5 Home Security Features That Aren’t for Everyone

While having a home security system for intrusion detection can definitely be an essential, there are several add-ons and features we think some homeowners and renters can forgo. Likewise, as with many services and packages across industries, you’re going to find several “unicorn” features that go above and beyond what you really need. Here’s our thoughts.

Most basic home security systems provide intrusion detection through a control panel or hub, motion sensors, and door/window sensors. Anything beyond these devices can be looked at as taking your security or convenience to another level. Despite popular belief, most home security systems do not include a security camera. You’ll generally have to purchase this separately, unless there’s a promotion that’s providing you with a camera at a discount or for free.

But in our eyes, video surveillance is part of what’s considered “expected” rather than unexpected to come with a home security system. And, we want to talk about some of the “unexpecteds” that not every homeowner or renter will find useful. (They’re good, but not really essential.)

Geofencing

You might be wondering what this term really means–geofencing allows homeowners to map out locations that allow them to trigger actions, such as these:

  • Arming the security system
  • Opening/closing the garage door
  • Locking the front door

While this feature can certainly be convenient for families or individuals who want to ensure their security system is armed after they leave or their garage door opens when they’ve arrived home, it’s not a complete necessity. Geofencing simply adds a geographical element to these actions. With most providers you can complete these actions by mobile app or a key fob.

Glass break sensors

While we agree that glass break sensors can be helpful for break-ins, they’re not necessarily essential for activity detection. If you want to purchase a glass break sensor, it’s recommended that you install these on windows of the first level of your home. Most burglars are opportunists and are not looking to cause a scene. Plus, if someone breaks in, security systems include motion detectors and door/window sensors, they’re bound to trigger your alarm.

Smart lights

Lights can be used to help deter burglars, but purchasing smart lights are more of a convenience than an essential. A number of home security providers offer smart lights that can be controlled by your control panel/hub and mobile app. A more cost effective way of using lights to help protect your home is to use the ones you have in addition to your home security system.

Smart locks

Like smart lights, smart locks are also more of a convenience than a necessity. A number of providers also offer these as add-ons to your home security system. Brands like Yale, Kwikset, August, Schlage, and others provide smart home capabilities for controlling your locks at the tap of a finger by mobile app. As a simple and cost-effective solution, we say just make sure that you’re locking your door when appropriate or even set reminders on your phone before you leave home and go to bed to make sure your doors are locked.

Custom Home Automation Scenes

Similar to geofencing and using smart lights and locks are custom home automations. These automations, essentially, compound the actions of several devices into a scheduled routine or a triggered event. For instance, there are some providers that allow you to set up scenes so that when someone comes to your door after dark, your smart light turns on, which would be based on motion detection. This is a compounded action that depends on a “trigger.” You may also be able have your lights turn on after dark and your security system status change to “Arm Stay.” The options may almost be endless depending on the provider!

The Bottom Line

While many home security providers offer a range of equipment and additional options, not all of them are necessary. Choosing to go with intrusion detection + video surveillance + home automation can add up (pun intended). That’s why we wanted to highlight some of the nice-to-haves that you don’t always have to have.

Photo by Andresr / GettyImages


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Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.