What is the difference between an Alarm System and a Home Security System, and what advantage does one have over the other?
While an alarm system might have sensors on doors and windows, and may alert law enforcement of an intruder, that’s where the ”protection” ends. A home security system will do that and more by protecting your valuables and your family from environmental dangers such as a carbon monoxide leak, gas leak, or fire.
Many people find security systems intimidating because they don’t know what it is or what questions to ask. They may not know the difference between an Alarm System and a Home Security System, and just don’t know where to begin. By the end of this article, not only will know where to begin, but you will know the right questions to ask. Let’s get started.
What’s the Difference Between an Alarm System and a Home Security System
To begin, there is a big difference between an Alarm System and a Home Security System. Perhaps the best way to draw the distinction is to think of an alarm system as a burglar alarm system. This type of alarm system might have sensors on doors and windows, and may even alert law enforcement that an intruder has broken in, but that’s where the ”protection” ends. In fact, you may want to use the word “protection” loosely, as this type of an alarm system really serves an “alert system”. It will alert you, and it also may alert the authorities if it is programed to do so.
A home security system, however, will not only alert you and the authorities of an intruder, but it will also protect your valuables and your family from environmental dangers such as a carbon monoxide leak, gas leak, or fire. It will even alert you to a water leak from the bathroom upstairs. If there was a significant temperature drop within the home, you would be notified so that you could take precautions to prevent your water pipes from freezing.
In essence, a home security system goes beyond notifying you of an intruder. It can actually protect both you and your valuables from environmental dangers.
To further draw the distinction, let’s discuss the benefits of a traditional alarm system, and then the benefits of a home security system.
Benefits of Implementing an Alarm System
The Intimidation Factor
Let’s face it, when a security alarm blares obnoxious warning sounds loudly, it causes burglars to panic. The louder the alarm, coupled with super bright flashing lights, the more panicked the intruder becomes. Panic causes would-be intruders to flee the scene which is exactly what you want to happen. The last thing they want to do is draw attention to themselves. An alarm system does a great job at doing just that.
The Police Will be Notified
Some alarm systems are set up simply to scare Intruders away. Other alarm systems, however, will notify the authorities, dispatching police to the crime scene. After setting off an alarm, that may be enough to cause the burglar to flee the scene, but personally, I would not want to take that risk. In other words, I would definitely want the police dispatched to my house if the alarm went off.
Word Gets Out
The advantage of having the police dispatched to your house is that it lets everybody in the neighborhood, (including the intruder), know that you have an alarm system. Would-be thieves will think twice before messing with your house again. The risk is simply too high for them, and they will choose another house or place of business to break into, one that does not have an alarm system.
Benefits of Implementing a Home Security System
Protect Your Family and Valuables
The obvious reason for getting a home security system is so that you can first and foremost protect your family from harm or injury. You also want to protect all of the contents within your house, and even the house itself from water damage or from fire. A home security system is designed to do all of this and more. It does not simply notify you or the police that there is an intruder. It will notify you if there is an environmental hazard that will harm your home or the contents within your home.
Burglars Will Pass by Your House
Criminals look for easy targets, and when it comes to your house, they want to get in and out as quickly as possible with zero interruption. When you implement a home security system, you make it more difficult for people to break in and steal any valuables you may have. Additionally, when they see the sign advertising your home security company in the front yard or in the bushes near your door, they will likely just go to the next house, especially if you keep that sign prominently displayed and clean.
You can Use Remote Surveillance from Your Phone
In today’s world, one of the great things about home security systems is that you can monitor the outside of your house and the inside of your house from your cell phone while at work or on vacation. Strategically placing webcams both inside your house and outside your house brings great Peace of mind, especially when someone approaches your property. You can be notified and even set off an alarm to scare them away, all from your cell phone while on vacation or while at work. You can even be notified via text when a package is delivered to your house or the mailman stops by so that you can simply launch an app and literally see what’s going on outside your house.
Get Notified of Fire, Gas or Water Leaks
A home security system will notify you if there are any gas leaks, water leaks or if the temperature rises quickly, which would indicate a fire. The alarm system would then automatically call the fire department for you. If you’re on vacation or not home, you are still protected, Penn emergency services are automatically dispatched.
You can See Who Comes and Goes
With a Home Security System, you can be notified when your kids get home from school, when they leave the house, and even be notified when the FedEx guy delivers a package to your door. Additionally, home security cameras can start recording the moment that somebody approaches your door, and once the cameras are triggered, they are time-stamped.
Gives You Peace of Mind
When you set the alarm system at night before you go to bed, there is a sense of security that lets you go to sleep at night. Just like a dog will wake you up by barking, should there be any movement within your house, the home security system will do the same before the intruder even makes his way into the house. Alarms can be set to go off, and flood lights can be turned on, should anybody set foot on your property, let alone attempt to make their way into your home or place of business.
Questions You Should Ask Before Purchasing a Home Security System
The following questions should definitely be discussed between you and your spouse when considering a home security system.
What type of home alarm monitoring do I really need?
There is a difference between needing something and wanting something. It might be beneficial to first determine what it is that you need before determining what you want. In other words, in determining what you need, you are setting up a baseline. Anything beyond that is what you want.
For example, if you have a shed or even a barn on your property that you want to protect, an alarm system might just do the job. It is something that you want to protect but not all of your valuables are located there, and your family members are certainly not living there. If somebody broke in and stole some items out of that structure, though bothersome, it would not be the end of the world. After triggering the alarm, you would be notified and you could even set it up so that the dispatched upon triggering the alarm. You would not have to do that, but you could if you wanted to.
On the other hand, you would probably want to consider home security system for your home, as it will protect all of the contents of the house as well as your family members from environmental dangers such as fire and gas leaks.
Once you understand the difference between an alarm system and a home security system, what you want and what you need becomes more clear.
Should I hire a professional or should I install it myself?
One sure way to answer this question is to ask your spouse or a very close friend if they think that you are capable of installing a home security system. Your spouse will give you the clear answer to that question.
When it comes to protecting your home, valuables, and family members, you certainly cannot just “wing it”. If you are the type of person that works well with your hands and knows how to complete construction projects within the house, then you probably could successfully install a home security system.
If however, you do not work with your hands, and you do not have a reputation for having successfully built things within the home, you probably should hire somebody to do the job for you. Again, if your spouse is completely honest, they will probably let you know whether or not they think that you are capable of taking on such a project. Wisdom would listen to what they have to say.
What type of home automation capabilities do I need or want?
When we refer to home automation in reference to home security systems, we are talking about sensors on jewelry boxes or sensors that are triggered when a painting is moved from the wall it hangs on. Frankly, you could put a sensor on pretty much anything that can be moved if you wanted to.
An automation sensor could also be triggered when a person passed through the doorway from one room to another room. Of course, this could be used to detect intruders, but it also could be used to notify you when your elderly parent goes up or down the stairs in their home. Once triggered, your cell phone would be alerted and you could visually see what is happening as they go up or down the stairwell. How you use home automation sensors is up to you and they are limited only by your imagination.
What About Customer Experience and Support?
When choosing a home security system, remember that the home security system is only as good as the people behind it. In other words, the people that support the system itself.
You would be very wise to find other people who have used the home security system that you are considering purchasing and ask them questions about reliability, customer service, and their experience. Be sure to ask people who are using the home security system that you are looking into.
If you don’t personally know anybody that has used the home security system that you are considering, go online and look at product reviews, specifically from users who purchased the product, and not just from their website, but from forums on other websites, (reddit.com comes to mind). What is important here, is that you look for people who have experience in using this product. The reviews that they offer can be extremely insightful.
What home security system packages are available?
There are many home security systems out on the market today. Do your homework, and do not only rely on what your neighbor says, or what a coworker shared with you. Investigate your options. The lives of your family members depend on it.
One bit of advice: Don’t purchase more than you need.
Many packages offer for you all the bells and whistles, when you may not really don’t need all the bells and whistles, or even have use for all of the bells and whistles that are offered. You can always add features and grow into a bigger package that may be available. Be sure not to fall into the trap of the salesman who says, “We can get you into this package if you buy right now“.
Unfortunately, salesmen like that work on commission, and trust me, they will be more than willing to sell to you tomorrow. If a salesman said something like that to me, I would either ask to speak to a different representative, or find a completely different company altogether to do business with. A statement like that speaks to their credibility, and concern for your well-being.
What costs are involved in considering a Security system?
In reading of the differences between an alarm system and home security system, you may think that an alarm system is yesterday’s technology and that a home security system is the way of the future. To some extent that may be true, however let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
An alarm system is less expensive than a home security system, and implementing an alarm system is better than not having any security system at all. However, there are some things that you want to consider when it comes to cost.
For example, what is the monthly rate? Will that monthly rate increase over time or stay the same? Are there any maintenance fees involved? What exactly does “maintenance fees” mean to this company? How often will my equipment be tested, and if the equipment fails in the test, will it be replaced free of charge? What is the bottom line upfront cost? Is the company that is selling you this home security system able to itemize every single thing that you are being charged for? Is it clear and understandable?
These are the types of questions that you should be asking, and some of these questions will lead to other questions. This is a good thing, because you want to be well informed so that you can make your final decision.
Does a reputable brand really matter?
As a rule of thumb, if you cannot pronounce it, you should probably consider another security system. In this industry, reputation plays a major factor. Not to beat a dead horse, but let’s remember that we’re talking about the lives of your family members and your valuable possessions.
Brand does matter? It matters a lot.
Do you really want to put the lives of your family members in the hands of a company that does not have a good reputation but does offer a great price?
God forbid, but if someone did break into your home, wouldn’t you want a very reliable home security system, one that worked every time and would dispatch authorities when needed? You really cannot afford it to skimp here.
Whether you use an alarm system in your place of business, building on your property, or even in your home, if installed correctly, it will alert you of any intruders, notifying the authorities. A home security system goes a step further by alerting you to any environmental dangers that may occur.
We have already posed several questions that you should ask when researching home security systems, but I encourage you to ask tons of questions, especially from those who has been using a home security system in their own home to protect their valuables and family members. Word of mouth is still the best advertisement.
What Are The Top 4 Reputable Home Security Systems available On The Market Today?
Not in any particular order, because I think you should do your homework to find out which is the best solution for you.
- SimpliSafe Home Security System
- Vivint Smart Home
- Frontpoint Home Security System
- ADT Pulse
How Do I find A Reputable Home Security System Installer?
You may want to consider homeadvisor.com or angieslist.com. Be very careful not to hire a service that offers too many freebies. Remember old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. These two companies have a reputation of finding reputable companies that provide quality services.
Is The Home Security Industry Growing?
Home security systems are on the rise. It is expected that globally, the security market will surpass $100 billion by 2020, and home security systems alone will account for about $47 billion of the total security market.