TEST HOUSE

You can do more than just in­stall an alarm sys­tem to make your home safer. Here are some other ways to tighten up se­cu­rity.

Fairlady - - CONTENTS - TEST HOUSE EDI­TOR TAS­NEEM LARNEY

Se­cu­rity for your home

SE­CU­RITY MEA­SURES ELEC­TRIC FENC­ING

This is the first line of de­fence for your prop­erty as it de­tects, de­ters and de­lays. The elec­tri­fi­ca­tion wire should be con­duc­tive. Re­mem­ber, an elec­tric fence around the perime­ter makes the front gate the weak spot, so it’s best to set up an alarm there. Your fence should al­ways be switched on. Some­times crim­i­nals cre­ate a short cir­cuit to make the alarm go off con­tin­u­ously; don’t switch it off. Be aware that if you have a precast wall, crim­i­nals some­times break a bot­tom slab and crawl through. Have ex­tra bat­ter­ies on hand in case of elec­tric­ity out­ages.

CCTV CAM­ERAS

This line of de­fence works best when com­bined with other se­cu­rity mea­sures. To com­ply with pri­vacy laws, en­sure your cam­eras aren’t pointed at pub­lic spa­ces or oth­ers’ houses or gar­dens. Also check how many days of record­ing it al­lows.

Good to know

CCTV cam­era res­o­lu­tion is mea­sured in lines: the higher the num­ber of lines, the sharper and clearer the im­age. Im­age qual­ity is linked to the size and type of chip the cam­era uses – larger CCD chips are of a higher qual­ity. Cam­eras with tiny chips pro­duce lower-qual­ity im­ages in low light con­di­tions.

Light sen­si­tiv­ity is mea­sured in lux: the lower the lux, the bet­ter the cam­era records in low light. A high res­o­lu­tion pro­duces good clar­ity and de­tail, but it’s more costly and takes up a lot of stor­age space, so set up your date and time tag ac­cu­rately.

In­stalling a cam­era

Night vi­sion mono­chrome (B&W): CCTV cam­eras should be most ef­fec­tive in low light, es­pe­cially when used with in­te­gral in­frared il­lu­mi­na­tion, which not ev­ery cam­era has. Some record in colour dur­ing the day and switch to mono­chrome when it gets dark.

Stor­ing CCTV im­ages

Most home sys­tems use a PC hard drive or stand­alone dig­i­tal video recorder (DVR). Check that you’re able to store im­ages in a widely used for­mat. Also en­sure your cam­era can film high-qual­ity im­ages that the PC or DVR can then record. Some sys­tems have re­mote ac­cess – IP (in­ter­net pro­to­col) cam­eras al­low you to check im­ages on­line us­ing a PC, tablet or smart­phone.

Mo­tion de­tec­tion

A sen­sor that de­tects move­ment switches some cam­eras on, re­duc­ing the amount of footage stored.

Wire­less cam­eras

These stand­alone se­cu­rity cam­eras con­nect to your Wi-Fi, so you can view live video from your phone or tablet. Most have built-in sen­sors that de­tect mo­tion and sound, and send no­ti­fi­ca­tions when they’re trig­gered. Mo­tion sen­si­tiv­ity is usu­ally ad­justable to pre­vent false alarms, like pets mov­ing around or pass­ing cars if the cam­era is near a win­dow. You can set up a sched­ule that turns the sen­sors on and off at cer­tain times.

The down­side of wire­less sys­tems is that they’re af­fected by in­ter­fer­ence from de­vices like routers, cord­less phones and mi­crowaves, and heavy metal ob­jects can block them. A lost in­ter­net con­nec­tion can also in­ter­rupt film­ing, and slow in­ter­net speed could cause buffer­ing. Out­door wire­less cam­eras need a ca­ble to con­nect to a power source.

ALARMS

Choose be­tween a wire­less or wired sys­tem: wire­less alarms use bat­tery­pow­ered sen­sors that com­mu­ni­cate with a con­trol panel us­ing ra­dio sig­nals. They’re easy to in­stall and ex­tra sen­sors can be added. Wire­less sys­tems are pricier, and you need bat­ter­ies for all the com­po­nents, like the con­trol panel and sen­sors.

Wired sys­tems need wiring to all the sen­sors to op­er­ate. These sys­tems might be cheaper to buy but in­stal­la­tion is more ex­pen­sive.

WIN­DOW SE­CU­RITY

Don’t leave any win­dows open or un­locked. Fit win­dows that are eas­ily ac­cessed with dou­ble-glaz­ing in plas­tic or lam­i­nated glass. Glaz­ing is more dif­fi­cult to break through. It’s best to get locks that se­cure the win­dow to the frame, rather than ones that just se­cure the han­dle. A glass break de­tec­tor is use­ful.

DOOR SE­CU­RITY

Door frames and doors should be solid. Ex­ter­nal doors should be at least 4.4cm thick and hung with 10cm hinges. Wooden doors can be made stronger with steel strips fit­ted to the frame and around the lock. Doors with pan­els are less se­cure, but lam­i­nated glass or plas­tic glaz­ing will pro­vide ex­tra pro­tec­tion.

En­sure bur­glar bars are strong and built into the wall rather than the win­dow frame. With doors, a dead­bolt or night latch of­fers a point of re­sis­tance. A long metal strip should be welded over any gap that a crow­bar can fit through.

SMART LIGHT­ING CON­TROL

Out­door lights – whether so­lar, switched on man­u­ally or set off by move­ment – make in­trud­ers vis­i­ble, which is a de­ter­rent. A mo­tion-sen­si­tive LED flood­light is ef­fec­tive and sim­ple to in­stall.

Keep in­door lights on to cre­ate the im­pres­sion that there are peo­ple in the house. Smart con­trols al­low you to switch lights on and off with your phone or tablet. Timers are use­ful, too.

SMART HOME SE­CU­RITY SYS­TEMS

A home-au­to­ma­tion sys­tem that in­cor­po­rates smart se­cu­rity al­lows you to con­trol your sys­tem from your phone or tablet when you’re not home. You will need a cen­tral hub that con­nects all other com­pat­i­ble de­vices via Wi-Fi. You then con­nect the mo­tion sen­sors, cam­eras and sock­ets that al­low you to switch your light­ing on and off when you’re out.

A smart alarm sys­tem with door and win­dow con­tacts ac­ti­vates an alarm if an en­try is de­tected. Vi­bra­tion sen­sors can be in­cluded to ac­ti­vate the alarm in the case of a win­dow be­ing bro­ken.

SEN­SOR BEAMS

Perime­ter in­frared sys­tems are either pas­sive or ac­tive. Mo­tion beams or out­door pas­sives are a great backup for good phys­i­cal se­cu­rity. They are in­ex­pen­sive and easy to in­stall. These sen­sors can be very well dis­guised, so a po­ten­tial in­truder won’t be able to de­tect their pres­ence eas­ily. Also, stack­ing beam-sets means in­trud­ers aren’t able to jump over or crawl un­der them.

The dis­ad­van­tage of a perime­ter in­frared sys­tem is that less so­phis­ti­cated sys­tems can be trig­gered by strong winds, an­i­mal ac­tiv­ity or even plas­tic or pa­per blow­ing across them. Power sup­ply in­ter­rup­tions can cause dis­tur­bances and the sys­tems might need re­set­ting.

The place­ment of the sen­sors plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in their ac­cu­racy and ef­fec­tive­ness. Weather con­di­tions could also cause in­ter­fer­ence.

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