The Best Home Security Systems 2018: The Ultimate Guide
By Katherine Mascarin – Editor
This article discusses the best home security systems for any country and region. Sonic Systems is based in Toronto Ontario, Canada, so the beginning preface is local-specific. Scroll past the first paragraph for the full article.
The Best Home Security Systems in Toronto
The most complete or best home security system could include all of the following components in this article. But, not all are necessarily best for every home, person, family or property. All properties are unique and everyone’s necessities and priorities are different. Sonic Systems has been designing and installing the best home security systems in Toronto since 2009. Our installers, programmers, and system designers have 10, 20, and 30 years experience in this area. If you’re looking for the best home security system in Toronto, contact us today. We will be happy to provide an initial consultation and give you our expert advice. We work with new & existing homes, builders, contractors and renovation projects.
So, let’s jump into what the best security system entails….
The Best Home Security System Components Summary
- Home Alarm System
- Indoor & Outdoor Video Surveillance
- Motorized Blinds & Automated Window Coverings
- Smart Lighting & Motion Sensor Light Switches
- Smoke Sensors, FIre Sensors, CO2 Sensors
- Glass Break Sensors
- Magnetic Door Sensors & Magnetic Window Sensors
- Motion Sensors
- Key Fobs
- Smart Door Locks & Automatic Garage Doors
- Video Doorbells & Video Intercoms
- Flood Sensors & SUmp Pump Sensors
- Climate Control & Smart Thermostats
- 3rd Party Monitoring & First Response Notification
- Home Automation, Remote Control & Remote Viewing
The best home security system is not necessarily a specific brand, item, price range or product but rather a combination of items or services that are right for the home based on the residents’ needs. It usually entails many parts that you might not initially consider when thinking about a home security system. A security system can be as basic as a simple burglar alarm or as complex as a system with indoor & outdoor video surveillance, smart lighting, glass break sensors, motion sensors, automation and more. But, whatever system you have set up in your home the point is to make your life safer, easier and more secure.
The statistics can be scary. In Canada on average there are 40,000 break-ins a year, 8 people are killed each week by house fires and out of 2,300 Canadians living in high-risk areas, 75 percent have no idea that their property is at risk of a flood. So, what do these numbers prove exactly? That home security is a topic worth serious discussion and consideration. That’s why we’ve compiled the best components of a security system and how they can help keep you, your home and loved ones safe.
This article will provide you with specifics about each individual aspect of a home security system by breaking them down into further detail. So let’s get started!
Home Alarm Systems
Even the most basic home alarm systems can deter burglars. An entry-level security monitoring system can get you started by spending just $300 a year. Some of the best ways to deter burglars from targeting your home are by ensuring easy access points are monitored & secured and by making it appear as though you are always home through automation (which we will detail later). Home alarm systems can be wireless or wired, depending on the type of house you have and whether it is a newer or older build. Most home security systems fit in with the look and feel of a home and keep you in the know even if you are not physically home through mobile application notifications that alert you when something isn’t right.
Honeywell, an established player in the home security realm, provides their Lyric Security and a Home Control System that contributes to a safer, smarter home, through a wireless connected smart platform and home automation. Each component of the Lyric Security system can work well on its own. However, when configured as a complete Home Control System, they work seamlessly together to keep the entire property secure. Honeywell’s Lyric Security can include the touchscreen controller, classic keypad, smoke detector, door & window contacts, motion and glassbreak detectors, sirens, two-way wireless key (for entry & automation functions) and more. A full Honeywell system includes nearly every component that we discuss throughout this article, providing for near-complete, whole-house protection in a fully compatible single brand solution.
Nest, a newer brand of smart home devices carries home alarm systems that work through apps, keypads and motion sensors. Nest lets the homeowner arm and disarm the house with or without the use of a passcode. They have sensors placed on your windows, walls or doors which can alert you if there’s motion in a room and when a window or door is opening. When configured, these alarms can even call fire, police or medical services without 3rd party monitoring.
Indoor & Outdoor Video Surveillance
Video surveillance cameras, whether inside or outside of a home, should be stationed in your typical places but also areas that people would not normally expect. This helps ensure that they are not disabled or broken. Some of the most basic aspects to think about when purchasing video surveillance cameras are motion detection, field of view, sound, wi-fi capabilities, night vision, movement, cost and image resolution. Outdoor video surveillance cameras have to be able to withstand frigid outdoor temperatures and various weather conditions, including snow, sun, heat and rain; while indoor video surveillance cameras have to fit in with the style and the rest of your home.
Video surveillance can be broken down further into remote viewing and control, hard drive recording, baby monitoring and helper or babysitter monitoring.
- Remote viewing and control involve monitoring your home while you are away and controlling devices to keep it safe.
- Hard drive recording involves recording digital audio and video to play back at a later time for evidence or surveillance review purposes.
- Baby monitoring and helper or babysitter monitoring provides you with the ability to view a sleeping baby or check in on how a helper or babysitter is doing, without you ever having to be physically present in the room.
Motorized Blinds & Automated Window Coverings
Automated blinds and window coverings may not be your first instinct when planning out your security system. However, they contribute greatly to safety and security by giving the appearance of a house being occupied and lived in while it is vacant or you are away.
Motorized blinds can be set to automatically open or close on a timer or regular schedule based on the time of day or by the use of sensors dependent on lighting and weather conditions. In conjunction with video surveillance, security monitoring and smart lighting, remote-controlling capabilities give even further flexibility by allowing independent operation from a computer, tablet, or mobile device if you receive a notification of concern, putting you in full control even when you’re not there.
As an added safety benefit, automated blinds are controlled by either wall switches, phone apps, iPads or remotes, helping to eliminate choking hazards for small children from the cords of standard blinds – increasing the overall safety of your home.
*Energy Efficiency and Additional Perks of Motorized Window Coverings
As another added bonus, motorized blinds and automated drapes also increase the home’s energy efficiency, ultimately saving you on heating and air conditioning costs. By using sensors to open the blinds in the winter to catch the sun’s heat and by closing them in the summer to keep it cool, automated window coverings help to conserve the energy usage of other home comfort devices. They also give rooms versatility: using blackout blinds or drapes to create a home theatre room when drawn or to create a sunroom when open. These blinds also manage to protect your furniture, floors and art from harmful damage when the sun is at its strongest.
Smart Lighting & Motion Sensor Light Switches
Smart lighting involves smart light sockets, bulbs, and automated switches or motion light switches and timers that have the ability to turn on and off when you walk in and out of a room, at specific times, or in conjunction with other smart devices and smart scenes (or commands) in a smart home system. Smart lighting also allows you to change the brightness of a bulb or the colour of an LED.
Crestron and Fibaro, carry stand-alone lighting controls that can be added to any existing or new home build. They provide dimmer and switching functionalities that provide you with the ability to turn lights on and off within the home and remotely while you are away. This increases security and safety by allowing you to deter intruders or solicitors. If you get a notification from a smart lock or your surveillance systems, you can control the lights on or off to send a message that you are home or that you don’t want to be disturbed. In conjunction with other smart devices or sensors, these lights can do this automatically without needing to respond at all. Combined with automated blinds and window coverings, smart lights can give off the appearance that someone is home at all times.
Smoke & Fire & CO2 Sensors
Smoke, fire and CO2 sensors can be placed on nearly any ceiling or wall in your house. These sensors can be connected to each other, notify you if a fire is starting or smoke is permeating, or if there is a problem with the carbon monoxide levels. They can notify you, third parties, and sound an alarm. Most sensors will react to even the lowest levels of carbon monoxide. When configured correctly in the right security and automation system, they can be set to contact first responders as well.
Fibaro and Nest are just a few of many brands that carry smoke, fire and CO2 alarms. Nest has the ability to self-test for reliability and accuracy up to 400 times a day. As many people forget to test their smoke alarms or sensors on a monthly basis, this is a crucial feature to minimize preventable smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning accidents. These alarms can last up to a decade, contributing to long-term safety and subsequently low average maintenance cost.
Glass Break Sensors
Glass-break sensors work by determining if a break-in happens while it’s happening or even before it happens. Because break-ins typically occur at windows and doors, glass-break sensors play a crucial role in detecting even the slightest sound of a window breaking. One glass-break sensor can cover the span of many rooms and can be used almost anywhere. These sensors work by connecting to other security devices or the main alarm system in your home, activating the alarm or notifying you and your 3rd party monitoring. They are usually relatively easy to install as they come in wired and wireless options. Glass break sensors provide years of protection and typically do not create false alarms because they detect pitch and the frequency of windows breaking, not volume or noise.
Magnetic Door & Window Sensors
Door and window sensors are one and the same. They work in conjunction with most alarm system components and, like glass-break sensors, are a crucial part of any home security system. They can be used in the most complex or simple security systems.
Door and window sensors use magnets to detect contact. When the door or window is closed, the magnets are in contact. When open, this contact is broken. These sensors notify you to let you know if you left an entry open or you won’t be able to activate your alarm. When leaving your home or activating your alarm, they let your main system know whether an entry was left open.
These sensors come complete with protection against tampering and can be placed in a variety of locations including skylights, entrance doors, garage doors, window frames, connecting doors, safety gates and more.
Some brands take the functionality of these sensors even further. Fibaro, for example, carries door and window sensors that have independent power and a thermostat built in. This allows it to work with smart thermostats and its controller, regulate temperatures more accurately throughout the room or house and sense extreme temperature fluctuations to notify other devices or initiate scenes.
Motion sensors can be set to go on and off as you enter and exit a room. Honeywell, offers a wide range of motion sensors including passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors, wired and non-wired, motion detectors with mirror optics and anti-mask, recess mount PIR motion detectors and PIR curtain motion sensors. These sensors and detectors offer easy installation and can be set up on any wall or corner of your home. They work in collaboration with home alarm systems to increase detection against intruders and eliminate false alarms.
Key fobs are used for entering and exiting buildings, homes and garages. Traditionally, key fobs are known for allowing access to residential and commercial buildings, elevators, luxury homes and automobiles. Key fobs now, however, are being implemented for mainstream use in more homes than ever. Keyfob access points typically allow for greater security than key-pin locks and doors.
Aiphone, carries key fobs that have a hardwired system with notifications and remote controlling. These are typically placed as access control keypads at the entrance to more secured, elaborate homes and office buildings or condominiums. They have the ability to save up to 100 access codes for various residents. Depending on the size or security needs of your residential property, these are often a recommended solution.
Fibaro, on the other hand, has a key fob that can help you control the door and other aspects of a smart home. The Fibaro key fob can be programmed as a remote control for your automation control system, controlling your music, changing the temperature, shutting the blinds opening the garage door when you drive up and unlocking the door, working similarly to traditional keyfobs but with further smart home control.
Smart Door Locks & Automatic Garage Doors
Automatic garage doors are another home security system that can be automated – opening when you drive up to your house automatically, through phone apps or key fobs, and by other touchless entry systems, intercoms or keypads. Setting up the right automated garage door system will let you provide access for visitors, prevent you from ever accidentally leaving the door open or allow for remote monitoring and closing if you do.
Smart door locks can be used in combination with video intercoms & doorbells, allowing you to see and speak with those at the door and to let guests enter without needing to get up or even be home. They can also be set to only allow those who are authorized, such as a maid or caretaker, to only have access at certain hours. And, they can be used with or without a key and in combination with keypads or key fobs.
Video Doorbells and Intercoms
Video doorbells and intercoms can be used in single-homes or entirely professional in larger offices, residential buildings, and luxury and larger properties, contributing to a certain level of sophistication and security. They allow for remote viewing and answering. In conjunction with smart locks or automated door-entry or automated garage systems, they can also allow remote access to homes and garages. Aiphone, Doorbird and Nest carry video doorbells and intercoms that deliver quality HD video and images. These products tell you when a doorbell has been rung, notify you to your home or mobile phone, and computer or tablet. They allow monitoring and controlling the door from wherever you are 24/7.
Flood Sensors & Sump Pump Sensors
Flood and sump pump sensors send mobile or other notifications if a leak or flood has occurred or work with an automated system to activate other security scenes. These sensors have the ability to cut off the water supply when a leak has happened, helping to minimize property damage. Fibaro carries flood sensors that can be stored away almost anywhere, allowing them to always be hidden from view. These sensors have leak monitors, temperature monitors, anti-fraud technology, sound alarms and light indicators.
Climate Controls & Smart Thermostats
Crestron carries climate controls and smart thermostats that can be connected to wired and wireless systems. These devices save on energy due to their programming abilities that allow for the controlling of air and heat. Some brands like Nest offer standalone options that can function on their own, but like Crestron and work best as part of a home automation system.
When integrated with a complete control system, these devices have the ability to change certain rooms temperatures at certain times of day and help you save on energy. They contribute to the overall level of security in your home by providing you with alerts for when to change the filter of your furnace and when to get it checked by a technician or when temperatures fluctuate erratically or unexpectedly.
Third Party Monitoring and First Response Notification
Finally, third-party monitoring and first response notifications are extremely important when considering a home security system. Even with today’s smart home monitoring systems that can notify you directly, these devices will not help you directly in an emergency. In the heat of an emergency, if you are away from your phone or other devices, or if you are away on vacation, the monitoring service is always there. Third-party monitoring doesn’t take a vacation and doesn’t compromise when you, your family, and your homes’ safety is at risk.
By alerting first responders and reaching the necessary assistance, help will come to you in any situation you may be facing. These services update and exchange information to emergency services in times of crisis, notifying police, ambulance or fire as necessary. Having a third-party monitoring service keeps professionals on your side that are trained in who to contact and how to handle emergency situations.
If at this point you still find yourself asking why you need these services or question why they are even necessary, the simple answer is that without these services in place you would have to deal with these emergencies alone. Third party monitoring and first response notifications are important because they provide you with the help of trained professionals when you are unable to help yourself. Third-party monitoring helps ease worry by giving the added safety net of having someone available to help at all times.
Choosing the Right System
The most complete or best home security system could include all of these components but not all of these are necessarily best for every person, family or property. All homes are unique and everyone’s necessities, properties, and priorities are different. If you’re looking for the best home security system in Toronto, contact us today. We will be happy to provide an initial consultation and give you our expert advice. We work with new & existing homes, builders, contractors and renovation projects.