In 2019 there were more than 1.1 million burglaries in the U.S., with almost 63 percent of them occurring at residential properties, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates. Research has determined a home security system deters more than half of would-be burglars. So there’s no doubt that having one is a good idea.
You may be put off by the thought of letting technicians into your home to install one. No worries. Wireless home security systems that you can install yourself are an excellent option. They are often called DIY security systems because they are so easy to install and use. Here’s everything you need to know about wireless home security systems.
What Is a Wireless Home Security System?
A wireless home security system is just what it sounds like. These systems include devices that can alert you if your home has potential intruders, without wires connecting it to your home’s electrical system phone or internet modem. Wireless home security systems typically use batteries or solar panels for power and WiFi to connect to the internet. Many also have cellular capabilities, meaning they can call for help without being hooked up to a landline.
How Do They Work?
Once set up, a wireless security system uses sensors to determine if there is movement in your home. Different types of sensors track different types of movement. For example, door sensors can tell if a door has been opened, window sensors can tell if a window has been opened, and general movement sensors can detect someone walking through a room or hallway.
When movement is sensed, an alert is typically sent to an app and the control pane, which is typically placed by the front door. If the system includes security cameras, that will trigger them to begin recording. Some systems can also call first responders, a family member or friend for help. Most systems can be turned on and off using an app and/or at the control panel. Information gathered by the system is typically stored in the cloud.
Wireless Home Security System Components
Wireless home security systems usually can be purchased as a kit, so you can choose one that best suits the size of your home and your security needs. Many companies also let you build your own kit or allow you to add times to one of their ready-made kits.
Many starter kits include a few door and window sensors and a few motion detectors. You can add a security camera or two or security lights to better fit your needs.
Some of the devices that are often available for purchase for your wireless home security system include:
- Door and window sensors;
- Glass-break sensors (these detect if a window has been broken, rather than opened normally);
- Water sensors (to alert you to flooding due to broken pipes, leaking water heater, etc.);
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors;
- Security cameras;
- Security lights;
- Motion detectors;
- Smart locks;
- Doorbell cameras;
- Panic buttons (devices that alert first responders when you are hurt or in danger);
- Key fobs (these allow you to arm or disarm your system remotely, without your phone);
- Stickers and yard signs (to alert a would-be criminal your home is protected);
- Smart thermostats;
- Yard lights.
Best Wireless Home Security Systems
After researching many wireless home security systems, we’ve found a few that have some benefits over others. Overall, a system that meets your individual needs is best, so flexibility and customization is a major factor.
Here are our top three picks:
- Vivint. This home security company focuses on wireless systems and has a range of packages and devices to keep your home secure. They also have 24/7 alarm monitoring, and their devices can be paired with other smart devices in your home, like Google Home. Experts love Vivint because their systems are pet-friendly and great for travelers.
- SimpliSafe. Like Vivint, SimpliSafe features live monitoring with a healthy choice of packages. It’s also pet friendly; its sensors can tell the difference between humans and animals. One uncommon feature allows the call center to verify alerts visually, so first responders aren’t called for a false alarm. SimpliSafe packages are also less expensive than many other brands.
- Ring has various highly-rated wireless security devices to meet your home’s needs. Ring also has the most devices that can be powered by solar, including outdoor cameras, floodlights, yard lights and the famous Ring doorbell cameras.
Installation and Cost Considerations
The advantage of a wireless system? You don’t need to drill holes in your walls to connect it to your electrical system or landline. Another advantage: Renters can easily take their security system with them when they move.
Plus, since there are no wires involved, a professional installer isn’t required. You can easily install a wireless security system yourself in an afternoon with minimal tech knowledge. If you can put some screws in a wall, you can handle installing a wireless security system. And you can save $150 to $500 by installing it yourself.
Wireless systems vary in price. The more devices and options in your system, the more expensive it becomes. Expect to pay around $200 for a starter kit and $500 to $2,000 for ones with more options. If your home security system reports to a call center that dispatches help in an emergency, expect to pay a monthly fee of around $30 to $45.
Are Wireless Security Systems Secure?
You may have heard or read about smart devices being hacked, so you may be wary of any device using WiFi. These fears are understandable and justified. Any device with WiFi can be hacked, because the WiFi is the “highway” a criminal can exploit to access your device.
Good WiFi protection equals good security system protection. Here are some ways to keep your system safe:
- Make sure your WiFi has a strong password.
- Consider using a virtual private network (VPN).
- Use malware designed to protect your smart home.
- Replace your old router with a new one to ensure it has up-to-date security protection and encryption. And be sure to use two-step verification on your home security app to add another layer of protection.
While security system hacking is possible, there have been few documented cases. If you follow these steps, the chances of being hacked drop even more. It shouldn’t deter you from having a wireless security system in your home.