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How to secure your home like a pro: 20-plus expert tips and strategies for DIYers

Jake Widman | June 30, 2015
Feeling secure in your home is important, whether you're a homeowner or a renter. That's why security plays a central role in all the best connected-home systems. The easy way to secure your property is to call a professional service provider: ADT or Vivint, for instance, or a custom installer like Control4 if you want something fancier. Those firms will send someone out to look at your residence, assess your needs, and make equipment recommendations. Alternatively, you can do it yourself by acquiring the hardware from a DIY-friendly provider such as Frontpoint or Simplisafe. Those companies will provide some relatively generic advice, but they don't have agents in the field who can customize a package for your specific needs--that's why they cost less.

With that principle in mind, start researching the systems and devices you have to choose from. "There's an understanding of the technology that's necessary because you're going to have to fit it to your lifestyle," says Johnson-Pino. "So from a DIY aspect, you need to start with a bunch of research. You need to know what there is to know what you want."

"Certain devices provide certain levels of security," explains Carney. "The door sensors provide perimeter security, while the motion sensors provide interior security." (Remember, it's about layers.) A home security camera can be both a great deterrent (especially if it's an outdoor model), a warning system (if it sends you an alert when it detects motion when no one should be home), and a forensic tool you can use to provide evidence to the police after a break-in. A siren can scare burglars off your property if they manage to breach your doors or windows and trigger a sensor.

What do you consider valuable?

With a basis of knowledge and a conceptual framework, you're ready to get specific. "The biggest thing to think about is, what are you concerned about the most, and what do you value the most?" says Carney. "If you can answer those two questions, that's going to drive how you want to architect your own system." Do you have a child you want to keep an eye on, or whose room you want to guard? Do you own an expensive car? When considering these questions, think about the kind of neighborhood you live in and what kinds of problems you're likely to run into.

If car break-ins are common, then you want a camera pointing at your driveway or the street in front of your house. If you're mostly worried about safety when people are at home, then alarms tied to sensors on doors and windows will be a priority. Connect your lighting to your security system and you can use the same sensors to light up the interior and exterior when those sensors are tripped while armed.

Home-security threats aren't always external--think about what needs protection from the people who are supposed to be there. "Maybe there's an interior room in the house that has a gun safe, so you want to put a door sensor on that so that you're notified every time that door opens," continues Carney. "Or a liquor cabinet you want to protect away from the kids."

The next step is to consider the comings and goings of the members of your household. "We would come out and ask, what's your lifestyle?" says Johnson-Pino. "Who's home when? Is the home vacant often? Are there other people that you want to have access to your house but you'd rather not have a key to your home? Questions like that."


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