There’s no question about it: Home security systems can help protect your belongings and loved ones, deter thieves and detect other dangers. If you don’t have one already, a home security system could be a valuable investment in your safety and serenity. The right security technology can help prevent an intrusion, and knowing you’re home is monitored 24/7 provides valuable peace of mind.

But if the value of home security is undeniably clear, choosing the right system can seem a lot more complicated. Recent years have seen a revolution in home security technologies, offering customers a ton of new gadgets and tools to help protect their homes. In 145 years of protecting American families, we’ve never seen such rapid and exciting advances in home security systems.

At the same time, modern homes are undergoing a “smart” transformation, as automation and connectivity infuse all our appliances. Today, security can be an integral part of a smart household, combining convenience and safety in a single, seamless system.

With all the cool tools at your disposal, how can you select and customize the perfect home security system? With many security companies and service plans to consider, which will work best for you?

First, we’ll introduce you to the latest home security technologies, so you can understand how these might help protect your home. Then we’ll discuss some important aspects of installation and service, so you can evaluate which systems and companies will best suit your needs.

If you’re ready to find the right home security system, here’s everything you need to know to make the right decision for you and your family.

Home Security Technology: Components to Consider

In just the last few years, home security systems have been transformed by new technologies. 

To make the best choices for your home and family, it helps to understand the full range of available options. Below, we’ll briefly describe the latest security devices that you should know about, so you can make informed selections for your own home security system. 

Infographic of 12 Home Security Components  You Need

Door and Window Sensors

When it comes to protecting your home, no safety precaution is more important than monitoring potential points of entry. In fact, according to the FBI, more than a third of burglars enter through the front door. Windows may also be vulnerable to intrusion, whether they’re forcibly opened or accidentally left ajar.

Thankfully, modern security systems include a wide range of technologies designed to help detect intruders trying to enter through windows and doors. In fact, door and window sensors are now so sophisticated that they can be customized to match your family’s needs. 

These devices can be completely wireless or wired precisely to reflect your home’s layout. Many of them are surprisingly inconspicuous, with shapes so slim they’ll go unnoticed by your guests. And because your home probably includes several kinds of doors and windows, a good security system can combine several sensors in a single cohesive network.

Most people are familiar with these sensors’ primary function: If someone tries to enter your home while your security system is armed, these sensors can detect the threat, prompting your security service to contact the authorities.

However, recent technological advances have expanded these sensors’ capabilities. For example, homeowners can now receive a text or email when someone enters, so they’re constantly informed even while they’re away. Similarly, door sensors can activate nearby cameras, allowing homeowners to see who’s coming inside. These features come in handy if someone plans to drop by while you’re out of the house: You can confirm it’s your dog walker, rather than someone else. 

Motion Sensors

Just as window and door sensors detect attempts to enter your home, motion sensors track alarming movements inside of it. When activated, these devices can recognize any concerning movement within a wide area of your home. 

Their range of detection can be quite impressive: A single sensor can cover a 35-by-40 section of your home. To maximize their coverage, motion sensors are usually placed in the corner of two walls, relatively close to the ceiling. 

If motion sensors detect activity while your security system is armed, they can alert your security company, who can then contact law enforcement if necessary. And just as with door and window sensors, these devices can prompt a text or email to the homeowners or activate nearby cameras and send video of any motion detected. 

Of course, you don’t want your motion sensor to pick up every movement. If your pet walks around the house while you’re away, for example, you don’t want to trigger a false alarm. Thankfully, modern motion sensors can be precisely calibrated to ignore movements within certain height and weight parameters. You don’t need to worry about your furry friend being needlessly detected – unless you want to catch your canine trying to sneak onto the couch. 

Indoor Security Cameras

Indoor security cameras empower you to keep an eye on what’s happening at home, sending a live feed straight to your smartphone. Check in on your pets, loved ones, and belongings at virtually any time you choose – or when your security system alerts you to a possible concern. In an era of mobile connectivity, a window into your home is always with you.

As we mentioned, indoor security cameras can be connected to other sensors: Certain events, such as an entry or suspicious movement, can trigger your cameras to turn on automatically. In fact, many indoor security cameras have built-in motion detection capabilities, meaning you may not need to purchase separate sensors. 

Additionally, the latest indoor cameras offer impressive video quality, even when the lights are out. You can capture high-definition video day or night, with infrared illumination to help observe dark rooms. And don’t worry about wiring: The newest generation of indoor cameras are sleekly designed to operate via secure Wi-Fi connections.

While indoor security cameras can be essential in helping catch burglars, they can help protect your home and loved ones in many other ways as well. You can check in on your babysitter or a contractor doing work around the house. You can make sure an elderly loved one is feeling well, and confirm that your teenager isn’t throwing a party. Miss your pet in the middle of the workday? You can watch them eagerly awaiting your return. 

Outdoor Security Cameras

Outdoor security cameras offer many of the same benefits as indoor ones – with a few extra features designed for durability. These devices can also be motion-activated, automatically turning on when someone approaches your home. Similarly, these devices can detect concerning activity around your property, catching unusual movements in your backyard or the bushes. 

Just as with indoor cameras, your security system should allow you to view your outdoor camera feed whenever you see fit. If you choose, you can get video clips sent directly to your phone whenever these cameras capture activity around your property. At nighttime, these cameras’ infrared capabilities kick in, giving you a clear view even in the dark. 

Setting up outdoor security cameras can be surprisingly easy: With newer models, all you need is a power source and a Wi-Fi connection. Plus, the best outdoor cameras are built to survive exposure to harsh weather conditions. Our cameras function well in rain, snow, sleet, and intense humidity, so you’re protected no matter what Mother Nature brings. They even have built-in heaters, to help withstand frigid temperatures. 

Smart Doorbells

While you can’t always be home, you can answer the door from virtually anywhere with a smart doorbell camera. These gadgets combine several technologies to help you observe and interact with visitors, including motion detection, video, and voice communication. 

While smart doorbell cameras offer somewhat different features, most detect when someone is approaching your front door. Before they even have to ring the doorbell, you can see a live video feed of your visitor right on your smartphone. Then, using an app and the doorbell’s audio features, you can converse with the person at your door. You can also access the doorbell’s video feed at any time, taking a peek at your porch whenever you choose. 

Smart doorbells come in handy in so many ways. If you get a package, you can tell the delivery person exactly where to leave it – and keep an eye on it to help make sure no one steals it. When your kids come home from school, you’ll get to see them arrive safely. If a friend shows up before you make it home, you can let them know you’re just minutes away. And in the event that someone suspicious does come calling, you can ask them to leave promptly or alert your security company. 

Just like outdoor security cameras, these devices are built to endure any harsh weather that might darken your door. They also use wide-view lenses to capture as much area as possible and infrared vision to offer clear feeds at night. 

Smart Locks

With smart locks installed around your home, you can stop worrying about carrying keys and start managing access to your home more effectively. In contrast to traditional locks, these devices allow you to lock and unlock your doors using a smartphone code or a code entered into a keypad. 

In the course of daily life, these locks provide a ton of additional convenience. Worried that you forgot to lock the back door before leaving? Double-check on your phone and lock it if necessary. Is your sister-in-law dropping by to pick up that dish you borrowed? Let her in remotely and lock the door once she leaves. 

Additionally, you can create custom codes for members of your household and other visitors, managing them as you see fit. Say a contractor is remodeling your bathroom, and the project is slated to take two weeks. You can create a custom entry code for him and delete it once the project is done. 

In addition to added convenience, smart locks offer security benefits that conventional locks cannot. For example, you’ll never have to worry about someone making a copy of your key without permission. Plus, smart locks are immune to many common lock-picking methods, such as “lock bumping” with a specially crafted key.

Smoke Detectors

While you’re probably familiar with basic smoke detectors, they’ve come a long way in recent years. The latest models can be integrated with the rest of your security system and help keep your home safe from fire even when you’re away. 

Our smoke detectors, for example, can notify our monitoring centers when a customer’s home might be in danger. Similarly, they can alert customers to a possible fire directly on their smartphones. These features mean that you can avert disaster from afar, keeping your home and pets out of harm’s way. 

Plus, you’ll never need to wonder whether your detector is working properly: Our models have LED lights and sound indicators to let you know they’re functioning well. They can even tell you when they need cleaning or a change of battery to help you stay consistently protected from smoke and fire.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Much like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors have long been a fixture in American homes. But the latest generation of these alarms has some additional capabilities, providing more comfort to the homeowners who have them. 

The newest carbon monoxide detectors can be installed wirelessly and mounted virtually anywhere, so they can help keep you protected wherever you choose to place them. They’re easy to test and maintain, with clear controls and LED status indicators. 

Best of all, these detectors can alert you to dangerous carbon monoxide levels in your home even when you’re away from it. You can be notified directly on your mobile device and contact the authorities immediately. With this advanced warning, you can avoid walking into a dangerous situation and protect any pets who might be at home. 

Flood and Water Detectors

While not as immediately threatening as fire or carbon monoxide, water can devastate your home, necessitating expensive repairs. And many potential sources of water damage are in your home already, ranging from sinks to dishwashers and laundry machines.  

Flood detectors sense the presence of water, alerting you to a leak in progress. This early notification can make the difference between a minor cleanup and a major repair. Because leaks can occur across your home, you can install these devices wherever they might be necessary. They can be installed wirelessly, making them perfect for hard-to-reach places where a leak might first occur. 

Just as with other detectors, these detectors can notify you of a problem on your mobile device. That means you can head home to check out the problem or call a repair servicer to look into the issue.

Panic Buttons and Key Fobs

It’s good to know that help is always handy. Panic buttons extend your security system to your person, so you can quickly request assistance if anything goes wrong. They’re particularly helpful for older adults or people with medical conditions who might suddenly fall ill or fall and be unable to reach a phone.

Panic buttons can be worn on one’s wrist, on a loop around one’s neck, or clipped to clothing. When activated, they alert your security services’ monitoring team, who can then contact first responders to come to your rescue.

Many security systems have key fobs that include a panic button, allowing you to alert your security service with a single click. Key fobs also provide valuable convenience, allowing you to arm or disarm your system with a button rather than repeatedly entering codes. These compact gadgets can be added to your key ring, so they’re easy to remember when opening or closing your front door. 

Security Panels

As you can tell in reading this guide, so much of modern home security technology involves wireless devices working together. Accordingly, it’s helpful to have a command center for your various gadgets, allowing you to monitor and control all your security technology in one place.

That’s where your security panel comes in, providing a handy interface for all your devices. At ADT, ours is a touchscreen panel, with intuitive controls and a ton of helpful features. Best of all, our panel can also manage your other smart devices so that you can control all the technology across your home from one simple panel. Plus, if you choose to add new devices over time, your panel can seamlessly integrate new functionality. 

Of course, these panels can also control the security system’s primary functions, such as arming or disarming the system and alerting you to potential concerns. They also have panic buttons, allowing you to request help at any time. 

Mobile Apps

For modern security systems, mobile applications are increasingly crucial. Customers rely on them to interact with various devices, receive key alerts, and monitor their homes while they’re away. No matter how advanced your security system might be, you’ll need a great app to make the most of it. 

For example, the ADT Control app puts the full functionality of a security panel right in the palm of your hand. Wherever you are, you have total control of your security technology and smart devices. From arming your system and opening smart locks to viewing live camera feeds and responding to instant alerts, you’ll always be empowered to protect your home. 

Seamlessly Smart: Home Security System Meets Other Smart Devices

Home security is constantly getting smarter: Old tools are updated with automated abilities, and new gadgets provide novel ways to keep families safe. At the same time, smart technology is transforming so many other areas of life at home. From lighting to temperature, appliances to entertainment, modern homes rely on advanced technology for comfort and convenience.

What if you could manage all your smart devices through a single system, rather than using many apps and interfaces? A good home security system will allow you to do exactly that, integrating your other smart devices with the technology that you’re using to protect your home. 

Accordingly, when you consider which home security system will best suit your needs, you should also explore whether it will play nice with other smart technologies. Here are some of the smart home functions that a great security system will be able to integrate seamlessly.

Four Smart Devices to Integrate with Your Home Security System:

  • Smart lighting 

  • Smart thermostats

  • Smart garage controllers

  • Voice-controlled assistants

Smart Lighting

Controlling the lights around your home has some clear advantages. You can create the perfect lighting for any occasion, and save money by shutting off unnecessary illumination. No need to walk around the house flicking switches: You control it all from your phone or security panel. Plus, remotely controlling lights could help prevent burglaries, creating the appearance that you’re home even when you’re traveling. 

Better yet, getting smart lighting doesn’t need to be complicated: You can simply install smart light bulbs, which are compatible with your existing fixtures. These bulbs can instantly provide new functionality, such as dimming controls and timed commands. And when you integrate smart light bulbs with your home security system, you can also create customized automations. For example, you could have your smart lights turn on automatically when you walk in or illuminate the whole house whenever an alarm is triggered. 

Smart plugs and smart wall switches are some other great options for transforming your home’s lighting. These turn standard outlets and switches into smart gadgets, controlling the flow of electricity and providing new features, such as dimming. If you want smart performance without buying bulbs individually, these upgrades could be great options.

Smart Thermostats

Controlling your home’s climate can seriously cut costs: If you use heat or cooling only when your family needs it, you can save big on your monthly bills. On the other hand, when you are at home, it’s nice to precisely adjust the temperature to your liking. 

Smart thermostats allow you to control your home’s temperature down to the degree and set specific schedules for heating and cooling. If your home is empty during the day, you can set your thermostat to adjust automatically, so you don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. By the time your family arrives home, your smart thermostat will have already adjusted the temperature to match your preferences. 

Aside from saving energy, a smart thermostat can be beneficial in other ways as well. For example, it can alert you when your home gets too cold, posing a risk that your pipes might freeze. Or if you have pets at home, you can adjust the temperature for them even when you’re out of the house.

Smart Garage Controllers

Ever been in such a rush that you forget to close the garage door? A smart garage controller lets you manage access remotely, so you can open and close it using an app. A smart controller will even remind you if you’ve left it open accidentally, sending a notification to your smartphone.

Even better, installation can be surprisingly painless. These gadgets are compatible with most major garage door manufacturers, so adding a smart controller is a simple upgrade.

Speaking the Same Language: Total Voice Control

What’s even better than controlling your smart devices through a single app? Controlling them with your voice. When your smart devices respond to voice commands, you reach a whole new level of convenience. 

For example, ADT smart security systems is compatible with Alexa, your favorite voice assistant. You can ask her to perform helpful and important tasks, from adjusting the temperature to arming your system. 

Ready to control your smart home through your voice alone? With the right system set up, all you need to do is say the word. 

Wired or Wireless Home Security System?

Now that you’re familiar with the possible components of your home security system, you have an important decision to make about your setup as a whole. Many security companies offer both hard-wired and wireless installation options, and understanding their differences will help you make the best choice for your home.

Wired vs. Wired Home Security Systems

  • Wired Home Security Systems
  • Wireless Home Security Systems
  • Wired home security systems rely on a hardwired connection to receive power and transmit signals to a central hub.

  • Wireless home security systems use a secure network to keep your devices connected.

In hard-wired security systems, your sensors and other devices are connected through an extensive network of wires installed within your home’s walls. These wires supply power to your security devices and carry signals between gadgets and your monitoring service. 

This approach offers some distinct advantages: You’ll never have to worry about replacing batteries in any of your security devices, for example. If your home already has the necessary wiring, it can be tempting to take advantage of it. 

On the other hand, installing or upgrading a hard-wired system can be fairly labor-intensive, usually requiring the skills of a knowledgeable technician. And because every device needs to be wired, including door and window sensors, placement can be a challenge. In some parts of your home, wiring might not be possible; in others, it will be hard to conceal the wires required.

Thankfully, the advent of wireless security technology resolves many of these concerns, presenting more possibilities and fewer problems. Wireless systems utilize a secure network (separate from your home Wi-Fi) to keep your devices connected and your home secure. Your individual components come with built-in batteries, which typically last for years. 

That means you can position your gadgets wherever you need them, no rewiring necessary. Installation is refreshingly simple, and it’s easy to add new gadgets over time. Plus, wireless systems allow you to integrate your security system with other connected appliances, enabling the kind of total smart home control so many find valuable. 

If you’re devoted to a hard-wired approach, we certainly won’t try to convince you otherwise: ADT has long served customers using these technologies, and we’ll continue to do so. But even if you’ve never thought about a wireless system before, their practical benefits are well worth considering. When it comes to basic convenience and extra bells and whistles, wireless security systems are hard to beat. 

Installation Considerations: Professional or DIY?

As you evaluate home security solutions, you can’t overlook a major practical matter: Who will install your new system, and will their work hold up over time? After all, even the most impressive technology will only protect your home if implemented correctly.

In some cases, you’ll be responsible for setting up your system. Many companies take the DIY approach, giving customers detailed instructions for installation. In many cases, installing your system yourself can save you money, at least in terms of initial costs. 

Generally, this method is best suited to simpler setups, rather than intensive, multifaceted security systems. For example, our Blue by ADT systems are perfect for DIYers because the installation process is so straightforward. And if you do need any guidance, you can always call our support team to make sure the process goes smoothly.

If you’re considering a more complex set of security features, however, it’s wise to let a professional do the work. It’s important to be precise when protecting your loved ones, and even tech-savvy homeowners can struggle with the specifics of installation.

Don’t just hire any professional, however. Because it’s so essential that your system performs properly, it’s important to hire someone you can trust, with the expertise to meet your household’s particular needs. Plus, if your system ever needs maintenance, an update, or an upgrade in the future, you’ll want responsive and accountable service. 

ADT has America’s largest team of certified installation and service technicians. On average, they’ve worked for us for over nine years – constantly updating their skills to reflect the latest in home security technology. They’re passionate about protecting families like yours, and they appreciate ADT support in accomplishing that mission. 

Here are some specific ways that ADT goes the extra mile when it comes to installation:

  • We’ll visit your home for a free consultation, with no obligation to sign up with us.

  • With more certified technicians than any other company, we have the team and availability to install on your schedule.

  • We offer a free six-month warranty after installation.

  • If you ever have any questions about your new system, our support team is available to assist you 24/7.

Your Type of Home: Tailored Solutions for Owners and Renters

Because home security systems once required extensive installation, many renters were unable to access their benefits. Unless their landlords installed the system, these folks were out of luck until they purchased a home of their own.

Fortunately, new technology has changed this dynamic. Renters can now benefit from security systems tailored to their needs and lifestyles, with a range of exciting options that weren’t previously available. 

Blue by ADT is the perfect example of a renter-friendly security solution. You pick which devices you need, from standalone cameras to smart doorbells, and set the terms of your monitoring service. You don’t need to sign an extended contract, and you can install the entire system yourself. In fact, more people can get their Blue by ADT system up and running in under an hour, no experience necessary. 

These reasons might also make Blue by ADT a great choice for people who own apartments or condominiums. Just because your home isn’t a standalone building doesn’t mean you don’t deserve top-notch protection. Home security is all about individualized solutions, and you might have more options at your disposal than you imagined.

Monitoring Matters

All security systems are designed to key an eye on your home, whether you’re inside of it or elsewhere. As technology continually evolves, homeowners have more ways than ever to detect and defend against potential threats. 

But no matter how robust your home security system may be, a crucial question remains: Who’s actually watching out for your family in the event of an emergency?

Professional Monitoring vs. Self Monitoring

Professional Monitoring

Self Monitoring

  • A home security system that is professionally monitored means experts are watching your home.  
  • A self-monitoring home security system means you are responsible for monitoring your own system (i.e. setup mobile alerts).

Some companies offer self-monitoring options, meaning that customers use their tools to keep tabs on their own homes. To many customers, self-monitoring seems like a savvy solution: Their devices alert them to potential concerns, and they don’t need to pay for professional monitoring services.

The problem with this approach is that it forces customers to assume all responsibility for their safety. If your system is triggered and you don’t respond, there’s no one else to assess the situation and respond appropriately. If you miss a notification, no one else can alert first responders on your behalf. 

Even if you do receive an alert in time, it can be tough to leap into action. Say you’re traveling in another state and suddenly get notified of suspicious movement around your front door. If you do decide to call 911, you’ll reach the police department in the area where you’re traveling, rather than the authorities closest to your property. Do you know the exact number of your home police department?

Don’t get us wrong: Self-monitoring security systems can be helpful, especially when compared to no security system at all. But professional monitoring offers far better protection, with experts on call to assist in any emergency.

That being said, not all professional monitoring services are equally capable of protecting your family. Many companies outsource their monitoring to outside call centers, whose expertise and service may not meet your expectations. If an emergency situation does arise, you could be relying on a completely different company than the one you’re paying each month. 

That’s why ADT never outsources its monitoring. We’re committed to keeping you safe, and we’d never shift that responsibility onto another company. If you choose to entrust us, we’ll be the ones watching over your home. 

It’s not just that we do our monitoring ourselves. We go further than anyone else to ensure we’re there for you, with greater expertise and resources than any other home security company. As the most experienced team in the business, we take pride in offering unparalleled protection.

Here are some of the things that set our professional monitoring services apart: 

  • We have exceptional relationships with first responders, and we’re honored to be their allies in keeping you safe.

  • The average employee at our monitoring centers has been with us for five years, bringing passion and valuable experience to their position.

  • ADT has three times as many monitoring centers as any of our competitors.

  • We own and operate all our monitoring centers, so you know you’re always in good hands. 

A Company You Can Count On

While home security technology has rapidly advanced in recent years, protecting your family isn’t all about gadgets. When it comes to selecting the best security system, you have to consider the team behind the tools. Plenty of companies offer home security services, so how can you know which one you can count on?

In some ways, choosing a home security provider involves many of the same factors as any other purchase. You’re hoping to give your business to a company that delivers on its promises and won’t leave you in the lurch after a deal is done. Just as with other services you pay for, you’re looking for value, reliability, and top-notch performance – with as few hassles and headaches as possible. 

In another sense, however, choosing a home security company has much higher stakes than a standard purchase. Because you’re protecting your family’s well-being and peace of mind, excellent service is non-negotiable. Trust is also essential: If you worry that your security company could fall short, you won’t feel the confidence or comfort you deserve as a customer.

In our book, trust is earned through consistent action. Your security company should have an established record of keeping customers safe and having their backs on a daily basis. As we mentioned earlier, consistent monitoring is a crucial component. But there are also other important ways to show commitment to customers. 

If you encounter a problem or question, will you have to wait on hold for hours? Will you get a qualified and compassionate team member, or an outsourced call center representative without the tools to help? If your system requires maintenance, how quickly can a technician come to your assistance? If someone does try to target your home, who will help you pick up the pieces?

At ADT, our team of 18,000 professionals is constantly working to deliver unmatched service in the home security industry. That’s been our mission for nearly 150 years, and our commitment to that vision has always fueled our success. By delivering for our customers in ways large and small, we demonstrate that we’re worthy of protecting their families. We hope we’ll earn the honor of serving your family, too. 

It’s easy to make sweeping promises, but we believe in making specific commitments to our customers. Here are some ways that ADT stands apart from other security companies when it comes to consistent service:

  • When you call our service team, you’ll reach a real human in just a few rings. No automated system or agonizing wait times: Just actual team members ready to help however they can.

  • If your home security system needs service, we’ll send a certified technician over for same-day or next-day service. Your system should never be down for an extended period, and we have the team to resolve any problems promptly.

  • We’re confident your ADT experience will be excellent, and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is. That’s why customers get a six-month money-back guarantee, so they have half a year to hold us to our promises. If you’re unhappy after that time, you’ll get your money back. 

  • If a burglary does occur while your system is armed, we’ll help your family recover financially. We’ll pay up to $500 of your insurance deductible so that you can access your insurance benefits without extra costs. 

  • Our team members care about the communities they serve, constantly giving back to the places they protect. ADT professionals are often your neighbors, so they’re truly invested in keeping your neighborhood safe. 

We hope this guide helps you consider which home security systems and companies will best protect your family. With the information we’ve shared, you’ll be well-equipped to make a great choice. 

Of course, customization is key to finding the right system for your family: Your home security setup should be tailored to your lifestyle. That’s why we offer a free, no-obligation expert consultation so that you can explore your options in more detail. We’ll visit you at home to recommend customized solutions, and make sure the home security system you choose is the perfect fit for you and your family. 

Reach out to us today and find out just how seriously we take your service and security.

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