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Let’s Break Down the 8 Staples of a Smarter, Safer Home

Home Security

November 14, 2019

When everything you care about is protected, you feel good, confident, and at ease. So why do so few of us take the necessary steps to protect our valuables and our loved ones? Often, the biggest investment of our life – where we live or the business we own – is the least connected to us.

All you need to do to get started is make the decision to protect your world. Simple, right? That’s step one.

Step two requires a little more thought and planning. How do you make a home safer, smarter, and more connected?

It’s all about the layers.

You may have heard us discuss the benefits of multi-layered deterrents in another post. Security experts compare layered home security to putting on multiple layers of clothing on a really cold day. The more security barriers you stack up between your home and would-be intruders, the less likely it is your house will be viewed as an easy target.

One more question: What are the different security layers that make up a smarter, safer home? So glad you asked, because this is where we can really help.

We’re going to give you the 8 essentials for a truly integrated smart security solution right here, right now.

1. 24/7 Professional Alarm Monitoring

You can’t have true security without professional monitoring. But before we can talk about the importance of alarm monitoring, you first need to understand a couple basics (without getting too techy).

Monitored security systems communicate with a central monitoring station. Lots of info travels back and forth between the homeowner and the monitoring center, like emergency alarms, notifications, and event logs. The main connection point between the homeowner and central station is a control panel. This is the touchscreen or keypad where you enter your code to arm and disarm the system. As an example, here’s the Guardian IQ2 touchscreen control panel:

You can’t be everywhere at once. You can’t monitor your home (or business, or anything for that matter) all the time.

Video surveillance and motion detection are awesome — we’re going to talk about just how awesome they are later. But equipment will only get you part of the way there. Inevitably, sooner or later, you’re not paying attention when you need to be.

Here’s an example: You’re at work, maybe in a meeting. A long meeting, and you don’t have time to even look at your phone for hours. At some point, you discover a mobile alert that someone is tampering with your first-floor window. You realize that alert came an hour ago. Best case scenario, you have a busted window and the intruder is long gone.

When your home security system is professionally monitored, you don’t have to worry about alerting authorities in an emergency. Whether you’re home or in another country, if your alarm goes off, that monitoring center will know about it and quickly take action on your behalf.

The people a security company hires to run these centers should be highly trained, and this is really important. These are the people you’ll depend on to have your back if something goes down.

When you choose your security company, make sure you learn about what they offer in terms of monitoring. Ask these questions:

1) Do they offer professional monitoring for the products they sell, or is it all on you?

2) Do they own and operate their monitoring operations, or are they outsourced to a third party?

3) Are the operations U.S.-based?

4) What kind of training do they require for employees?

5) What are their credentials and certifications? Make sure their monitoring centers are UL-certified and Five Diamond-accredited, meeting the highest industry standards.

6) Do they have just one station, or do they have back-up?

A strong central station means better response time and more reliable assistance, so don’t be shy about asking a security company to tell you all about their monitoring operations.

2. Professional Equipment Installation

Did you know that improper placement of motion detectors can lead to costly false alarms? Probably not, and if you’re not in the security industry, why would you?

Professional installation is something that gets swept under the rug a lot in the security marketspace. We’ve said it before and it’s still true — sure, you can DIY. But do you really want to?

Anything worth doing, anything important, is worth doing right. You probably wouldn’t install your own furnace or give yourself stitches. You leave it to the pros, and the same standard should be set for your safety. From choosing the proper equipment and its placement to ensuring it’s installed correctly, complete and effective security requires a lot of consideration.

Am I placing something too close to the utility room? Is my WiFi strong enough to support the devices I’ve chosen? Are my cameras and motion detectors covering all the areas that are important to me? These are the things a good professional installer will consider and talk through with you before making decisions.

Let the professionals take the hassle and stress off your plate. You’ll feel good knowing it’s done right.

3. Video Surveillance

Smart video monitoring is a modern security essential, and one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Put simply, video cameras watch when you can’t. And when it comes to peace of mind, seeing is believing.

The big upside of smart cameras is the ability to view live video and access them anytime, anywhere. Mobile apps like the Guardian App allow you to view the footage your camera captures from your smartphone.

You have a lot of options when it comes to cameras, but here are the big ones you don’t want to skip.

Indoor and outdoor security cameras. Pretty straightforward, right? One is intended to record the exterior of your house, and one the interior.

In addition to getting mobile alerts and checking up on the kids or pets, some video cameras make it easier to see what actually happened in the event of an alarm. To do this, choose a camera you can program to automatically record a video clip when a door opens or if your alarm goes off, like this one.

Video doorbell. Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell (sorry, couldn’t help it), you’ve probably seen a video doorbell before.

These come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and all of them are slightly different. But generally, a video doorbell is a doorbell with an integrated video camera, digital microphone, and speaker.

For the sake of getting into specifics, Guardian’s video doorbell lets you answer the door, speak to visitors via two-way audio, and record doorbell triggered clips right from the Guardian App. The uses are extensive – we’ll get into that more in another post – but for starters:

  • See who’s at your door and “answer it” without revealing you’re not home
  • Motion detection lets you know if someone’s lingering around your doorstep, and even catch them on video
  • Get notified that a package was dropped off safely

Streaming Video Recorder (SVR). This one isn’t a camera, but it’s a camera’s BFF. It pairs with indoor and outdoor cameras, enabling 24/7 digital video recordings.

You can capture a constant stream of video from up to four cameras and remotely access videos from an app. No more FOMO.

Tip: Not all security cameras are created equal. Choose a smart video camera that supports self-learning technology, like our Video Analytics feature. Video Analytics uses artificial intelligence to help you get more of the alerts you want (your Uber’s in the driveway) and less of the ones you don’t (there’s a bluejay in the birdfeeder).

4. Motion Detection

Motion detection is one of the bedrocks of security, and it works hand-in-hand with video surveillance. Think of motion detection and video surveillance as Sherlock and Watson, Batman and Robin, Starsky and Hutch. You get it, they’re a great duo.

If someone is in your home that shouldn’t be, motion sensors should catch it. They are used to detect movement across the spaces they cover in the interior of the home. They’re typically only armed when you’re not home, or at night while everyone is still and snoring. When the sensor is triggered, a signal is sent to your control panel and to the monitoring center.

The cousins of motion sensors are security contacts, often referred to as door and window contacts. These go on exterior entry points, or virtually any door or window that can be opened or closed. Unlike motion detectors, these often remain armed both when you’re home and when you’re away.

Smart sensors offer yet another application. These discreet sensors can be placed on restricted areas in your home, like a medicine or gun cabinet.

A few cool things motion detection equipment can do:

  • Send you a mobile alert when movement is detected
  • Tip you off if a certain teenager is getting into your liquor cabinet
  • Remind you that a door or window was left open
  • Sensitivity can be adjusted to ignore pets up to a certain weight

Plus, motion detection extends beyond cameras, open doors, and windows. There are motion sensors built into some of our smart home automation products that can help you save money. More on that later.

Although it works differently, we’re going to lump in glass break detectors here. Glass breaks are also intrusion detection devices, but instead of detecting motion, they recognize the sound of breaking glass. This is critical if intruders try smashing a window instead of prying it open.

5. Monitored Fire and Carbon Monoxide Devices

Burglar alarm monitoring is huge, but if you stop there, you’re missing out on a critical piece of home security: monitored fire and carbon monoxide (CO) detection devices.

You may already have a smoke detector, but is it monitored? Keep in mind that once your smoke detector is triggered, you may only have minutes to get out safely. Alternatively, what good is a smoke alarm if no one is there to hear it?

Let’s go back to that long work meeting, and imagine that alert you missed was detecting a fire. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire and completely engulf a home five minutes later. If you have monitored smoke detectors, the fire department will be notified of the alarm even if you sleep through it.

Guardian's monitored smoke detector.

Choose monitored, photoelectric smoke detectors, which are particularly effective for identifying high levels of smoke. Even small, smoldering fires can generate a ton of smoke, and this alarm will help catch them before they get out of control.

For yet another layer of protection, heat detectors can be used in places that aren’t ideal for smoke detectors, like the kitchen. Heat detectors detect spikes in temperature, and when they’re monitored, a signal will be sent to your security company’s monitoring center. 

Guardian monitored carbon monoxide detector.

So what about CO? Invisible and odorless, most people don’t think about it at all. While it’s incredibly deadly – at least 430 people die from accidental CO poisoning every year – initial symptoms of CO poisoning may seem pretty benign, like a flu. If it occurs while someone is sleeping, they may not notice any symptoms at all until it’s too late.

If harmful amounts of CO are detected, a monitored carbon monoxide detector will alert you and the monitoring center, who can request emergency assistance on your behalf.

6. Integrated Home Automation

Smart home automation elevates home security. This refers to devices that use WiFi or Z-Wave technology to monitor and control various things throughout your house, like lights, cameras, locks, and more. The devices can be connected to each other and to your alarm system, and are accessible through one main point, like a smartphone or a computer.

The full run-down on all the home automation devices and features available to you could fill a Stephen King novel. Here’s a lightning round on the ones we think really move the needle when tied into your smart security system:

Smart locks. This lets you lock or unlock your door remotely. You’ll know if you left the house without locking the door, and even who is coming or going throughout the day. You can even provide temporary codes for visitors for safe, keyless entry. Bye-bye, “hidden” keys.

Smart light control modules. They can give your home a lived-in look even when you’re not there. You can set lights to trigger on and off based on activity or time of day. Someone approaching your home while you’re on vacation? Let there be light.

Smart thermostat. You may not instantly associate this device with security, but it ties right in. In the event of a fire, our monitored smoke detectors can send a signal to your thermostat, telling it to shut the air off so it doesn’t redistribute smoke throughout your home. Setting the perfect temperature for every part of your day and saving on energy costs is pretty sweet, too.

Bonus: Remember we mentioned the tie-in between motion detection and smart home automation? Guardian’s smart thermostat has built-in technology that can turn the thermostat off when no motion is detected.

Smart garage door control. Never wonder, “Did I forget to close the garage door?” These devices allow you to open or close your garage door remotely and can notify you if the door is left open.

7. One-App Mobile Access

You want to be able to control your home from your devices. That’s a given. But just because smartphone screens get bigger doesn’t mean you have to clutter them with more apps. Do you really want:

  • An app that arms/disarms your security alarm panel
  • An app that opens and closes your garage
  • An app that turns your lights on/off
  • An app that adjusts your thermostat

And so on, and so on. Just thinking about navigating all that is enough to make you break out in hives. So why download 10 apps when one can do it all? Choose a smart home security company that offers a one-app solution for your home security and automation.

One app to rule them all.

8. Experience and Dedication Matters

 For some companies, security is an afterthought – an ancillary piece of their business they tack on to expand their services and break into new markets.

Only trust your home security to a company that eats, sleeps, and breathes security. Better yet, trust one that has been doing it for a very long time. This will be a company that knows the nuances of not only the products you need and how/where to install them, but also the alarm process. They should know the ins and outs of alarm response, including all the local teams that do the responding — EMS, police, firefighters, etc.

Processes and protocols differ from region to region, so it’s vital the people working in a security company’s monitoring stations know how things work in your neighborhood.

Speaking of people, never underestimate the value of a human touch. Just like experience and dedication, personal service matters. No one wants to be alone when they’re afraid or feeling unsafe, and you deserve a security company powered by real people who care about you.

So there you have it — the 8 staples of a smarter, safer home.

Keep in mind all homes and businesses are different, and the Goldilocks, just-right security solution for you may be different from your neighbor’s.

This is yet another point where Guardian can help. Our security experts will assess your needs and design the smart system to meet your needs.

Made the decision to protect your world? Ready to get started? Call 1.800.PROTECT (1.800.776.8328) today!

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