Today’s Security System Is Not Your Father’s Burglar Alarm

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I remember my father researching the possibility of installing a burglar alarm in our home. That was back in the 1970s. He ultimately decided against it because he didn’t feel the price tag justified the amount of protection and alarm would offer. If he were still alive today, he might have a different opinion.

Today’s security systems are not my father’s burglar alarm. Modern home security has become highly sophisticated thanks to digital technologies and a variety of sensors that were not available 50 years ago.

Alarms Way Back When

Back in the 1970s, there were two types of security systems. You had the high-end systems equipped with window and door sensors, CCTV cameras, and remote monitoring. The cost of the cameras alone meant such systems were out of reach for all but the wealthiest. The second kind of system, designed to be affordable, offered window and door sensors and a very noisy alarm.

Here is the best my father could have gotten for his money:

  • two door sensors; one for the front door and another for the rear.
  • three window sensors (we had more than three windows on the first floor).
  • a very loud alarm (it was a bell, if I remember) that would sound in the event of a break-in.


Very few people had home security systems back then. As such, an alarm system that merely made noise was somewhat effective. It would certainly draw attention to a crime in progress due to the fact that loud noises in the neighborhood were rare. Things are different today.

Modern Home Security Systems

Today’s home security systems can still be equipped with loud alarms that make lots of noise. But they offer so much more. Window and door sensors are standard. But they are cheap enough to make and easy enough to install that every first-floor window and door can be equipped.

Motion sensors are also standard fare these days. A couple of well-placed sensors can provide a fair amount of interior coverage just in case a burglar does get in. As for video cameras, most are wireless in terms of connectivity. They can be installed just about anywhere. They are easy to use and capable of transmitting data to a remote server.

If that’s not enough, homeowners can invest in broken glass sensors, doorbell cameras, automated lighting, and other devices known to deter burglars. Everything can be tied together with remote monitoring and smart home features.

Affordable Monitoring Packages

Something else my father could have purchased back in the 1970s was a remote monitoring package. He would pay a monthly subscription fee to have the alarm system monitored remotely 24/7. It never came to fruition because he opted against installing an alarm. But had he moved forward, the monthly subscription would have been cost prohibitive.

Once again, things are different today. Monthly monitoring subscriptions are far more affordable. Furthermore, you do not necessarily have to purchase monitoring from the same company that sold you your security system. Plenty of monitoring operators are happy to work with all sorts of alarm system brands.

I will tell you this: I would pay for monthly monitoring if I were installing a new home security system in my home. DIY monitoring is better than nothing at all, but nothing beats being able to arm your security system and then let somebody else monitor it for you. And remember, monitoring continues even when you are sleeping.

Integration With Smart Home Devices

If none of what you have read so far convinces you that today’s home security systems are superior to their first-generation counterparts, consider one final point: integrating home security with smart home technology. Integration can accomplish some truly amazing things.

Vivint Smart Home is a nationwide home security and home automation provider. In one of the more recent posts on their website, they discussed pairing home security devices with home automation in order to get security notifications on one’s smartphone. It is a point well made. But Vivint systems are capable of so much more.

Customers can invest in central home automation hubs that tie all their security and smart home devices together. And because of that, devices can be programmed to do different things. They can be programmed to interact with one another.

Here are just a couple of examples:

1. Motion Sensors and Thermostats

In a smart home environment, motion sensors originally installed as a security measure can also send information to a smart thermostat. Such information helps the thermostat artificially learn a homeowner’s routine for the purposes of self-adjusting its programming. That is amazing.

2. Geofencing Capabilities

In my opinion, the crown jewel of modern home automation is geofencing. By setting up an electronic perimeter around one’s house, it is possible to program a home automation system to respond based on the individual’s location.

Imagine integrating your system and programming it so that, as you pull out of the neighborhood on your way to work, your security system automatically arms itself. You never have to go to a central controlled pad or use your phone to arm the system on your way out the door. It arms itself.

The reverse happens when you arrive home. As soon as your phone enters your predetermined geo fence, your security system disarms. And because you are creative, you have also programmed your system to turn on first floor lights.

Limited Only by Your Imagination

As sophisticated as today’s home security systems are, I am not afraid to propose that what you can accomplish with modern technology is limited only by your imagination. Some home security projects are more difficult than others to pull off, for sure. But if you have the right technology and a willingness to set your mind to it, you can do almost anything within the limits of the technology you own.

One thing I know for sure is that today’s home security is not my father’s alarm system. A lot has changed since the 1970s.

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