Types of Home Security System

The thought of intruders breaking in to your home, taking whatever they want, and possibly even hurting you and your loved ones is terrifying. You want to feel secure in your own home, safe from anyone who seeks to target you, your family, or your prized possessions. With more than 1.3 million household thefts across England and Wales reported by the Crime Survey for England and Wales in 2018, it makes sense to learn about the different types of home security system, so you can then decide which will best protect you.

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Far too few people have taken these kind of steps to guard against break-ins. Indeed, a 2016 YouGov survey found that just 32% of British homeowners have a burglar alarm – a huge risk to take.

a person setting up a home security system

The main reason homeowners gave to explain why they hadn’t bought a burglar alarm was because it was too expensive. These types of home security system will set you back anywhere from a few hundred pounds to £1,000+ – although when it comes to keeping your family safe, you may not want to spare any expense. Read on to see which system suits your home, and fill in the form at the top of this page to see which deals you can get.


What are the different types of home security system?

There are several types of home security system, but they all boil down to some combination of sensors, cameras, and alarms – all of which can make potential intruders stop before they even start. A 2012 survey of burglars by professor Joseph B. Kuhns found that 60% of the thieves wouldn’t burgle a property if it had an alarm. And with smart home security becoming more and more popular, life is only getting harder for thieves – if you buy the right gear, of course.

As well as these more sophisticated types of home security system, there’s also a cheaper system that you’ll hopefully already have in place, made up of actions you can take every day to secure your home. These involve things like closing the curtains when you’re out, leaving external lights on at night, and always locking your doors and windows, all of which will deter burglars without splashing the cash.

But these defensive strategies, though important, only serve to complement the following types of home security system, which are vital for keeping you and your family safe.


Home security cameras

Let’s begin, just as you should, with cameras. After all, when 12 burglars were surveyed by the Co-op in 2017, they said a camera was their biggest deterrent against breaking into a home. The same study found that just 14% of British adults use security cameras, which means a lot of unprotected properties. Don’t make your home one of them!

As well as warding off criminals, cameras also provide evidence to give the police if the worst does happen. There are many different choices to make about which camera suits you best, but even the most basic camera will make your home safer.


Indoor vs outdoor cameras

Your first decision is whether to put cameras inside or outside your home. Of course, there’s always the option to buy both, which would give you full surveillance and the best chance of catching an intruder in the act – but not everyone can afford that.

If you choose to just go for an outdoor camera, make sure to get one which has day and night lighting, and can move quickly between the two. It also needs to be able to withstand adverse weather conditions, and to automatically zoom in on a suspect. It’s a good idea to get a camera which can be programmed with a custom area to track, so that someone walking by on the street doesn’t set it off.

If you go for an outdoor camera, it may require some more heavy-duty installation, involving a drill or two. In contrast, indoor cameras can be easy and lightweight without losing effectiveness. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to cover a large area with them, and they’re therefore typically easier for burglars to avoid.

In the battle of indoor vs outdoor cameras, it’s important to remember that both have vulnerabilities. Either can be switched off or moved by cunning burglars if you leave them within reach, and if a wire is left unprotected and outside of the camera’s field of vision, it can be cut.

If you want to get a camera which connects to the internet and is controllable through an app, an indoor camera is the simpler choice, as it will always be near your wifi hub. But with some clever positioning, an outdoor camera can also fulfil this need. For full coverage, it’s best to get both indoor and outdoor cameras.


IP cameras

Technological advances have also brought us Internet Protocol cameras, known as IP cameras, which require no local recording storage because they send images and live video through the internet. This sets them apart from analogue CCTV cameras. They also surpass their predecessors in terms of picture quality, and in their ability to analyse images. You can control them through an app, and get a real-time feed if they suspect anything is wrong.

The only drawbacks are that IP cameras are more expensive, and may require you to buy some more cloud storage (or a hard drive) to keep the high-quality images they generate.


Night vision cameras

Whether your camera is indoor or outdoor, IP or CCTV, powered by batteries or connected to the mains, you’re going to want it to have night vision. 61% of burglaries in England and Wales took place after 6pm in 2018, so there’s a good chance that any prospective thieves will target you after the sun’s gone down. Seeing as you can’t place cameras all over your property, it’s best to get a camera which can capture high-definition images of a face from at least 30 metres away – depending on the size of your home, of course. Ideally, your camera should also record at 1080p, allowing you – and the police – to see the identity of your intruder.


a burglar looking into a home


Wireless vs wired security cameras

Tea vs coffee. Blur vs Oasis. Wireless vs wired security cameras. Our history is littered with difficult rivalries which are impossible to settle – but fortunately, this decision can be made after considering the facts.

A wired camera may be cheaper at first, but will need to be connected to the mains and fixed to a wall or ceiling, which will require professional help. It’ll also be fixed, unable to move from its location – so if you land on a wired system, make sure it can spin around to spot thieves. Fortunately, they’re typically harder for burglars or hackers to disrupt, especially if the camera is too high to reach and doesn’t have any exposed wires.

Wireless cameras, on the other hand, are usually connected to the internet. While this is convenient in that you can control them remotely, they are also at the whims of the internet gods. They can be subject to wifi interference from other devices, hacking from thieves, and your wifi temporarily shutting off – which does occasionally happen.

Wireless cameras will also either run on batteries or solar power, or need to be charged, meaning they may run out of power at a vital moment. The flipside to this is that wireless cameras are much cheaper to install, and can be positioned anywhere in your home.


Home alarm systems

Having an alarm is just as crucial as setting up a camera, with the two pieces of equipment acting together to form an effective defence against burglars. As well as identifying and reporting thieves while they’re in the act, alarms also serve as a deterrent, with a 2013 Security Journal study showing there are fewer thefts in areas with more security alarms.

Your alarm will be linked to a series of sensors that can detect a range of movements and actions, from an unusual amount of pressure being exerted on a door or window to changes in sound waves which mean someone has entered the property. Choosing which of these features you want, and how advanced you want your alarm to be in general, isn’t always easy – but we can help.


Monitored vs unmonitored alarm systems

If you invest in a monitored system, you’ll send a monthly payment to a company, which will receive an alert when your alarm goes off. The company will then immediately call the police or someone else of your choosing. This means that you never have to think about your home security. If it’s a smart system, you may even be able to instruct the system to take care of all the mundane measures which help to deter burglars while you’re out, like locking your doors and windows, leaving a light on, and closing the curtains.

However, since a monitored alarm operates through your phone line, a smart burglar may cut that line before breaking in. You can mitigate this risk by making sure the alarm will use your mobile, or the internet, to phone its emergency contact if the phone line’s unavailable.

An unmonitored system can’t be compromised in this way, but does rely on you calling the police yourself. This might be an issue if you sleep through the alarm, you’re away from home, you’re trying to hide your presence from the intruder, or if your phone is just dead. The question you need to answer is whether the amount of money you save is worth the pressure and stress of constantly being responsible for you and your family’s safety.

For peace of mind, we’d recommend a monitored system – but if you want to save some money and don’t mind constantly watching over your property, then an unmonitored system will do just fine.


Wireless vs wired alarms

Many of the same principles from the question of wireless vs wired security cameras apply here as well, with wired alarms generally being more reliable and harder for burglars to tamper with. They’re also better for large homes, as they can be strategically positioned to cover as much ground as possible.

However, because they have to be fixed to a surface, they can potentially be a pain if you want to redesign your home, do any renovations, or even move house. Wireless alarms, on the other hand, have no such issues. They’re portable, so you can easily move them if your situation changes. Particularly if you have a smaller home, a wireless alarm might be the way to go.

Wireless alarms often have more cutting-edge features, as they communicate through the internet and mobile networks. Some will text you when someone enters the property, meaning you’ll know if a loved one – or an intruder – is in your home. This can be useful if you want to know when your wayward teenager gets home late at night, but don’t want them to know you’re waiting up for them. Wireless alarms can also be updated online, meaning you get the latest in sensor technology.


Smart alarm systems

If looking at the different types of home security system has encouraged you to propel your system into the 21st century, you should check out smart alarm systems. You can control these wireless, internet-connected systems through an app, which acts as your command centre wherever you are.

This app will usually allow you to turn the alarm on and off, watch a live feed or recorded video, change the temperature, and lock and unlock doors. You can also often set rules for different scenarios: for instance, you’ll be able to tell the system to unlock all the doors if the smoke alarm goes off, or turn the lights on and start recording when sensors are triggered. It’s also fully up to you whether you use these newfound powers on your children, too.

The app will also send you push notifications if the alarm is triggered – though if it’s a false alarm and you’re just sitting in your living room, some systems will use your location to automatically turn the alarm off.

The main drawback of smart home systems is, again, the fact that criminals may be able to hack them – and if they make mistakes or malfunction, your home could start working against you. We’re not suggesting that a robot uprising will start in your living room, but you have to be sure to set rules with all eventualities in mind.


Types of home security system: the pros and cons

If you’re still confused – and believe us, we get it – then bear in mind that most home alarm systems involve many of these facets. For instance, if you have a large house with many rooms and entry points, you may want to get multiple indoor and outdoor IP cameras, all wireless, and all fitted with night vision to work alongside one of the many monitored, wireless, smart alarm systems on offer.

Alternatively, if the home you want to protect is a small, second-floor flat in a relatively safe area, you might be able to get by with one wired indoor CCTV camera (still with night vision, because that’s rarely a bad idea) which is connected to a wired alarm, and which you monitor yourself.

What you’ll need to keep your home and your family safe will be different to what the next reader will need. To that end, here’s an easily digestible table that will help you decide once and for all which of the many home alarm systems is the best choice for you, so that you can go and buy the highest-quality system that fits your needs. Make sure to also fill in this form and get a tailored quote. Then you'll be able to sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that you've taken the right steps towards securing a safer future.


Types of system
Pros
Cons
Indoor cameras
– Covers area which is unambiguously your property
– Gives you a better chance of getting close-up images of a burglar
– Less coverage
– Typically easier to disable
Outdoor cameras
– Covers more ground
– Allows you to record unsuccessful burglaries as well
– Inflexible and unportable
– Has to be able to withstand adverse weather
– Needs ability to automatically zoom in
IP cameras
– No local recording storage required
– Better picture quality
– Image analysis
– More expensive
– May require extra storage for high-quality images
Night vision cameras
– Ability to film burglars after dark, when they’re most likely to strike
– More expensive
Wireless security cameras
– Easier to install
– Portable and flexible
– More cutting-edge features
– More expensive
– Relies on internet connection
– Subject to wifi interference
– Can be hacked
– Less physical coverage
Wired security cameras
– Can’t be hacked
– Covers more ground
– Immobilised if wire is cut
– Fewer cutting-edge features
Monitored alarm systems
– Company is paid to watch over your home continually
– Peace of mind
– More expensive
– May be unable to send an alert if phone line is cut
– Your system may call the police accidentally
Unmonitored alarm systems
– Cheaper
– Much lower risk of accidentally calling the police
– More responsibility and pressure on you
– Useless if you’re unable to call the emergency services
Wireless alarms
– More cutting-edge features
– Updated regularly to better face challenges
– Can text you alerts
– Can be hacked
– More expensive
– Subject to wifi interference
Wired alarms
– Better for large homes
– More durable
– Inflexible and unportable
– Difficult when you’re moving home or renovating the property
Smart alarm systems
– Cutting-edge features
– Customisable
– Takes up less storage if set to only record if sensors triggered
– Can be hacked
– More expensive
– Could be dangerous if it malfunctions


Information updated in June 2019.

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