Home security systems are very common these days. Almost every home or business will have a surveillance system to ensure that their property remains safe at all times. One thing most security system owners often find really annoying is the fact that they have to wire their properties in a very specific way. Whether or not your system supports a specific type of wiring will dictate how much you spend whenever you buy an additional camera for your system or upgrade your system as a whole. There are a few variations of things people usually have to deal with when it comes to their system.
Moving into a house with existing wires and security systems
Most modern houses will usually come with an existing wiring system or even a full fletched surveillance system. In fact, most houses come with alarm system kits such as ADT or Honeywell wired security systems. If your house comes with a system like this, then you do not really have much to worry about as they do not really give you a lot of options in terms of modularity. However, there are some variations that are still configurable. If you want to toy with ideas that you have, it is possible that you might trigger them accidentally every now and then. Just be aware that it is normal and accept that it is a part of the process.
If you move into a house that has a really old security system, it is possible that you might have a system that does not function properly. Even if that is the case, more often than not, the wires will still be usable. If that is the case, the existing cables in the house should be able to power whatever surveillance system you are looking to use or purchase. An example of that would be connecting preexisting CAT5 ethernet cables to CCTV cameras. So, the options in that scenario are:
- Use the existing home security or alarm system or use an unmonitored home security system
- Upgrade your system to a system that can be monitored 24/7 over an app in your phone or over the computer
- Abandon the preexisting wiring or the built-in system and buy a completely new one
Before you select any of the options available to you, you must make sure you know exactly what you want out of your system. Trying to select one of the options and then shifting to a different option can be very expensive. So, know of the specific benefits and risks of your system.
Option 1: Using existing home security/ alarm system
If the security system that the house or the property came with is still functional or in good shape, the first thing you should check is to see if it is a hardwired alarm system or if it is a wireless alarm system. An example would be a new ADT security system that has cellular monitoring or landline monitoring or even Honeywell security systems. Signing up with monitoring systems like this usually provides a good way to shore up your defense and fortify the security of your property.
Using the preexisting systems available in a property or even customizing it is a lot cheaper than replacing them and buying new ones. For example, if you want to use the smoke detectors, glass break detectors, heat sensors, PIR motion detectors that the property came with, then you will save yourself a lot of trouble. It also minimizes the trouble of running the wires that are required for the installation of new products.
The downside to using this option is that you might have to commit to a long term contract. The contracts for systems like this are usually 2 or 3 years. On top of the monitoring service fee, there are other fees associated as well. If that is enough to make you doubt in this option, you might be even more anxious to learn that the rate can even vary for systems like this. For example, SimpliSafe charges 14.99 per month for monitoring with its services.
If you do decide to go down this road, an important thing to consider would be if the company you are working with has a good track record. Another thing to consider would be how their customer care is. If they do not provide satisfactory service or they do not provide everything that you are looking for, then going down this road may not be such a good idea for you. In order to avoid being stuck with a company that you do not like or that does not provide good service, you should consider abiding by the checklist here:
- Talk to the service provider about the services and features they provide.
- Read any user review about the company that you can find. If you find reviews by other reputed sources, you should consider reading those as well.
- Compare prices across different companies to make sure nobody is taking advantage of you.
- Negotiate with monitoring companies to get a better deal. Sometimes, their initial price will be very high because they expect their customers to haggle. So, negotiate to tailor their service to your needs.
Option 2: Upgrading the preexisting home security/ alarm system
If your preexisting system is old or it is not functioning properly, then upgrading to a newer one is a good idea. If you upgrade to a newer surveillance system, you will almost definitely be able to monitor your home’s security remotely either via a mobile app or via your computer. In the modern-day and age, that kind of functionality is absolutely crucial. On top of that, you would not be locked into a contract that you would not want to be a part of. Finally, and perhaps the most important benefit of going down this route would be that you do not have to depend on outsiders to monitor your home.
When you are trying to reprogram or reconfigure your existing alarm system or your existing surveillance system to a system that you monitor yourself, for example, an unmonitored ADT security system, window or door sensors, control panels for your sensors, and even heat detectors might need to be replaced. That might require you to do a lot of research and that would be very time-consuming. Not to mention the fact that you would have to also spend a good amount of money to make sure you buy good products. Another issue that a lot of people face is buying from the right source. When it comes to buying security products, one thing that happens is that they do not buy from reputed vendors. So, their products have issues. So, it is always good to buy from trusted vendors.
Upgrading alarm systems that are hard-wired
Upgrading a hard-wired system is a hassle and a lot of people often struggle to do it properly. That is why we will give you some methods to do it properly if you are looking to do it by yourself without the help of an outside company.
- Adding a control panel: A good thing to do if you go down this route would be to integrate a control panel for your system. If the existing technology you have uses Z Wave, Zigbee, X10, UPB, or A10 technology and you wish to use it for self-monitoring, then reaching out to the manufacturers is always a good first step. Otherwise, you might get confused about what steps to take and that is never a good problem to have.
- Converting wired alarm systems to wireless systems: Here is a step by step guide on how you can switch your DSC system to be connected to the Wi-Fi and how you can use that to monitor from a distance.
- Integrating your system to smart home devices: it is always possible to use the existing equipment in property and turn that into an unmonitored security system so that you can integrate your home automation into the system.
- Adding DIY IP security systems: If your house is just prewired and it does not have a security system built-in, then you should always choose a high-end security camera for your prewired house.
- Turning analog systems to IP security systems: if the system that came with the property is functioning and is capable of working properly, it is possible that you would just want to be able to access them remotely without changing anything else.
Option 3: getting rid of the built-in system completely and replacing it with a brand new system
In a lot of scenarios, the security system you will find with a property will be outdated and it will not be functioning properly. The system may not be able to monitor as well as you want or it may not integrate with modern technology like smartphones as well as you want it to. In that scenario, it might be a good idea to get an entirely new system with modern cameras so that your surveillance system allows you to be on top of everything that happens in your property.
Going down this route does not really have a lot of cons. The only thing that you should be wary of before deciding to go down this path is the fact that this can be very expensive and you need to weigh if spending so much is really worth the added benefits your system will provide you with.
Using or replacing existing systems in your home: What you should consider
Regardless of what path you choose to take, you should always keep in mind certain things when you are dealing with security systems.
Factor 1: The age and endurance of existing security systems
An important thing you should definitely consider when thinking about your surveillance system is its age. For example, if the alarm system in your home has been there for less than 5 years, then chances are, they are still going to function quite well and it may be worthwhile to use them. Even if your system works properly, if they are more than 5 years old, it may be worthwhile to get better and newer products as they might not provide enough security for your property. The mean endurance of a home security system is usually 10 years. If you use a system for longer than that, it is possible that your alarms will not work properly. Sometimes they may work and sometimes they may not. The question is, will you really take the risk of your security system not working when you need it the most? Another issue with old surveillance equipment is that companies usually charge higher fees to repair older models of your products. On top of that, some old security systems may not integrate well with IP security cameras. It is possible that some might not even work if you try using them in a system like that. Keeping all these things in mind, you should really consider what to do with your system if they are more than 10 years old.
Factor 2: Your expectations and what you want out of your security system
Let us say that your existing security system has been only used for 5 years or less. So, they probably still function pretty well. In that scenario, continuing to use them may be a pretty good idea. It is possible that your system might be an ADT system in that case. You may find that there are a variety of components that systems like these usually have. For example, security cameras, sirens, door/window motion sensors, and some detectors to name a few. So, before you decide to go down a specific route, think about your specific property and what kind of features will be beneficial for you.
Factor 3: Services and costs of your current home security systems
It is possible that when you move into your apartment or when you buy a property, the house might still be contracted with a security company. In that scenario, you really do not have a lot of options as to what you should do with it. However, if you do not have a preexisting contract, you should attempt to learn as much as you can as mentioned earlier in the article.
Whenever you are thinking about the surveillance system in your house, you should contemplate all the options available to you. You should always conduct thorough research before you do anything. Hopefully, this article was helpful to you. If you have any questions about anything, feel free to reach out to us.