An introduction & guide to home security systems

An introduction & guide to home security systems

key in lock with a keychain that reads "home sweet home"

A home is often the largest single investment a person makes over the course of their lifetime. What’s more, once a considerable sum is spent on a home, it’s then filled by some of the homeowner’s most valuable possessions. To top it all off, a house provides the physical means of protecting the homeowner and homeowner’s family from the elements, unwanted guests, and other external factors.

When viewed through the lens of just how much value is packed into a proportionately small space, protecting one’s home, family, and belongings with a home security systems seems like an obvious choice—and yet, not even 30% of homes in United States have such a system installed. Besides a few easily dispelled misconceptions about home security systems, one of the chief barriers is that homeowners simply don’t know where to start when it comes to protecting their homes. The good news? EPS Security has been working with Michigan homeowners for more than six decades to design custom home security solutions, so we’ve compiled a guide to getting started on finding a security system—and provider—that fits your needs.

door broken at the latch

Why do I need home security?

Home security systems help your family, pets, belongings, and physical home stand guard against the threats that face it daily. First and foremost, home security systems protect your home from the threat of home invasion and burglary. Nearly 850,000 burglaries occurred in homes in 2017 alone, costing homeowners around $2,000 per incident. An array of sensors, locks, and more work together to both deter and detect would-be home intruders whether you are home at night or at work during the day. Even the mere presence of a system can help to protect your from burglary, with 60% of burglars admitting the awareness of a security system in a home would cause them to choose a different, more vulnerable target.

But a home security system protects from more than “just” intrusion. On average, 354,400 home fires cause a total of $6.9 billion in damage per year and 2,650 fatalities. What’s more, at least 430 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, with thousands more hospitalized from consumption of the odorless, tasteless gas. A comprehensive home security system also acts as a fire alarm and life safety system, using a variety of sensors to discover and alert homeowners of fire-related threats to their home and health. A security system can also use specialized sensors to detect costly environmental concerns such as water leaks, potentially saving homeowners thousands of dollars in related repairs.

house in the autumn with a superimposed CO detectorWhat’s available to me?

The benefits of a home security system are evident. Even so, many people are unaware of just exactly what a security system can provide for them and what features are available. The modern home security system is a versatile mechanism, built for customization, convenience, and above all else, unimpeachable protection. Whether your goal is to protect your baseball card collection or your newborn daughter, keep an eye on an aging grandparent or pet, or supervise and monitor a second home, cabin, or cottage, a security solution can be found to fit your needs.

Intrusion / security alarm

Elements of an intrusion alarm system include motion sensors, door locks, door and window contacts, glass break sensors, and other devices to protect the perimeter of your home and alert you to unwanted visitors. “Intrusion alarm” is an umbrella term for other specialty devices such as water leak detectors or low temperature sensors used to detect environmental concerns such as flooding or freezing.

Fire / life safety alarm

Smoke detectors, heat sensors, and carbon monoxide detectors are placed throughout your home with the intention of the earliest possible detection of life-threatening fires and carbon monoxide leaks. The number of devices and location are often determined by local fire codes determined by authorities having jurisdiction.

Video surveillance

For years, video surveillance systems were prohibitively expensive, often used only in large commercial formats. In the last decade, prices have dropped as dramatically as the technology has improved, giving home owners an affordable way to keep an eye on their home and those inside of it. Indoor and outdoor digital video cameras can be viewed from applications on your phone, desktop computer, or tablet. Even doorbells can come equipped with video cameras and two-way audio, giving you complete visibility of your home whether you’re home or away.

total connect app and family sitting on a couch

Home automation

Internet integration with various components of the modern home security system have led to the “smart home” security solution. Door locks, light bulbs, garage doors, and even thermostats can be activated or deactivated with the push of a button from a single application. Devices can be flipped on or off at given times based on predetermined schedules. As long as your phone, computer, or tablet has an internet connection, you can even arm of disarm your alarm system and check your alarm history with ease.

24/7/365 monitoring

Of course, a security system only provides truly comprehensive coverage if someone is listening even when you’re not. Most break-ins happen during lunchtime hours when homeowners are likely to be at work. If your cottage security system alarms onsite due to a leaking pipe but you’re not there, it could cause untold amounts of damage to your property. One of the most critical components of any security solution is 24/7 monitoring by a professional security company. With modern homes capable of burning to the ground in a matter of minutes, finding a security company with rapid and efficient response and dispatch rates and a track record of excellence is absolutely necessary. Furthermore, a professional alarm company must be monitoring your system every moment of every year, ensuring that a signal sent from a properly functioning home security system is received by operators late at night, during severe weather, or even on holidays.

house with an EPS sign out front

Where do I start?

Once you get a sense of what sort of protection you’re looking for in your home, it’s time to do some serious research. There is a plethora of “professional” security providers in the world, but not all security companies were created equally. Firstly, you’ll want to find a local provider to ensure that your interactions with their security consultants and technicians is swift—not just now, but ten years from now if your system requires immediate maintenance. Local companies also often develop positive relationships with the police and fire departments in their service areas, which can lead to easier installations from better understanding of local codes and ordinances.

Secondly, you’ll want to find a provider who has their own monitoring center, also known as a central station. If an alarm in Grand Rapids, MI is being received and dispatched by an operator in Missouri, it’s likely to slow down the process of sending emergency services—and when your home is on fire or an intruder is present, time is not something you can afford to waste. Also, companies who monitor their own systems instead of contracting the work to third parties develop better communication and procedures between the monitoring channels and the service departments. If an alarm signal results in the need for a service technician or an emergency visit, a company that handles both monitoring and system servicing is better equipped to handle the issue at hand.

The quality of a company’s service and products can be hard to research, but the internet has made it much easier to do. How long has the company in question been in business? When people review them on sites such as Google, are they satisfied with their interactions? And while a layman may not know an AXIS© bullet camera from a Resideo© Total Connect camera, take a look at the vendors a security company buys their products from, as a security system is only as good as its weakest device.

Finally, take a look at the procedures in place for quoting, designing, installing, and servicing equipment. Does the security company provide free on-site consultations to get started on your solution? Does it have a dedicated team of highly-trained engineers to help design the unique setup for your unique situation? What’s the procedure for fixing broken devices? Who will answer questions if technical questions arise down the line? A truly top-to-bottom security company should have the appropriate protocols and staffing to help you keep your system working as well on Day 1,000 as it did on Day 1.

eps van parked in front of a house

Why should I choose EPS Security?

Even people who’ve worked with or owned home security systems for most of their lives started without an iota of experience. At EPS Security, we want to help educate inquiring customers as how to best protect their home—and to show them exactly how we can provide a system to do just that. We’ve protected Michigan homes (and businesses!) for 65 years and have grown to become the state’s largest family-owned security company. Our sales consultants, engineers, and technicians operate out of offices in Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Petoskey, and Kalamazoo to ensure quick responses to our customers’ needs. Even our award-winning Monitoring Center is based in our Grand Rapids corporate office, ensuring your alarm signals are handled locally, not by a third party in another state.

We pride ourselves on constructing custom solutions using only the most highly regarded vendors in the business including Resideo©, Honeywell©, AXIS©, Exacq©, Digital Watchdog©, and more. And we don’t subscribe to the “one-size-fits-all” mentality of many national providers or do-it-yourself brands, either. Our security consultants will meet you at your home to marry your needs to our expertise, providing you with a system that’s perfectly adapted for protecting what matters most to you. If you’re new to security—or even if you’re looking at updating your current home security setup—look no further than EPS Security and let us help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Get started on protecting your home

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