Frequently asked questions
What should I look for in a home security system?
If you’re looking for a smart security system that best fits your needs, there are a few factors to consider. Would you prefer a professional installation approach, a DIY install approach with professional monitoring, or the self-monitoring route?
Price, too, is always a concern. Typically, you’ll spend less on equipment and monitoring if you go the DIY route and a bit more if you go the professional route.
Finally, you should also figure out whether techy features or smart home integration is important to you. Some people will want the latest doorbell camera with facial recognition to be included with their security package. Others will be fine with a couple of sensors, a key fob, and an outdoor camera.
Wireless home security system equipment
Whether you’re tech savvy or tech averse, most home security systems come with the same basics: a base station or control panel, a keypad, a few sensors, and environmental alarms. Here’s what you can expect:
- A base station or control panel
- Entry sensors
- Motion sensors
- Glass-break sensor
- Smoke detector
- Carbon monoxide detector
Some security systems also offer temperature and water sensors, so you can get environmental alerts when there’s a leak in your basement or if a pipe is in danger of freezing.
You also may see some more advanced offerings, especially at higher subscription levels:
- Indoor or outdoor camera
- Video doorbell camera with two-way communication
- Smart thermostat
- Smart door lock
How do you power a wireless security system?
A wireless security system’s base or control panel is typically powered via AC adapter with backup batteries in case of a power outage. Keypads, sensors, and detectors are battery powered. With more advanced equipment like security cameras, it depends. Your outdoor wireless security camera will likely be powered by batteries. But with indoor cameras, usually you can choose to plug them in or have them run on batteries (so you can put them in a spot that’s not close to an outlet).
Do you have to have Wi-Fi for a wireless security camera?
In a word, yes. A wireless security camera may be wire-free, but in order to transmit video and store it in the cloud (so you can access it on the go), your camera needs a Wi-Fi network connection. If you’re not big on cloud storage, you can also choose to store videos locally with an SD card.
Pros and cons of a wireless home security system
Home security systems can be wireless, but they can also be powered by a landline or a broadband connection. Here are the pros and cons of wireless security systems.
Wireless security systems are ridiculously easy to install. Typically you just have to plug things in, set up your Wi-Fi, and go. That means they’re also easy to take with you when you move: unless you go with a security system with professional installation, you’ll be able to take your equipment with you when you upgrade to a bigger place.
Wireless security systems also offer remote access so you can check in on your home or arm and disarm your system on the go. Plus, you can integrate many systems with your existing smart home equipment, from your smart thermostats to your smart door locks.
Still, there are some risks with using wireless systems. Hacking is a rare possibility for wireless devices that don’t encrypt information. And some systems can suffer interference when large metal objects or electrical equipment block the signal between sensors and a base, or between the base and your security system’s monitoring center.