With more alarm companies offering Do-It-Yourself (DIY) alarm system options, a topic in need of attention is designing the level of protection that is right for your home. The best DIY alarm companies work closely with you, and make recommendations based on the layout of your home and the way you will be using your system. And for any alarm systems it just makes sense to know enough about the technology so that you can join in the conversation. Of course, we are focusing on wireless alarm technology – the same kind used by most forward-thinking providers.
It's All About You
The most important thing to remember is that your alarm system should be designed with you in mind, and that means consideration of the following types of questions:
- Do you have pets? Where are they allowed to go in the home, and when?
- Do you have children? How old are they, and what issues will you face integrating a residential security system into their lives?
- Will you arm your system when you are at home? Many people do so (growing numbers, in fact), and that can impact your choice and placement of sensors.
- Are there areas of the home where you don't go at night? A basement is a great example, and that can influence the sensors you use there.
There are other questions, of course, and a reputable alarm company can help you work through all of them. But the main point is that every system should be customized: not just for how your home is laid out, but also for your lifestyle. This is no time for a "one–size-fits-most" approach!
"Stay" vs. "Away" System Arming
One thing we want to address up front is that most alarm systems can be armed in either of two modes: "Stay" and "Away." In the "Stay" mode, often used when you are home at night, only the perimeter is armed, and you can move about freely in your home without triggering an alarm. In the "Away" mode, used when you leave your home, there are interior sensors that are also armed – meaning an intruder moving about within the home will also trigger an alarm.
Start with the Perimeter
Since doors are the most common place for an intruder to enter your home, we start there. You should have a wireless door sensor on every exterior door, including the door from the garage into the home. This is the foundation of your perimeter protection.
Next come the windows you want to protect – with the same unobtrusive wireless sensor. It's best to focus on the windows on the sides and back of the house first, since they are less visible, and are therefore more attractive to a burglar. And as for those upstairs windows, you may decide to pass on those – unless a burglar can find an easy way to reach them.
For rooms with lots of windows, the wireless glassbreak sensor is a great solution. This device has a range of 20 feet in any direction (as long as there is line of sight), and that makes the glassbreak sensor an efficient and cost-effective component of your perimeter protection.
When you arm in the "Away" mode, then you bring into play your interior protection detection device – the wireless motion sensor. You'll seldom see an alarm system without at least one of these, and they are designed for backing up your perimeter devices, for an extra layer of security. This sensor is generally placed in high traffic areas, and detects movement. The best motion sensors are immune to pets up to 50 lb.
Additional Peace of Mind
Once you get your arms around the intrusion component of your system, then you can consider the other devices that work in conjunction with your system – so that you can feel protected and connected.
- Wireless smoke & heat sensor – we recommend at least one with every system.
- Carbon monoxide sensor – another important life safety device.
- Water/flood sensor – if you have a burst pipe, you want to know right away.
Get the Help You Need
Remember – you should never be on your own when it comes to designing the right level of protection for your home. The advice above is just a good starting point (as is this post on RedFin), but you'll want to have an in-depth phone conversation with a trained security professional to make sure your solution is the right one for you. Any alarm company worth its salt will give you that time and attention, and with no obligation.