When making home security system comparisons there are several things that should immediately come to mind. These include what the components of the security system are, what coverage's and services the security company provides as well as whether their service package includes upgrades or not.

Let's look at each of these individually, then we'll compile them together to demonstrate how best to make a solid home security system comparison.

  • Components – As the industry has grown, there has become a rather large and varied array of home security system components. For the sake of this article, we'll focus only on the most common as these will be common among almost all security systems.
  • Security Keypads – Keypads make up an important part of the security system. They provide one with the capability to activate their security system using a secret and secured code. They can be strategically placed around the house where ever you need them most. They typically feature an emergency call button to request help immediately and use backlit buttons so they can be clearly seen in the dark.
  • Motion Detectors – These devices activate when someone breaches their line of "sight". Should an intruder enter your home through an area not protected by a door or window sensor they will still set off the alarm once they come within sight of a motion the sensor.
  • Door and Window Sensors – Statistically over half of all burglars enter a home through a door and nearly a quarter enter through a first floor window. It's these locations that door and window sensors are typically used the most (and most effectively). These commonly work as a 2-sided contact. Once the contact is broken the alarm is triggered. In addition, most home security systems chime when the alarm is not active but a contact is broken. This is a great way to keep track of people coming and going even when the alarm is off.
  • Alarm Sirens – Alarm sirens provide an audible alert when the alarm is triggered. This not only acts as a deterrent for intruders but will wake household members from the deepest sleep alerting them to trouble.
  • Panic Buttons – With a short but functional range outside of the home, these devices allow you to activate the 24 hour emergency alarm from anywhere within range. In the garage, in the yard or even in the bath a call for help can be made with the push of a button.
  • Service Plans – I addition to actual monitoring/emergency services many home security providers offer additional services which should be considered when making home security system comparisons. The most common of these include the following:
  • Cellular Backup – When added to a traditional security system a cellular backup system allows your home security system to maintain communication with the monitoring host in the event standard communication methods fail. This can provided added peace of mind that service will always be available.
  • Voice Intercom – This allows two-way voice communication with a monitoring operator at the push of a button. With this feature you could get help in an emergency even if you didn't have access to a phone.
  • Guard Services – Once the alarm has been triggered, if there's no response from the protected home a guard is dispatched to your residence to make an observation and perimeter check. They will then stay on the premises and report until the Police arrive.
  • Upgrades – This will vary from vendor to vendor. Some vendors simply don't offer equipment upgrades with their service plans though some do for an additional fee. Others typically offer an Extended Service Plan which for a monthly fee covers needed service calls.
  • The Comparison - As many quality home security companies are local and do not provide nationwide service I have elected to keep the comparison part vendor neutral. In this way, this document will apply to anyone anywhere that has access to home security systems.

Once you've read this home security system comparison article I'd suggest you spend a little time and write down some of the questions I'm going to outline below that may be relevant to you and your personal situation - before you call them out for an evaluation.

In addition to specifics as to what they offer from the list above (components, service plans and extended service) you should also ask the following:

  • Will I own the system or will it be leased? - With some companies you never own the equipment. The day you stop paying you may expect a visit from the host company shortly thereafter to remove it! Confirm ownership upfront.
  • How much insurance does your company carry? – Some states don't require security companies to carry insurance. This means if one of their employee's is injured on your property, YOU may be liable. Know before you buy.
  • Who answers your phones after hours? – Many companies turn their phones over to an answering service after hours. You want to make sure that qualified trained staff is answering the phone, not an answering service.
  • What is your documented response time? – Response time may vary widely from company to company. Know what theirs is!
  • How long is your installation under warranty and what does it cover? – Some companies don't even offer a warranty so know up front!

Is your company a member of the Better Business Bureau? – Companies must maintain a high level of customer service to be a member. You'd be surprised how many companies are not…

Armed with this article you should be well prepared to make any home security system comparison. Educate yourself, ask questions and make a knowledgeable and informed decision that will bring added protection and peace of mind to you and your family!