How to Choose a Home Security System for You

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1.3 million homes in England and Wales were burgled in 2018

89% of burglars said they wouldn’t target a smart home

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You want to protect your home and your family – of course you do. Getting a security system for your home makes sense, especially as British police* have found that homes with no security measures are five times more likely to be burgled. But with seemingly endless questions (Wired or wireless? Monitored or unmonitored? Indoor or outdoor cameras? Both?), selecting the right type of home security system to keep everyone and everything you love safe can be overwhelming.

person showing the importance of thinking about how to choose a security system

So how do you choose a home security system? Put simply, you analyse your home, your area, and what you can afford, before going with the package that feels right to you. There isn’t one easy formula that works for each person, and some of your decisions may come down to which option provides you with peace of mind – and that’s okay.

With our help, you’ll be able to take all the relevant factors into account before making this important choice, so you don’t suffer like the 1.3 million households in England and Wales which experienced thefts in 2018, according to the government’s Crime Survey. Read on to find out everything you need to know, and make sure to fill in this form to see what deals you can get.

How to choose a home security system for you: what’s on this page?

Head straight to a specific section by clicking the links below.

How much does a home security system cost?

First, let’s take a look at how far your pound will stretch when it comes to home security systems. There are, of course, some conditions to add to a table like the one below – for instance, £100-£200 could get you a high-quality camera or sensors which detect a break-in, but not both. Also, as the table indicates, a monitored system will cost you more than £1,000, but the cost will be spread out over the space of 36 months, making these packages much more affordable.

We’ve identified the best options for each price band, but it’s up to you to make the final decision for your home. More about that in a minute.

Price
Smart system
Siren
Motion detectors
Door/window sensors
Cameras
Monitored
Under £100
X
X
1
X
£100 – £200
1
1
X
X
£200 – £300
1
1
1
X
£300 – £400
2
2
2
X
£400 – £500
3
4
3
X
£1000+
2
4
1

Information updated in June 2019.

Which security system is best for my home?

The figures above are good ballpark estimates, but they don’t address your specific needs. Don’t worry, though – whether you live in a flat or a house, we have everything you need right here for you to get a better idea of which security equipment will best protect you and your family.

A one-bedroom flat which isn’t on the ground floor

Basic package: £35-200

You’ll need at least one motion detector and door or window sensor to identify a break-in, as well as an alarm, which will set you back around £140, but has been proven to help deter burglars. It probably doesn’t need to be a smart system, though you can make the upgrade for another £30 if you wish.

Another option is simply to buy an indoor camera – they usually don’t come with a siren, but they cost around £35-£60 and can alert you if there’s an intruder, showing live footage and capturing images which you can hand over to the police.

The advantage of a limited package like this is that you can generally put it in place without outside help, meaning that it lands on the cheaper side of the professional installation vs DIY debate.

A one-bedroom flat on the ground floor

Less basic package: £205-£245

If you call a flat home, you have fewer entry points and will need a more basic package like the one above – unless it’s on the ground floor. People who live in ground-floor flats are twice as likely to be burgled than their first-floor counterparts, according to a 2018 study by Churchill home insurance. In fact, 65% of all flat burglaries target ground-floor homes.

It’s therefore worth getting at least two door and window sensors, in addition to a motion detector. You should also look at getting a higher quality camera than your base-level offerings, which will cost in the region of £45-£60. You may also want to consider upgrading to a smart system, which allows you to control all your items with your mobile device – especially since it only costs £30 more.

A small family house

Medium package: £530

If you live in a family home, you’ll want to arm specific areas of your home and easily set the alarm when you leave. This means you’ll need a smart system, which is controllable through an app on your phone.

If you have two floors and two bedrooms, you’ll probably need two motion detectors and around four door or window sensors to send alerts as soon as someone breaks in. A house of this size will also require at least three cameras – one for the front door, one for the back door, and one inside.

A burglar alarm like the one you may decide to get when you're thinking about how to choose a home security system

A large family house

High-range package: £695+

Single-family houses with more rooms are often the most attractive propositions for burglars, with the aforementioned Churchill study finding the most at-risk properties in the UK are three-bed semi-detached or terraced homes, and four-bed detached houses.

If you own one of these types of homes, have a read of these 13 home security tips, then think seriously about getting a more advanced security system. We would recommend getting a monitored system from Verisure. Though the price of a system like this can rise above £1,500 over the course of a three-year contract, it can be worth it to keep your family safe by ensuring that technology is always looking over you.

If you don’t go down the monitored path, you’ll still want a smart system with at least eight window and door sensors, three motion detectors, two indoor cameras and two outdoor cameras. This adds up to an initial investment of £695, and the constant pressure of having all the responsibility for keeping your family safe.

Watch out for vulnerabilities: take a good, hard look at your home

It’s not quite that simple, though. Before you look at the information above and instantly leap to buy the most high-quality package which matches your budget, make sure to analyse your home and work out how vulnerable it is. This will give you an idea of how high your level of protection needs to be, which should influence your purchasing decisions. Ask yourself: “Which security system is best for my home?”

For example, it matters where in your city you live – look up crime statistics for your area, and where your house sits. If you’re on a corner, next to an alley, or far away from other properties, you’re more attractive to burglars, according to a study from North Carolina Central University.

Did You Know?

100% of burglars knock on the front door to see whether a home is vulnerable, according to a 2017 survey of 86 burglars by Idaho-based TV station KTVB.

Take it straight from the source: when Churchill home insurance interviewed burglars for a study in 2018, they said as much. One of the thieves explained their strategy.

“I’d always pick an end house, wouldn’t pick one in the middle. If it was a terrace it’d always be an end one.”

– A burglar, speaking to Churchill

Another said: “I would look for…corner houses, ones with back alleys”.

Do you often go away and leave the house unoccupied? Burglars will notice when a property is frequently empty, so you might want to invest in an internet-connected video doorbell, particularly as burglars frequently check if a home is vulnerable by knocking on the front door. In 2017, when Idaho-based TV station KTVB asked 86 burglars if they did this, every one of them said yes. A video doorbell can cost between £80 and £230, depending on how technologically advanced you want it to be.

Identify the equipment and services you need

You should now have a good idea of how appealing your home is to intruders and what your security system needs to include. The next step when you’re considering how to choose a home security system is working out what kind of gear you need.

There is a wide array of alarms, sensors, cameras, motion detectors, other innovations like fog and spotlights, and the question of whether you want your home to be monitored or unmonitored – but which ones will do the best job for you? Rest easy: we’ve got you covered.

Monitored vs unmonitored

We mentioned it above, but it bears repeating: if you have a large home with lots of valuables and vulnerable inhabitants, a monitored system provides the best level of security. Getting a monitored system means paying a company a monthly fee to watch over you – a little bit like hiring a guardian angel. The security firm will receive an alert when your alarm goes off, and immediately take steps to protect your home and call the police or someone else of your choosing. This means putting your home security in the hands of professionals.

But like most things which bring peace of mind, a monitored system comes at a price: you can expect to pay around £30 to £40 per month for three years, which could add up to as much as £1,440. And that’s before you even consider the cost of the actual hardware, which ranges from £99 up to £599 for the likes of ADT’s Burglar Alarm with Police Response.

An unmonitored system is much cheaper. While it can cost more than £2,000 to get your home monitored, £140 will get you a package from the likes of Yale which includes a motion detector, door or window sensor, and siren. If you live in a first-floor flat with at least two locked doors between a burglar and you, this package is much more suited to you. You can even add a camera for around £35 – though this probably isn’t necessary unless you have a ground-floor flat.

Cameras

If you do have a ground-floor flat or house, getting a camera is a no-brainer. 12 burglars surveyed by the Co-op in 2017 said a camera was their biggest deterrent against breaking into a home, and when you can get a high-quality one for £35, they’re a good investment for pretty much any homeowner. If the worst happens, having a camera also means that you can gather evidence for the police. The only exception to the rule that getting a camera is a good idea would be – you guessed it – a flat which isn’t on the ground floor and is in a building which a burglar can’t easily slip into.

Wired vs Wireless

Go wireless. It’s 2019, and there’s no reason not to embrace the technological advances which the home security industry has brought us. You can control wireless alarm systems remotely, usually using an app on your mobile device. This means that you can get alerts wherever you are, and arm or disarm your system too. Wireless cameras are also cheap to install and can be positioned anywhere in your home.

A wired alarm or camera may be cheaper at first, but will need to be connected to the mains and fixed to a wall or ceiling, which requires professional help. This will cost at least £100, a figure which rises to £220 with most Yale systems. This often means that even if a wired package is initially less expensive, it usually ends up costing the same as its wireless counterpart – or more.

Do you need night vision?

Yes. 61% of burglaries in England and Wales in 2018 took place after 6pm, and there’s no home – including yours – which becomes impenetrable once the sun goes down. Thankfully, the great majority of cameras have a night vision mode with a range of at least five metres, which is vital if you’re protecting a larger property.

Is an outdoor camera necessary?

If you have a house, you should seriously consider getting an outdoor camera, at least in the form of a video doorbell. The extra layer of security which comes from identifying and dealing with a thief before they enter your home cannot be underestimated – especially for just £80.

a person installing an alarm, which is often key to a good home security system

Alarms

If you’re buying a security system, you need an alarm. It should be included in all high-quality systems, which makes sense, because they scare burglars away and act as a deterrent. A 2012 study at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte which questioned 422 burglars found 60% would avoid burgling a property with an alarm, while a Security Journal study in 2013 showed there are fewer thefts in areas with more security alarms.

Do flats need alarm systems?

According to data released by the government-run Crime Survey for England and Wales in March 2019, there were 1.3 million household thefts in England and Wales during 2018 – an 8% rise from the previous year. It also showed that three out of five burglaries are successful, and with victims losing an average of £3,200, it’s worth protecting yourself. That’s without even considering the psychological impact of being burgled, which can last years.

Does it need to be a smart alarm system?

No, but having a smart system will reduce the likelihood of false alarms, which can put your home in danger, as three false alarms in the space of 12 months results in police response being withdrawn.

The Co-op survey mentioned above also resoundingly came out in favour of creating a ‘smart home’, with 89% of burglars revealing that this would immediately put them off targeting a property.

Customer experience

If you’re making a large financial commitment to protecting all that you hold dear, you also want to know that the company you’ve chosen will be accessible and helpful.

It is therefore important to note that though its advisors are often helpful, Yale has limited hours in which to call. Its help centre is open between 8:30am and 5:30pm on weekdays – which may not suit you if you work during business hours – and from 9am to 12:30pm on Saturdays. You can always send an email, but that’s not quite the same.

In contrast, ADT has a round-the-clock phone service which helps the company to live up to its promise of 24/7 monitoring. The flip side of this is that you can’t email ADT with support queries, which may be an issue for those of you who don’t enjoy phone calls.

Verisure takes care of you every step of the way. The company will assign you a proactive and considerate advisor who will guide you through the sales process, and who you can call between 8am to 9pm on weekdays, from 9am to 7pm on weekends, and can email any time.

After you make your purchase, Verisure provides 24/7 technical assistance, not to mention 24/7 monitoring of your alarm system. They’re always ready for disaster, so you don’t have to be. All of this is reflected in Verisure’s 9.1/10 rating on consumer review site Trustpilot.

Yale scores a much less impressive 6.5, while ADT comes in at 5.6 – and it just gets worse from there. Relative newcomers to the alarm system market like Canary and Netamo have been given 4.1 and 2.6 respectively, and Panasonic gets 2 – while Samsung has a horrendous rating of 1.1.

Now, let’s sum up everything you’ve learned in a quick list which will leave you feeling ready to protect your family.

How to choose a home security system: quick steps

1. Decide how much you want to spend
2. Take into account the type of house or flat you have
3. Analyse your home for vulnerabilities
4. Decide on your equipment and whether you want a monitored service
5. Consider each company’s customer service rating
6. Make a purchase

Now that you’ve read through our exhaustive advice, you’re hopefully confident that you know how to choose a home security system which matches your needs and budget. All that’s left is to do your own research, talk it over with your loved ones, and buy a system which you can trust to take care of everything and everyone dear to you. For all the best options, simply fill in this form for a tailored quote. Just bear in mind what you learned here, and you’ll be fine.

*British police site

Josh Jackman Editor

Josh is The Eco Experts’ main man for home security, smart devices, and boilers. If it can make your life better and help the environment, he’s on it.