1. Why do you need a security system?
First you need to figure out why you need security and what you are trying to secure. Only then you can plan for what you need.
2. Where do you want to monitor?
Doors, windows, driveways, office supply rooms, building entrances. Are you looking to catch a repeat intruder? Or just monitor who is coming and going?
3. How many cameras do you need?
This directly relates to what you want to monitor. A system may come with a few cameras, but you may want to add more for maximum coverage. The limiting factor is the DVR, or recording device. It has a maximum number of channels it can accept video feeds from, so the number of available channels determines the maximum number of cameras you can use with the system.
4. Is the system expandable?
If you need more cameras and sensors, will you be able to add more? And if you add more, will you DVR be able to support the,? Not everyone has the money or the need to have sensors installed on every door and window and cameras for all angles of coverage. Starting with main entry points is a common selection. However, you will want to make sure your security system is able to grow with you.
5. Can you manage the security system remotely?
Will you be notified of intruders while you’re at work? Or be able to watch your house while on vacation? Remote access makes it easier to check on your home while you’re away. While not necessary for everyone, it is a very useful option.
6. Picture quality
You need to see what’s going on at your home or business while you’re away. Otherwise there is no point to having a security system. Make sure to buy cameras with high resolution so you can see the details in the images.
7. Night vision
You will need night vision on your cameras if you want to see if someone is scoping out your home or it’s just a raccoon stealing your trash. This ties into picture quality too. Even if you have night vision, the picture needs to be clear. If you do have an intruder, the police will want a clear image when they take your report.
8. Adjustability for complete coverage
PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) cameras will often let you view and make adjustments from any device or web browser. Consider using these for monitoring large areas where you might need to zoom in.
9. What does the fine print say?
Even before you are ready to install the security system, study the contract to ensure you know exactly what you are getting. An alarm system is only as good as its user. Be sure that the installer explains how the system works thoroughly and answers all of your questions. Everyone who will be using the system should be present during this training.
10. Installation – Will it be you or a technician?
Depending on the system you choose, you may be able to install it yourself. However, hiring a custom electronics pro will allow you the peace of mind knowing all of your electrical is to code and will function correctly. A professional installer will also be able to tie your security system into your automation system.
A good security system in a home or business can be the difference between security and calamity. No security system is perfect. There are always points to improve. Don’t let calamity into your life. Keep up-to-date on security and surveillance technology. Make sure that you and someone you trust are very familiar with the operation of your security system. Almost all incidents require fast action and excellent concentration on your part. So get familiar with key operations, such as burning video evidence onto a DVD. This should be second nature before an event occurs.