Basic Guide to Wireless Home Security Systems
Why You Need Home Security
If you want to have real peace of mind, then it is highly important that you install a good security system in your home.
What are the dangers of being in an unprotected property? How will you keep yourself and your family safe from home invasion? More importantly, do you really need home security systems? Let’s take a closer look.
The Crime Numbers
According to 2010 statistics reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were more than 2 million cases of burglaries and home invasion in the United States, and more than 75% of these cases occurred in residential homes. Of this number, more than 1.1 million burglaries were by forced entry. The victims reported a whopping $4.5 billion in estimated lost property.
Fast forward to 2012, the FBI’s Crime Clock states that there is 1 robbery every 1.5 minutes and 1 burglary every 15 seconds in the United States. A violent crime happens every 26 seconds; a forced entry happens every 28 seconds and there is 1 murder every 35 seconds.
Aren’t these numbers horrifying enough for you to start thinking about investing in a reliable home security system?
Just what is Home Invasion and Should You Be Alarmed?
As per FBI classification, Robbery is a crime of violence, defined as “attempting to or taking anything of value from the custody, care or control of a person by threat, force, or violence and putting the victim in a state of fear”.
Home Invasion, on the other hand, is classified by the FBI as a “robbery within a residence”, wherein any valuable property was taken from the residence while a person is at home.
Statistics show that there is 1 incident of home invasion per 9 minutes. This means that a criminal broke into a home every 9 minutes, WHEN SOMEONE WAS ACTUALLY THERE. And it can happen to your home, when you are there, or your daughter, or your parents.
Just imagine how frightening it can be when someone with criminal and dangerous intent invades the privacy of your home.
Home invasion robbery has similar characteristics with street robbery and residential burglary. Residential burglars gain unlawful entry into a residential dwelling such as an apartment unit, single-family home or a mobile home. Street robbers, on the other hand, physically confront their victims so that they can get what they desire.
Now put these two together, and add some more factors and you get home invasion robbery.
Here are the 5 features of a home invasion robbery:
- The entry of the offender is unauthorized and forced
- The offender seeks to confront with malicious intent
- The confrontation occurs inside the home
- The offenders demand to take property or money
- The offender uses threat of violence or intentional violence
There are common motives to home invasion, and the most prevalent is to steal valuable items such as jewelries or properties that can be sold for drugs and cash.
To get an understanding of your current house vulnerability, here you can read more about the things burglars look for in your house when they are scouting their possible burglary targets, (ALL links open in new Tab).
The Dangers and Harms of Home Invasions
There are a variety of harms caused by home invasion. The victims lose their property and cash, and may incur additional expenses for property damages and home security upgrades.
The sentimental loss experienced by the victim is sometimes greater than the monetary loss, especially when robbers take their loved items such as books, heirlooms, and personal documents.
Extreme violence is highly possible during a home invasion because the incidents happen in your home and in private, where their wrongdoings are less visible and there is a lack of witnesses.
Another harm that can result from home invasion is the psychological trauma that may be experienced by the victim.
Being assaulted and attacked where you should feel safe…
is very frightening, and can lead to an ongoing fear of being re-victimized. This could further lead to the victim’s suffering from phobias, traumas, sleeplessness, and anxiety attacks.
Can You Be Safe, Is There Something You Can Do?
Although danger can lurk anywhere, there are precautionary measures that you can apply in your home so that your safety and security is increased. Home security systems are now widely available and can easily be installed to any homes.
But there are so many different types of home security in the marketplace that it might seem too complicated for you to decide which one would work best in order to keep your family safe.
Let’s take a look at the options available to you, and then discuss just why, for your home and personal protection…
A wireless home security system is the perfect option!
Home Security Systems: Your Options for Home Protection
Choosing the best home security system is not easy, which is probably why you are reading this Ultimate Guide!
While there are many factors to consider, the best way to start is to know the two major kinds of home security systems that are available to you, and the just what exactly each can do for you.
We all know the monthly monitoring cost can be an issue as well, so that’s why we do recommend you to contact your home insurance company to see what kind of discounts they offer before you get a home security system from a reputable company, such as the ones we are comparing on our website.
We did write about the potential home insurance discounts earlier this year and in case you missed that article before, here you can access the article home security system can save you big money on your home insurance.
Wired Home Security Systems: Are They Good Enough For You?
A wired security system involves the use of cameras and sensors installed on doors and windows, which are wired to a main security system panel. While some installers can make the wires less visible, some are less obscure and quite noticeable. They are often placed under the carpeting or baseboards of a home to hide it from plain view. You can choose to have motion sensors added to the cameras for more protection.
Wired systems require both power and data cables to run from the sensors and the cameras to the monitor where the footage and data will be displayed. The wires can be unsightly and bulky, and may pose risks of tripping if the cables are not properly secured.
Although the wired security equipment costs relatively cheaper than wireless, the initial cost of installation is often higher because you would need to hire a professional installer to make sure that everything is in place.
The wired sensors and cameras would also require extensive cabling so that the devices can be powered up and data can be transmitted. This also means that the cameras can’t be easily repositioned or moved after installation.
Although seeing the cameras and sensors can be a deterrent for burglars and criminals, the exposed wires can be easily tampered and damaged. Keep in mind that burglars are becoming both smarter and more desperate and, as such, they make it their business to know how to disable wired security systems.
You will also find that wired cameras and security devices are larger and bulkier than wireless systems. Because they are wired, the setup is quite complex and is not suitable for novices or people who lack technical experience.
The video and audio quality produced by wired security may also be inferior compared to the clarity offered by wireless systems. This is primarily due to the technology used in the devices and the delivery of data through the wires.
Wired security systems can be configured to be used with wireless accessories, and can be enhanced with more functionality such as glass-break sensors and carbon monoxide alarm.
Wireless Home Security Systems: The Smart Alternative!
The world has gone wireless, and this is even more true with home security systems.
Wireless home security systems are the most popular choice among homeowners today. They offer high-end security options while being concealed from view.
They are also easier to set up compared to wired systems, and can be installed by people who are not at all technologically savvy.
One of the main advantages to using wireless alarm systems is their portability; users can position them just about anywhere as long as they are within range of the wireless receiver.
Because no wires are required and the devices are small, the cameras and sensors can be strategically concealed.
Low to mid-range wireless security systems are relatively cheaper, which is another reason why many homeowners prefer them to wired devices.
There’s no need for data transfer cables, because the data is transmitted via audio and video feeds directly to a receiver, which in turn projects the data to a monitor or a recording device.
Another advantage to wireless home security systems is the top-notch audio, image and video clarity. Because the devices are ultra-modern and use the best in current and high-end technology, you are assured that all the activities captured by the cameras and the sensors will be recorded with precision.
Are wireless home security systems flawless?
Well, there are a few negligible things to consider when purchasing your wireless system. While these devices are wireless, some of the equipment still require a power source (mostly cameras), so a power cable is still present, which still makes it a ‘wired’ unit. But this limitation is almost insignificant, and can easily be resolved by purchasing optional adapters that will allow the user to power the device using a battery.
However, there are newer models that are battery-powered, although these models are geared more towards the higher end of the investment spectrum.
The units that come with long-lasting, high quality lithium ion rechargeable batteries are the best way to go, as these will save you money in the long run.
Just like any other wireless device, there is a possibility that wireless home security systems signals can experience interference, though this is generally only limited to thick walls, cell phones, cordless phones, extreme weather, sunspots and proximity to power lines. When the signal is interfered, the video feed may become grainy, jumpy or sometimes lost.
It is important to note however, that higher-end models are less prone to interference and can still produce superior audio and video feeds even during bad weather.
Many people think that wireless cameras and sensors can be easily hacked. These concerns are unwarranted with the use proprietary software and programs that are less susceptible to this kind of intrusion. With proper security measures in place that can be as simple as changing a password regularly, these risks are largely eliminated.
So Which One Do You Choose?
The best way to decide is to carefully weigh the features, benefits and advantages between wired and wireless alarm monitoring systems. Your choice will highly likely be based on your budget, but don’t forget the long-term benefits of wireless systems.
Wireless home security systems are non-invasive in terms of installation, meaning that they are very easy to install and configure, so you can do it yourself without having to hire the services of an expensive installation professional.
As we mentioned previously, the world is becoming wireless-dependent. To accommodate this movement and stay in touch with a rapidly changing environment, home security systems are now compatible with other wireless devices, meaning that you can access live video feeds from your mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
Now, if you really want total control over the security of your home, the best way to go is with wireless mobile monitoring capabilities. Companies like FrontPoint Security have cellular monitoring options that will allow you to fully automate your home security system.
How to Determine Which Home Security System is Perfect for You
There are a few questions that you should answer in order to help you determine which system is ideal for you.
1. Are you a homeowner or are you renting the dwelling?
If you wish to secure a rented home like a condo unit or an apartment, you should choose a wireless security system that allows portability, mobility and ease of installation. You should be able to move the devices easily from one place to the next, and of course you should be able to install it easily yourself.
Read more about an affordable home security system for renters.
One of the best options for renters is FrontPoint Security. ADT also offers a Mover’s Security Guarantee, so ADT might be another good option.
If you choose to DIY, companies such as Protect America, Front Point and LifeShield have wireless systems that can be installed easily.
If you are a homeowner, however, you can use pretty much any home security system that will be suitable for your budget and preferences. You won’t have to worry about lease agreements and restrictions, so you can choose to go either wired or wireless.
As a homeowner, consider looking into a landline phone that supports a cell uplink backup which will cover any eventualities without compromising the level of protection. LifeShield has home security systems that support landline plus cell backup options.
2. Are you planning to move in the next year, or do you\move often?
If you are planning to move any time soon, or if you are a frequent mover, you should pay close attention to the stipulations of the home security company’s terms and conditions, or contract. Determine whether the contract is for long-term and whether or not you will own the equipment.
There are security companies that allow their clients to own the equipment. These include FrontPoint Security, Protect America and LifeShield.
Some companies require contracts to be held for more than 3 years, while there are others that provide moving programs as an additional service which will allow you to move the equipment and the services for free.
This kind of program is typically offered as a loyalty bonus to long-time customers, but there may be limitations, too, so it would be best to always consult with the security company. Vivint Home Security has a great moving program.
3. Do you want full control over your home alarm system
For total monitoring control over your wireless home security system, you need mobile access. Many systems allow users to arm and disarm the security system from a web-enabled device, a smartphone, or a key fob, but there are also companies that include additional functions such as control over thermostat settings and house lighting via mobile access.
Here are some of the functions typically included in wireless home security systems:
- Arm and disarm the alarm and security system
- Real time notifications
- Receive security alerts
- Access live video feeds
- Remote adjustment of thermostat settings and lights
- Remote checking of doors and windows
- Lock and unlock windows and doors
- Water and flood sensors monitoring
- Access system event history
- Customized notifications
When you answer these questions, you will find that the best option is wireless home security systems because they offer a vast array of features, benefits and advantages more than any other type of home security systems.
Take note though, that buying a wireless home security systems is not just about making your home 100% free from theft, burglary, invasion or damage.
What it is about is this;
It is about making sure that there is a stronger level of protection for your family, and more peace of mind for you.
If you need more in detailed list of things to consider, please read one of our previous article for 10 things to consider before buying a wireless security system.
The Major Advantages of Wireless Home Security Systems
As we have covered in the previous chapter, there are many benefits and advantages to using a wireless home security system.
Let’s talk about them in more depth.
• Easy Installation
This is probably the top reason why so many people now choose wireless alarm systems over the costly and destructive wired system installation.
Wired home security systems require circuit testing, wire-stripping, and other physical installation requirements such as rerouting pipes, drilling through walls and sometimes, digging up floors.
With the wireless system, you would only need the most basic tools, some screws and a couple of hours.
Here is some of our other articles for the wireless security system installation procedures:
- How Easy Is The Installation
- Basic Steps of Installation
- Installation of Sensors
• Battery Powered
Wired security systems are often dependent on plugged power sources, and while there are other systems that have backup batteries, these are only for emergencies and they deplete rather quickly.
Wireless security systems are well-designed to function mainly on battery power, so they offer more reliable and robust power packs. You will feel more secure than ever should you be unfortunate enough to have someone attempt to invade your home; your security system won’t lose power just because the criminals cut your lines.
There are systems that include power monitoring, so you will be prompted to check and replace batteries when necessary, meaning that you won’t be left with a dead system.
Wireless home security systems can communicate over a wide area, almost 3 to 5 times more than wired systems. This means that it is easier to secure large properties, and you can even monitor and protect the more distant parts of your property like outbuildings and sheds.
• No Sweat Troubleshooting
Most security companies offering wireless systems have 24/7 technical support teams that can help you fix your home security system within just one phone call. There’s no need to wait for a technician to go to your home.
There are also wireless security systems that automatically run self-tests and troubleshooting, and they will proactively send a notification to your mobile phone if there are warnings or problems that need to be fixed.
• Easily Upgradable and Expandable
Because the components of the home security system are wireless, it is easier to remove and replace one part of it to upgrade to a newer model.
You can also add easily new devices and sensors, and new functionalities such as video monitoring. This is something that can’t easily be done with wired alarm systems.
Wireless home security systems won’t need you to hard-wire your house, and no other major changes to your home will be required. There are no fees to pay professional installers, and no need to spend a lot of money on miles of cabling just to cover your entire property.
For renters, wireless alarm systems are the best choice, because they are portable and you can take them with you when you move. Again, you won’t have to worry about heavy and long wires when you take the security system to another location.
• Make Your Home a Smart Home
Wireless home systems not only protect you from burglars and home invaders, but also allow you to install another level of safety that monitors home activities.
You can control other systems in your home while you are away through your mobile phone or your computer.
You can check if doors are locked, you can turn off lights, and you can control temperatures. This is particularly useful when you are away from home for longer periods.
• Cellular Monitoring
Many wireless security systems are now equipped with cellular technology that sends out data via cell phone signal. When there is an emergency, the alarm will be sent via radio frequencies used by cellular networks.
This means that even when there is a power outage and your phone lines are cut, the system will still be able to send an alarm to the central monitoring facility of your security company, the authorities and anyone else you put on the notification list.
Now think about it; will a burglar be able to take out an entire cellular network? NO!
In addition, the regulations require cell service providers to have a minimum of 8 hour battery back-up for each cell tower and many of the cell tower sites have a diesel powered generator for extended power back-up.
The Best in Wireless Home Security Systems: Cell Monitoring
While the home security industry applies more modern technologies to products, customers are also becoming savvier. The need for more sophisticated wireless security systems now extends to not only how the security devices communicate with each other, but also with how they are connected to the central monitoring station of the security company.
One of the most sophisticated technologies in wireless security systems is cellular monitoring.
What is it and how does it work?
First, it is vital to understand that monitored home security systems need a way to send the data to the central monitoring station of the security company.
For example, if your system was tripped when a burglar attempted to enter your home, an alarm will be activated and the information will be relayed to the security company which will, in turn, communicate with the authorities. This was traditionally done over landlines, but home phone lines have become less reliable and less common over the years.
Aside from the technological progress, burglars are also becoming smarter and have found ways to easily defeat the old fashioned phone line alarm systems, which is of course as simple as cutting the phone lines.
To address this security flaw, many alarm companies now use cellular monitoring. Among the top companies using this high-tech method are FrontPoint Security, Protect America, ADT, Vivint and LifeShield.
How does it work?
Cellular monitoring is a form of radio transmission and it involves installing a module or a cellular chip into the main control panel of the wireless home security alarm system. The cellular device acts as the primary communicator that processes data between the central monitoring facilities and the alarm system itself.
This module is totally wireless and the data signals are communicated via cellular towers. These signals are sent pretty much like a regular data or SMS message, which allows the alarm signal to quickly reach the monitoring station without any interference or disruption.
What are the benefits?
When there is an emergency, you want help to arrive quickly. The fastest way to let your security company know that you need help right away is via cellular communication.
If you are not at home, you would want the authorities to quickly arrive at your property. You want peace of mind that your security company “heard” your call without any interruptions.
Cellular monitoring technology for wireless home security systems can offer a great deal of benefits, aside from providing a perfect balance of simplicity, reliability and cost effectiveness.
Cellular monitoring offers these advantages:
- Highly reliable
- Fastest communication method
- You won’t have to worry about cut phone lines
- Higher level of monitoring and security
- You are still protected even when local telephone services are down
- Not subject to power outages
- Lower installation costs
- More flexibility to upgrading or expanding features
- Plenty of off-site monitoring options
- Different monitoring contact points
There are almost no drawbacks to using a wireless home security system with cellular monitoring.
Keep in mind however, that cellular monitoring systems require power, so if it loses power, the transmitter won’t be able to send messages to the security company. This is why it is very important to ask for a power supply backup or a long-life battery from your security provider.
Another consideration is location. As it requires cellular signals in order to transmit data, there should be decent cell phone coverage in your area. Make sure that you check with your security company if they can actually receive signals from your alarm system.
Cellular monitoring via radio technology makes wireless security systems more reliable, secure and fast. It is a wise choice in ensuring the protection and safety of your family and property.
Where to Get the Best Wireless Security System with Cellular Monitoring
With so many different home security companies in the market today, it may be difficult to tell which one has the best wireless home security system equipped with cell monitoring. So let’s take a closer look at the top 5 in the industry.
FrontPoint Security has an ‘A+’ rating from the BBB (click here to verify) and has been in business since 2007. There are not a lot of security companies who are accredited with a BBB rating this high, which means that FrontPoint really does a great job as a prime wireless security system provider.
Their popularity and service quality is proven by the positive reviews that they have received from their current customer base.
This company is the best in choice for simple DIY and wireless alarm systems equipped with cellular monitoring.
They back their products and services with a 30-day money back guarantee, which is always a good sign.
Frontpoint Security does use 3rd party hardware, here is more information about GE alarm system
- Top of the line wireless home security system
- Excellent customer service
- High-end cellular monitoring
- BBB Rating of A+
- 30-day RISK FREE, MONEY-BACK TRIAL
- 100% Wireless
Read all the details in our Expert reviews for FrontPoint Security or Get Started With Your FREE Quote Now!
Protect America is another popular home security systems provider, with over 20 years industry experience and they have an ‘A-’ rating from the BBB, (click here to verify)
They are the pioneers of self-installations and DIYs.
Protect America provides equipment that comes with a lifetime warranty.
They also offer an extensive array of security and monitoring options and there are no upfront costs for equipment. They are a consumer favorite because of the seemingly endless range of home security packages that they offer.
If you need extensive security for your home without breaking the bank, Protect America is one of your top options.
Just like FrontPoint Security, Protect America also features interactive home security services which allow users to arm or disarm their house security systems remotely.
Their cellular monitoring is excellent; a user can customize the notification settings and choose to stream home video feeds via Android or iPhone.
- Topnotch cellular monitoring
- Broadband monitoring
- Excellent prices
- NO up-front costs
- FREE Equipment
- BBB Rating of A –
Read all the details in our Expert reviews for Protect America or Get Started With Your FREE Quote Now!
ADT has more than 6 million customers and is an industry pioneer, having been established over 100 years ago. They also have the biggest professional installer network.
ADT is a favorite for homeowners because they only offer professional installed house security systems.
ADT was awarded ‘A’ rating by the BBB on March 2014. We wrote about this change in March 2014, click here for the full article. UPDATE for 2015: ADT has improved to BBB rating of A+, (click here to verify)
They have a wide array of security products and services so you would find one that meets a variety of needs.
As one that is an industry pioneer and very popular, they are the yardstick upon which every other security company is measured or compared.
- Professional installation
- Biggest network of installers in the country
- Has excellent reputation as an industry pioneer
- Cellular monitoring
- Have‘A+’ rating from the BBB
Read all the details in our Expert reviews for ADT or Get Started With Your FREE Quote Now!
Vivint is a Provo, Utah based company and has been in the home security industry for 15 years. They are known for their door-to-door sales people although they have focused more on creating innovative products for the online market in recent years.
Vivint was chosen as one of the best in the industry because of their high-end but user-friendly products that are a perfect balance of home security and home automation.
Their GO control panel is top-notch and can be used even by non-tech savvy users.
Their wireless systems allow users to control home environment remotely using their mobile devices.
- Cellular Monitoring
- High quality components
- Extensive monitoring and automation options
Read all the details in our Expert reviews for Vivint or Get Started With Your FREE Quote Now!
LifeShield is a company founded in 2004 and they hold good ratings in the industry, but they do have a lot of place for improvement in their customer service area. They are known for their innovations with more than 20 patents in the field of home security.
LifeShield furnishes their own equipment, and their wireless security systems have multi-base units programmed to contact the central monitoring station. If one of the base units is damaged, another base unit will take over and contact the central monitoring station.
LifeShield also offers cellular monitoring, plus Internet-based monitoring as a backup.
- Innovative and high technology
- Cellular Monitoring
- Supply their own equipment
Read all the details in our Expert reviews for FrontPoint Security or Get Started With Your FREE Quote Now!
Now, Remember These Things
First of all, you should keep in mind that how you feel safe in your home after you install a security system should determine whether you have the right kind of system needed.
If you still don’t feel safe, add another level of security, until you feel that you, your family, and your property are totally safe even when you are away.
DO NOT let your safety be determined by a sales representative or a company’s assurances.
To make sure that you get the most out of a house security system, purchase it from a company that you trust. Research its reputation and look for stability. Ask your neighbors which security companies they are using and ask them about their experiences and recommendations.
Local companies are good too, but they typically charge a higher price for installation, although they charge less for monitoring.
It is also good to remember that some smaller local security companies can use improper sales tactics and there was an warning posted by the FTC for this issue, you can read it here. This is exactly one of the main reason we are only reviewing the TOP tier security companies in the country and you can be sure these do not use these tactics at all.
When you sign a contract with a company, you can ask for the activation fee to be waived.
You can also choose to be billed monthly, instead of paying via a credit card draft or a bank draft. Read the company reviews and what customers say about each company.
The Better Business Bureau is also a good place to check for the company’s reputation as we have included the links to each company’s BBB record
When you already have your cellular alarm system installed, do not forget to perform a weekly system test. This is very important because these tests will let you know if there are problems with your system, and if your system is actually being monitored by the central monitoring system.
Do not compromise the security of your family and your home with low-rate security systems. Always select the best within your means.
The safety of your lives and your property greatly depend on the effectiveness of your cellular home security.
For more recommended articles, we have some really good ones for Singles, stay home Moms and another guide for home security tips before your well deserved holidays.
- Wireless Security System for Stay Home Moms
- How a Wireless Security System Reduces Burglary Concerns for Singles
- 15 Home Security Tips before Going for Holiday
When choosing the right security system, it is important to take your time and research to get the best value for your money. Please see our reviews to help you to choose the best wireless security company to safeguard your home and your family.
Our reviews for the TOP 3 companies include also a review videos and if you just want to see the videos, they are linked here below as well.
We hope you found this guide useful, if you did, we ask you to share it with your friends and family by using any of those familiar social sharing buttons.