The latest advances in home security don't just make your home safer, they increase its IQ. Modern, next-generation security systems let you monitor your home -- break-ins, smoke, comings and goings -- using your smartphone, tablet or computer. And your home can talk to you, filling you in on what is happening with specific alerts, photos and video.
And because most newer systems use cellular connections, they are more reliable than older ones that relied on traditional phone line connections.
More than 15% of U.S. homes have a home security system that will alert a monitoring firm in case of incidents, according to Parks Associates. The installations, equipment and recurring fees generate as much as $10 billion annually for the U.S. security industry.
Home security spending is expected to double in the next decade, the research firm estimates, as nearly three in 10 homes are expected to get systems.
The killer app literally driving installations? All-in-one apps that let you monitor your home using portable devices. "The whole ecosystem that goes with smartphones has really helped it take off," says Tom Kerber, director of research for home controls at Parks Associates. Monthly fees run a bit higher than with older systems -- $30 on up to $50 or so -- but, he says, "you get a lot more capability and functionality."
Until recently, only high-end security systems costing upwards of $20,000 were truly "smart," with one system that handled security, video monitoring, motion detection, remote access and security-enhancing home automation features such as programmed lighting. Now, those aspects are filtering down to more mainstream customers.
New, more cost-effective sensors and video cameras operate wirelessly, cutting installation costs. And central control panels deliver real-time data via cellular signals to offsite security monitoring stations.
Competition is driving prices down, too. Traditional players such as ADT, Alarm.com and Honeywell have been joined in the home security marketplace by AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable and Verizon, all of which are bundling security with other services. Also getting into the act is home-improvement retailer Lowe's, which offers GE and Iris systems that consumers can install on their own.
The typical do-it-yourself installation of a 24/7 monitored system starts at about $300 and includes a $20 to $30 monthly service fee. Those who pay a slightly higher monthly fee ($50 to $60), could get their system designed and installed by a professional and have to pay only an installation fee of $100 or so. (continued...)
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