How Do Security Systems Work?

If you own or even rent a home, chances are you’ve thought about securing your valuables and making your family safer by purchasing a security system. But, let’s face it — there are a lot of ways to go when it comes to setting up your security system and many different types of equipment to think about having in your home. The whole process can feel overwhelming, so let’s start with the basics. Exactly how does a home security system work? Let’s dive in.

The basics of home security systems

There are dozens of alarm systems on the market. Each one will have some or all of the following components which work together to secure your home.

  • Control panel: Think of the control panel as your security system’s brain. The control panel arms and disarms the system and communicates to all the other parts. It will usually have a keypad where you enter in passcodes and the control panel will ultimately sound the alarm. If you have a monitored system, it will be able to both alert you and automatically call the authorities if your home is broken into.
  • Cameras: Cameras are a key player in a security system. If someone breaks in, having video footage will mean that you have evidence to give to police. Police would still be alerted without one, but a camera will help authorities track down the bad guy. Security cameras can also be set up to begin recording if any motion is detected and to simultaneously alert you if that happens.
  • Motion sensors: These tools will perform different tasks within your security system. Homeowners will place them indoors or outside to alert when motion is detected within their detection range. Used outdoors, motion sensors will turn on a light if anyone is approaching. When installed indoors, sensors are set up to sound an alarm if the room is entered.
  • Sensors on points of entry: These types of sensors are placed on a door or window where thieves would attempt to enter through during a break-in. If one of the sensors is tripped, an alarm would sound and alert authorities.
  • Alarms: How do home security systems work without an alarm? This is pretty much the most important component to your overall security system. The alarm is loud enough to not only scare a burglar off, but also to alert the neighbors that something is wrong.
  • Company signage: While you may not think of your home security company sign alone as helping to keep intruders away, it actually deters thieves. In fact, people even buy fake security signs to place in their front yard and windows to make burglars believe that there is a system in place. Signs and stickers are important ways that you can let the bad guys know you mean business.

How do alarm systems work if someone breaks in?

Now that you know all the different components of a security system, how do home security systems work when they are breached? Well, the answer depends on the type of system you purchase.

  • Professionally monitored alarm system: If someone tries to break in and your home is professionally monitored, the first thing that will happen is motion detectors or sensors will trip the alarm. The loud alarm will sound and the security company will try to contact you through the control panel. If your security cameras are set up to a motion sensor, they will be recording too. The security company will contact you through the system or text or call your phone number. If it is determined to be an actual break-in in progress, the security company alerts authorities who will then quickly set out to your home.
  • Non-monitored alarm system: Something is definitely better than nothing when it comes to home security, but there are some disadvantages to this type of system. While the alarm still sounds in the event of a break-in and you may still have a working security camera, no other person will be automatically calling authorities or attempting to get a hold of you. That is up to the homeowner and some systems may not alert you if you’re out of the house. In that case, you are left hoping the alarm and security camera scares off intruders before they can steal your belongings.

Why security systems are worth getting for homeowners

Security systems are proven to deter thieves. According to a  study done at UNC Charlotte,  a visible security system is the number one reason why a thief would avoid breaking in to a home. Researchers asked 400 convicted burglars what made them avoid a house before even attempting to break in and 60% said security signs and alarm systems were enough to make them move onto the next home. While some thieves are simply brazen and will enter a home no matter what, it’s clear the majority try and steer clear from homes that take security seriously.

Alarm systems give you peace of mind. You know installing a home security system deters burglars and can even alert authorities if someone breaks in. But, with an alarm system, you are also paying for peace of mind. While you’re at work or away on vacation, it will probably just make you feel better knowing that your home is protected. Security systems can save you money. You may think security systems will only  drain your pocketbook and, you’re right, they can be expensive. But, consider how much you would lose if thieves made off with important valuables in your home. Additionally, some insurance companies will actually reduce your rates if you go with a security system. There’s no reason why you have to spend a fortune to get a good security system in place. Do your research and figure out how you can protect your valuables without spending too much money.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.

Officer James Banta

Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.

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