Home security systems are becoming increasingly popular with home and business owners. It’s hard to walk down any street without being monitored by a security systems and a bunch of cameras. But they question remains: are they actually effective at preventing or at least recording crime when it happens?
There’s no clear-cut answer. They can be a powerful burglar deterrent, a way to receive alerts remotely and record any unusual activities. But that doesn’t mean that they’re fail proof. Criminals can use hacking or physical attacks to disable devices permanently or temporarily. The type of system you’re using and the way it’s set up can also have a direct impact on its actual efficiency.
In other words, if the security system helps you catch a burglar, it’s worth it. If it doesn’t, it’s not! Both scenarios can happen, and the likelihood of a positive and negative outcome depends on many factors.
Here are 5 scenarios when a security system can be a major failure (and how to prevent this from happening):
When security systems and cameras are NOT worth it:
#1 Fail Scenario – Hacking
Let’s say that you have a security camera that has a motion sensor and WiFi connectivity in order to send you alerts.
A criminal could be aware of this fact, and if they could gain access to your WiFi, they could disconnect it beforehand so that you can’t receive an alert.
Once the alerts are dealt with, they could also move the camera to a different angle or cover the lens with a piece of cloth or a sticker.
For this scenario to happen the criminal must have some hacking skills, but I’m trying to show you that there certainly are ways to go around a security system if the intruder is smart and capable of doing so.
Learn how to protect your WiFi network.
#2 Fail Scenario – Cut off power supply
The bad guys can cut off your power supply with the hopes of disabling your security system. Security devices that can run on both electricity and backup batteries are less vulnerable for this reason.
Anyhow, it’s important to protect any cables and power lines on your property and make them less visible. Having a standby automatic power generator in case of a power shut off is the best solution in either case.
If you want your generator to supply power only to certain appliances or in this case a security system without having to use multiple extension cords, have an electrician install a transfer switch in the home’s main service panel.
#3 Fail Scenario – Physically meddling with security device
If your security camera has a motion sensor no one will be able to touch it or move it without it issuing an alert. Unless your WiFi or power supply is shut off.
But if the camera doesn’t have a motion sensor someone could smash the camera, move it around so that it monitors a random object or cover the lens with a piece of cloth or a sticker.
To prevent someone from physically meddling with your system, make the camera out-of-reach by:
- installing it in hard-to-reach position
- making it well hidden
- placing it behind a protective cover
Dome cameras are less vulnerable to physical attacks than bullet and turret cameras. Because dome cameras have the protective plastic surrounding the camera lens. If someone threw rocks at it, a dome camera would withstand the attack better.
The monitoring angle is also fixed on a dome camera, so it can’t be moved out of the way without removing it and mounting it on a different spot. This can be annoying when you’re installing it for the first time, but it’s actually safer if a criminal tries to redirect it later on.
However, bullet cameras are the best for monitoring larger outdoor areas due to having longer focal range. They also usually have better night vision exactly because there’s no protective layer in front of the lens.
So both types of cameras have their pros and cons and it’s up to you to decide which type you prefer. In either case I recommend using a camera that can send real-time alerts to reduce this risk.
We can share a similar piece of advice for protecting other parts of a security system, such as alarms and the main panel. Make sure that they’re well protected. They usually are better protected because they’re indoors.
Therefore, the criminal would have to break in first, in order to gain access. By that time the security system would hopefully recognize the danger and go in full panic mode, so it would be too late. Physically meddling with components can are located indoors can happen only:
- in case of a power shut off or hacking
- if you forget to properly close or lock an entry point
- if the criminal has had prior access to these components and changed the settings (coworker, employee, guest, family member..)
#4 Fail scenario – Poorly positioned camera
It’s important that your cameras are actually monitoring important areas for security purposes. Most common important areas are:
- entry points (doors and windows)
- important objects (safe, vault, vehicle..)
- important rooms (bedroom, nursery)
The camera should also be positioned in such a way that it can cover as much of the area as possible.
Dome cameras are usually better for monitoring the nearby surrounding area around the camera. That’s because of it’s dome-like shape and lens. Bullet cameras are better suited for covering longer distances.
This isn’t a hard rule however, just a general guideline, and you’ll often find bullet cameras used in the first scenario as well.
#5 Fail scenario – Bad night vision image quality
If the image quality is blurry at nighttime, your surveillance system won’t be of much use. Most break ins and burglaries happen in dark environments so getting this one right is important.
So get cameras that have infrared or thermal vision. Consult customer reviews and expert opinion to make sure that the night vision is of satisfying quality.
If the image quality is not good enough, try these night vision improvement tips before throwing your camera in the can.
#6 Fail scenario – Leaving areas unprotected
While some security and monitoring is better than doing nothing, it can also be a way of deceiving yourself.
For example, if you’re monitoring only the front door, what about all the other entrance points? Like the garage door, the ground floor windows, the back door, the sliding glass door on your porch, the large doggie door.. you name it.
What is stopping the intruder from using any one of these other entrance points instead? That’s a valid question to ask yourself.
Perhaps you don’t need or don’t want to place ugly cameras all around your home or place of business. In that case, consider adding some other security upgrades like better locks, hidden alarms, small barricades etc.
For these other security methods, I recommend checking out my list of top 43 home security tips.
Benefits of Security Systems & Cameras
If you can avoid those six fail scenarios we just saw, you can really benefit from installing a security system. Even if it’s just one or two well positioned low budget security cameras. Here are some benefits to consider:
- monitor any area of your property
- receive alerts if you’re using an alarm system
- receive alerts from cameras that have motion sensor technology
- security cameras are excellent at deterring criminals, so much that some people use cheap but realistically looking dummy cameras for this purpose
- use recorded footage as evidence in case of a crime and help catch the criminal
- use recorded footage to get more easily reimbursed by your insurer
- the fact that you have a security system in place can reduce your insurance costs (talk with your agent about this)
- you and your family will feel safer and will actually be safer
I won’t go deeper into each of these benefits because they’re pretty self-explanatory. If you avoid the six pitfalls we’ve already discussed in detail, you can enjoy these benefits and seriously upgrade the security of your home, business and any other property you have.
Are Monitored Home Security Systems Worth the Cost?
Security systems, individual security cameras and video doorbells are the only devices for effectively monitoring an area for prolonged periods of time.
If you want to monitor your doors, windows or any specific places indoors or outdoors, it’s the only sensible option.
Some of these devices can send real-time alerts to you or the authorities so that you or they can respond quickly to any suspicious activity. Recordings of crimes can also be used as court evidence and for insurance purposes.
Having security devices installed on your property can also reduce your insurance costs. But every insurance company is different so you should ask your agent if that’s possible or not.
The real question is which security system or camera is best suited for your situation. Before making a purchase, ask yourself these seven practical questions:
- Do I need an indoor or outdoor security camera(s), or perhaps both? – Depends on where you will mount the camera. Outdoor cameras are weatherproof, indoor cameras typically aren’t.
- Do I need a camera with night vision? – Unless you plan on using it only at daytime, the answer is YES.
- Do I need motion sensor and alerts? – Unless you only want to record and aren’t interested in receiving real-time alerts in case of danger, the answer is YES.
- How large is the area I’m trying to monitor? – You need to get a camera with a lens that has the right focal length and width for your requirements. If the distance you want to monitor is 50 feet, you will obviously not buy a camera that can cover only 20 feet.
- How many cameras or alarms do I need?
- Do I want to receive alerts on my electronic device or should someone else receive them (security company, police..)? – Can depend on your availability, preference and location. If you’re in a fairly isolated area and the police can’t respond quickly, perhaps receiving an alert directly is the best option. Some systems allow for all three of these options simultaneously.
- Do I want a security system with recurring payments (subscription model) or a one-time payment where I’m fully responsible for installation, receiving alerts, maintenance? – This is linked with the previous question. If any security company is obliged to receive alerts and respond to them, it’s almost always based on a subscription model.
So what type of security system would benefit you the most? After you’ve made a list of the features you want by following these questions (and others you might have), you can compare different products on the market and find the one that has all the things you’re looking for and is also within your budget.
Are security systems and cameras expensive?
Surveillance systems and devices can be found anywhere between $20 to $1000 or more. It depends on quality and amount of devices you need.
There are many good home security cameras you can get for around $40-50 that have all of the important features I mentioned before. Zmodo Wireless cameras are the most popular ones with homeowners and small business owners because they’re really affordable with good overall quality.
If you buy a full security system like ZOSI that contains multiple cameras and perhaps some other devices, the price can go even lower. It’s almost always like that when you’re buying in bulk, regardless of the product in question.
I hope you find this information helpful and feel free to check out the other content on Security Latest.