Back to Blog

Tips and Tricks: How to Design Home Security System

Search The Blog
April 25, 2014
More from this author

Tips and Tricks: How to Design Home Security System

Designing a home security system can be difficult. There's a daunting amount of equipment to learn and there are many alarm companies trying to tell you what to buy.

We have a different approach, and we're here to help. Putting together a home alarm system is not about selecting from a set of predetermined bundled kits, nor is it about having unnecessary sensors tacked onto your order to drive up the cost.

Choosing your home security system is about making sure that it's customized to fit your home and tailored to meet your needs. Think about it: who knows your home better than anyone else? That's right, it's you! And you should be designing your system.

So, where do you start?

In today’s blog, we’re diving into ‘How to Design a Home Security System.’ First we’ll help you evaluate the interior of the home by thinking like a burglar. Tomorrow, we’ll use the information from your self-evaluation to select the most appropriate sensors. Let’s get started!

Protect the Entry Points

We know that burglars most commonly break-in through the front and back doors. In fact, 57 percent of burglaries occur through these entry points. Focus your attention to these doors, either by reinforcing their security or by placing Door Window Sensors.

Burglars are also not afraid to go through windows, or even smash them. The second most common entry point for burglars is ground-level windows. Instead of buying a Door Window Sensor for every single window in the house, a single Motion Sensor can cover a large area with multiple windows and detect intrusion just as effectively. You get the same protection for less money!

Keep in mind that doors and windows are the most common burglar entry point, but not the only way.

Identify Targeted Rooms

We've covered the entry points, but it's better to be safe than sorry, and that means securing your rooms. What rooms do burglars target?

Convicted burglars have admitted that the master bedroom is often the first target. It usually holds valuables that are easily carried, such as jewelry and money. Other rooms with expensive possessions are also prime targets, such as the living room or basement.

When designing your home alarm system, consider the size of the room, as well as the path a burglar would have to take to get in and out. Smaller rooms may only require a Door Window Sensor, while larger ones would be better suited with a Motion Sensor.

Protection Inside and Out

What about the outside of your home? Through observation you can determine if you need more or less sensors – or even a security camera.

Start by looking at the space surrounding your home. Identify how large the area is, if there's enough lighting and if neighbors have a good viewpoint of your yard. For dark hidden areas, you may consider getting motion-activated lights, or security cameras for monitoring.

A very important thing to look for is anything that could allow a burglar to gain entry to the upper levels of your home – like trees, vines or a ladder. A burglar may opt to use those to get through a window on the top floor, so it's important to secure those if you feel it’s necessary.

Environmental Dangers

We've focused primarily on the threat of a burglary so far, but environmental dangers should not be ignored.

FrontPoint system is prepared to protect you from a variety of threats, including fire, freezing, flooding and carbon monoxide. When putting your system together, take into consideration what potential threats from nature could affect your home.

Next Steps: Identify the Equipment Needed

The next step is to analyze the security sensors that are going to protect your home. If you want to save time when you design your system, you should start with understanding how these sensors work. Who knows, you might save yourself money too!

Knowledge is key. Here’s a list explaining the basic functions and ideal locations for all of our equipment – we’re sorry, it’s a long onebut it’s worth your time!

The Basic Home Security Sensors

Door Window Sensor (DWS)

The most common sensor in any home security system, the DWS comes in two small pieces that are paired wirelessly. When the wireless connection is interrupted – like when a door or window opens – the sensor will trigger an alert.

  • Ideal Location: Doors that lead to the outdoors, doors to rooms containing valuables, large windows that could be climbed through.
  • Non-ideal Location: Rooms with multiple windows – we recommend a different sensor for that.

Motion Sensor (MS)

Using infrared detection, a MS will effectively monitor large rooms for any signs of movement.

  • Ideal Location: Large rooms and common areas, such as the living room or main hallways. The MS is perfect for protecting rooms with multiple windows.
  • Non-ideal Location: Large pets (over 40 pounds) can trigger the MS, so rooms where pets often roam are not recommended. The DWS is more suitable for smaller rooms with only one or two windows.

Glass Break Sensor (GB)

The GB detects the unique sound frequency of breaking glass up to 20 feet in any direction. The GB and MS make a powerful combo in protecting a large area with many windows.

  • Ideal Location: Protecting rooms with oversized windows, rooms with multiple windows (paired with the MS), and sliding glass doors.
  • Non-ideal Location: Rooms with a single window.

Smoke Heat Sensor (SH)

The SH uses photoelectronic technology to detect smoke particles in the air. It also detects when a room’s temperature rises too quickly.

  • Ideal Location: According to the National Fire Protection Association, each floor of a home should have fire protection. The SH is best placed near bedrooms.
  • Non-ideal Location: Avoid placing the SH in locations with heavy dust or humidity, and in locations where you might light a controlled fire, such as kitchens, bathrooms and rooms with fireplaces. Also not recommended for rooms that are not temperature controlled, like the garage.

Simon XT Control Panel

The Control Panel is the central unit of any security system. All security sensors communicate with the panel and when the sensors are triggered, the panel sends instant communication to the monitoring center. The Control Panel is a user’s tool for arming and disarming their system.

  • Ideal Use: The Control Panel should be strategically placed so it’s easy for users to access.
  • Non-ideal Location: We recommend against placing this next to the front door or in plain view of a window.

Keychain Remote (KR)

As the name implies, the Keychain Remote goes onto a key ring to provide the easiest way of arming and disarming. Also included is a button to turn on the lights, as well as a panic button.

  • Ideal Use: The KR is the easiest and most convenient way to arm and disarm a security system, so it’s ideal for everyone! Attach it to your keys for easy access.

Take Control of Your System

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are included free with FrontPoint’s Interactive and Ultimate Monitoring. The feature allows a user to turn their smartphone or tablet into a digital Control Panel. Mobile apps allow users to control the system, view live feeds from cameras, receive instant notifications/alerts and more!

  • Ideal Use: Mobile apps can be used to monitor a home from any location, at any time. It’s an effective way for a user to monitor their vacation home, business or personal home.

Touch Screen (TS)

The TS is a mini Control Panel and has a colorful display, providing users a secondary form of access to their system. It does not provide all the functionality as a Control Panel, but users can still arm/disarm and control home automation features.

  • Ideal Use: Best used in large or multi-story homes where access to the Control Panel may not be as convenient.

Talking Remote Touchpad (TRT)

The TRT is similar to the TS, but does not have a display. Instead, it talks to you, confirming commands and alarm status verbally. The TRT allows users to arm, disarm and check system status without having to access the Control Panel.

  • Ideal Use: Best used in large or multi-story homes where access to the Control Panel may not be as convenient. 

Environmental Sensors

Water Flood Sensor (WFS)

The WFS gives instant warning when a leak or flooding occurs. The sensor comes in two pieces to ensure a reliable connection: the detector signals the alarm when it comes in contact with water and the separate transmitter unit sends the transmission.

  • Ideal Location: Anywhere that may be at risk of leaks or floods, such as the basement, or near a water heater or washing machine. The sensor needs to be placed near ground level for early detection.
  • Non-ideal Location: Do not place the WFS outdoors.

Freeze Sensor (FS)

The FS detects low temperature conditions and will provide early warning before a freeze occurs. If the temperature drops below 41 F, the sensors will signal an alarm.

  • Ideal Location: Near pipes that may be at risk of freezing or the furnace.
  • Non-ideal Location: Should not be used as a thermometer.

Carbon Monoxide Sensor (CMS)

The CMO detects carbon monoxide, a deadly and odorless gas. Upon detection, the sensor will send an immediate alarm to the Control Panel and monitoring center.

  • Ideal Location: The CMS should be placed near sleeping areas, or even directly in bedrooms. The sensor can be mounted on either the ceiling or wall.
  • Non-ideal Location: Similar to the SH, avoid placing the CMS near sources of heat, vents or anything that burns fuel.


Wireless Indoor Camera (WCAM)

The WCAM allows users to keep an active eye on their home from anywhere. It has a viewing range up to 50 feet and can view activity in the dark. A broadband network is required to allow the WCAM to connect wirelessly.

  • Ideal Location: Large rooms or hallways can make excellent use of the WCAM’s range.
  • Non-ideal Location: Should not be used outdoors.

Wireless Pan and Tilt Camera (PTCAM)

The PTCAM is an indoor camera with a greater range of view than the WCAM. Users can control it to maximize their field of view by panning and tilting.

  • Ideal Location: Larger rooms that require a greater field of view to see them in their entirety.
  • Non-ideal Location: Should not be used outdoors.

Wireless Outdoor Camera (ODCAM)

The ODCAM is weatherproof and withstands below-freezing temperatures, or up to 122 F, to provide video surveillance of the exterior areas of a user’s property. It can also see in the dark up to 40 feet.

  • Ideal Location: The backyard, driveway or pathway leading to the front door.
  • Non-ideal Location: Not recommended for indoor use.

Specific-Use Sensors

Garage Door Sensor (GDS)

The GDS uses weight and angle to monitor garage doors that roll and swing up. The sensor is placed at the top of the garage door and as the door opens, the GDS will change angles. When it passes 35 degrees, the sensor will trigger an alert.

  • Ideal Location: At the highest point on the top inside panel of a garage door that rolls or swings up.
  • Non-ideal Location: The GDS will not be able to detect a change in angle in doors that do not roll or swing up. It will not work on doors that slide or swing out.

Recessed Door Sensor (RDS)

The RDS has the same functionality as a standard DWS, but is concealed within the door frame for aesthetic or security reasons. It is the only FrontPoint sensor that requires tools for setup.

  • Ideal Location: Same as the DWS, but will require wooden door/window frames that are large enough accommodate the sensor.
  • Non-ideal Location: Rooms with multiple windows and the RDS will not work with non-wooden frames.

Long Range Door Window Sensor (LRDWS)

The LRDWS has the same functionality as a standard DWS, but is slightly bulkier in size and has a longer range of communication with the Control Panel. The LRDWS should only be used in instances when the standard DWS is too far from the Control Panel to have a consistent connection.

  • Ideal Location: The LRDWS is ideally used in the same locations as the standard DWS, but in larger homes with a greater area to cover. It might also be used in secondary locations, such as a guest home, barn and shed on the same property.
  • Non-ideal Location: Should not be used in locations where a standard DWS will work.

Get safer, smarter home security

Packages starting at $99 + FREE Doorbell Camera

300 off
Alarm Installer
March 8, 2015 at 4:37 PM
Nice information!
Justin Knox
March 31, 2016 at 2:44 PM
Thank you for the help. My wife and I have decided that we are going to have a security system installed, but we are not sure what sensors we need quite yet. I like the idea of having a panel that can be controlled remotely. Do you have to get a specific panel with that capability?
Katie Rynex
April 12, 2016 at 1:17 PM
Justin, great question! All the Control Panels that we currently offer can be controlled remotely. We hope this answers your question and ask that you please let us know if you have any other questions going forward.
Scroll to Top Scroll to Bottom