Frequently Asked Questions

We have the answers to all your home security questions

Home security systems can dramatically improve physical safety, protect belongings and bring peace of mind. Our insider tips make it easier to choose an effective and affordable system from the many options. Here are SafeHome.org’s answers to common questions about home security equipment and monitoring plans.

Security Equipment

Home security systems are available with many features, but basic features alone might meet your needs. A basic equipment set provides magnetic sensors for all vulnerable entryways and has one or more infrared sensors to detect motion inside the home. These sensors link to a control panel that has a loud siren and a connection to the monitoring company, which can dispatch emergency personnel.

Additionally, several top-ranked security companies provide keychain remote controls with their basic equipment sets. A remote control has buttons for arming the system, disarming the system, and alerting emergency personnel. Mobile apps that control and monitor security systems are also available.

Advanced security systems combine the basic components described above (sensors and a control panel) with extra crime-deterring equipment. Examples of simple add-ons are glass break sensors, panic buttons for the walls, and a panic pendant to wear around the neck. Panic pendants have been lifesavers during medical emergencies as well as during home invasions.

Door locks with key codes and smartphone remote control are another advanced security feature. These are especially popular with real estate agents and with residents who have frequent visitors such as health care providers, dog walkers and babysitters. Surveillance cameras add yet another layer of home security. Control panels can include cameras for capturing still images or video, and of course cameras can be set up throughout the home and outdoors. One special type of doorbell security camera sends mobile notifications when the doorbell rings and lets you watch surveillance footage from your smartphone. You can speak with the visitor and create the effect that you’re actually at home.

Modern indoor/outdoor video surveillance for home security is full color, full motion and high resolution. The best security cameras have night vision and quickly adapt to changes in lighting. Some allow remote monitoring and control via a mobile device or desktop computer.

The main difference between indoor and outdoor security cameras is the construction quality; it varies because outdoor cameras need to withstand harsher conditions. Some outdoor security cameras are enhanced with heaters and fans to help protect against the elements. Outdoor cameras also need to be more durable because they’re particularly vulnerable to attempted disabling by criminals. Some are housed in especially tamper-proof casings.

When choosing video surveillance you can choose between fixed and moving cameras. In some cases a fixed camera makes the most sense. When a moving camera is best, dome cameras are recommended because they make it more difficult to evade view. A dome camera can cover 360 degrees but makes it impossible for onlookers to know where the lens is pointed.

Home security systems can be fully functional even when pets share your home. While a typical motion sensor can detect a cat, dog or anyone else, we can design the system and configure sensors. As a homeowner with pets, you have many options. For instance, sensors with different weight settings are available. In addition, some modern home security technology can distinguish between the movements of humans and our animal companions.

Besides guarding against intruders, some home security systems protect against environmental disasters by detecting heat, smoke and moisture. Alarms and text alerts can help prevent or minimize damage from fire and water.

Homeowner’s insurance often offer discounts for combined cellular monitored fire and video protection.

When setting up a home security system you can create a “smart home.” This is known as home automation. Mobile apps for security systems can also control and monitor your home’s lighting, thermostat and other systems. Customers choose home automation for added security, for convenience and to better control their utility expenses.

You can control and manage your system remotely. This is helpful. For instance, when your child comes home and disarms the alarm, you can receive a notification.

Hardwired and wireless security systems each have advantages and disadvantages.

A hardwired system might be the most reliable, but there’s a risk of wires being cut. Hardwired systems involve more labor for installation, too.

Cellular signals used by wireless security systems are more powerful than those used on cell phones.

Some wireless security systems can function during power outages. It depends on how the security system communicates with the monitoring center. If the Internet or VoIP is used, then the alarm system will lose connectivity in the event of an Internet outage. If cellular radio is used, then your alarm system will be able to maintain communication even when the power is out and you can’t get Internet service.

“What If?” Home Security Questions

Many alarm panels are built to be tamper-proof. Some security companies call this feature “Crash and Smash” protection. In the event that an intruder attempts to disable security by damaging the control panel, the control panel will alert the monitoring company to dispatch emergency personnel.

Distress codes provide an extra layer of protection in case of a hostage situation. Distress codes can be words or numbers. For example, if you were taken hostage at home, the intruder might instruct you to disable the alarm. You could enter a code that seems to disable the system yet silently alerts the monitoring company that emergency help is needed. Another scenario is that the monitoring company would speak to you through the control panel when an alarm is triggered. You could respond with your true “all is well” password or say your secret distress code to indicate that an emergency response is needed.

Avoiding false alarms is important because 1) alarms are noisy and 2) false alarms sometimes lead to fines.

Penalties for false alarms vary by locale. In some towns the police and other emergency personnel charge hefty fines whenever they’re dispatched for a false alarm. In other towns, there’s never a charge or the fine might be waived for the first offense.

A couple of measures help protect against unneeded emergency response. First, we program your system to give you 30 seconds to input the correct code. Second, when you receive a call from the alarm monitoring company, simply answer it. This helps you avoid any unnecessary fines.

AV - Audio Video FAQ

Yes. A zoned audio system will allow you to listen to the same audio content throughout the home or to listen to an iPod in one room and Internet radio or CD sound in another.

CHOOSE AV can install standard volume controls or custom designed touch panels with volume control, allowing you to adjust the volume independently in different rooms. Touchscreens, iPads and smart phones will give you full control and real time status displays from anywhere.

The right system can make you feel as if you’re in the front row of a rock concert, letting you hear everything from the deepest bass response to the finger strokes on a guitar.

Virtually anything you want. CHOOSE AV can give you access to all your video media with tastefully hidden wiring.

CHOOSE AV can install everything from high-quality soundbars (a massive improvement over flat screen TV speakers) to theater quality, THX 7.1 surround sound systems.

Yes, CHOOSE AV can install cameras around the home and send video to your TV, PC, tablet or phone.

CHOOSE AV and Security can install a security system that covers the doors of your home, and we can add other layers of protection by adding motion, glass break, smoke, fire and window sensors. We can also add sensors for water intrusion and temperature monitoring. By adding a water sensor…

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