Gone are the days of gutted walls and snaked wires
around pools in the name of home security. Wireless is becoming the standard in
the security industry; and without the physical limitations and nuisance of a
hard-wired system installation, the costs have gradually been lowered for
Though most of the do-it-yourself wireless systems hook up to the
traditional home phone line, technology has led to expanded customer options.
Some keypads are accessible off-site and owners can call in to monitor home
activity, pets, temperature and lighting.
Home security remains a major concern among Americans, who spent an
estimated $23.2 billion in 2005 on professionally installed electronic security
products and services, according to the National Burglar and Fire Alarm
Though several companies offer installed wireless services, 15 minutes and
$100 can lead to a self-installed security system. The main security hub plugs
into an electrical outlet and telephone jack. Cameras are then wirelessly
synced with the hub and, voil ... , a guarded space.
For some systems with monitoring services, once an alarm is triggered, a
signal is sent to a monitoring company that then checks on the situation and
notifies the authorities. Some wireless systems are solely for video
monitoring, and will alert homeowners by cell phone of any activity. These
systems do not sound alarms or contact a third party monitors.
Here are some of the more popular systems:
Description: To install, users plug the main unit into a power outlet and
telephone jack. Even when unplugged, the siren can continue to sound, operating
on back-up batteries. The system covers up to 1,200 square feet and works
through walls up to 150 feet. When triggered, the system lets out a 100-decibel
siren - as loud as a jackhammer - and dials the monitoring service, which then
checks on the situation or notifies the authorities.
Bells and whistles: LaserShield offers a $19.95 monthly monitoring fee,
serviced by Rapid Response Monitoring Service.
Available: Amazon.com, CompUSA (beginning July 7)
Web site: www.laser shield.net
Plug N' Power
Price: $99.99, accessories additional
Description: Radio Shack's wireless security system features the usual
suspects in home security: motion detector alarm, window sensors and password
protection. Easy to self-install, the system works through your home's phone
Off-site access: No
Bells and whistles: This bare-bones system allows for more spending money
once you've left your wirelessly secured house.
Available: Radio Shack
Web site: www.radioshack.com
Price: $189.00, accessories additional
Description: Originally marketed as an advanced baby monitor, the MobiCam
system beams visual images to a small hand-held remote screen. Cameras can be
set up to be voice- or motion- activated. Fun add-ons include a mountable
outdoor camera and an AV receiver that automatically sends camera images to
your television. Unlike more expandable systems, the MobiCam receiver can
accommodate images from only three cameras, which makes it more suitable for
child monitoring than creating an iron-clad shield against intruders.
Bells and Whistles: Night vision helps monitor sleeping children and
Web site: www.mobi-inc.com
Price: $299.99, accessories additional
Description: Users can peer into their homes from work or abroad by
logging on to a secure Web site. The easy self-installation requires a USB
hook-up and power outlet. Video images and alerts can be sent to customers'
Bells and whistles: Users can queue the system to record at specific times
or when a motion sensor is triggered. Once your hard drive is full, the
software's "smart" system deletes your oldest video files to make room for new
Available: Wilife.com, Radio Shack, Amazon.com
Web site: www.wilife.com
GE Security Pro - Simon 3 or Concord
Price: $75 to $185, plus installation fees
Description: GE's top-seller, the Simon 3, and the more expanded Concord
are sold only through local dealers. The Simon 3, intended for the average-size
home, performs much like traditional alarm systems. An add-on satellite
hook-up is available that provides a back-up alarm system when the phone line
The Concord - more suitable for large homes - is especially useful for
those living with the elderly, sick or disabled. The system will send an alert
to a cell phone if it does not detect motion by a particular time. Also,
homebound users can remotely control Concord to turn on the air conditioning,
heat or even the hot tub.
Bells and whistles: Users can program unique, one-time use passwords for
service workers or children. The system can also be customized to accommodate
for the movements of house pets less than 80 pounds.
Available: Consult GE Security Pro Web site for local dealers.
Web site: http://gesecuritypro .com/NorthAmerica/
A word from the pros
The lowered cost and the ego-boosting practice of installing your own security
system might give the product added value, but many security experts point out
that knowing where to put cameras and sensors is critical to an efficient
Sunlight, sprinklers and other seemingly innocuous objects can trigger
misplaced sensors and inexperienced homeowners can easily overlook vulnerable
entrances. Ronald Burk, a detective in the Nassau County Police crimes against
property squad, suggests homeowners first hire a security consultant to survey
the property, whether the system is going to be self-installed or a contractor
is being hired.
"It's all about how you install the alarm system," Burk said. "The bottom
line is, basically, you have to think like a burglar and do a survey of your
home and look what would be a point of entry."
Chris E. McGoey, a security consultant who splits his time between Los
Angeles and San Francisco, said he is wary of wireless systems but recommends
that people get whichever system they are comfortable using.
McGoey, a licensed private investigator, said he felt many homeowners buy
unnecessary home security items and said the majority do not use their alarm
With home monitoring monthly fees ranging from $20 to $50, McGoey thought
the expense a waste when simpler deterrents like turning on lights to make a
home look lived-in work just as well.
"If you're targeted with such a frequency that you need video camera
monitoring in your house, there are other issues," McGoey said. "You might
"I think anything that can help deter a burglar is good. I don't care what
it is," said Burk, whose own home has been wirelessly secured for three years.
Despite all the new techno-gadgets, Burk and other security experts said
the best deterrent against burglars is the security sign on your lawn or window
- Megan H. Chan