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How to choose the right home security system

This file photo replicates a break-in at a home. (Getty Images)
This file photo replicates a break-in at a home. (Getty Images)
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Home security systems can range in price from around $200 for a basic do-it-yourself system to $2,000 or more for a professionally installed one.

Before you decide to put in any kind of alarm system, Consumers' Checkbook said there are some basic protective measures you can do now to improve your home's safety. From doorbell cameras to full-house alarm systems, if you're in the market for a home security system, there are plenty of options.

"A lot has changed in the home security world," said Kevin Brasler, Consumers' Checkbook executive editor. "There are lots of different do-it-yourself options available now."

What hasn't changed is how thieves get into homes.

"They open unlocked doors or windows and walk right in or they find an area of your home and it's dark and neighbors won't spot them breaking in quickly and quietly," Brasler said.

Brasler said before you invest in a security system, check your locks and secure your home.

"The most important thing is to have good deadbolt locks for your doors and then use them," Brasler said.

Also, make sure all windows are secure and don't forget the sliding glass door, Brasler said.

Brasler said a home security system may not be worth the money if:

  • You live in a low-crime neighborhood
  • Your house is well-secured with locks
  • Someone is always at home
  • False alarms are frequently triggered
  • A security system wouldn't be used regularly

"Be very careful about the company you hire to install one," Brasler said. "If you're doing it yourself, really think about. If I'm going to use this, is this going to trigger a lot of false alarms, am I going to ignore them?"

If you do decide to have a security system professionally installed, get quotes from several companies and vet them by asking tough questions. Select a company willing to contractually agree to provide you with programming codes.

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Consumers' Checkbook has a ratings table of customer reviews of area alarm installation companies. They also have ratings of Puget Sound Area locksmiths that could help with beefing up your home's security.

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