The ABC’s of Home Security

Dashia Starr
Updated Apr 15, 2021
1 min read

The ins and outs of home security can be tough. And learning everything from A to Z before you buy a system is just as challenging. Fortunately, we’ve identified and defined some of the most common home security terms and products to make your home security journey as easy as 1-2-3.



  • Alarm Permit – A municipal required document for you a home security system, and avoid potential penalties. 
  • Alarm System – A common term for a burglary system and equipment used to secure your home. The system usually includes a control panel, a motion detector and sensors to alert you of activity.
  • Arm – The term used to activate your alarm system and sensors.



  • Backup Battery – An extra battery that continues to power your security equipment during power outages.
  • Burglar Alarm – A high-decibel alarm that sounds when someone enters without your alarm system passcode.


  • Cellular System – A home security system that uses wireless signals to communicate your system’s signals to your provider’s monitoring station.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector – A device installed in homes to detect carbon monoxide levels and alert you before the poisonous gas spreads.     
  • Continuous Video Recording (CVR) – A security camera feature that records activity all the time instead of when motion triggers it.
  • Control Panel – A computer hub to control all smart home and security equipment in your home.


  • DIY (Do-It-Yourself) – Home security systems that require you to install your home security system without a professional technician.
  • Doorbell Camera – A camera installed in place of a standard doorbell that alerts you when guests arrive. The camera also lets you see and speak to them using your smartphone.
  • Disarm – The term used to deactivate your alarm system and avoid false alarms.


  • Environmental Monitoring – Service and equipment offered to detect and alert monitoring professionals of smoke, fire, carbon monoxide or water leaks.
  • Entryway Sensors – Small devices installed at entryways to alert you when doors, windows and other entryways open and close.



  • False Alarm – A false alert or call for an emergency or triggered sensors that result in emergency responders answering the signal. 
  • Freeze Sensor – A sensor installed near water pipes or close to the floor to detect and alert you of low temperatures in your home that could be hazardous.
  • Flood Sensor – A sensor used to detect water leaks, pipe bursts or flooding.



  • Garage Door Opener – A wireless remote or smartphone app feature used to open a home garage remotely.
  • Glassbreak Sensor – A sensor installed adjacent to glass windows or doors to listen for the frequency of shattering or broken glass.



  • Home Automation – The ability to control smart lights, locks, and other smart equipment. You can use your smartphone, voice assistant or scheduling to manage devices.
  • Hub – A device that connects multiple smart home devices and security equipment to be controlled at once. Z-wave hubs and the Amazon Echo are most common.


  • Installation – How your security system is set-up. Most companies offer either professional, DIY or both to add equipment to your home.



  • Keyfob – A remote used to arm and disarm your system. It can also be used as a panic button and to control other security features.



  • Motion Detector – A device installed in the home to detect and alert you of motion using a high-decibel chime. They’re also built in cameras to send mobile alerts when motion is spotted.


  • Night Vision – A security camera’s ability to see activity clearly in the night or darkness.



  • Panic Button – A remote or feature on your system’s control panel that sounds a high-decibel alarm when pressed during an emergency to call for help. 
  • Professional Monitoring – A service that allows your home security’s professional agents to alert emergency responders of triggered sensors or suspicious activity at your home.
  • Professional Installation – A service that lets professional technicians set-up your security equipment and give a tutorial so you’re comfortable using it.



  • Remote Control – The ability to arm, disarm and control your security system when you’re away from home.


  • Self Monitoring – The ability to monitor your security equipment on your own using your smartphone.
  • Siren – A loud, high-decibel alarm installed in most security systems to signal and emergency or deter thieves.
  • Smart lock – A lock installed in place of traditional locks or deadbolts for keyless entry using a keyfob or fingerprint verification to open or lock the door.




  • Video Surveillance – Recording and storing your security camera footage to playback or share later. Some surveillance is stored locally on an SD memory card, while other providers offer secure cloud storage.


  • Wired – Security systems and equipment that are installed with your home electrical system. This often requires a professional technician, cables, an Internet connection and a landline phone.
  • Wireless – Security systems and equipment that are installed using wall outlets or batteries.





  • Z-Wave – The way to wirelessly connect your smart devices to your security system to sync and control multiple devices.
  • Zone – An customized monitored area that will trigger an alarm or alert if any activity is detected.

You now have everything you need to know from A to Z about home security to start your search for the right system and equipment. Remember, check back frequently to stay you up to date on the latest terms and phrases.

Home Security Writer

Dashia Starr

Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.

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