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Choosing the Best Security System for Your Needs: Expert Guide

April 10, 20204 min read

Which is better for your smart home, security or surveillance?

Are you looking for cameras for your home or business? One of the big questions we often get asked is which is better,  Surveillance or Security?

In order to really answer the question, we must look at the differences:

Surveillance Systems

Surveillance is generally used for watching someone or something (i.e. your home, business, or other property) to prevent or detect intruders. Systems are set up by strategically placing video cameras in designated areas to capture events as they occur.

Surveillance footage may be displayed on a monitor and/or recorded for future use. If someone breaks in, your cameras will capture everything and you may have evidence of the intrusion. By the time you receive this information, a significant amount of time may have passed before the intrusion is reported. Some newer surveillance systems offer apps for smart devices that can notify you immediately.

Surveillance Systems

Surveillance cameras are useful for deterring crime, constant observation, and the access of recorded footage.

Security Systems

Security systems are more advanced with a network of alarms and sensors. These systems can also be setup to protect you from non-crime situations such as fire, police or ambulance needs. Security systems enable 24/7 monitoring; with sensors available for floods, heat/smoke/fire, motion, glass break, doors, and windows; and real-time alerts sent directly to you and proper authorities.

Many security systems today offer recorded video similar to surveillance systems.

Security Systems Automation

There are three different types of security systems:

  1. Monitored systems are the most common. A monitoring agent at the vendor is notified when an alarm is set off and contacts local authorities as well as the designated person on the account.

  2. Self-monitored systems are similar to a monitored system, but instead of an outside agent being notified, you receive alerts via cellphone or other smart device and are responsible for contacting authorities. With this option, you save on monthly fees, but also risk missing an alert.

  3. Local security systems are the most basic type of security system. They sound loud alarms or sirens that can be heard in the immediate area. These alarms rely on alerting someone in the area to call the authorities.

What’s the challenge?

If you are looking at a security system for the first time or looking to upgrade your existing system, most of our clients want two things:

  1. A secure home they can easily monitor from anywhere

  2. Good value without long, constricting contracts

There are thousands of security cameras on the market, and more every day.  It has become increasingly confusing to figure out which one is going to offer the best solution for your needs. 

The Smart security market has been growing at the fastest rate of all smart home products to date because it is a gateway product to turning your home into a Smart Home. Most of these new companies, however, will not be around for more than a few years.

Professionally Monitored Security Systems

Security Systems

Many of the professionally monitored security companies will offer the hardware for free or at a discounted rate. Why? The profit comes from monthly monitoring charges. If you are locked into a multi-year security contract where you were offered a deal of a free or cheap security system, they will more than cover their costs.   

Some of our clients have tried to get out of these contracts, but it can become very expensive to pay the penalties. The client is the one in need of protection from being robbed!

Pros – Professionally monitored means that, when something goes wrong, the police and fire department are notified and dispatched.

Cons – See above… Choose a company without long contracts who want to continually earn your business.

Smart Home Surveillance

In the Smart Home Surveillance market, you find companies like Nest, Arlo, Ring, Scout, and many other products out there. Each offers its own features in terms of product hardware and software.

Some things to think about:

Software – How easy is it to see everything on your Smart phone or computer? It’s hard to tell this from the box at a big box retailer. You want to know this so you aren’t burned by poor user experience design. This is why we offer recommendations.

Home Integration – Does the system integrate with other home control systems? Google, as an example, works with Nest, Honeywell Lyric or Alexa/Google Home voice control compatibility.

Technology features – Can it recognize familiar faces? Does it have cloud recording capability so you can go back and view a certain day and time?

The key is to figure out what you want ahead of time and shop for those features or enlist an expert to help distill everything down for you and provide recommendations.

Pros – Many offer advanced home control features and integration – they are typically forward looking with software updates and upgrades.

Cons – The market is saturated with a lot of “low-priced” companies who likely won’t be around in 12 months. Some companies try to wedge their way into monthly service fees by offering their own monitoring without a contract in place. You must ensure these plans are offering you real value and not just a false sense of security.

If you would like a professional recommendation on which would be best for your needs, give us a call.

smart home security systembest home security systemprofessionally monitored security systemsecurity system vs surveillance system
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