What is a Security System and How does it Work?

Over the last decade, the technology behind home security systems has changed significantly. Most security systems are now wireless and many also double as home automation systems, which means more value for your money. Also, they have become easier to use because of smartphones and touch-screen panels.

This article outlines all you need to know about security systems and how it works. 

What is a Security System?

Basically, a security system can be defined as a means or method by which something is secured through a network of interconnected components and devices.

This article will focus on the network of integrated electronic devices working together to protect against burglars and other potential intruders in your home.

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What is a Home Security System?

A home security system can be described as a group of physical components that all work together to protect a home.

Home security systems work on the basic principle of securing entry points, like doors, windows and even interior spaces containing valuables like art, computers, guns and coin collections. 

No matter the size of your home or the number of doors and windows or interior rooms you choose to protect, the only actual difference is in the number of security components deployed throughout the home and monitored by the control panel.

A typical home security system includes the following components:

  • control panel, 
  • motion sensors
  • wired or wireless security cameras 
  • alarm or high, 
  • decibel siren, 
  • yarn sign and window stickers.

Also Read; The Best Smart Home Security Systems For 2022

How does a Security System Work?

Home security systems work by securing the entry points into a home with sensors that communicate with a control panel that is installed at a convenient location in the home.

Most home security systems have all the components connected to a base station. From there, they connect to a mobile application via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, allowing you to monitor and control everything remotely. 

When armed, most security systems will have their cameras automatically record if they detect motion or people. Sensors, which alert us when doors or windows are opened, will turn on. 

When the system is disarmed, none of the sensors will trigger alarms, and cameras will stop recording automatically. Smoke and carbon monoxide sensors tell us if your air is safe to breathe, so they always remain on, regardless of whether our security system is armed. Unlike the local alarm system, which only sounds the siren when sensors are triggered, smart home security lets you see what is going on at home, wherever you are.

Sensors are attached to doors that lead to and from a house as well as easily accessible windows like the ones that are often left open and those at ground level. Open spaces in the home can also be secured with motion sensors.

Most home security systems comprise the following objects:

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Control panel

The control panel is the heart of a security system. It uses radio signals to communicate with other installed components of the security system, sounds the alarm when a security zone is breached and communicates with an alarm monitoring company. 

It is used to arm or disarm a security system and most times it comes with a built-in keypad or another way to manually arm or disarm the system.

Motion sensors: 

These components protect a space when armed by creating an invisible zone that cannot be breached without sounding an alarm. 

Most times, they are used to protect rooms containing valuables and also areas that are less visited in the home.

Surveillance cameras

Most systems don’t come with a surveillance camera, but they are the most popular add-on. 

Surveillance cameras can detect motion and send alerts when motion is detected. Some advanced ones can detect people and recognize faces. 

They either record video continuously or only when motion is detected and this video is stored in a hard drive or in cloud storage for a monthly fee.

Environmental sensors:

These include sensors that can detect smoke, heat, carbon monoxide, water, the temperature that protects your home from fire, frozen pipes and gas poisoning. They don’t come with most security systems.

Contact sensors: 

These small, plastic, battery-powered devices comprise a sensor and a magnet. The sensor is placed on one part of a door or window and the magnet is placed on another, so when the contact between them breaks, a signal is sent to the hub.

High-decibel sirens:

These sirens produce sound loud enough for neighbours to hear, and they serve a few different purposes. First, they alert people inside the house about a potential danger. Also, they are so loud that they can send a burglar running while notifying everyone nearby about a breach.

Yarn sign and Window stickers: 

Normally, these might be considered to be only marketing tools for alarm companies. On the flip side, they play an important role in security as they end up communicating to burglars that your home is properly secured and they better back off.

Glass break sensor: 

This is used to detect the sound of breaking glass and alert the owners. It is of great use when burglars want to break windows open instead of opening them the old-fashioned way to avoid setting off the entry sensors.

Types of Home Security Systems

There are a few major types of home systems which include:

DIY: This type of system allows the user to put it together themselves and most likely monitor the system themselves through a mobile app. Some DIY systems can have professional monitoring.

Professional: A professional home security system can either mean that it requires a technician to install the equipment or a system that is monitored by a professional or a team of professionals who respond to alerts from call centres. Some professional systems can also be self-monitored or installed DIY.

Wired: This type of system is hard-wired into the existing electrical system of a home.

Wireless: This type of system doesn’t have any wires instead it depends on a combination of batteries, Wi-Fi and cellular backup to connect to the app and monitoring centre. They are relatively easier to install than wired systems.

Smart: This type is connected to the internet, which makes the user able to view live footage from the mobile app, receive notifications when alarms go off and control the system remotely.

Local: In contrast to smart systems, the local ones are not connected to the internet, so there’s no remote control, monitoring or alerts. You will only be able to hear the alarm when you are close enough.

What happens when an Intrusion Occurs?

Systems for security work carry out specific tasks when an area under security is breached. 

The actions of a this system during an intrusion depends on the type of system you are using. This way, security systems can be classified as:

1. Professionally monitored systems: 

Systems under this category are professionally monitored by an alarm company and they are alerted when the home security is breached. Along with a high decibel alarm, the monitoring company is alerted. 

Immediately, a trained security expert might attempt to communicate with the homeowner via the control panel if it is set up for 2-way voice communication or contact the emergency number listed on the account. 

Several ways this type of security system communicate with the monitoring companies include; via home phone lines, cellular radio frequencies like cell phones use, via the internet and Voice over Internet Protocol(VoIP).

These systems allow owners to be notified by text message and email when there is a security crisis.

2. Non-monitored security systems: 

They normally do not require professionally monitored services. When there is an intrusion, a loud decibel alarm sounds if any is installed. The owner contacts the police, fire, or other emergency response personnel.

Depending on the provider and system opted for, the homeowner may or may not receive text messages or email notifications when the home security is breached.

Pros and Cons of Having a Home Security System

Now you have at least a basic understanding of what a home security system is and how it works it is important that you know the basic pros and cons of purchasing a home security system too.

Pros of a Home Security System

  • Fast police contact or emergency response when you are absent
  • They help scare burglars away as most times they wouldn’t want to risk attacking a secure home
  • Easy safety alerts in case of a security breach at home
  • They can earn you a discount on homeowners insurance 

Cons of a Home Security System

  • They may raise false alarms
  • They are costly to maintain
  • Home security systems are expensive

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This heavily depends on the needs of the customer. Top brands include Ring Alarm, ADT, Frontpoint, SimpliSafe etc.

Generally, it decreases the crime rate and makes your home less of a choice for burglars

It gives you hands-on control of the Ring Alarm system.

When making a call over the internet, your mobile carrier encrypts your voice. This happens even when the Wi-Fi network isn’t safe, making such calls perfectly safe.

It actually depends on your choice. It is an easy decision if you want to prevent burglars from paying you an unwanted visitor you want extra security for your home.



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