You can do more than just install an alarm system to make your home safer. Here are some other ways to tighten up security.
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.
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.
A sensor that detects movement switches some cameras on, reducing the amount of footage stored.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.