Installing a security system in the home or office is something many of us would’ve pondered at some point. Whether you’re the property owner or just renting, ensuring the premises is secure will not only provide peace of mind but also help to lower insurance premiums.

Invariably, however, it stays on the ‘to do list’, and there’s probably many reasons for that. The good old ‘it will never happen to our house, this neighbourhood is too good’ has to be right up there with the high cost of contracting an electrician to do the job. But 2020 offers an abundance of cost-effective home security options that are simple to install and can be integrated into your smart home for easy management via a smartphone. Whatever your home security requirements, there’s an off-the-shelf solution for every budget. And remember, wireless security offers complete portability, so even if you’re renting, when you move on, the cameras go with you. So, let’s get started…

What do I need?
The first question you’ll need to ask yourself is, ‘what am I protecting?’ If you live in an apartment block and are considering home security, then door and motion sensors and internal cameras will be high on the shopping list.

For a stand-alone property, external cameras that cover all potential entry points – with door and window sensors for additional security – should be considered. Some security cameras include a high-pitched siren to ward off would-be intruders, which can be activated through a smart device.

Internal cameras not only provide coverage within the property but can also be used to monitor pets throughout the day and even check up on the kids when they get home from school. Remember, your security system doesn’t have to be as extensive as Fort Knox – anything is better than nothing. Work out what you think you need before you look at buying.

What is my budget?
This is the big one. The good news is that you don’t need to invest in an expensive wired-in system with ongoing monitoring fees. A wireless security system is not only cost-effective, it’s more aesthetically pleasing (no unsightly wires) and totally portable. It also puts you in full control with everything linked and accessible through an app on your smartphone. Potentially, you can be up and running with just the cost of a single camera. Many companies offer multi-pack kits at a reduced price, so make sure you do your research.

Is a system easy to set up?
The beauty of modern consumer technology is the ease of installation. From routers to robot vacuums, the days of needing an IT wizard to set up your tech at home are long gone. Literally everything is controlled through an app on your smart device, so you can arm and disarm cameras and even let the cleaner or dog walker into your home through a smart lock – all with a tap of a finger. Some basic DIY skills may be needed for installing brackets or locks.

Any other tips?
Ensure that the system you choose is compatible with your smart device. Most smart security systems will work across both Android and iOS devices, although products like the Eve range have been designed specifically for iOS. And while the temptation is always there to opt for the cheapest, this is an area where you really want to shoot for a brand name you can trust. Good Wi-Fi coverage around the home is also essential to get the best results.

 

Caught on camera
Unless you’ve got the drooling hellhound from The Omen prowling your property and growling through bared teeth at anyone who passes the front gate, your second best protective measure is a camera. Alarms can be effective, but a camera capable of catching great resolution video footage is a big deterrent to burglars.
Good quality external video cameras are waterproof, have enhanced night vision capabilities and pet and parcel detection technology, and can be zoomed to reveal detailed images. The more premium models offer an in-built siren, custom motion detection zones, and two-way talk capabilities. Quality wireless cameras use rechargeable batteries, so you’re still protected during a power cut.

Subscriptions
Some security camera brands require a monthly subscription service to unlock extended cloud storage or additional features on the camera. You can find full details and costs of these services on the brands’ respective websites.

Keep out!
It’s not always possible to avoid being broken into, but below is the best advice straight from the boys and girls in blue to put the odds back in your favour.

  1. Lock all doors and windows even if you’re at home.
  2. Most homes that are burgled do not have a security system. Installing one will help you keep unwanted visitors out.
  3. Put up stickers and signs indicating that there’s a security system, Neighbourhood Watch scheme or dog in place.
    Install sensor lights around your property.
  4. Don’t leave garden tools in the back garden. These can be used to break in.
  5. Keep your hedges trimmed and low – burglars prefer properties that are concealed from the road.
  6. If you go on holiday (remember that word, 2020?) ask a neighbour to bring in your mail and bins.
  7. Never leave your purse, wallet or keys where they can be easily found. Cards, cash and car keys are all easy targets.
    Keep valuables like jewellery well-hidden or in a safe.
  8. Don’t leave house keys outside. It’s better to keep them with a trustworthy neighbour.
  9. Make sure you mark your property with microdots, an engraver or UV pen to enable identification should they be recovered.
  10. If you go away on holiday, don’t post photos on social media.