From monitoring elderly relatives and teens to turning off water that has caused a leak, home security systems now perform a variety of jobs. You can still get a security system designed to deter burglars and alert you and the fire department in the event of fire. But today’s systems are also designed to give you peace of mind and make your home easier to manage.
Twenty years ago, the goal of a home security system was to prevent break-ins. Motion sensors and glass breakage sensors worked with alarms and keypads to
HAI’s Omni Pro II features built-in UL listed security and fire systems, lighting control, temperature control, audio control and more.
keep burglars out and notify police and/or fire departments in case of a break-in or fire.
Today’s security systems still work to maintain home safety. But they also help save money on energy costs, allow you to manage and monitor your house whether you’re home or away, and keep track of kids and elderly relatives. “Security systems used to do one thing and do it well,” says Tony Barra, partner in Poco Labs in Novi, Mich. “Now, security systems are connecting more to lifestyles.”
In the past, a security system noted if a motion sensor was tripped or the homeowner set the system in ‘away’ mode. But the system user didn’t have access to the information. Now, you can access and utilize that information to manage and improve your life.
“Your security system knows your schedule,” says Thomas Pickral Jr., manager of business development for Home Automation Inc. (HAI) in New Orleans, La. “It knows where you are in the house. Generally, it doesn’t do anything with that information. But now system designers can write a computer program using information from those sensors.” For example, a program could note that the house was in ‘away’ mode and immediately set the home’s temperature higher in summer or lower in winter to save on utility bills.
Getting Started Count on spending $4 to $5 per square foot of your home’s size for a system that includes comprehensive security and home management features as well as stereo and audio, Pickral says. For a 2,000-square-foot home, the cost would be about $10,000. But you could easily start with a basic system with limited features for several hundred to several thousand dollars and upgrade later.
It’s much easier to add wiring before a home has been sheetrocked and painted than after. It’s even better to involve the automation specialist in the design. Then, you can even plan a small closet just to house the system controls. A good time to add or upgrade home automation is when you’re remodeling your house because you or your contractor are likely to be tearing up walls then anyway.
But whether you’re remodeling or not, if your home is already built, it’s a good idea to work with a company that specializes in dealing with the issues involved in retrofitting alarm systems to existing homes. First, you’ll have to find a place to house the system’s controls—most likely in a closet or pantry. Then, you’ll have to find the best way to run wires to the controller, which is a harder