Security

Science-Backed Guide to Choosing the Best Home Security Products (+12 Home Security Tips)

Even in a relatively safe community, home invasions are a real problem. In the US, home invasions happen every nine minutes.

The scariest thing is that many burglaries don’t happen in empty homes. There may be someone at home. Home security systems and products don’t just keep your valuables safe. It can keep your family and loved ones safe from any danger.

Your safest bet is a full security system. But those can be expensive and difficult to maintain. They will also require professional help.

You can set up your own home security system however - here is a detailed guide that covers everything you should consider. 

Door Locks

While technology is great, solid nuts and bolts can offer a great sense of security. You also don’t have to worry about battery and charging when off on a long trip.

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Security bar

These are also called door jammers.

In its simplest form, the bar is wedged up between the door handle and the floor. The leverage allows the base of the bar to be flat on the floor. The bar is up against the handle. This locks everything in place.

The science behind it is a simple system of hinges and angles. But it makes the bar essentially unmovable. Pushing against the door from the outside turns into a vertical force onto the door jammer. The more you push, the more jammed up the door becomes.

Put this bar against a door that opens in. You can easily remove the bar from the inside. Just lift it up and you’re all set! But the door will be impossible to push open from the outside.

A door jammer can also be placed sideways or diagonally to secure a sliding door. The physics is the same.

Best for: simple but effective way to reinforce doors

Laminated safety glass

Laminated glass is also known as safety glass. It’s a great option for reinforcing the glass in your windows. These are thick with vinyl in between two sheets of regular glass.

The selling point for laminated glass is that it can absorb energy from impact. This means the burglar has to hit the same spot repeatedly. You’ll hear the noise. The difficulty will also deter the criminal.

Even if the glass is broken, there is an interlayer. It can continue to safeguard the home. And you can easily re-glaze the glass.

In addition, laminated glass can reduce outside noise. The glass absorbs UV rays as well, further protecting your furniture and home.

For a more expensive option, you can go for acrylic plastic or polycarbonate windows. These have the same thickness of regular windows, but much more secure.

Acrylic plastic windows, also known as Plexiglas windows, are 10 times stronger. Polycarbonate windows are 250 times more impact resistant.

Best for: reinforcing your window against shattering

Safety window film

If you are not about to change your entire window, you can just apply a film. Often made of polyester, these are similar to laminated glass. But can be applied after the window is made.

These safety and security films create a stronger barrier. In case of break-ins, the glass fragments will be held together too.

If there is vandalism, you can simply peel the transparent film away and replace it. You can opt for non-transparent window film as well.

Expensive valuables lying around the home is a sure sign for thieves and burglars. Many will look through the window to see if your home is worth breaking into.

Etched glass window film products obscure the windows. They don’t block any light, but they offer you privacy. They will stop curious people from seeing the valuables in your home.

Other benefits of window film include: save energy, prevent fading of furniture, protection during natural disasters.

Best for: reinforcing window glass and protecting valuables

Digital door viewer

Burglars almost always knock on doors first to see if you’re home. If you are, you should let them know. But make sure you know who you’re opening the door for as well.

Hotel rooms with peepholes are recommended by experts for security measures. They are also added to university dorms for increased security.

It can make your own home safer too. But for even more benefits, go for a digital door viewer. The large display screen means a high definition view of the stranger. Much better than pressing your eye up to a peephole and squinting.

Other features include: pause, zoom, night mode and storage. By saving the footage, you can have evidence in case something happens! Some digital peepholes also include a knock sensor. It starts recording as soon as there is a knock.

This saves you time. And it lets you know if anyone visited while you were gone. In addition, there’s no danger of the stranger peeking inside your home.

Best for: safety against stranger danger

Combination deadbolt

The deadbolt is a sure way of keeping out unwanted visitors. But which one should you choose?

Each one has different advantages. But a combination lock is more tamper-free. In addition to the combination, there is another button you can push from the inside. With it pushed in, you can’t open from the outside. Even if you enter the right combination.

You can lock it from the outside by pushing a reset bar. Having no key saves time during an emergency. Plus, if you have a child, you don’t have to worry about losing the key.

Some features can make it even better, such as a free-turning steel insert. This protects you from thieves who might try to saw through the lock. A vertical deadbolt is great for sliding doors.

The only disadvantage is when you give the combination to someone else. You can’t ask it back like with a key. However, you can easily change the combo as needed.

Best for: tamper-free lock

Double cylinder deadbolt

If you’d still prefer a deadbolt with a key, go for a double cylinder deadbolt.

A single cylinder deadbolt can be opened from the inside by simply turning the thumb. The burglar might break the glass and reach inside.

But the double cylinder deadbolt requires a key whether you’re inside or outside. Breaking the glass will have no use for the burglar.

However, unlike the previous combo lock, this can waste time during an emergency. You’ll need to keep the key with you at all times. Or quickly find the right key.

When choosing a deadbolt, make sure the bolt extends at least 1 inch into the doorframe. The strike plate should also have screws at least 3 inches long.

The heavy metal should be resistant to heavy duty saws and cutters. However, only professional locksmiths can align the deadbolt perfectly. This isn’t a DIY job. (Unless you are a locksmith, of course!)

Best for: securing your home with a key

Solar powered LED lights

You’ve probably seen that many public buildings keep a light on at night. These lights do a lot to intimidate potential burglars from breaking in. Most burglars avoid light since it’s much easier to get caught.

However, some studies have found that security lights can do the opposite. Turning off lights decreased burglaries by half in Sweden. So what can you do?

Being solar powered will help you conserve energy. LED technology is also much more cost efficient to maintain.

However, for best results, you should consider a motion sensor light. These will turn on whenever there is movement. Light on during the entire night is so overused that burglars all know the trick by now.

In addition, you can go for timed lights. These lights will turn on during random times of the day. This simulates you walking around the home and turning on/off lights.

Lighting controls help you save energy too. Turn it on and off as needed, instead of leaving it on the entire night.

Best for: energy efficient way to give the impression that you’re home

Rubber security door stop

According to the crime prevention websites, door chains actually aren’t that useful at all. These door stops are recommended for travelers staying in hotels. They come into play when the chain or sliding bar isn’t enough.

They are a light and portable room security option. Of course, you can implement it in your home too.

Some door stops have electronic features. The GE door stop will trigger an alarm when there is a forced entry. It can also be turned on and off as needed.

The easiest way to enter your home is through the door. As the last line of defense, the door stop’s rubber base provides traction. It can work on hardwood, tile, vinyl and carpeted floors.

Best for: reinforced security on the go

Fireproof Safe and Gun Safe

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Data and media safe

Where is the safest place to store valuables? Well . . . in a safe, of course.

There are multiple types of safes, for various purposes. The data and media safe takes care of most.

These are more fire proof than others. Paper can survive in a regular safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. But digital media will be ruined if the temperature goes over 125 degrees. These media safes protect the data from high temperatures and smoke damage.

Tech you can protect with data safes include:

  • Flash drives/USB

  • Hard drives

  • DVDs

  • CDs

  • Microfiche

  • Zip disks

  • Jazz disks

In addition, make sure you know the class of the safe. These classes were tested by Underwriter Laboratories (UL).

The lowest class is TL15. It can withstand force for 15 minutes. The strongest is TRTL60X6. It is tool and fire resistant. It can also withstand force for 60 minutes. The average police response time is 7 minutes, so your valuable should be safe!

Best for: keeping digital media and other valuables safe

Burglar fireproof safe

Other than your data and media, your important paper documents should also go in a fire resistant safe. To be “fire resistant,” the safe must pass a test by the Underwriters Laboratories. They shouldn’t ignite and burn easily.

When choosing a fireproof safe, look at the fire ratings. For best protection in a home fire, a fire rating of at least 1 hour is needed. Or the longest fire protection you can afford.

You should also look at the fire seal. During a fire, this will expand to cover the entire space between the safe’s frame and door. This will seal out the fire, smoke and water. In addition, it can keep out moisture in everyday life. This prevents rust and corrosion.

These safes are usually made of perlite or vermiculite. These materials are lightweight, inert and fireproof. In addition, Schwab Corporation patented the material insulite. It was tested to be fireproof and fire resistant.

However, these thin metal materials can be easily defeated by a burglar. They are the best at keeping out fire. But can be easily sawed or cut.

It is recommended to only store documents with important information and some money. Protect the paper from fire and smoke damage. For jewelry and other precious valuables, make sure it is thick enough to be truly burglar resistant.

Best for: protecting paper documents from heat and smoke damage

Biometric gun and rifle safe

If you have a gun, then you need a gun safe.

It is required by law to lock up your guns and safely store them. Not only that, gun safes will protect your children from accidental shootings.

In one study, laws for storing firearms were in effect for at least 1 year from 1990 to 1994. During this time, unintentional shooting deaths of children younger than 15 years old were reduced by 23 percent. Homicides and suicides using guns also decreased.

These results were reinforced by another review. The practices of locking up the (unloaded) gun and storing ammunition in a separate location also had a protective effect. The researchers recommend doing so to reduce injuries of children and teenagers.

Not all rifle safes are created equally though. The body of a quality gun safe should be a minimum of 11 gauge steel. The best would be 10 to 7 gauge steel.

The door should also have at least 1/4 inch of solid plate steel. More secure safes have a 1/2 inch steel plate. As for burglar ratings, better quality ones have high U.L. TL-15 and TL-30 ratings (tool resistant.)

A regular rifle safe may have a combination or key. Biometric gun safes use biological identification. Such as fingerprint or other unique identification.

Best for: safe storage of guns and ammunition


Alarms and Sensors

The benefits of alarms should be self-explanatory. Not only will it frighten the burglar, it will alert you. In some cases, you can connect it to the police station. This way, they will be alerted of the break in at first notice.

Putting them outside your home can also discourage thieves and burglars.

The University of North Carolina Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology conducted a study. Increased indicators of home security were the main deterrents for thieves choosing a home.

Experts have also noted that a security alarm system can help the mentally handicapped. The system can support their independent living and home care by lowering typical safety risks. This helps raise quality of life and lessen worry of others.

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Magnetic sensor

These are also known as contact sensors. They are one of the most common security alarms for windows and doors.

Magnetic sensors have two parts. One has the magnet and is attached to the window or door. The other half is placed on the window or door frame. It contains the switch. When the alarm is armed, there is a magnetic current between them.

If the two parts are separated, the connection is broken and the alarm goes off. It goes off even if the intruder comes in through an unlocked key.

This is great if you want to prevent any entry at all into your home.

There are many different types to choose from. Surface contact sensors are the least expensive. Recessed sensors go inside the frame.

Vanishing sensors are thin and mostly undetectable. A vented window sensor contains two magnets. This allows for the window or door to open a bit before the alarm is triggered.

Best for: prevent intruders from opening your door or window

PIR Motion sensor

These sensors are usually set at 45 degrees. And they go in the corner of a wall. PIR stands for “passive infrared motion.” This is the science behind the sensor.

The infrared senses temperature changes in the air. This is used to detect movement. When something passes by, a positive differential change happens. When the body leaves the area, there’s a negative change. If the change is large enough, the alarm will go off.

This is great for outdoor alarms. Swaying branches and shrubs won’t result in any temperature changes. But if there is a large heat source—such as an intruder—the sensor will be able to pick it up.

Don’t worry about accidentally setting it off though. Most motion sensors have a built in delay. If you accidentally trigger the alarm, you can enter the security code before it sounds.

You can also set them up for specific distance and sensitivity levels. PIR motion sensors can be used for smart homes and border surveillance of large territories too.

Best for: outside alarms, detecting changes in heat

Ultrasonic sound detector

Similar to the PIR is the ultrasonic detector. This one uses sound waves instead of changes in heat.

The high frequency sound waves are usually over 20 kHz. This is way over what humans can hear. But as the waves move through, air particles are disturbed. This can be sensed by the ultrasonic sound detector.

Because of this, it’s a great option as an indoor security system. Distances can be measured. But the type of object will not affect the sensor.

A typical one can cover an entire indoor room. For a sensor that can pass through walls, go for a microwave detector. It operates on a similar principle. But it can end up being less expensive because multiple rooms can be monitored at once. The intruder can be sensed no matter what room he is in.

These are also great for obstacle avoidance. Such as for driving and safer parking.

However, these types of detectors might not be the best if you have a pet. Otherwise, the alarm will be set off constantly!

Best for: sensing intruders anywhere in your home

Glass break sensor

These are also known as shock alarms. According to the Security Alarm Corporation, glass break detectors are the most effective. Similar to the ultrasonic sound detector, they detect noises or vibrations.

A microphone is usually used to sense any glass impact. Certain pitches and vibrations when someone hits the glass will set off the alarm. More complicated sensors will use sound analysis and compare to glass-break profiles. This fine-tunes the alarm.

A magnet sensor will detect if the intruder opens the window. But what if they just break the window and climb in without opening it? This alarm will take care of you.

In more extreme cases, a thief can try to get in through your attic. Or even cut a hole in your roof! A glass break sensor is the extra layer of protection you need if your home has large windows, sliding doors or similar features.

Best for: glass windows, detecting entry through broken windows

Proximity sensor

A proximity sensor is a bit different from these. The technology uses an electromagnetic field, similar to the PIR sensor. It’s actually used in quite a lot of products.

But there are other uses! Have it work counterintuitively by detecting when someone goes a certain distance from the home.

Keep the sensor with you (like on a key chain). If you leave the home, it will go off. And remind you to turn on the rest of the security system.

You can also put the sensor of your pet’s collar. Then you’ll know when they run out the house. If you have a playful toddler who likes exploring, this can be helpful too.

Best for: keeping track of who leaves the home

Control panel alarm

If you have an overall security system, some criminals may tamper with it. They may try to smash the control panel or disarm the system.

This alarm will detect if anyone is messing with the control panel. They usually use a magnetic or shock detecting technology. Vibrations and other disturbances will trigger the alarm.

Then their attempts to turn off the system will totally backfire!

When installing a control panel, you should obviously put it somewhere hard to reach. Some people install it on the far back wall or above the top shelf. Use some creativity though. If you can easily think of it, the criminal can probably too.

However, make sure to stay away from locations with high heat and/or humidity.

Best for: detecting when someone is tampering with the alarms

Environmental sensor home security products

This type of sensor gives you another type of home security.

Rather than sensing intruders, it will detect disastrous environments. Environmental sensors detect leaks, floods, extreme changes in temperatures and more.

If anything happens when you are away, you’ll be notified immediately. You can then hurry back. Or if you’re on vacation, have a friend check on your home before the damage worsens.

It gives you a peace of mind. It can be a great money saver too!

Photoelectric smoke detector

A smoke detector is the most common type of environmental sensor. It also happens to be required by law. For good reason too.

There are more than 1 million fires per year in the U.S. Residential fires result in the highest number of injuries and deaths.

Smoke detectors can decrease safety risks by 50 percent! On the other hand, half of all home fires occur in homes without a working smoke detector.

Many think they’ll wake up when they smell the fire. But the majority of deaths occur from odorless toxic gasses or smoke produced by the fire. These travel much faster than the fire itself too.

The smoke alarm is a true lifesaver when you are sleeping or in a different part of the home.

There are two types to choose from: ionization and photoelectric alarms. The former is less expensive. They are better for fast, flaming fires.

Photoelectric alarms are more sensitive to slow, smoldering fires. However, they are less sensitive to steam. They won’t go off if you accidentally burn food in the kitchen. This makes photoelectric a good choice for alarms near kitchens and bathrooms.

No matter what type you have, be sure to get it tested. And make sure it is always fully charged and working!

Best for: detecting odorless gasses and smoke from fires near kitchens

Carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, tasteless and odorless toxic gas.

It is mostly commonly produced when you forget to turn off the stove. It also comes from the incomplete burning of coal, kerosene, oil, propane and other fuels. Furnaces, gas heaters and generators are all possible culprits.

There are around 15,000 cases of non-fire related CO poisoning in the U.S. each year. And yet, many people underestimate its deadliness.

To make matters worse, the gas can easily pass through walls of your home to other rooms. Or into your apartment from your neighbor’s home!

A carbon monoxide detector is the number one tool against this poisonous gas. You can’t see or smell the gas. So the alarm is the only thing that can alert you before you feel the symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Headache and dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Confusion

  • Loss of muscle coordination

  • Loss of consciousness

You should check and replace the detector’s batteries at least twice per year. In addition, check the quality of your heating system at least once a year.

If the alarm ever goes off, don’t take any chances. Evacuate the building and call fire services immediately.

Best for: detecting carbon monoxide before it’s too late

Wireless flood detector

There are around 850 water breaks reported every day in the U.S. The average cost of the damages is around $15,000. Floods are costly and annoying.

Place a flood detector near locations such as: kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, water boiler. When the detector senses overflowing water, it will signal the alarm panel. It can notify your mobile device.

Some alarm systems come with another device to cut off the water source in question.

There are two major types of flood detection systems: wired and wireless. Wired is more cost effective if you only want to monitor a single appliance or room.

But for multiple living levels, go for a wireless system.

Natural disasters, such as mudflows and flash floods, may be the reason. But around 70 percent floods are manmade. They are caused by malfunctioning water heaters (bursting or leaking.) So, make sure to get you heater checked often!

Best for: protecting your home from flood and leak damage

Conventional fire alarm system

While smoke detectors are crucial, they aren’t enough by themselves. Fire protection also goes beyond having a fire alarm in every room.

Depending on the size of your home, you should have a fire alarm network. A system can reduce the number of separate alarms needed. But monitor a much larger surface area. These alarms are more sensitive than one-room smoke alarms.

There are two major types of systems: conventional and analogue system.

The analogue system is a bit more advanced and expensive. However, the conventional system is great for residential use!

The system divides the building into individual zones. Each zone is a circuit. There is usually one circuit per floor. The zone lamps on the control panel help you pinpoint where the fire is.

For more protection, you can also add in sprinklers or manual alarms.

Fire alarm systems are proven to save lives. But ensure that your system is correctly maintained and operating. Too many false alarms will decrease its effectiveness.

Best for: detecting and monitoring fires throughout the home

Weather alert radio

Use a weather radio to be alerted on weather changes. All weather radios use the NOAA service. It is a nationwide network that works on 7 frequencies. Different ones are used in different areas. The radio also works with other federal agencies for complete information.

The frequencies are: 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525, 162.550 MHz

A signal would be transmitted to the area that needs a weather or civil alert. The signals include the type and duration of alert and SAME codes (counties affected.)

Some examples are thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods. Civil alerts may include child abductions (AMBER alert) or evacuations.

You can use the NOAA weather radio in many different situations. They are either battery operated or AC powered. There are also different sizes, portability and functions.

What is the difference between weather alert radios and regular weather radios? You must turn on the basic radio. But weather alert radios will automatically receive warnings. It receives the alert even if you aren’t listening to it. You can be warned no matter what.

Best for: receiving automatic warnings of weather and civil alerts

Weather station

On the other hand, a weather station is made up of different sensors. They collect weather and environment related data.

Some use analog technology, while others are digital and can be connected to the computer. They are also known as weather centers or weather forecasters. While they can’t send out alerts, you can get more detailed info on the weather.

Some possible sensors that weather stations may include are:

  • Thermometer: temperature

  • Hygrometer: relative humidity

  • Barometer: atmospheric pressure

  • Rain gauge: rainfall

  • Anemometer: wind speed and direction

When choosing a weather station, consider the number and quality of sensors. It should be able to connect data to the Weather Underground or to the internet.

Best for: being aware of weather conditions to prepare as needed


Smart Home Security Products

With the rise of smart phones, the popularity of these security products has exploded. Connected to your phone, it gives you control over your home no matter where you are. They are also more complicated to hack.

You may prefer these against physical nuts and bolts. The only problem is when you lose your phone or if the battery goes dead.

Smart lock

Let’s face it. Locks and deadbolts are great at their job. But it takes so much work and time—you must look for your keys, find the right key, stick it in the right way, turn in the right direction . . .

Smart locks are much easier to use. They come in various sizes with different functions. Some have keypads and others don’t. With keypads, you can assign codes to visitors. Instead of giving them a physical key.

For those without keypads, options may include: pressing a finger to the digital lock sensor, using an app to unlock, and more.

Some locks also feature a built-in alarm. It will go off if someone tries to force it open. This works with your other break-in alarms for extra reinforcement.

The most important thing to look for when choosing a smart lock is if it’s compatible with your mobile device. You may have to buy a smart home hub as well. If you’re looking for a system, make sure the lock works with other devices in your smart home network too.

So, should you use smart locks or traditional locks? It really comes down to your preferences. But if you’re a techy and like the ease it offers, go for a smart lock instead.

Best for: doing away with keys, remote monitoring of the home

Smart garage door opener

The garage door is another way for thieves to enter your home. Especially if you have a car parked outside with the door opener.

But a smart opener can give you more control over the garage doors and gates. Some products allow you share garage access with different guests. And set different schedules and abilities for each individual.

Other products help you monitor the garage. A camera can record opening and closing of the door in real time. You may also get a notification whenever the garage is opened or closed.

Best for: managing entrance and departures from the garage

Smart video doorbell

This is similar to the digital door viewer in that you can see who’s outside your door.

But this smart doorbell can be completely integrated into your smart security system. Some apps will even allow you to unlock the smart lock thru the same screen.

These video doorbells are helpful if you have a large house. Or are outside where you can’t hear the ring. So the wireless system will let you see who’s at the entrance no matter where you are (as long as you set the monitor there.)

When choosing a video doorbell, consider the following factors:

  • Video feed options: All will show you a live feed. Some have other features, such as recording, screenshots, night vision and wider angle.

  • Weatherproofing: since it is outside, it should be able to survive all sorts of weather conditions

  • Sound options: Some will trigger your actual doorbell. Others can let you choose a ringtone of sorts. Certain models can also be shut off, in case you want some quiet time.

Some people worry that the doorbell can be easily hacked. But representatives said that it is highly unlikely for someone to execute the hack. And even if they do, you’ll have captured a clear picture of his face.

Best for: monitoring your door wherever you are

Surveillance camera

Many home security products, such as the one above, can include surveillance cameras.

According to public officials, these cameras play an important function in keeping everyone safe. Because they record the crime, they can help in police investigations.

Research in cities such as Baltimore and Chicago show that cameras are associated with reduced crime. Even beyond the proximity of camera coverage. The financial savings are significant too. Chicago saved four dollars for every dollar invested in the tech.

Just the sign of cameras can scare potential burglars away. So you really have nothing to lose. Cameras are one of the most basic and effective home security products.

Experts recommend integrating surveillance camera technology into all aspects of law enforcement. Citywide camera systems should be monitored by trained staff.

But cameras for your home are less complicated.

There are many different products with their own unique features. Some are motion activated, others have better night vision. But no matter what, remember to check often that it’s working properly.

Best for: recording evidence of the crime

Radio scanner

There are tons of different waves in the air around you—microwaves, radio waves and more. Radio waves carry messages and conversations all the time.

At the moment, messages between police officers, firefighters and race car drivers could be zipping around you! All you need is a scanner to tap into this. Most radio scanners can pick up VHF to UHF waves.

Radio scanners have 3 modes: scan, manual scan and search.

  • Scan mode: the receiver changes frequencies to look for one that someone is transmitting. A panel shows which channel or frequency is in use. Some scanners have pre-programmed frequencies. Or you can manually set which ones to look for.

  • Manual scan mode: manually search through the pre-programmed frequencies. You can use a button or dial. Then stop when you find one that is transmitting a message.

  • Search mode: the scanner searches between two sets of frequencies within a band. Use this when you don’t know a specific frequency. But you want to know which are active in the general area. When you find a frequency, you can store it.

A scanner helps you learn about what’s happening in your area. Including much more than just the police! Here are some ideas:

  • Police department: listen in on the local police, sheriff and patrol for news on criminal activity.

  • Fire department: be alerted on fires. Decide if you should prepare for evacuation.

  • Schools and universities: learn about possible lockdowns while you or your children are in school.

  • Neighborhood watch: use portable scanners to be better prepared against potential crimes.

  • Paramedics and hospitals

  • Traffic control

  • Utilities

Best for: real-time information to aid in home security

Smart thermostat

This smart product also helps with monitoring the environment of your home.

A traditional room thermostat only allows you to manually change the temperature. However, a smart thermostat is more efficient.

Did you forget to turn off the heat? Want to turn on the AC earlier so the house is cool when you get home? You can remotely control the device through an app. This allows you to adjust the temperature wherever and whenever.

An advanced form is a “learning” smart thermostat. It learns your schedule by detecting when and where your phone is. It can even detect when you’re on the way home.

These can also adjust themselves according to the environment. Such as conditions like humidity. They show you how long it takes to change the temperature. This can help you be more energy efficient. And save some money!

You won’t even have to program or control the smart thermostat. It can entirely work on its own to provide you a safe and comfortable home.

Best for: managing temperature and environment of your home

Self Defense

Keeping yourself safe is more important than keeping your home safe. These self-defense tools can in turn safeguard your home too!

Whether you’re walking down the street. Or present when a burglar breaks into your home. Use personal safety security products to protect yourself.

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Panic alarm

A panic alarm can be the second step in your alarm system. They should be portable or easily accessible. These alarms are personally activated by you.

Some go off with a loud siren. This can protect you from personal attacks or scare the criminal away. With others, you can send a silent signal to the police for help.

This is a great option for small businesses. It can also be extremely helpful for those who may have to walk down dangerous streets. Keep the alarm nearby. Press it whenever you feel endangered!

Best for: sending signals for help wherever and whenever

Pepper spray

This spicy weapon is probably the most well-known self-defense tool.

The spray contains oleoresin capsicum. It’s the ingredient responsible for the hotness of peppers. It is a non-lethal deterrent, however it can be seriously painful.

One study reviewed a physician’s log of patients in a jail ward emergency area over 3 years. Common effects of pepper spray exposure are corneal abrasions.

The criminal can also experience severe irritation to the skin and breathing problems. They might cough and gag, and their skin can discolor. Some may temporarily lose strength and coordination.

However, pepper spray isn’t foolproof! Not everyone is affected. And it can piss off the attacker, leading him to retaliate.

So rather than true self-defense, see pepper spray as a diversionary tool. It’ll distract the attacker and give you the opportunity to escape.

But it still has many advantages. It is inexpensive, portable and legal. Other than the spray version, you can choose pepper fogger or gel. It is effective against animal attacks as well.

Best for: diversionary tool during a personal attack

Stun gun

For a more versatile self-defense tool, go for the stun gun.

If you let it touch the assailant for 1 second, it will shock and repel him. One to 2 seconds will cause minor muscle spasms. Your attacker might be a little dazed. This can buy you time to escape.

Three to 5 seconds though is optimal. It will cause loss of balance and muscle control, mental disorientation and nausea. Sadly, this won’t happen if you just touch someone with a stun gun. That’s only in movies.

When you shock someone, don’t worry about the electricity “bouncing” back to you. The muscle will take the energy upon skin contact. It’s impossible for it to return to you.

When choosing a stun gun, look at the amperage. Not the voltage!

The voltage plays a part in how powerful the stun gun is. But it’s the amperage that makes a stun gun effective. It is the current of electricity going through the device.

But just like pepper spray, stun guns aren’t foolproof. It’s not recommended against people with high pain tolerance. Including those who are drunk, on drugs or mentally ill. The shock and pain may only make them more aggressive.

Stun guns should only be a powerful backup plan or handy weapon in times of crisis.

Best for: temporarily shocking and distracting the attacker

Tactical flashlight

Flashlights are such an everyday thing that you might overlook how great it is for home security uses. But they are actually portable multi-functional tools and weapons.

It is included in the Advanced Care Medical Kit by Cambridge for emergencies. Experts also include flashlights in their home security plans.

Different from regular ones, tactical flashlights have textured grips.

You can use the bright light and bezel edges for self-defense. The brightness can distract and blind the attacker. The bezel edges are made for breaking windows. But since you’re not the one breaking in, you can use it on the intruder. And it will hurt.

The light can obviously help identify threats in dark areas. Plus, it’s great help during emergencies.

If you use a gun for self defense, how do you hold both together? You can use the Harries technique. Though created for large flashlights, the technique works well with smaller ones too.

Hold the light in an “ice pick” grip in the non-shooting hand. The handgun should be forward, the non-shooting hand crossed under the other arm. The backs of the hands should be against each other. This creates stability through isometric tension.

Best for: multi-functional light during emergencies

Paper shredder

More and more things are going electronic and paperless—such as credit card bills. But many important documents are still mailed to you in paper form.

For these, a paper shredder is necessary. After utilizing the info on these papers, don’t just throw them away!

This makes it easier for identity theft to occur. And signs of your income may make your home even more tempting to burglarize. Some burglars use this method to decide if a home is worth it or not.

Un-shredded paper in the trash can make you lose money. And maybe even your identity.

So make the papers useless for anyone who may want to steal this valuable information.

Best for: keeping personal information safe

Drink safety tester

Research by University of Bath in the UK revealed that 76 percent of people know someone who had their drink spiked. The victims aren’t just women either! A survey by the Essex police showed that 11 percent of victims are men.

How do you protect yourself while having fun at the bar? The answer is drink testers such as Check Your Drink.

This product is a small detection strip. It’s easy to carry around and easy to hide. But it can test for GHB and Ketamine. Those are the two most common date rape drugs.

There are also drink test coasters. It can also test for both GHB and Ketamine. Simply place your glass on the coaster. It will change colors depending on the content of the drink.

In order to ensure your safety, keep an eye on your drink at all times. And try rejecting drinks from other people.

Best for: safety against spiked drinks

Fakes and tricks

If your home as an alarm system, it will be 3 times less likely to be broken in. Visible signs of surveillance and security systems will deter burglars.

So if a real system isn’t within your budget, you can try some fakes. Give the illusion that you’re under protection.

Of course, this should be a last resort. If a burglar calls your bluff, you won’t have any protection.

Security sign and stickers

Put some signs in your yard and stickers on your door. Pretend you have a state-of-art security system protecting your home.

Some people advise against putting up stickers of alarm systems. Because the burglar may know how to bypass or disarm specific systems. But yours is just a decoy! So if the burglar really does try, he’ll just get confused.

Fake surveillance camera

These fake ones can be stuck on top of your door and garage. You can choose a product that even has a blinking light to make it seem more authentic.

But if a burglar really does break in, you won’t be getting any footage from these cameras.

TV simulator

This type of device can simulate an illuminated television. They can mimic the light and flash. Some can also produce sounds. This will make it seem as if you are home.

It has an effect similar to timed and motion activated lights.

Tips on choosing a home security system

Now you know what products you should get. But what company and brand of products are most suitable for you and your home? Here are some more factors to consider:

Monitoring fees

With some systems, you can have a second set of eyes on the job. You can get in on additional protection plans. With a bit of extra cost, you can receive services such as 24/7 monitoring.

It can get first responders to your home much faster than usual. It can also take away some worry and anxiety. But of course, there is a price for the extra safety. These professional monitoring cost around $30 per month.

Other budget woes

Check with your city or town for any additional fees you may have to pay. Some charge a permit fee, others may charge for false alarms (which might not even be your fault!)

You can contact the home security company or your town hall for more information.

Getting in touch with your insurance company is also a good idea. You might actually receive bonuses or discounts from them!

Getting the bigger picture

Home security can be a part of a much bigger system. Lighting and electricity is an example. If you use smart security products, check that your system is compatible! Even if you don’t have them now, you may want to add them in the future.

Tips on choosing and maintaining sensors

Sensors play a major role in home security. But you gotta make sure they’re working properly!

For door and window alarms, use this checklist to make the best choice when choosing:

  • Which doors and windows do you want protected? You may be able to overlook one if they aren’t accessible. But while having less sensors will save money now, it can cost you much more if anything happens.

  • Do you want to arm an open window? If so, go for vented window sensors.

  • Does the company offer maintenance and repair service? If not, decide if you can easily repair it yourself. And if it’s worth doing so.

  • How user friendly is the alarm? Every household member should be able to use it.

  • Are there secondary pass codes? This is for family members, relatives and close friends to arm and disarm the system.

  • What other features would you like? Glass break sensors can detect broken glass, drilling and sawing. Other alarms have more advanced features as well.

Most sensors will alert you from the alarm panel when it’s not working properly. However, you should still get into the habit of weekly checks. This way, you can catch problems before they become too serious.

When issues arise, notify your alarm company as soon as possible. Repairing the sensor is always an option. However, a replacement is usually less costly.

Some common problems are:

  • Adhesive failing: the adhesive for attaching the sensor will gradually lose strength. Especially if your home has high humidity. This can lead to false alarms when the sensor starts slipping off.

  • Signs of wear: the sensor can become damaged over time, or when someone accidentally hits it.


Additional Home Security Tips

Sure you have the products to protect your home now. But how do you make it as unattractive to burglars as possible?

Here are some tips to make potential burglars and thieves turn the other way.

1. Don’t let your home seem vacant

This is a no-brainer. But we still have to say it.

Before breaking in, burglars often cruise through neighborhoods to find an easy house to burglarize. This is where the timed lights and motion activated alarms come into play.

Having a pet and friends who come over to manage your home also help!

2. No sudden changes in routine

A burglar may very well stake out for weeks to learn your routine. Sudden changes can be a sign that something’s up.

Signs that you’re probably away for a while:

  • Lights are on at night. You may think that security lights will protect you. But in this case, it signals that you’re gone.

  • Suspended mail delivery. Having mail stack up is no good. But having mail delivery start passing over your home completely also has the same effect.

Better yet, make your routine unpredictable.

3. No online shopping sprees

Shopping online will result in deliveries to your home. And regular deliveries left outside your door are super tempting for porch pirates and burglars.

They are a sign that there are interesting valuables inside the home. If the packages build up, it can mean that you’re out of town. And the packages themselves can be stolen too.

If you do get deliveries, try requiring that they must be signed and accepted. Instead of being left outside in the open. When you’re out of town, have a trusted friend or relative pick up the mail for you.

4. Don’t put valuables in the bedroom

Maybe it used to be safe to put things in your bedroom. But burglars and thieves aren’t dumb. They know the places that people like to use. And even an amateur will know to go for the bedroom.

At the same time, don’t put valuables out in the open. A nice shiny tablet left charging in the living room? Antiques next to a window?

Probably not a good idea.

Invest in a safe to store true valuables. For other items, rack your brain and be creative with the hiding spaces! They should be hard to reach and even harder to think of.

5. Hide your spare key somewhere else

The mailbox, under the doormat, under a plotted plant on your porch . . . This is the same as storing valuables in the bedroom.

Try wrapping your spare key in foil. Then place bury it somewhere you can find easily. But others can’t.

6. Don’t leave notes on the door

Leaving notes for family members or service is like a welcome mat for burglars. Instead, take advantage of technology. Send a text reminder or email!

7. Work on your landscaping

Don’t have messy trees or shrubs near windows. These can all be hiding spots for burglars. They can shield and protect the burglar while working your windows.

Keep your trees and shrubs trimmed. Or go for smaller ones that are equally aesthetic. But won’t be infested with potential criminals!

8. Paint the handles of tools

To prevent your tools and equipment from being stolen, personalize them. Thieves usually avoid items that are easily identifiable.

9. Stranger danger

Interviewed burglars revealed that they always knock or ring first. What do they do if you answer the door? Many replied that they pretend they’re a salesperson.

If a salesperson requests entry in your home, ask for credentials! Ask for an ID or even call their supposed company. Digital peepholes are great in this case.

10. Protect your wiring

If you have a hardwired security system, make sure the wirings are concealed. Burglars may cut them to disarm the system. If they’re out in the open, animals may also damage the wiring.

11. Live in a condo or apartment building

It’s hard to change the location of your home. But if you’re moving, consider a shared building.

Residential or suburban areas are great for thieves and burglars. There are fewer people around. The homes are usually farther away from main roads. And bigger homes mean richer families.

But a shared building doesn’t have any problems. The buildings usually have their own security system as well. Which may be more effective than those for single households.

Neighborhood watch programs may work better in a building too.

12. Get a dog

Canines have been guards ever since they became man’s best friend. Both big and small dogs have their advantages.

A big dog is definitely more intimidating. They are probably better at fighting off intruders too.

But we all know how annoying small dogs can be—they start barking and never shut up. This can be a pain for someone who’s trying get in through the window.


With this list of home security products and these tips, your home should be burglar proof. Nothing is perfect though, so you should always have a backup plan. But let a good home security system ease your worries!



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