Around 200,000 break-ins are recorded across Australia each year according to the Australian Institute of Criminology. If you find that figure alarming (pun intended), then perhaps it’s time to consider installing a home security system.
There are a plethora of home security systems on the market, including monitored and unmonitored alarm systems, as well as wireless systems and CCTV security cameras. We take a look at everything you need to know about these common residential security systems and whether they’re right for you.
Should you buy a security system?
Security systems protect your home and personal property from unscrupulous thieves. With that said, it stands to reason that everyone should have a security system, right? Well, with some security systems costing hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to purchase and install, it’s reasonable that many of us are unsure about whether or not it’s a smart investment.
If you have never been burgled and consider your home to be in a safe neighbourhood, you probably don’t see much sense in purchasing a security system, but did you know that it can still save you money? Insurers will usually offer considerable discounts on contents insurance premiums for households with a monitored security system. This is not usually a flat rate discount, but rather a risk assessment consideration when measuring your premium.
As a side note, policy holders who have told their insurer they have a security system should be careful to make sure it’s active when leaving the home, as failing to do so may be grounds for an insurer to deny a claim.
What types of home security systems are available?
Monitored security systems
Upon the detection of an intruder, a monitored alarm system will contact its security monitoring centre. A representative from the call centre will first try to call you or other emergency contacts in case of false alarm. Police will respond within minutes if it’s not a false alarm or no one answers their phone.
- Unit price range: $300 – $900
Monitoring fees: $20-$40 p/month
Advantages of monitored system:
Neighbours are unreliable, and if they hear your home alarm system sounding, chances are they will assume it’s a false alarm and won’t contact the police. A monitored security system insures that action is taken to protect your home 24/7. These alarms can also be set to silent, in the hopes that the would-be burglar won’t realise an alarm has been triggered until the police arrive.
Disadvantages of monitored system:
Monitored security systems offer the most comprehensive level of security for your home, though this unfortunately makes them more expensive than most other systems. Additionally, monitored households will also incur an ongoing ‘monitoring fee’ to cover the costs of 24/7 security centre respondents.
Monitored systems require some form of connection to contact the monitoring centre. This traditionally meant you needed a landline connection, but there are now a number of ways to connect your home security system.
- Landline: The security system uses a conventional landline to call the monitoring centre.
- Broadband: Your household security system digitally signals the monitoring centre through your broadband internet connection when the alarm is triggered.
- Cellular: Your security system uses a cellular uplink to contact the security centre. A cellular connection is most ideal for those who are a little paranoid, as its connection cannot be cut from the outside like a broadband or landline service.
Unmonitored security systems
Unmonitored home security systems sound an alarm when triggered, drawing attention to the house and hopefully scaring off the intruder. Unlike a monitored system, no security centre is contacted when this alarm is triggered.
- Price range: $100 – $400
Advantages of unmonitored security systems:
An unmonitored security system is cheaper than its monitored counterparts, and its loud siren might be enough to drive away a burglar, particularly if you live in a neighbourhood where the properties are built close together. Additionally, an unmonitored security system will be much more effective if you’ve made friends with your neighbours.
Disadvantages of unmonitored security systems:
Unmonitored security systems are unable to contact a security monitoring centre in the event that the alarm is triggered. This means home owners must rely on the initiative of their neighbours to contact the police, however according to ADT Security, 65% of neighbours will do nothing! If you’re often leaving your home for long periods of time, an unmonitored security system will not do much to improve the security of your home.
CCTV security camera systems
The problem with alarm systems is that they often give the thief enough time to make off with a few valuables. But if you can’t catch them, the next best thing is to get some footage for the police – that’s why many resort to installing home security cameras. A CCTV system can also be used in conjunction with a monitored security system. This means if the alarm is triggered, the monitoring centre can access your cameras to see what set the system off, thereby reducing the number of false alarms.
- Price range: $400 – $2000 (Even more expensive with more cameras)
Advantages of CCTV systems:
Modern CCTV feeds can be received by mobile devices, meaning you can check in on home wherever you are. CCTV home security cameras can also be placed outside to watch over the backyard or cars parked in the drive way.
Disadvantages of CCTV systems:
While there are some cheap CCTV systems on the market, if you’re looking for a monitoring-integrated system with at least 4 security cameras, you’re looking at prices starting around the $1,000 mark. Security cameras won’t alert anyone of an intruder, and better serve as a complement to an alarm system. Given its price, CCTV systems are only really ideal for those who are serious about security.
Wireless security systems
Wireless systems can be purchased from the hardware store and they’re easy enough to install yourself. These systems include wireless CCTV as well as alarm systems for small rooms. Smaller alarm systems can be fitted to monitor doors and windows, while larger, more expensive wireless devices can cover entire rooms.
- Price range: $50 – $600
Advantages of wireless security systems:
Wireless security systems are the most cost effective solution for monitoring your home, with basic sensors priced as little as $50. Wireless CCTV is also comparatively cheap, and the cameras can be easily moved to new positions.
Disadvantages of wireless security systems:
While it is true that wireless security systems are usually quite cheap, you only get what you pay for. Cheap wireless alarm systems will struggle to cover an entire room, though they can still be quite effective for monitoring key entryways. Wireless CCTV systems will also regularly require recharges or battery changes.
Other ways to protect your home
If a security system seems a little too pricey for you, there are plenty of alternatives to improve the security of your home. We have listed a few here.
- Fake cameras: For only around $25, you can purchase fake security cameras to stick around the house and deter would-be burglars.
- Motion lights: You know that startling moment when you’re walking toward a house at night and the lights switch on? It might also be enough to scare away thieves.
- Window and door laser sensors: You place these sensors either side of a door or window and an invisible beam will be projected between the two devices. When the door or window is opened the beam is broken triggering a small alarm. These can be used to alert you of intruders, or to insure your kids aren’t opening doors they shouldn’t be.
- Glass-break sensors: Ideal for those with large windows or sliding doors. Simply stick this near the glass and it will activate if it detects sound frequencies similar to that of glass breaking.
- A pet dog: According to the Australian Institute of Criminology research, 61% of survey respondents say they believe a dog is the most effective deterrent for thieves. This leads considerably on the next best deterrent – a security system at only 49%.