How to Choose a Bulletproof Security System for Your Home
We know from experience that window bars, armored doors and cunning locks can’t protect us from intruders. Both the police and the private security companies advise to enhance protection with the help of a security system. This simple decision prevents many burglars from breaking into the premises. And if the security system is connected to the central monitoring station, many of them would not even look in the direction of your door anymore.
What Are the Types of Security Systems?
In general, there are three types of security systems: wired, wireless, and hybrid. In wired security systems, the signal from the detectors to the hub is transferred through the cable, in wireless — through the radio channel. Hybrid systems are a combination of wired and wireless systems, and the signal is transferred both through wires and through the air.
The wired solutions have been dominating the market for a long time. This was related to the insufficiencies of wireless systems: radio channel was not protected well enough, the systems often lost contact with the detectors, one-way connection did not help against frequent false alarms. These problems are still present in the systems you can buy on Aliexpress.
However, PRO-level wireless solutions have evolved and now present a serious competition for wired systems. Modern wireless security systems provide more information, are easy to install, and give you more than just security. They are more expensive that the wired systems, but the comfort and broader possibilities they offer make up for the price difference.
We have prepared a checklist for a reliable security system, whether a wired or a wireless one.
Choosing a Security System: Checklist
1. Connection to a Central Monitoring Station
This is the main indicator you should consider when you are choosing a security system. The reason is that only a certified system can be connected to a central monitoring station. Certification requires each device to go through dozens of tests. These tests help determine whether the device meets the standard requirements. The performance of the detectors under extreme conditions is also checked. If the system does not pass at least one of the tests, no company would connect it to their central monitoring station.
2. The number of Communication Channels
When choosing a system, pay attention to the number of communication channels. The more channels there, the higher the chance that the system will alert about danger when necessary. Modern panels are equipped with Ethernet ports, Wi-Fi and GSM modules. Keep in minds that there should be different types of channels. Even if the system has three modules, but all of them are GSM, it is the same as if you had only one channel. If cellular frequencies are jammed, it will cut the system off from the outside world.
3. Backup Battery
A reliable system should not be affected by power outages. In this case, a backup battery that ensures continuous work after the power is cut off is useful. It is better if the battery is Li-Ion. Such batteries have both more capacity and almost no ‘memory effect.’
|Gel/Acid batteries||Li-Ion rechargeable batteries|
4. Operating Range
Pay attention to the working distance of the system. Producers often indicate the numbers in the open area. In the closed space, the numbers will depend on the material that the walls and ceilings/floors are made of. Therefore, the more the working distance, the better. For instance, in Ajax system detectors can work at the distance of up to 2,000 meters from the Hub, a control panel of Ajax system. This is the open space indicator. In the building, it is enough to cover 3-4 floors.
Jeweller — up to 2000 m
Z-wave 5 gen — up to 150 m
ZigBee — up to 100 m
Bluetooth — up to 100 m
Wi-Fi — up to 100 m
Jeweller — up to 7 years
Z-wave 5 gen — 2 years
ZigBee — 2 years
Bluetooth — 1 year
Wi-Fi — Wires only
5. System Protection
The system should not only be able to secure the premises, but also itself. With this in mind, developing companies equip their products with additional levels of protection.
Encryption. Radio signal between the detectors and the hub should be encrypted and protected from forgery. This will help avoid the interception of signal and replacement of equipment. It is better if a complicated AES algorithm is used for encryption, which does not have a corresponding code grabber, and not the standard encryption method, such as KeeLoq, which has long been hacked.
Reserving a channel. Wireless security systems require a clean radio channel. Unfortunately, it is possible only in the ideal world. In reality, the air is contaminated with interferences from other electronic devices, including jammers used by burglars. In order for the hub not to lose connection with the detectors in compromised radio conditions, some producers use program algorithms that automatically transfer the system to the clean frequency.
Jamming notification. Intruders may jam the entire frequency range. In this case, even the backup radio channel won’t help, as the level of interference will be the same across the entire frequency band. This will cause all detectors to become unavailable. That’s why the system should be equipped with the ability to notify about the first attempts of jamming and situations when the critical level of radio interference has made the system blind.
6. Protection from False Alarms
If you have a cat, a dog, or other pet, you will need pet immune detectors. Some producers advise to tape over the lens in the detector, so that it wouldn’t ‘see’ animal movement in certain areas. But this is not a good piece of advice, because it compromises the system. In reliable systems, movement detectors are equipped with program algorithms that filter unimportant events. You should also ask how devices recognize complex interference — draughts or curtain movement.
How We Prevent False Alarms at Ajax
7. Ambient Temperature Requirements for Devices
Not all systems have the same performance under different climate conditions. If the room is hot, humid, or both, movement detectors may not be able to detect human movements anymore, as the room temperature becomes close to human body temperature. That’s why temperature compensation feature has been invented. It automatically regulates the sensitivity of the detector depending on the climate conditions in the room. In the cold season, when the difference between air temperature and body temperature is big, the detector would have low sensitivity. And in the hot season, the detector will detect the movement of the object even if its temperature is only several degrees higher than the ambient temperature.
8. Ways to Notify about an Alarm
Here as well, ‘the more the better’ rule is applied. You should be able to be immediately notified about the event even if you are in a different country. Push notifications in a mobile app, SMS, a call in case of alarm — the user should have a choice of a convenient way to deliver alarms. We should also mention the simultaneous notifications about alarms. After the system is connected to the central monitoring station of the security company, the owner should still be able to follow the events in the secured premises.
9. Addressed Detectors
Addressed detectors help understand, which of the devices was activated, was tampered, or is discharged. This way, you will know that the movement was detected by a bedroom detector, not the one in the hall, or that it is time to change batteries. Addressed alarms is not always attainable. In wired systems, there is such a thing as the line loop, when several detectors are connected to the same zone. In case one of them is activated, you can only guess which one it was. It is also more difficult it the notifications come as unreadable codes, which correspond to certain types of alarm. In this case, you will have to carry a cheat sheet that deciphers them around.
10. Additional Features
You should ask for more than just a security system. Smoke, flood, and temperature detectors, smart home devices — modern technologies allow having all of it together. If possible, choose a system that can be additionally equipped with ‘smart’ devices.
11. Mobile Application
Nowadays, every self-respecting producer of security systems who also respects their users has a mobile application to match their system. Mobile applications make controlling the system easier but are often limited to turning security on/off. Some of the producers turn the application into a fully functional control panel, which offers status updates for all detectors, detailed information about the system, the log of events, the device testing feature. You should know that not always applications are developed for all mobile operating systems at the same time. If this is the case, some of the producers also launch the web version, which can be opened in the web browser.
12. Remote Customization and Updates
Choose a security system, where the producer maintains and updates the software. Modern security systems are comparable to smartphones with their frequent updates. The possibility to customize and update the system remotely saves the time and money needed to invite a professional in, as a professional would do the same, but manually and for a separate fee.
13. Video or Photo Verification of Alarms
Make sure that the system offers integration with video cameras from other producers, as video surveillance and a security system are not the same things. This will help confirm the intrusion or discover that one of the family members forgot to turn the security system off. In other cases, this will help collect evidence for filing to the police.
The operating system that the security system uses also has an important role. Solution based on open-source code are often ridden with bugs and holes, which make it easier for intruders to cease control over the system.
When choosing a security system, study the information about the system carefully. Check how often updates are released and whether new devices are added to the product line. This indicates that the producer actively develops and maintains the product. In our case, for instance, we release new detectors every year and gradually move towards our goal of Ajax becoming a fully functional smart home solution with a specialization on security.