Wireless residential security systems are easy to install on your own and can often be placed without any special tools. This DIY movement in the industry has made it possible for more people to protect their homes because the startup costs are minimal and gives homeowners and renters the ability to tap into tech once reserved for an elite few. That said, knowing where to start isn’t always easy.
However, the most common alarm kits and packages do contain a few core components, which makes selecting the right equipment simpler. On this page, we’ll outline a few things the most common alarm kits and packages and how to make sure any wireless residential security systems you’re considering have all the components you’ll need.
Before You Begin
Before you begin checking out and pricing wireless residential security systems, take a moment to sketch out your home’s layout on a piece of paper. Use a highlighter to mark all possible entry points, including doors and windows. You’ll use this page to help decide which components you’ll need and where to place them in your home.
Components Contained in the Most Common Alarm Kits and Packages
Base: The “base” is the component which “talks” to all the sensors in the home and connects to the monitoring center. A base may use a landline, broadband connection, cellular connection, or a mixture of them as backups to ensure the home is never without coverage. Even in a “wireless” setup, a base that links up with a broadband connection or landline will need to have cords going to the appropriate area. However, it will communicate wirelessly to all sensors and other components inside the home.
Note: If you’re building a map for placement of components as you go, draw the base near your modem/ router or a telephone landline, depending on what type of connection you’ll be using. If you’re going with cellular, you may also need a cellular gateway to create the connection.
Keypad/ Console: All setups will have some type of keypad or console to arm and disarm the system as well as view data and handle setup. A handful of smart systems will allow you to complete similar actions with a remote or smartphone app. Although keypads communicate wirelessly and typically use batteries as a backup power source, they generally need to be near an outlet to have access to continuous power.
Note: Add a keypad to your diagram somewhere near your primary entry or between primary entries, as you’ll need quick access to it to disarm the system each time you come home.
Entry Sensors: Entry sensors detect when a door or window is open.
Note: At a bare minimum, you’ll want to draw entry sensors on your diagram on every ground-floor window and door. Most people prefer to have them on upper floors as well, to ensure those floors stay protected too.
Motion Sensors: Motion sensors are typically placed in primary entries and hallways. They can be beneficial to detect if someone has gained access without opening a door or window and are also beneficial if your system uses cross-zoning. This is an added feature to prevent false alarms requires two different sensors to trip before sounding an alarm. You should also be sure your company provides pet-friendly motion detectors if you have furry family members.
Note: Add at least one motion sensor to your diagram in a main area of the home, such as an entryway where an intruder would likely be present. If you’ll be making use of cross-zoning or have a larger home, consider adding extra motion sensors in places like halls, garages, and basements.
Fire Sensor: Although all wireless residential security systems don’t presently offer fire and carbon monoxide alarms, let alone include the detectors in their packages, Life Shield does. They work alongside your existing equipment most of the time.
Note: If you have a hardwired smoke detector system, you can likely add one fire sensor near a single smoke detector. If yours are wireless/ battery operated, you’ll need a fire sensor for each smoke detector. Add these to your diagram.
Wireless Camera: Again, though all the most common alarm kits and packages may not contain a wireless camera, the most advanced ones will have at least one.
Note: Add a wireless camera near your main entry on your diagram, as this is the most common placement for security reasons. You may also wish to add extra cameras near rear or side entries, at basement steps, at the gate to your backyard, or anywhere else you feel may be beneficial.
Add-Ons for Wireless Residential Security Systems
Because each home and layout is different, you may benefit from adding additional sensors or components throughout your home. Because not all people need these items, they aren’t always included in the most common alarm kits and packages, but it’s worth learning about them to determine if you might benefit from having them.
Repeater/ Extender: Components can only “talk” to the base if they’re within a reasonable distance. With LifeShield, that distance is 30 feet. A repeater extends the coverage area, so communication between components is smooth. You may need one or more, depending on the size of your home.
Note: If you placed sensors or other components more than 30 feet away from the base in your diagram, add a repeater at each 30-foot mark.
Glass Break Sensor: Used as part of a cross-zone plan or to catch thieves who smash windows to gain entry, glass break sensors listen for the distinctive sound breaking glass makes and trigger an alarm if heard.
Note: Add glass break sensors near each window and each sliding glass door you’d like monitored on your diagram.
Now that you know what components are usually part of wireless residential security systems and have a diagram indicating which items to place throughout your home, choosing which of the most common alarm kits and packages are ideal for your needs should be a straightforward process. If you have questions, be sure to ask the individual monitoring company or the company that manufactured your equipment.