disarm the unit. These door and window alarms are as low as $10-15 each depending on the store and can be a great way to keep tabs on children inside a house or as a cheap noisemaker to harass any intruders. Most of these door and window alarms are not loud enough to be heard at a next door neighbor’s house.
Another way to provide basic anti-burglar home security is with a simple motion detector. A basic, wireless, motion detector with an alarm usually runs between $30-40 depending on the range of the sensor. Through the use of careful planning, only a few motion detectors are needed to create an effective “detection zone” throughout your home. Do take note that this type of alarm will not be activated until the intruder is inside your home as opposed to the door and window alarms that sound when an intruder is still outside your home.
The next method of building your own home security system is to purchase a home security kit. Unless your home is pre-wired for security, or if you’re not handy with basic installing of hardware and electronics work, the easiest way is to work with a wireless home security kit. Most kits consist of the alarm, multiple motion sensors, a few door and window contacts along with a control keypad or two. Depending on the kit, there should be options to add on to your system with additional types of detectors and contacts. For the basic wireless security starter kits, expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $500. The larger kits that include extra keypads, zone expanders for additional components and additional monitoring sensors will cost anywhere from $500 to over $1000.
Some of these home security kits have the ability to send a text message to your phone whenever the system is turned on or off and whenever the alarm sounds. Remember that you have to manually call for the police or fire department to further investigate the problem. Some of the busier police and fire departments will need you to visually confirm whether or not the emergency is real before they send any help. This may delay the police from arriving at your home to catch the robber, but you know that the robber will be in a hurry to leave the home as the alarm is sounding and people and police will be arriving there very soon.
image: camera kit camera kit night vision camera kit
Today, there is also the option of purchasing a video monitoring system to go along with or even replace a traditional home security system. It is now more affordable than ever to have video cameras installed inside and outside your home, watching areas like the front door, patio area, and even the living room with the entertainment center. Nothing says “guilty” faster than having the robber’s face and actions caught on camera. The more expensive options include night vision, weatherproofing and digital receivers & recorders. A basic kit is going to range between $60 and $199, while a more high tech or larger kit will range from $200 to over $1000.
The rapid advancement of today’s technology even allows your video camera surveillance system to automatically transmit the video images to a remote server across the Internet. There are companies that allow you to store footage and watch the cameras in your home live through a website. Now if a burglar or robber were to break in and try to steal or destroy the digital video recorder, you’ll still have your evidence since it was also stored far away from your home. This service will become cheaper and more widely available as technology advances and Internet speeds are further increased.
The ultimate way of building a security system is to design, install and configure your own custom design to cover your house and every possibly safety and security concern. This method requires electrical knowledge and the ability to do carpentry work to make sure that your sensors are securely installed and fully operational. When you factor in the costs of the power supply, control center, keypads, alarm module, wiring (or wireless receiver), and all of the detectors, you’ll easily spend anywhere from $500 to over $2000. This all depends on the size of the house and how you’re planning on detecting and possibly monitoring the intruder. The intruder can be anything from a person to fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, extreme temperatures, excess water (flooding) or even radon gas. There are different sensors available to cover nearly every type of intruder possible, whether it’s a person or something else.
Depending on where you live, you may need an electrical permit before doing any large scale wiring projects.
Whether you have a monitored home security system or not, here are some helpful tips and suggestions for making your home more secure and less inviting to unwanted intruders. It’s often the simple tips and tricks that work the best. When examining your home for security holes, make sure that you do a complete job and leave nothing unnoticed. Don’t let the intruder find the security holes for you!
This page covers security items for new homeowners along with using deadbolts to secure doors, being creative with landscaping, better securing windows, teaching young children about safety and security, what to do when going out of town on a trip or vacation, and how to protect your home with outdoor lights.
Have all of your door locks replaced and make sure you are the only person who has the new keys. When you get additional keys made make sure that the key maker doesn’t “accidentally” make any extra copies. Never leave a key hidden outside under a doormat, above a door frame or overhang, or in a “fake” rock! This is a very dangerous practice and most burglars know how to look under potted plants, under doormats and above doorways.
Keep an updated street map in your car. Besides finding new ways around traffic jams, you’ll also be able to find an escape route if you ever find yourself in an undesirable area of town.
Consider seeing if a police officer can stop by your home and give you a home security inspection as well as any advice and potential problem areas in the community. Most police departments will gladly set up an appointment and do a security review for free.
Install double cylinder deadbolts in doors instead of single cylinder sliding locks. Most sliding locks can easily be defeated by breaking a window in or next to the door and then reaching around and sliding the bolt. In the need of making a quick escape from the house, have a spare deadbolt key in a secure place near each door, but out of sight and reach from any window. See this page at Intruder Prevention for more information about the differences between single cylinder and double cylinder deadbolt locks.
Avoid having trees and large bushes next to or touching your home, particularly by the doors and windows. Large bushes give an intruder excellent concealment from neighbors and passing cars, especially at night. Trees may not appear threatening, but to a lightweight or agile burglar it’s an easy way to the often unlocked upstairs windows. Instead, plant thorny rose bushes or holly bushes with their thick and sharp leaves under your windows. Most burglars will move on to another home and avoid getting cut and tangled with such plants.
Use window pins or window locks to properly secure the windows. This is especially helpful for the upper floor windows since the majority of people only use a security system on the main level. Burglars know about these trends. It’s very easy for an intruder to carry along a collapsible ladder and instantly have access to the unprotected upper windows. A simple window pin will force a burglar to risk breaking the glass or forcing open the window with a crowbar. Either break-in option will likely wake up and alert the residents as well as keep the robber exposed for a longer time on the ladder.
Take the child on a walk through the neighborhood community and have them meet the local people and business owners. Explain to them where they should go and what to do if an emergency happens. If a child can dial a telephone number from memory, then they can operate most of today’s home security systems.
Today’s security system control panels are very user friendly and it only takes the push of a few buttons to change the settings from Home to Instant to Off. And of course, make sure that the children can dial 9-1-1 and give enough information to the operator if an emergency were to happen at home.
Let trusted neighbors know when you’ll be gone and how to reach you in an emergency. Arrange to have your neighbors pick up your mail and newspapers.
The Post Office and newspaper companies have many low income workers who could come across your notices to stop delivery. In times of need any one of them might make a quick buck by informing others of your planned departure. Don’t give them that chance!
Make sure that you have a few lights on timers that closely resemble the real evening rituals in your home.
Turn down the volume for your telephones and answering machine. Most of these can easily be heard outside when they’re on their normal volume settings. A crafty burglar may sit outside your home and call your house, listening for movement and the ringing phone to determine if anybody is home or not.
Night intruders are especially fearful of two things – light and noise. A few strategically placed motion-activated flood lights will cover the outside of most doors and windows around your home. Be especially careful of any small bathroom or laundry room windows that may be hiding in a dark area outside. Burglars and robbers sometimes love to enter through there knowing that most security systems (if any) would most likely be monitoring the main doors and windows. Be sure to at least place a night light in those rooms if the outside windows aren’t illuminated by any motion-activated outdoor lights.
If you have a security system, install a strobe light on the outside. At night this will quickly draw attention to your home and have the intruder run for cover. You can also install a siren outside, but too many false alarms will create angry neighbors and the “cry wolf” syndrome.
Why should anybody spend money on security items like deadbolts and cameras, or invest in a monitored home security system?
Security systems can be expensive, and what good are security cameras when a burglar or robber could just rip them and the monitoring system right out of the walls? Isn’t that stuff pointless?
No, certainly not.
Home security is more than just having a sketchy sales representative come out to your house and give you one of those security reviews where they try to scare you into buying all of the costly add-on items and services and agreeing to their three, four, or even five-year contract.
Real home security is about addressing your fears and threats, making sure that you and your family not only feels safe from the threat of burglars, but is safe from robbers preying on the weak. It’s about being able to go to bed at night and not have to worry about those mysterious noises outside knowing that you have solid door locks or even a monitored security system. Should anybody try to get close to your home they’ll have to avoid the motion-activated lights, thorny plants under the windows, strong door locks, and deal with the ear-piercing alarm that will sound if they manage to force open a door or window, or break through a sliding glass door. And of course once the alarm sounds, the would-be robber knows that everybody in the home and that part of the neighborhood has been alerted to the robber, and a police officer will be there soon.
Or for other people, real home security means having a big, mean dog ready to tear somebody apart along with a loaded shotgun ready to blast away the threat.
Both types of security systems are very effective when used properly and will keep away all but the most determined home invaders.
But both types of home security are flawed when they’re not used correctly.
The people who rely on technology to keep them safe need to be sure that the security items are not cheap pieces of garbage that don’t always work as advertised. They also need to make sure that all entrances are properly monitored. An unguarded window may provide the entrance and exit for a burglar. A security system that has not been armed won’t scare away a robber sneaking through the night. Not using a cellular back-up system will not send out the distress call to the monitoring center when a smart home invader cuts the phone line outside of the house or apartment. Burned out outside flood lights will allow almost anybody to approach the home in the safety of darkness.
Some guard dogs can be bribed with treats and toys. Others will sit there and calmly watch as robbers walk around and pick out certain items to steal. The large dogs that stand and fight can be neutralized with a crowbar, baseball bat, or even shot with a gun. Remember, dogs may look big and mean, but they’re still as fragile as people. They can be beaten and killed. Dogs also cannot watch over and guard a house while they’re out on a walk or taken to the vet or a kennel.
Guns have a similar problem, too. By itself, a shotgun or pistol is not going to do anything to stop a burglar or robber. It takes a person to point it and be ready to use it at a last resort to stop a threat.
Some people will spend thousands of dollars on an elaborate home security system complete with CCTV video cameras, steel framed doors, remote accessing software to monitor their home while away, and even security screens for windows. Other people could care less and only need to lock their front door at night and still feel safe.
The real answer is up to you and what it takes for you to not only feel safe, but be safe from burglars, robbers, and potentially home invaders. This means that you need to take a serious look at your home, the items inside your home, and your neighborhood and surrounding community.