The Connected Home

Home Automation Image-PC websiteWhen it comes to home security systems, you may have heard the phrase “interactive services.” You may have even heard the terms “home automation,” “connected home,” and “smart house.” What do they all mean, and how are they related to home security? They’re meanings are essentially the same, and in relation to security, they describe the ability to remotely interact with, and access, devices in your home by means of a mobile device or computer. If you have a comprehensive home security system, you likely have cameras, motion detectors, door and window sensors, fire and carbon monoxide detectors that communicate with a central control panel located in your home. Being able to connect and interact with these security features from a remote location is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. Cameras and motion detectors aren’t the only devices you can access from afar. Imagine being able to adjust the temperature in your home before you get there, or turning lights on and off, even opening or closing your garage door. In partnering with Alarm.com, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing these interactive service options to homes in Central and Northern New Jersey for years. Our team of licensed professionals can help you customize a security system that will connect you to the inner, and sometimes outer, workings of your home.

How Does It Work?

First, you have a home security system installed with all of the sensors, cameras, and detectors that you and your security systems specialist customized. In order to access the full functions of your remote services you must have an interactive service plan with a company like Alarm.com. After that, you simply download their app on your tablet, smartphone, computer, or other mobile device, and you’ll have total home control at the tips of your fingers.

There are basically two ways a home can become “connected.” Wireless or hardwired. The trends of our progressive society tend to make everything more technological, therefore, many security systems are being installed wirelessly with cellular backup. This eliminates the need to cut holes in walls and have dangling or exposed wires. Wireless technology is particularly favorable if you own an older home where breaking open walls isn’t an option. The same technology that works for our cellphones and Bluetooth devices can now be implemented in the home. More and more homeowners are leaving landlines in the past and switching to cellular devices anyway, making the connected home a smoother integration. A hardwired system does required cabling, however, it has been in use for a longer period of time, and proven to work. Some home automation systems use a combination of both wireless and hardwired technologies. To determine what type of system is right for your home, hiring a professional to perform a full assessment is your best bet.

What Are The Capabilities?

Home Automation-from our websiteDepending on how many, and what kind of devices are connected to your system, your operating choices are seemingly endless. By using the mobile app, you can gain access to the security cameras inside and outside your home to see what is happening throughout the day. Certain motion detectors can be set up to send you snap shots of specific areas and activity in your home. Your system can be set up to notify you when you kids arrive home from school, if you’re not able to be there. The ability to adjust your thermostat and turn lights on and off is a common feature. Check-in on loved ones and/or pets throughout the day. Having interactive services as part of your comprehensive security system will alert local authorities to any disturbances at your home while simultaneously alerting you on your mobile device.

Why Is It Beneficial?

Controlling and accessing various devices in your or a loved one’s home is advantageous for a multitude of reasons. One of the most obvious benefits is that it provides peace of mind on a constant basis, knowing you’ll instantly be notified of what matters most to you. Being able to remotely adjust your thermostat and turn lights on and off will lower your utilities bill and inadvertently help you waste less energy. Remote access is extremely convenient, you have control in the palm of your hand at all times, as long as your device is charged. Having remote capabilities will save you time by not having to rush home last minute to adjust appliances or unlock doors for pet sitters, family members, or scheduled visitors. With services provided by Alarm.com alerts and access don’t have to stop even when your system is unarmed. The functions of your home become more efficient.

Utilizing a connected home system is a great way to help your loved ones maintain their independence, but also ensure their safety. Specific features allow you to make sure a family member is moving throughout the day, not leaving potentially dangerous appliances on, and you can activate or deactivate their alarm system for them if they forget. Maybe a family member uses an emergency response pendant (like Life Alert) which requires them to take action. But what if they can’t? Services provided by Alarm.com simplify their life and yours by not requiring personal action in case of an emergency. It’s a non-invasive approach to protect your family.

Whether you’re considering the Connected Home for the first time or it has been on your to do list for a while, don’t hesitate, contact the security professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. for an in home assessment. Our team knows the safety of your home is paramount in the protection of your family. We have been providing service to Northern and Central New Jersey for decades, so you can be confident in our security knowledge and expertise.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Cameras?

If you’ve had a surveillance system installed within the past decade it’s more than likely that it’s either an analog or IP (Internet Protocol) system.  So what’s the difference?  Analog typically refers to an older technology that doesn’t use Ethernet protocol.  IP includes “IP-addressable items,” the cabling, and network equipment used to connect all components to an Ethernet networked system.  As people transition to a fully digital IP system there is some overlapping of the two technologies creating hybrids. Upgrading to IP cameras isn’t always as daunting as it may seem, and there are options that make the transition easier.

Video Surveillance-Christian Schnettelker

So why make the switch from analog to IP?  For one, a fully digital IP system will have improved performance over an analog system.  Many IP cameras are equipped with features like, “advanced digital signal processing, optical zoom lenses, wide dynamic range, on-board analytics and auto image stabilizers…” These features in conjunction with high resolution megapixel cameras provide better coverage and the ability to cover more area with less cameras.  Being able to expand or re-configure, also referred to as scalability, comes easily with an IP system.  This is an advantage to any organization especially one that plans on expanding or renovating in the future as the initial investment cost isn’t lost in the process.

With IP surveillance systems comes advanced analytics.  That means footage can be monitored, recorded, interpreted, archived, and retrieved by the central server as well as peripheral devices.  How is this beneficial?  It helps when looking for specific recordings as a search can be initiated versus having to view hours of useless footage.  If an alarm is activated this type of intelligence can be used to zoom in on what is setting it off which cuts down on time looking for what it might be.

There’s also a flexibility that comes with converting to an IP system.  It makes system integration easier when it comes to adding features like access control, alarms, and extra cameras.  You also have more of a reason to store a higher volume of footage with an IP system because the image quality is clearer and be accessed easily.  Having an IP system allows for ease of software upgrades which helps keep it relevant.  In that sense IP is worth the initial up front cost as it is more adaptable to future technologies and won’t require extensive re-cabling and labor in years to come.

Does this mean you have to completely abandon your analog system all at once?  Not necessarily.  As each system is different the only real way to tell what will need to be done is to hire a security systems expert to do an in person assessment of the current situation.  One option might be to use the existing analog equipment and simply add converters to the camera and network switch ends of the cabling.  This creates a sort of hybrid system where you’re using existing coax cable from the analog system but the converters allow you to add IP cameras; they don’t have to rely on your company’s network and can still be recorded on your DVR, NVR, or VMS (Digital Video Recorder, Network Video Recorder, and Video Management System).

The benefit to a hybrid system is you don’t lose out on the initial investment of the original system and it allows for easy add-ons, upgrades and replacements of IP technology.  The other option is to completely remove all analog devices and cabling and start over with a new IP system.  Sometimes IP systems can utilize existing analog infrastructures so that could be an alternative to starting from scratch.  Remember if you have an IT department at your facility it is important to include them in the process to ensure a seamless integration.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade to and IP system all at once or try the hybrid approach it’s key to include a licensed security systems expert from the beginning.  They can help guide you through the process from start to finish.  We understand that each facility is unique and requires individualized security solutions.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

How Security Can Actually Save You Money

As a homeowner, you have no doubt invested precious time and money with realtors, bankers, maybe lawyers, even architects and contractors. All in an effort to secure the home of your dreams. Now that you have it, the wallet and purse draining may seem never ending. As a first time home buyer or builder, you probably do not have all of the necessary tools and home accents of a fully functioning domicile. You’ll probably need to purchase the essentials like furniture, and appliances like a refrigerator and a washer/dryer. Needless to say, these items do not come cheap.Money-401kcalculator.org

In addition to the essential purchases, your home security is a top priority. You’ve moved in, you have the keys – well what if all of your new neighbors also have keys? It’s not uncommon for neighbors to exchange a set of keys, and since you don’t know the neighbors yet, changing your locks should be step number one. In fact, according to Zillow.com you should assume that, “everyone and his brother has a set of keys to your new home.”

Realizing your home is potentially compromised, you change your locks. Great! You’ve taken the first step in protecting what matters most. However, a simple lock and key may not cut it when it comes to home security. Having a comprehensive security system installed will not only help prevent catastrophe, it could save you money. If you’re considering a home security system, be sure to hire a licensed and insured specialist like Perfect Connections, Inc. Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we can guide you through the subtle nuances of a comprehensive security system from customizing features to final installation.

How can a security system SAVE you money?

Besides the more obvious savings that come with a security system, like fire and burglary prevention, you can actually save on your homeowners insurance. Wait, insurance companies offer discounts? Yes they do! In all likelihood, during the process of buying your home you’ve signed for a home insurance policy. Most mortgage lenders won’t let you sign for a house until you have an insurance policy in place, or are working on obtaining one. According to Peter G. Miller for realtor.com, even if you own the house outright, sans mortgage, insurance is still a smart investment as it will help protect you and your family from financial disaster if something were to happen to your home.

Insurance Definition-Alan CleaverJust how much can you save by installing a security system? The answer to this question varies, it all depends on your insurance provider and the state you reside in. Although each company has a different policy, the average savings can be up to 20% (Erin Raub for safesoundfamily.com). Each company will likely have different discount/credit or premium reduction qualifications. Your best bet is to call your policy provider and ask specific questions, especially if you’re at the beginning stages of choosing a security system. There will be different discounts for various security features. For example, your discount/credit will be less if you only have local fire alarms and dead bolts versus a comprehensive monitored alarm system. Nick DiUlio for insurancequotes.com references Michael Barry from the Insurance Information Institute, citing that, “homeowners typically can expect discounts of at least 5 percent for smoke detectors, burglar alarms or deadbolt locks. For more advanced alarm systems that report directly to a police station, fire department or other monitoring stations,some companies may cut premiums by as much as 15 percent or 20 percent.” This type of discount may also be available to renters.

Here is a list (in no particular order) of some insurance companies that offer home security discounts/credits:

Aside from the cost of a security system, and the installation, you will be paying a monthly monitoring fee which can range anywhere from $25-50. Over the span of a year this will cost you between $300-600. How does this compare with the cost of insurance? According to homesecuritysystems.info the average homeowner will spend between $1,200-1,500/year on insurance premiums. If your insurer offers a discount on the high end, up to 20%, you could save up to $300/year. Keep in mind the fact that every time you make a claim, your premium is likely to go up. Installing a security system can help you avoid having to make claims by protecting your home and its contents.

As long as you own your security system you will save on insurance. Even if the initial cost of a security system may seem substantial, it typically ends up paying off in the end. Whether it’s preventing an attempted burglary or lowering your yearly insurance costs, a security system is a sound investment.

For more information on security systems and their features go to Perfect Connections, Inc. We’ve been providing security systems solutions to Central and Northern New Jersey since 1992. Needless to say, we know a thing or two about home security applications, and their benefits.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credits: Image #1 by 401kcalculator.org-Flickr-Creative Commons, Image #2 by Alan Cleaver-Flickr-Creative Commons