Do you have a home security system? If not, why not? Have you heard they’re expensive, or a pain to set up? Maybe your friend has one he’s constantly fiddling with on his phone, and you don’t want anything to do with all that. Or perhaps you’re worried about your privacy.
I’ve always heard dogs are the best burglar alarm of all, which is great. because I have two! Whether they’d save me from peril or succumb to belly rubs is a valid question. (Just kidding, burglars. They’re huge and loud.)
Sometimes, it’s hard to decipher if myths about home security systems carry an element of truth. I spoke with several home security experts to cut through the mysteries. Here are eight myths and what I learned about them.
Home Security Systems Are Expensive
“Expensive” is a relative term. What’s considered cheap to one person might break the bank of another, and the choices you make impact the price you pay.
According to David Olafson, director of engineering at ADT, “Innovation in home security has created more options and packages for homeowners to consider, each in different price ranges to help maximize the smart home based on safety, convenience and cost needs.”
So decide what you’re looking for. Do you want 24/7, live-person monitoring? Motion sensors? Smart locks? Door and window sensors? Cameras? Smoke and carbon monoxide detection?
“All of these devices may not be necessary for every customer,” Olafson says. “We help homeowners determine which connected devices meet their individual needs, with cost playing a part in this decision.”
Home Security Systems Are Ineffective
Let’s face it, police departments sometimes don’t, or can’t, respond as quickly as we’d like, especially for property crimes. But do security systems help?
I spoke with Senior Corporal Brian E. Martinez of the Dallas Police Department. The DPD recommends residents install alarms as a deterrent to break-ins. “Security systems can serve as a deterrent to some, but not all, burglars,” Martinez says. According to research from the University of North Carolina, about 60% of burglars surveyed would choose a non-alarmed target.
How fast the police come depends on how fast they’re called, too. “Equipping your home with an advanced security system ensures faster communication to local authorities,” Olafson says, “and therefore faster time to resolution of an emergency.”
Sophisticated systems like Deep Sentinel use AI and live surveillance to cut down on response time and remove you from the equation altogether.
Home Security Systems Require a Contract
In the past, security contracts were the norm. After all, you were paying for professional monitoring 24/7, and that cost had to be borne by someone (you!).
Today. consumers want more options. Companies like Cove have stepped up, offering low-cost services and no contracts. Cove offers easy setup, mix-and-match equipment choices (including cameras, motion and glass break sensors), and environmental monitors like smoke alarms and leak detection.
Home Security Systems Aren’t Allowed in a Rental
The veracity of this myth depends on your landlord. “If you rent an apartment but still want the peace of mind that comes with a security system, opportunities may seem limited,” Olafson says.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Check your lease and see if security systems are prohibited or require special permission. You never know — the landlord may want the peace of mind that comes from a security-minded tenant.
“We get plenty of customers who install our cameras at the front door of their apartments,” says Tomasz Borys, senior vice president at Deep Sentinel. “Only requires one screw and no wiring.”
Home Security Systems Invade Your Privacy
We’ve all heard the horror stories of people hacking into smart cameras, or Google technicians accessing your voice commands. Smart systems use “wake words” to know when you want to engage with them, so that means they’re always listening for the signal.
Many security systems today seamlessly integrate with smart home devices. If this bothers you, opting for landline systems or closed-circuit cameras only you can see may be worth it. Though home security systems generally only activate when an alarm or motion detector alerts them, anything smart connects to the internet and could be exploited.
Home Security Systems Are Hard To Set Up
Not anymore. If you can set up your phone, you can set up a wireless security system. Of course, if you prefer a more hands-off approach, you can opt for pro installation.
“While ADT is widely known for its professional installation services, we now offer a Self Setup option with a range of Google Nest and ADT products that consumers can quickly deploy and easily operate,” Olafson says.
“There is no requirement to have an on-site ADT technician for any part of ADT Self Setup, and any hiccups during installation can be resolved virtually with ADT Virtual Assistance.”
Home Security Systems Require a Landline
This myth may have a kernel of truth, in that landline security systems still exist. But they’re not required.
Landline systems were the only game in town for decades before wireless tech came on the scene, but modern companies would lose out on tons of customers if that’s all they offered.
The company most flagged in the landline myth, ADT, offers wireless and landline options, even for monitored systems. When your system detects a breach, it communicates with ADT monitors via landline or cellular data, depending on the package you’ve chosen.
Home Security Systems Require a Permit
Depending on where you are, this one may not be a myth.
The City of Dallas, where I live, requires homeowners to obtain a permit if their security alarm is audible, or monitored for a police response. Why? To reduce the number of times police respond to false alarms. Unmaintained alarms are a nuisance, and false alarms cost police stations money and waste resources that could go to actual emergencies.
If you’re thinking about installing an alarm system, check with your local jurisdiction for permitting or other requirements.