With as many as 2.5 million home burglaries taking place every year in the United States, owning a personal security system can provide some much needed peace of mind. Protecting your home is as important as ever, but what exactly makes up a security system? When hearing the word “security system”, many will think of motion detectors and large, swiveling security cameras seen in action movies, but real world security systems offer so much more, both in devices, and in ways to provide you peace of mind in the realm of security.

An important thing to keep in mind is that no one piece of security equipment can protect a home from everything. Though one piece can provide some peace of mind, to have a truly protected home, the full system is needed. A security system is just that – a system of components all working in tandem to provide you with the maximum level of safety for your home. These components include:

  • Motion Sensors
  • Security Cameras
  • Door & Window Sensors
  • Glass Break Sensors

What Are Motion Sensors?

Motion sensors were invented in the 1940s, using ultrasonic waves and the Doppler Effect to detect motion. As the ultrasonic waves detect motion in a given room, the mere presence of an intruder would trigger the alarm, alerting the home owners that an intruder was present. Although a popular technology, many consumers considered them a nuisance, as any motion could trigger a false alarm, such as a pet walking through the room or a gust of wind. A blocked sensor would also not function.

The modern motion detector is made possible by the infrared motion sensor.  Passive infrared sensors detect body heat and look for changes in temperature in the room. Unlike the older models of motion sensors, these infrared motion sensors can detect movement through objects, not just what the sensor can “see”. Infrared motion sensors are less prone to false alarms due to the multiple checks; only after the infrared energy levels change rapidly, the alarm is triggered. Similarly, microwave sensors send out pulses of microwave radiation and measures the reflections off of moving objects. These two technologies are often used hand-in-hand in order to minimize the number of false alarms in a home.

What Are Security Cameras?

Security cameras are a major component of a modern security system, first commercially available in the United States in 1949, with a system known as Vericon. Early surveillance systems with security cameras required round the clock monitoring, due to recording video being impossible at the time. Reel-to-reel would soon make recording possible, but unpopular, as it required consistently changing the magnetic tape manually, making recording stil not widespread. VCR technology, however, made recording and erasing information easier, and recording security camera feeds became the norm. Time lapse and motion-only recording also saved time and space on recordable media.

Modern day security cameras are used largely in the same way. By placing them strategically around the home, both indoors and outdoors, users can monitor their homes in ways never thought possible. Modern day security cameras typically record in higher quality than the closed circuit TV of days passed, and in higher framerates, providing a smoother picture to ensure the footage captured is clearly visible. These new cameras can record directly to an SD card inside of the camera for later viewing, and many can even send the video feed directly to smart phones and computers, or saved to cloud storage.

Outdoor security cameras work best to prevent home intruders, as once a potential intruder notices outdoor cameras, they’ll tend to give up on sight. Indoor security cameras help keep an eye on children and caretakers, as well as continuing to get a clear recording of intruders who either did not notice or did not care about the outdoor cameras. Outdoor cameras can even have motion detecting floodlights, turning on suddenly and startling would-be intruders from even considering entering the home.

What Are Door & Window Sensors?

Door and Window sensors may be one of the oldest pieces of technology still seen in modern security systems. Originally patented in 1853 by an inventor named Augustus Pope, the first window sensor was a battery-operated alarm system. If the door or window the sensor was attached to was opened, it would close a circuit inside of the sensor, causing the alarm to go off. Ingeniously, this invention could not be turned off by simply closing the window or door again. Once the circuit has been closed, it remains closed so the bell continues ringing.

The technology has changed a lot since then, but the idea remains the same: door and window sensors form a closed circuit when a window or door is opened while the sensors are armed, and this can set off a burglar alarm or send an alert to the user’s device.

What Are Glass Break Sensors?

Glass break sensors are an often overlooked piece of home security equipment. 95% of burglaries begin with forced entry, and popular breaking methods involve breaking a window open in order to enter the house. Glass break detectors exist to alert you when glass is broken near the sensor. This can be done by the sensor in two different ways: acoustic or shock. Acoustic sensors are triggered when a detected sound wave frequency matches that of the frequencies of breaking glass. Shock sensors detect the vibrations of glass break, looking for motion rather than sound. Both have their perks, but shock sensors are often disadvantageous as they can trigger false alarms easier, such as slamming a window or plate glass door shut a little too quickly. The beauty of glass break sensors is in their ability to create an alert before the intruder even enters the house.

These are only a few of the major components of the modern day home security system. An unsung hero of home security comes from the simple yard sign or window sticker. Consider what we’ve learned about intruders so far: if the presence of outdoor cameras will stop them on your yard, seeing a sign proudly proclaiming your home is monitored by a security company will likely stop an intruder from even thinking about a home invasion. The same goes for windows and doors with security company stickers – few intruders would bother breaking a window or door open that likely has sensors attached to them. Prominently displaying these signs and stickers can be one of the best preventative measures from home invasions. Fire & Carbon Monoxide Detectors are also a major part of ensuring your home is secure, as actively and accurately detecting dangers such as carbon monoxide poison and deadly fires is equally important to safety. There are many different pieces of security equipment that can go into a home security system; knowing which pieces fit into your needs best makes all the difference.