Visiting a home security company’s website for the first time can be discouraging. People often feel overwhelmed, facing all the unknown technical terms and features displayed upfront. Not to mention that people might lack the context and difference between related terms. Which one is better for me? The cellular or wired security system? Can I get a live video stream using CCTV surveillance? The answers for these questions are often unheeded by the companies, who only focus on giving their product a good name. Fortunately there’s our FAQ and this glossary to help you in better understanding the basics of the home security world. Our experts collected all the relevant terms and keywords, coupled with a brief, yet informative explanation. We hope that after consulting this terms list you’ll feel much more confident to search for your ideal security service.
These are the unique codes provided to residents to gain entrance into the protected house. The access code must be entered on the keypad to safely pass through the security system without causing an alarm. There is also a possibility to lend specific access codes to caregivers or housekeepers that only work at a specific time of the day. Access permits are recorded by the home station, allowing homeowners to identify all the past visitors by browsing through the report history.
An initial charge people need to pay upfront when purchasing a home security system. This could cover the installation service or the activation of the system. After your protection is fully functional, the activation fee will be applied to your first month of service. Not every home alert provider charges you for the activation, and the amount varies with each one of them.
This is a genius addition to the home security systems that eliminates the flaws of the traditional landline connection. Cellular backup is an alternative communication method for the base station. Similarly to a cellphone, it uses radio frequency signals to forward messages. Thanks to its wireless nature, cellular consoles are still capable of sending emergency signals during a blackout, or even worse, when criminals cut the cables. This technology is getting more and more popular, significantly improving the quality of the security systems.
Cellular Home Security System
The popular system providers prefer cellular technology to traditional landlines. That’s why current security consoles are designed with cellular capabilities in mind. These systems are communicating with the monitoring central using a cellular uplink, and the same method is used to oversee the status and functions of all the sensors, cameras and detectors. Although cellular systems are vulnerable to electromagnetic storms, they are far more convenient and faster than a landline, not to forget it supports smart home automation.
Closed-Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV in short) are the pillars of every home surveillance network. The cameras are capable of sending analog or digital signals, creating continuous or still footage of their area. Their recordings are stored on a server, and the homeowners can easily access it from their computer. CCTV comes in many shapes and forms: there are ones for outside or inside purposes, some of them are fitted with night vision, and others are rotatable to cover the whole area.
No one is forced to opt for professional security monitoring. Those who find the prices too high are free to try creating their own defense system. The biggest selling point for this solution is that you can say goodbye to the monthly monitoring fees, in case you are ready to solely depend on yourself. There are numerous companies specialized in providing affordable do-it-yourself security systems without requiring you to subscribe to their security monitoring service. There is no denial that they might require some tech-know-how to customize to your need, but the system’s plug-and-play nature and user-friendly layout can be attractive for many people.
Do It Yourself systems are a popular trend in the home security world. In the past, the wired installation demanded a serious amount of work, including drilling and creating holes in the wall. Today, the wireless systems are much easier to set up. So easy, that even the residents can do it themselves. Using the DIY installation kit and the step-by-step guide provided by the home security company, homeowners are able to mount all the sensors, cameras and detectors, and activate the system through the console. Although the whole process only takes one or two hours, a basic level of handicraft and tech savviness is needed.
Glass Break Sensor
This is an electronic alarm device that is programmed to recognize the sound of shattered glass. The sensors are fitted with a sensible microphone, and they instantly sound the sirens and notify the monitoring center when detecting a break-in. The main advantage is that they are small and their enhanced hearing allows them to be hidden around the windows or glass doors.
Home automation refers to a technologically advanced household, where the main activities are being automated by smart systems. This includes the control of the lightings, thermostats, and the remote opening or closing of the locks. Home automation provides a great amount of comfort for the family, and significantly improves the life quality of elders or disabled persons.
This useful device, also known as a motion sensor, remains concealed in a shadowy corner or hallway, silently watching. When the security system is armed, it watches everyone passing by, using infrared technology. Image sensors are often fitted with a little camera that shoots a picture of the unauthorized trespassers, forwarding it to the homeowner. Alternatively, it can sound the alarm too. Recent advancements yielded a step up in this technology, allowing the device to differentiate depending on the target’s weight. These new kinds of sensors are only triggered above 40 pounds, letting smaller animals, like household pets, pass by unnoticed.
The Internet Protocol camera, or IP camera, is the advanced version of CCTV surveillance systems. It utilizes digital technology only, which aids the video streaming feature. The main advantage of the IP camera is that is has the means to automatically send and receive data using the internet. This means that all footage can be accessed from a smartphone or tablet, and even live streams are available to see everything that is currently recorded.
Key fobs, commonly called fobs, are small security devices that fit on the end of your keychain. They house a small signaling device that authenticates the carrier using an access code. All you have to do is push the fob, and it opens the smart locks, disarms the alarms of your car or simply grants entrance to your house.
Home security services were developed purposefully to quickly react in dire situation, such as break-ins, fires or carbon monoxide poisonings. The panic button expands the list with medical-related emergencies. The small feathery button is completely wireless, and the carriers can keep it in bag or shove it into their pocket. When someone is experiencing a stroke – or collapsed and is unable to stand up – the button instantly notifies the monitoring center where operators will dispatch the paramedics after consulting with the patient. It can be also used a remote alarm to summon other kinds of help too. Bear in mind that panic buttons are less developed than actual medical alert buttons.
Security assessment is a feature some of the home alert companies provide. The process invokes the evaluation of your home to decide what kind of service is the most fitting. The assessment can be concluded by completing an online form or having a security expert come over to your home. It usually asks homeowners to summarize their security concerns and demands; it surveys the layout and interior of the property; examines the possible risks and weak spots; then recommends a suitable offer, introducing all the necessary equipment and service.
This term is used for homes that utilize a home security system with home automation technology such as smart thermostats, controlled lightings, automatic door locks and other convenience enhancing technologies. This is a type of a home automation where the electronic appliances and smart locks can be operated remotely via a smartphone or tablet. The service uses a special application to upkeep full authority. With a few touches on your phone, all doors can be unlocked, the security system is armed, and you are also able to monitor the status and energy usage of the lights and the thermostat. Having a smart home is a great way to reduce energy wastage, saving money on the bills.
Nowadays, soft keys are buttons on the main security console that can take different functionalities. Instead of having a fixed function, it can be programmed to invoke several functions, and the user decides which one is being used. These multifunctional buttons can be set to display weather forecasts, showcase the alarm history, schedule the lightings, close a specific door, open the garage door, set the temperature through the intelligent thermostat etc.
Keypads that incorporate a microphone and a speaker are called two-way keypad. Unlike regular keypads that only allow one-way communication, this unit is capable of connecting the two sides in a simultaneous dialog. Advanced versions even have a video camera to further improve the identification of the keypad’s user, avoiding surprises and scams.
Most security consoles are fitted with a speaker and a microphone, meaning that they allow the user to speak and listen to the monitoring operators on the other side of the line. This makes it easier for the operators in the monitoring center to provide adequate assistance, as the residents are able to explain their situation in detail. In case they are in peril, people can request specific help from firefighters, paramedics, the police or family members. On the other hand, the monitoring staff can also contact the homeowners, checking on their status, or asking for further information. During an emergency, they operators are able to intimidate the criminals by producing a loud noise or proclaiming that they have been recorded.
UL (Underwriters Laboratories)
Underwriters Laboratories is an American for-profit safety consulting and certification company that provides certification on the safety of products as well as their environmental claims. Having a certification from the company means it met UL’s standards.
These are small latches that come in many shapes and forms. The point in installing window locks is that they have a firm grip on the frame, and prevent burglars from prying it open. The window lock are also 100% tamper proof, as their bolts can be locked with a little key, further increasing the fortification.
Wired Home Security System
This system is the opposite of the cellular security system. Instead of depending on cellular technology, wired home security systems rely on the traditional landline to communicate with the monitoring center. This is a more stable solution, as phone lines are functioning even without electricity. However, cutting the lines prevents the console from sending emergency signals. A wired system can also refer to a home where the fire detectors and motion sensors are linked to the console with cables that run inside the walls.
Wireless Home Security System
A wireless home security system depends on cellular and wireless technology to maintain functionality. Without the need for long cables webbing through your walls, this system operates with wireless base stations and accessories, respectively. This allows homeowners to put their motion sensors, cameras and detectors wherever they want, and freely move the security hub from one room to another. Wireless systems are also transportable to a new house. The downside is that you need to supply the accessories with batteries, and in case you forget replacing them, they stop functioning.
A wireless module that turns regular household appliances into remotely controllable smart devices: this is Z-Wave. The technology connects all devices together via the internet, and functions such as turning on the lights or setting the thermostat can now be done from tablets, PCs and smartphones. Z-Wave is the pillar of all home automation, and currently you can choose from more than 1,000 products that are all compatible with each other.