THIS SIMPLE ADVICE WILL SAVE YOU TIME, MONEY & HEADACHES WHEN BUYING A SECURITY CAMERA SYSTEM
I hope my experience looking for a security camera system for my own home will help you make your own choice. With so much jargon and so many options available I’ve discovered some valuable tips that will help you save money before you make your choice.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
Do your research so you know what you want and need in a security system before you even start looking at products. There are an overwhelming number of products in the security systems market so make sure you do the following:
- Know what you want;
- Be realistic about your installation skills;
- Set your budget.
DECIDE EARLY WHAT YOU NEED
Create a wants and needs list:
- Why do I want a security alarm system:____________________
- What do I need to protect:_____________________________
- How much do I want to spend:__________Fixed price:__________Ongoing contract:__________
- Can I install it myself:________________________________
- Do I want to monitor the system myself or pay a company to do it on my behalf:_________________
- How many cameras do I need:_____________
- Can I install a wired system in my property:______________
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE BUYING
Burglar Alarm v Security System
- Burglar Alarm = intrusion detection, door window motion
- Security Alarm System = An alarm system extends the burglar alarm to also include fire and smoke detectors.
Wired v Wireless
- Wired systems use cables to connect cameras to a base station. That base station can be monitored by a security company.
- Wireless systems use wireless internet technology so no cables are required, you can install them yourself, you can use them in rental properties and you are notified of movement on your mobile device.
DIY v Monitored
- Wired and wireless systems can be installed by a DIYer depending on your level of expertise. Most wired systems are installed by professionals but newer wireless models can almost always be installed by the house owner and require no ongoing contract fees.
- You need to decide if you want to monitor your system yourself (what if you’re on a plane or your phone’s out of battery) or pay for a security firm to monitor on your behalf.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- You can get smoke alarms (fire detectors) and carbon monoxide detectors included in some security alarm systems for added peace of mind. Make sure to check if it’s included in your system and if there are additional costs.
If you decide to use a security installation company it can be tempting to go with the first system you find but it can be worthwhile to speak to a number of security alarm system companies to find out what they can offer you in terms of product and service as well as price.
READ THE CONTRACT
You will only need to sign a contract if you are looking at ongoing monitoring through a security firm.
- Check the contract ‘Rollovers’- clauses that mean you have to keep paying this contract for a minimum time, perhaps 3 years without a termination fee option leaving you with no way of getting out of the contract except for paying it out.
- Check for auto-renewals that automatically renew your monitoring contract for another 3 years at the end of your initial contract.
- Check the monthly monitoring fees and the term of these fees.
- Ask about product warranties and maintenance plans that may have additional fees attached. If you can’t get faulty equipment repaired or replaced you may end up paying monthly monitoring fees, even if the equipment isn’t working.
- If you purchase a system that can’t be removed if you move house check that there is a suitable termination policy so you don’t end up paying out a contract for a system at a house you don’t even live in.
- Be very clear about installation fees – inclusive in contract or additional to the monitoring fees, are they fixed for the property or are you paying per door/window.
- Do your sums, it may work out considerably cheaper to pay upfront for installation rather than “free” included in the monthly fees.
- Remember contracts allow the company to recoup the costs of installation and equipment, which can be fair. Just make sure you are fully aware and comfortable with all the costs and clauses involved.
Often sales people will bamboozle you with police reports of break-ins and violence in your area and then present the contract on a tablet for signing while you’re in a vulnerable state. If you’ve done your research you can be clear about what you want and need, you will check the contract’s fees and inclusions before you sign and you won’t be taken advantage of.
CHECK WHAT’S IN THE BOX
- If you’re purchasing a security camera system online, carefully check what’s in the box.
- Work out how many cameras/cables you require and purchase extras if required when you purchase your main system.
INSTALL CAMERAS IN THE RIGHT PLACES
- The most common break in points are the front door, back door and first floor window (which often accesses the master bedroom-and your jewelry).
- A good security company will put alarms at the window over the kitchen sink, basement doors, garages and ground floor windows.
- Cameras should be out of reach and sit above the entry point.
- Visible cameras can be enough to act as a deterrent to intruders.
DON’T RELY ON THE SECURITY SYSTEM ALONE
Relying on a security system alone can be a false economy. It’s easy to think that once you’ve got your security system in place you’re home and property are fully protected, but the security system is just one piece of the puzzle. Get all the elements right and you will have the best chance of securing your belongings and your family.
UPDATE YOUR INSURANCE POLICY FOR SAVINGS
The most important thing to do as soon as your security system is in place is to update your insurance policy. Most policies offer discounts for every additional security addition you have in your property. As mentioned above, don’t forget all the elements of the home security puzzle may also get you a discount ie locks on windows, deadlocks on doors etc.
I hope you now have the confidence to start shopping for the ideal security alarm system to suit your home and family.
If you’ve had some experience, good or bad, with your security camera system I’d love you to go to the comments below and let us know. Your experience could be just the trick to help one of us make a great choice.