How Do Home Security Systems Work?

How Do Home Security Systems Work?

A home security system integrates an ecosystem of equipment designed to deter or respond to intrusion or potential conditions that might otherwise leave you vulnerable to loss of property or physical harm. How robust that system will be entirely depends on your security needs.

Components of a home security system:

Security Panels: The first key ingredient of a well-planned home security system is your security panel. Not only will a security panel communicate potential threats to its occupants, but a monitored security panel will communicate those potential hazards to an alarm monitoring company.

Current generations of security panels may include integrated security features, such as local glass break detection, emergency panic buttons, a camera, two-way audio, an internal siren, and a multitude of wireless communications which ties together any sensors, cameras, and home automation into an easily accessible bundle which you can monitor and control from practically anywhere you have internet access.

A security panel will respond accordingly to sensor signals depending on whether your system is armed or disarmed. A system that is armed usually starts a countdown timer allowing you to enter your disarm code. If the system is not disarmed, or if a sudden loss of signal failure is detected, then an alarm monitoring station will be alerted.

Contact Sensors:

With a panel firmly in place in an optimal location for your home, it is time to consider what areas could use extra protection. Door and window contact sensors are most commonly battery-powered sensors that are placed on a door or window frame next to a magnet placed on the door or window directly. Once these are separated, such as when a door or window is opened, a signal is sent to your security panel.

Motion Detectors:

While these door and window contact sensors cover common entry points to your home, there are potential methods of intrusion meant to bypass perimeter detection. To cover your property interior, there are motion detectors and indoor cameras which double as motion detectors. Motion detectors can be an effective way to identify a potential intrusion where another sensor may have failed. These have been enhanced with the ability to omit pet motion to avoid potential false alarms.

Indoor cameras, in addition to many outdoor cameras, that are paired with analytics can serve in this same capacity, differentiating pet motion from other unexpected events. Cameras can also be viewed remotely, even if there is no indication of trouble. This can often be a way to alleviate curiosity or concern by having the ability to check-in at will.

Outdoor Cameras:

If your property line extends beyond your home interior, then surveillance can be expanded using outdoor cameras. Outdoor cameras conventionally refer to weather resistant, exterior cameras with a wide field of view which often cover the span of a property front or rear.

Video doorbells are also mounted outdoors, but these are in a league of their own, as they are often capable of two-way audio which affords conversation with potential visitors whether you are at home or not. The same type of analytics which can be used to omit pet movement from indoor cameras can also be used to prevent alerting you to passers-by.

Glass Break Detectors:

Expect the unexpected. If someone breaks a pane of glass attempting to enter a property without opening the window, glass break detectors are excellent at recognizing the specific pitch associated with breaking glass.

While a panel may already have an integrated glass break detector, additional devices can be mounted in separate rooms to pick up intrusion that may be too far away for the panel to detect.

Life-Saving Devices:

Home invasion is an unnerving topic, but all the devices mentioned above can provide transparency to the activity around your property as well as a plan for reporting these events. There are additional sensors which can help warn of conditions which can be hazardous to life or health.

Smoke detectors, rapid rise heat detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors offer valuable protection by emitting an ultra-loud alarm to alert even sleeping occupants and notifying your alarm monitoring company.

Other life-safety devices that can be connected include medical pendants, fall sensors, and key fobs with an optional panic button. Some indoor cameras can also work as a wellness cam, which can include two-way audio for check-ins.

Environmental Sensors:

In 2020, 19.9% of insurance claims involved freeze or water damage, costing the average household $11,650. A significant loss of property can be protected with freeze or flood sensors, which alert immediately if these conditions are detected and allows you to mount an urgent response to protect your property.

Smart Home Automation:

Stepping away from sensors designed to detect undesirable conditions, a good home security system will integrate seamlessly with home automation devices. These devices can be controlled from your security panel or through a mobile app connected to your home security system.

Through whichever control method you choose, you can adjust these in real-time, such as turning off unused lights or changing your thermostat.

If you want to schedule behaviors, such as turning on houselights at sundown, this can act as a deterrent to would-be intruders who might rely on the shadows to remain undetected. Furthermore, you can create sensor-based triggers, such as a rule which turns on houselights when motion is detected while your home is armed while you are away.

Besides preventative measures, home automation triggers can offer a measure of convenience. For example, a rule can be set up to unlock your front door as you approach your house. This utilizes a geo-fence perimeter, which you would configure in an app connected to your security system, a smart door lock connected through a Z-Wave network, and your mobile device’s location.

Yard Signs and Window Decals:

Although not as innovative as the technology described leading up to this point, yard signs and window decals which indicate your home’s continued protection can serve as a powerful deterrent to undesirable behavior.

How does a home security system work?

On a normal day, your home security system conducts a symphony of protocols to preserve and enrich your life, but how does it all work in tandem?

Most systems now support an array of wireless communications, where previously an extensive webwork of wires would have been needed strewn throughout your house to accommodate the variety of devices currently available. Now, radio frequency signals typically connect sensors to security panels, which frequently ping each sensor to ensure signal strength and continuous connectivity.

Security cameras are paired to your security system over your home’s Wi-Fi network. This allows video streaming from each camera to be viewed live directly on your security panel. Connecting cameras through home Wi-Fi will also allow remote video streaming and cloud storage of captured clips to be uploaded.

Home automation devices, which can include switches, lights, door locks, thermostats, and garage door controllers, can be connected to your security system through a Z-Wave network. Z-Wave is a secure signal protocol which connects each device to your panel, and Z-Wave devices that are powered without batteries can act as signal extenders, allowing a strong Z-Wave signal to reach devices that are further away.

Signal Monitoring and Mobile App:

While the signal types mentioned above connect your home security system to a variety of devices, your home security system also uses Wi-Fi and cellular signals to communicate with both you and your alarm monitoring company.

Using a mobile app designed to pair with your security panel, you can see the status of all connected devices. Did you leave the garage door opened? Are all windows shut? Did you leave your wallet at home, possibly within view of your living room camera? Simply log in to your mobile app, select the device in question, and gain visibility to your home’s status from anywhere you can access the internet. Regarding home automation devices, you can typically control the device from a remote location.

What happens during an intrusion?

While you have transparency into the activity in and around your home, it is unlikely that you can respond to all emergency situations 24/7 or consistently respond in a timely manner. With an estimated 464K robberies reported in 2021, it is a prudent choice to connect your security system to an alarm monitoring company. Having an alarm monitoring company supercharges your home security system by ensuring round-the-clock alarm response and support for covered equipment.

In the event of a burglary, a monitored home security system will notify the police immediately if there is a security breach. When you arm your home, any of your enabled security sensors which are triggered will send a signal to your alarm monitoring company. Unless the system is disarmed with your secure user code, that signal will result in an alarm response, even if the intruder tries to smash the panel to sever the connection.

As an alarm response center mounts a reaction, primary emergency contacts are contacted prior to dispatching emergency services. If you or your designated primary contact can be verified and reports the alarm is in error, no further action will be taken; however, if a primary emergency contact cannot be reached or if the alarm is confirmed, then first responders are dispatched.

How to ensure your home security system works perfectly:

When you initially select your home security system, it is important to ensure that the panel you choose is compatible with all the equipment you plan to add now and in the future.

Ensure that your contact information is kept up to date. This means that your security monitoring company should have the current address where your alarm is installed and that all emergency contacts are correct.

Once you take possession of your security panel and any additional smart devices, carefully plan, and test the equipment near the area where it is to be installed. Ensure that there will be adequate signal strength between the source of your Wi-Fi signal and both the security panel and any security cameras. Also, ensure adequate signal strength exists between each sensor and your security panel.

If anything changes with your Wi-Fi router and or your internet provider, ensure that you update the Wi-Fi name and password for that your security system uses.

Follow all precautions to ensure devices have an uninterrupted power source. For devices that plug in, ensure these are not plugged into an outlet that might be turned off by a switch. For panels, you may receive a mounting brace that holds the AC transformer in place with a zip tie; be certain to utilize these if provided. For all battery powered devices, ensure that all batteries are the same age and type, use the most trusted brands, and replace these promptly when needed.

Test your system monthly to ensure all sensors and devices are in working order. If a device becomes inoperable for any reason, contact your security equipment supplier or security monitoring company for replacement options.

Choose the best alarm monitoring company that will help you through each stage of ownership, from the initial planning to continuous servicing of your home security system. Contact us today to discuss your best options with a Brinks Home Security Consultant.

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