How to Choose a Home Security System for You

By 11 min read


Homes with no security measures are five times more likely to be burgled

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

Every large living space and bedroom needs a motion detector


You want to protect your home and your family, but everyone has different needs when it comes to home security. You can cut through the confusion by following these simple steps:

  • Analyse your home for vulnerabilities, and get a home security company to do the same – they’ll also give you a free quote, which will help you choose your hardware
  • Decide on software: do you want a smart system? 24/7 monitoring? Cameras with facial recognition?
  • Choose a company by considering cost-effectiveness, customer reviews, and whether it fits your budget

Actually taking these steps can be overwhelming, though. Read on to learn all about smart systems, monitoring, cameras, and what all of these would mean for you and your home – and make sure to fill in this form to see what deals you can get.

person films home security system

Types of home security system

Before you choose, you must be informed – so here’s a quick summary of the different parts of any good home security system.

Alarms

Alarms are effective. A 2012 study which questioned 422 burglars found 60% would avoid burgling a property that had an alarm.

But alarms are no longer limited to the colourful boxes you see on the outside of homes. They can take a couple of forms, so we’ve summed up what you can expect.

Siren

This blares out loudly and publicly when an intruder is detected. Modern sirens generally emit 110dB – the human pain threshold – or more.

This has the two-pronged effect of scaring burglars – who don’t appreciate being made conspicuous or enduring the extremely unpleasant noise – and alerting everyone in the area.

Sirens are particularly effective when combined with a camera and floodlight.

Silent alarm

Many alarm systems don’t come with a siren, and instead simply send an alert to you and/or the monitoring centre looking after your home.

Either you or the monitors can then call the police after confirming whether the break-in is genuine.

Cameras

Cameras are your high-tech eyes and ears, since most models now come with 720p resolution, night vision, and two-way audio. This means you’ll see and hear what’s going on, and be able to warn off any intruders or naughty pets.

Wireless or wired / Smart or not

All good wireless cameras these days are connected to the internet, so getting one means getting a smart camera.

This means you can control and access them on your phone, tablet, or laptop from anywhere, and view footage on the cloud, instead of keeping it on a hard drive at home.

You won’t need to worry about power cuts, as your camera will run on solar energy or batteries (and will let you know in plenty of time if it needs new batteries). And if your wifi connection is unreliable, that’s also fine: most wireless cameras will connect to 3G and 4G. 

A wired camera may be cheaper initially, but it’ll require a pricey professional installation, and once it’s in place, it’ll be fixed to that location – unlike wireless models, which can be placed anywhere in your home.

Indoor or outdoor 

The main difference is outdoor cameras are protected against the elements – though some companies like SimpliSafe offer a protective cover for around £20 that turns an inside model into an outside camera.

Indoor cameras are traditionally less powerful, with a lower resolution and an inferior night vision capability, but that’s increasingly becoming untrue as indoor models improve.

Outdoor cameras may have a built-in floodlight (which their indoor counterparts thankfully don’t), and are more likely to have a siren – though again, there are exceptions to this rule.

In terms of security, two outdoor cameras – positioned at the front and back of your home – is generally sufficient for most houses.

But it doesn’t have to be one or the other, of course: you can get both indoor and outdoor cameras if you want to know what’s going on at your property the entire time.

Night vision or not

Most top-tier security cameras come with night vision of at least five metres, and yours should too. After all, 62% of burglaries happen after 6pm, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

If your camera doesn’t have night vision, you or your monitoring team will be less able to confirm an incident, and you may not be able to hand images of the intruder to the police.

a security camera

Smart home security kit

As well as cameras and alarms, smart home security packages also come with a bounty of fancy gear. Here’s a run-down.

Hub

This is the focal point of your system. It’s a smart speaker, so you can control it with your voice if you’re close by.

Key fobs

These will allow you to arm or disarm your system when you’re in your home or nearby. Many also come with a built-in panic button.

Entry sensors

These will let you know if anyone opens a door or window when your system is armed. Place them either side of where your doors and windows open, and they’ll send out an alert when they’re triggered, either to just you or to your monitoring centre too.

Motion detectors

Put these in the top corner of any hallway or main room, and they’ll monitor the entire space for movement – though the best ones will overlook pets.

Broken glass sensors

Burglars aren’t always polite visitors who open windows in the normal way. Leave one of these sensors by a window, and you’ll be alerted if it ever gets smashed.

How to compare home security systems

Once a security professional (or, preferably, two or three) has looked around your home and given you a quote and assessment of what you’ll need, it’s time to compare different systems. Here’s how to do that.

Hardware

Decide what you need, and then pick a system that ticks all your boxes. Don’t settle for less. If none of them come with everything you need, most good companies will allow you to build custom packages.

Price

You don’t have unlimited money to spend on home security – so get as much bang for your buck as possible. Consider a range of options, and don’t give into fear by buying more than you need. Spending more doesn’t always mean getting more.

Quality

There’s no point getting a bargain for the gear you need if it doesn’t work well. Check independent review sites like Trustpilot, find out if your chosen company has won any awards, and compare its hardware with the competitors, to see if it’s cutting-edge.

Which security system is best for your home?

Whether you live in a flat or a house, here’s a breakdown of what you’ll typically need to protect your home.

Home typeCamerasSensorsTypical price
One-bedroom non-ground floor flatNot necessary1 motion detector,
1 entry sensor
£45
One-bedroom ground floor flat1 outdoor1 motion detector,
2 entry sensors
£130
Two-bedroom house2 outdoor6 motion detectors,
2 entry sensors
£350
Three-bedroom house2 outdoor8 motion detectors,
2 entry sensors
£410

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

A single motion detector in your hallway and an entry sensor on your front door will be enough to alert you if anyone tries to break in. 

Don’t worry too much about whether your setup will deter burglars, because your home type isn’t targeted as much as others.

A one-bedroom ground floor flat

If you live in a ground-floor flat, you’re two times more likely to be burgled than your first-floor counterparts, according to a 2018 study. 65% of all flat burglaries target ground-floor homes.

It’s therefore worth getting two entry sensors – one for the front of your home, and one for the back – as well as a motion sensor for your hallway.

You could also get an indoor camera for around £50. It’ll alert you if there’s an intruder, stream live footage, and capture images for the police.

A two-bedroom house

We’d recommend two entry sensors on the ground floor – one for the back and one for the front – and six motion detectors.

Place one motion detector at the back and one at the front of the ground floor, and another in the hallway. Then go upstairs, and put one in each of the bedrooms, and another in – you guessed it – the hallway.

You should also get two outdoor cameras, to go on the back and front of your home. You can supplement this with an indoor camera, but it’s generally not necessary.

A three-bedroom house

Three-bedroom homes are among the most at-risk properties in the UK, according to the aforementioned 2018 study.

We would recommend getting a monitored system, which can cost as little as £13 per month with a company like SimpliSafe – but in terms of hardware, you’ll typically need eight motion detectors, two or three entry sensors, and two outdoor cameras.

As with a two-bedroom house, you’ll want a motion detector for the back and front of the ground floor, and one in the hallway too.

Put another in the living room, one in each of the bedrooms, and the last one in the upstairs hallway.

Again, it’s a good idea to buy two outdoor cameras, for the back and front of your home. You can add an indoor camera, but it won’t be a deterrent.

man installs a home security alarm

What are your vulnerable spots?

Don’t leap straight to buying a package just yet. First, analyse your home and work out how vulnerable it is – and then get at least one security company to do the same, for free.

For instance, you should consider how many large living spaces your home has – think lounges and hallways – and allocate a motion detector to each one.

After that, consider your home’s unique features.

Maybe you have a window off to the side which requires a broken glass sensor. Maybe your basement needs an additional entry sensor and camera. Maybe your bins make it easy to climb to the first floor bathroom window, necessitating another entry sensor.

Perform a sweep of your home, while thinking about how you would burgle it. This will help you learn which security hardware you need, and how much – and again, get a specialist to do the same thing.

Then look up crime statistics for your area, and consider where your house is positioned on your street. If you’re on a corner, next to an alley, or far away from other homes, you’re more attractive to burglars, according to a 2002 study.

Identify the software and services you need

You should now have a good idea of how appealing your home is to intruders and which security hardware you need.

The next step is figuring out how you want to use your new equipment, and whether you want professional help in watching over your home.

Monitored vs unmonitored

A monitored system provides the best level of security, because you put your home in the hands of security professionals. 

You’ll pay a company a monthly fee (£13-£20 with SimpliSafe, £30-£40 with most others) to watch over you like a team of guardian angels.

The firm will get an alert when any of your sensors, cameras, or panic buttons are triggered, and will immediately call the police, you, and/or people you’ve chosen, depending on what you’ve agreed beforehand.

An unmonitored system comes without this monthly fee, but also means all the responsibility for spotting break-ins falls to you – even when you’re not home.

Smart security system

Go smart, and go home. We’re in the 2020s now, so there’s no reason not to embrace technological advances, especially when they’re so affordable.

A smart setup will allow you to arm or disarm your system, receive alerts, and view footage from wherever you are.

Smart systems also have the latest security features, like facial recognition, two-way audio, and the ability to sync up with smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistants.

If you’re getting a new security system, there’s no reason not to go smart – especially as it puts 89% of burglars off targeting a home, according to a 2017 survey.

Customer experience

If you’re making a financial commitment to protecting your home, you want to know the company you’ve chosen will be helpful.

Make sure you’ll be able to contact your new security company at any time, check their ratings on Trustpilot, and talk to people you trust about what they like and dislike about their chosen security firms.

Summary

Now you’ve read through our advice, you should feel confident about choosing a home security system which matches your needs and budget. 

Just bear in mind what you learned here, and you’ll be fine. And for all the best options, simply fill in this form for a tailored quote.

Josh Jackman Writer

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.