Choosing a home security system is easy if you know the right questions to ask.
A good security system can safeguard your most important possessions and protect your family, but a bad security system could cost you thousands, cause emotional trauma and leave you with a bunch of hardware you’ll never use.
If you’re thinking about getting a security system, I’ve put together some key questions you MUST ask the companies you’re considering.
Types of security systems
Before we look at the questions to ask when considering a security system, I want to go over the different types of security systems because they are not all the same.
Some systems can be purchased online with enough information, while other systems might require a phone call or even an inspection of your property by a security expert.
- DIY cameras – these are easy to set up, and come with an app so you can live view and more from your smartphone. You can usually find enough information about these systems online before you buy.
- Professionally installed cameras – these systems usually include local video storage but can also include cloud storage with an app so you can live view and review historical footage.
- Back to base alarms – these systems can involve sensors and/or cameras, a control panel, and other hardware.
- CCTV – these systems are very expensive and mostly used for commercial, government and large businesses with an in-house security team. These systems require meeting with a security organisation to scope out your needs.
The questions in this post are primarily for the first two types of security systems.
As long as you seek out the right information (I’ll tell you how), you should be able to find the right system for your needs and one that will protect you.
Ready? Let’s start…
1. If someone tries to break in, how will your system protect my home?
If the worse should happen, you need to know how the security system will work.
Most security systems will alert you when someone enters your home, while others can deter burglars away or help capture critical evidence.
You need to decide what you want out of a home security system because not all systems do everything. A good follow-up question is “What one thing does your system do better than anyone else?”
Be wary of systems that only provide sensors and no cameras. False alarms are a big problem with most security systems, but with cameras, you can at least see what triggered your alarm.
Some security systems will send out a guard in the event of a break-in (ask if there is a fee for this service – there usually is) while other systems rely on you to take action / call the Police.
Whatever your needs are, make sure the product does what you want it to do if there is a security threat.
2. Will the product I’m buying today, be better tomorrow?
Make sure the company you choose is constantly innovating. The product you buy today should improve over time. Software is what powers the best security systems so you should expect future product updates.
Ideally, you want a company that is at the forefront of technology. Do they have apps for your phone, tablet and computer? Does the system integrate with Apple watch or Apple TV?
We all know the difference between a responsive, well-designed app and a slow, buggy app. When you consider you’ll be managing your system from your phone, you want an app that is a joy to use.
If a company charges a subscription fee it can be a good sign that the company is committed to providing a service and will invest heavily in the product to keep you happy.
3. Can you share any customer testimonials or successful case studies?
There is no better validation for a product than seeing successful case studies or positive testimonials from real customers.
I recommend checking trustworthy reviews sites such as Trustpilot or Amazon.
Be wary of product reviews that are only positive. No product pleases everyone.
For the same reason don’t let a few bad reviews turn you off a product or company. People will find fault with even the best products.
Do your research and trust your instincts.
4. What hardware is needed?
Every security system involves hardware. But not all hardware is great or needed.
For example, a lot of traditional back to base alarm systems involve lots of door and window sensors plus a control panel to turn on/off your alarm.
However, with cameras and software that can automatically turn your alarm on/off depending on your location, there simply isn’t a need for sensors or a control panel.
Don’t be fooled into buying a security system with lots of hardware you don’t need.
And whatever hardware is involved, make sure the equipment is easily integrated with a mobile and desktop app.
5. What kind of warranty do you offer?
As with any hardware purchase, ask if there is a warranty on equipment. Most companies should offer some type of warranty.
Warranties are designed to reduce the risk of financial impact should there be equipment failure.
6. What kind of customer support do you offer?
Does the company offer support after installation and setup? Find out the company’s business hours, and if they offer email or phone support.
7. Is there a contract? If so, what are the terms?
A long-term investment in a security system can require signing a contract. This is not always a bad thing as it can guarantee ongoing advancements and support for you.
What is more important are the terms of the agreement. Make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to. Check things like the renewal process or what happens if you cancel.
8. What happens if I relocate?
In the event that you are planning on moving in the future, you will want to know if you can take your system with you and any fees involved.
9. How secure is the system?
Most security systems these days involve software, so it’s important the company you choose is doing everything to protect its customer’s data.
For example, here at Cammy we have a dedicated team of engineers to ensure customer data is protected.
We protect data in the cloud using random file names that are impossible for a malicious attacker to reconstruct or guess.
We also ensure the login passwords of our customers are stored as salted bcrypt hashes with a high work factor in a secure database.
In addition, our live view access to cameras is password protected. These passwords are stored securely on our servers as encrypted files and we do not store the private key used to encrypt them.
We take security very seriously and so should every security company.
10. What other benefits are there besides security?
If you’re going to invest into a security system it’s worth looking at what other benefits you’ll get apart from protection should the worse happen.
This is what makes home security cameras so great. Not only do you get the benefits of security and peace of mind, but you can also use cameras to check on the kids, monitor pets, or see if a package has arrived.
Ideally, you want a security system that you get value out of every day.
So that’s the 10 questions. I hope this article will help you when deciding on a security system.
If you would like to learn more about our security system, here is some more information.