Designing Your Security: A How-to Guide

At Cascadia Electrical Solutions we have a lot of experience designing home security systems. What you will find here are recommendations, common misconceptions, and pitfalls to avoid when figuring out how best to secure your home.

A simple floor plan for a home

For the purposes of this guide I will be using the floor plan above to illustrate the concepts we discuss. Sometimes the best way to describe something is to show it!

The Basics

There are three parts to any good home security set up. They are as follows:

  1. A method of keeping intruders out;
  2. A method of detecting when an intrusion has happened; and
  3. A method of responding after an intrusion.

A proper home security system will incorporate all three with more emphasis the higher in the list you are. Properly following all three does not guarantee that a break in will not happen but it will certainly reduce the risk of one.

Layer 1: Keeping Intruders Out

It would seem obvious that the best way to keep from being broken into would be to keep people from getting into your home in the first place. Let’s take the house from above and see how we can secure it from intruders in the first layer of security.

A floor plan indicating ways to prevent break-ins

The most common form of security is one that almost everyone has already: door and window locks.  While it may seem obvious to lock your doors, nearly 30% of all break-ins come through unlocked doors and windows.

Another common form of securing your home is to use bars or dowel rods in sliding glass door and windows. If you place these in the track that the door or window follows prevents the window from being forced open from the outside, keeping would-be burglars out of your home.

The next two items are deterrents more than security devices. Homes with visible security signs and decals tell the intruder that the house is alarmed. An intruder that sees that is much more likely to look elsewhere.

Placing cameras on your home is another good deterrent. Whether fake or real, making sure that a camera is visible helps to deter break-ins. While it may be tempting to hide your cameras from sight, those cameras do no good for keeping someone out in the first place!

Layer 2: Detecting an Intrusion

Despite taking measures to deter and prevent break-ins they do still happen. It is in these cases that detecting an intrusion becomes important.

The best and most common way of detecting an intrusion is through the use of a home security system. This is where we come in. A security system combines a couple different parts: A control unit, a way to interact with it, and a way for it to detect problems.

An all-in-one system such as the Lyric Gateway combines the first two into one package unlike traditional systems. Once you have a controller in place you need to consider protection zones. Let’s look at the house again to see how we can secure it further.

A floor plan showing ways to detect intruders

There are three common devices for detecting intruders. The first of these devices is the door/window contact. These devices use either a depressed switch or a magnetic reed to tell the state of a door or window.

Your budget will dictate how you use these. For the budget-conscious, adding a door/window contact to every exterior door provides the most effective means of securing your home. If budget is less of a concern, also contacting all opening windows will ensure no easy entry without being spotted.

Next up is the glass break detector. Glass break detectors work by listening for tell-tale sounds of shattering glass along with the thump of it being hit.

Glass break detectors can be a good solution for homes with lots of opening windows but little budget. Large areas can be covered successfully by glass break detectors, sometimes as far away from the detector as 20 feet. Although they have come a long way through the years these devices can be prone to false alarms and require a window or door to be broken to work.

The third device is the motion detector. These devices work by using heat signatures, radio waves, or a combination of the two to detect movement.

Motion detectors are a last line of detection. These will cover large areas inside your home, ready to send a signal if someone gets past your perimeter detection. When placed in common areas or areas with high traffic they can prove extremely effective.

One common pitfall people run into with motion detectors is pets. If you have a pet make sure that the motion detectors you use are “pet-friendly”. Motion detectors with this technology either mask off lower areas or have reduced sensitivity below a certain height to keep pets from tripping them, usually with a rating of 80 pounds or less. Even with these detectors it is important to make sure your placement prevents the detector from seeing areas pets may climb onto.

Layer 3: Responding to an Intruder

Once an intrusion is detected we need to respond. Responses include driving the intruder out, notifying someone of the intrusion, and collecting evidence of the intrusion.

First you want the intruder out. A strong interior siren will do just that. Most sirens these days will produce a high-pitched noise louder than 85 decibels. They are uncomfortable to hear for extended periods and are an effective means of making a burglar want to leave. Most all-in-one systems contain an integrated siren but can be augmented with additional wireless sirens to improve their effectiveness throughout your home.

Next up is notification. This is accomplished two ways. The first is an exterior siren or strobe. This will alert neighbors and passersby that your alarm is going off. Neighborhoods may have nuisance ordinances against these.

The most effective method of notification is the alarm system itself. All modern alarm systems are set up to be able to call out to a central monitoring station who then notifies the appropriate authorities. Monitoring is a subscription based service supplied by your alarm company and can be accomplished with phone lines, Internet communication, or cellular communication. Of the three of these, cellular communication is the most secure and least likely to be interrupted.

Finally, collecting evidence is accomplished most often by camera systems. Cameras, while effective deterrents, often provide minimal security. The value of a camera system lies in the ability to chronicle a break-in and identify an intruder. Modern camera systems are capable of recording images in as high as 4k resolution, helping to ensure a good identification.

We Can Help

Following this guide can give you a good starting point for securing your home but it often takes a seasoned eye to give complete coverage. At Cascadia Electrical Solutions we have seen it all and can steer you in the right direction for securing your home!

Ready to go? Check out our $65 Lyric Security System offer and build your system today!

More Reading:

10 Surprising Home Burglary Statistics


Designing Your Security: A How-to Guide

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