Home Security Systems FAQ

How do home security systems work?

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Home security systems work by monitoring, alerting, and recording potential threats. The basic premise behind the system is that you’ll be alerted to danger so that you can react to keep yourself, your family, and your property safe.

There are various products that can be included in a home security system to give you the level of protection you need. These can include door sensors, glass break sensors, video cameras, and more. The individual components all communicate to a hub or control panel located in your home, which then sends alerts to you and to a monitoring station so that you can respond in a timely and appropriate manner.

Arming and disarming the system (turning it on and off) can be handled at a control panel in the home, through an app, and/or through smart home automation systems.

Home security systems provide protection and peace of mind when designed, installed, and used properly.

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What makes up a home security system?

The components that make up a home security system include the sensors, cameras, sirens, main control panel, and monitoring system. Monitoring can — and for best results, should — include trained response professionals at a local central monitoring station.

Home security systems are not one-size-fits-all. And each system needs to be designed to meet the individual needs and concerns of the people and property it’s meant to protect.

We’re here to help you figure out just what you need for your home security system. Contact us today for assistance.

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What is a home security system?

A home security system is a collection of devices combined with a monitoring and response plan designed to protect you, your family, and your property from theft and harm.

The physical components — sensors, cameras, sirens, and the control panel itself — are just part of a complete system. The real protection comes from the people and the plan behind the components … the ones tasked with monitoring and responding when a threat has been detected.

A comprehensive home security system also includes how the system is to be used by the people it’s meant to protect (for example, will it be armed only when the premises are vacated or when people are home, too?) as well as security-conscious behaviors and best practices (like adequate outside lighting and reinforced security doors). Even the locks on the doors can be considered part of your home’s security system.

At Hoffman Security, we take all of these factors into account to provide a total home security solution that you can count on.

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Is a home security system worth it?

Most people find that their peace of mind and the safety of their family makes the investment in a home security system worth it. But, like with anything else, a home security system is worth it only if it’s properly designed for your needs and if you use it.

For example, while one person may need 10 cameras on their property, you may only need half that many. In this case, a system with 10 cameras may not be worth it for you. But a system with five would be.

If home security systems aren’t part of your expertise, it can be hard to determine just what you need and what makes a system worth it for your individual situation. That’s why we take the time to help you understand the different products and services available to you and custom design a system that addresses your specific needs and concerns.

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What are the benefits of home security systems?

The main benefits of home security systems are protection and peace of mind. Of course, professional monitoring increases these benefits exponentially because it ensures that someone is there to respond to the alerts when you can’t.

Along with protection, consider that just seeing signs of a system (like outdoor cameras, for example) can cause a burglar to change their mind about targeting a home. In fact, US News reports that 83% of burglars “looked for signs of an alarm first, and more than half said they would give up if they saw one.”

Another benefit of having a home security system can be a discount on your homeowner’s insurance. Many insurance companies offer between 5% and 20% discounts on your premiums when you can show proof of having a professionally-monitored system.

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How effective are home security systems?

Studies show that home security systems effectively deter burglars and keep you, your family, and your home safe. In fact, the National Council for Home Safety and Security says, “Homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized.”

However, not all home security systems are equally effective. For example, the components — sensors, cameras, sirens, etc. — must be properly installed in locations where they provide the most protection. And once installed, the system has to actually be turned on and used. Professional monitoring also increases a system’s effectiveness.

In all honesty, nobody can promise that a home security system will be 100% effective. We can’t say that homes with security systems are never broken into. That’s simply not the case.

But home security systems are effective in reducing the likelihood that a burglar will choose your home. They can help police catch the burglars if they do break-in. And they can send help your way if you and your family are home when someone tries to break in.

And they are 100% more effective than not having one at all.

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Why is it important to have a home security system?

It’s important to have a home security system to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings from people breaking in and causing harm or stealing things.

Although FBI Crime Data shows that the number of burglaries happening each year in the U.S. dropped to 903,627 in 2020 (down from 1,964,808 in 2011), that’s still almost two burglaries every minute.

And studies show that your home is three times more likely to be one of those homes burglarized if you don’t have a home security system.

Home security systems deter burglars from targeting your home. They work in helping you avoid being one of these statistics.

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Do I need a landline to operate a Home Security System?

You do not need a landline to operate a home security system. Modern systems now give you the choice of cellular, internet, and in some cases even VoIP communication for sending and receiving alerts. Of course, if you do have a landline, that’s still an option, too.

There are pros and cons to each type of system, and you should definitely consult with a home security specialist to determine which is best for your situation and peace of mind.

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Can I DIY my home alarm system or should I hire a professional?

With all the home alarm systems readily available these days, it’s tempting to try doing it yourself. But there are good reasons to hire a professional instead.

First, most DIY equipment is manufactured at the lowest possible cost. This type of equipment doesn’t last long, and while it seems inexpensive, it will cost you more in the long run when you have to replace it.

When your equipment is professionally installed and monitored, your security company will know if your equipment isn’t working properly. They will notify you and can come out to your home to remedy the problems.

Another important thing to consider is that security professionals know common areas of security weakness, and areas prone to break-ins. They will be able to advise you on what equipment will be best suited to properly protect your home and also deter break-ins.

Another reason it’s all too easy to procrastinate or stop before the job is completely finished if you’re trying to do it yourself. Hiring a professional ensures that it gets done in a timely manner.

Hiring a professional also ensures that it gets done right. No need to second-guess or wonder if you’ve done everything right. Home security experts make sure that everything is installed correctly and is in proper working order.


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How much does a home security system cost?

There are several factors that determine how much a home security system costs. There’s the initial equipment and installation costs as well as monthly monitoring fees.

You can expect to invest anywhere from $200 or so for basic equipment to thousands of dollars for a more robust system. Installation charges also vary, depending on the complexity of the system and number of individual components.

As for monthly monitoring fees, they can range from $10-$100. With monitoring, be sure that the monitoring station will be staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If something happens, you want someone to be there to respond immediately.

It can be easy to overpay for a home security system if you aren’t working with ethical professionals with the expertise to design a system that gives you exactly what you need without going overboard. Contact us for customized pricing information you can trust to meet your needs and your budget.

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If I buy a home security system am I locked into a contract?

When a homeowner chooses to buy the security system equipment and pay for the installation outright, they are not required to enter into a service contract. When you buy the system — and by this, we mean the purchase of the components of the system (cameras, sensors, etc.) — it’s yours. And when it’s you own it, you can hire any security company you choose to monitor it for you on a monthly basis.

Most homeowners, however, opt not to purchase their security system. This is because many Security companies (including Hoffman Security) offer to provide the equipment at no cost to the homeowner. When security companies offer such a great value to their customers, they have to absorb the cost of the equipment and the installation so that they don’t lose money. So, in exchange for the free equipment, they ask the homeowner to commit to monthly service for a period of time.  Three years is common.

This is something you should be sure to clarify before you sign up with any company.

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What if I already have an alarm system installed?

If you already have an alarm system installed, that’s great! If you’re just looking for alarm monitoring, it’s possible that Hoffman Security can monitor your home using your existing equipment.

Keep in mind that it’s never a bad idea to ask a security professional to evaluate what you have to make sure that it still meets your needs.

For example, are all the components still working properly? Do you need to upgrade or add more cameras? Do you need to downsize and remove anything that’s overkill?

And how satisfied are you with the company? What about your monitoring and their response time?

Hoffman Security is here to help you make sure that your entire system is working to give you the best protection possible. In many cases, you can keep your existing system and mix-and-match a blend of new components as needed.
We also can take over your monitoring so that you get the benefit of a local central monitoring station that’s staffed 24 hours a day/365 days a year by efficient, well-trained security specialists.

Simply contact us today for assistance.


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Do home security systems come with cameras?

You might think that all home security systems come with cameras. And we certainly think they should because cameras play such an important role in the security of your home. But not all do.

A very basic system just includes door sensors to detect entry, a siren, and a control panel that is used both for turning the system on and off and communicates to the monitoring station.

These basic systems without cameras are quite limited in the protection they provide.

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Is it worth having a security camera?

Experts agree that it’s generally worth having a security camera incorporated into your home security system. And research backs this up.

A study done by The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology found that outdoor cameras are among the things that make 60% of burglars choose a different target.

In addition to deterring burglars, security cameras can also help police catch the burglars after the fact. They also can help prevent police responding to false alarms, which can be costly.


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What are the best self-monitored home security systems?

While professional monitoring provides the best security and quickest, most reliable response, many people want to compare a professional service with the best self-monitored home security systems.

According to Consumer Reports, the “best self-monitored systems come from Abode, Kangaroo, Ring, and SimpliSafe.” The ratings were based on a number of factors, including efficiency of the sensors, speed of alerts, and ease of installation.

One thing to be aware of with self-monitoring is that you will need to call the police yourself if you need them to respond. And this may not always be easy or convenient to do.

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Are hard-wired home security systems better than wireless home security systems?

The answer to the question of whether hard-wired home security systems are better than wireless home security systems is “it depends.”

When considering cloud-based, or motion-activated camera equipment, here are some things to consider:

  • Recording times are short and triggered only by motion. They are only stored on the cloud for a few weeks before the recording is lost.
  • Since they are triggered by motion, they often trigger false alarm notifications to your phone. For example, a car drives by your house, or the neighbor’s cat walks by your front door.
  • A lot of false alarms tend to train owners to ignore the notifications, so when there really is cause for concern, they may not notice.
  • The quality of recording is very low, and it can often be hard to identify suspects from the grainy footage.

In contrast, here are some pros and cons of a hard-wired security camera.

  • A hard-wired camera is connected to a hard drive. It constantly records, so the important footage won’t get cut off. The footage will be stored for as long as you want to keep it.
  • The footage quality is far superior.
  • The coverage area for hard-wired cameras is much larger, so you often can catch footage of things happening on your street and sometimes even at your neighbor’s homes as well.
  • Since the camera is hard-wired, you won’t receive a notification when there is motion.
  • Since they are triggered by motion, they often trigger false alarm

Hard-wired security systems can be more reliable as far as signal strength, quality, and reliability.

Wireless security systems, on the other hand, are easier to install and can be used in places where you may not be able to hard-wire the components. But the signal strength varies by brand and conditions where they will be installed.

This question really is best answered during a personal consultation with a home security system expert who can take your situation and needs into consideration. Please contact us for assistance.


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Do home security systems work with my video doorbell?

Home security systems work with some video doorbells, while others may not be compatible. So, this is another “it depends” situation.

We do think video doorbells are awesome and a powerful addition to your home security system. Because there are so many on the market, it’s best to contact us directly to see if your specific video doorbell will work with a professionally monitored home security system and what your options are.

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Should I buy my own doorbell or have my home security company install it?

It’s a personal decision whether to buy your own video doorbell or have your home security company install it. In most cases, it’s easiest and most convenient to have your doorbell installed by your home security company. They can make sure it’s a compatible brand and will meet all your needs.

If you choose to buy one on your own, it’s a good idea to check with your home security company first to make sure the doorbell you’re considering will integrate with your system.

For more information and assistance with a video doorbell, please contact us.

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What factors should I consider when buying a video doorbell?

Some of the factors that you should consider when buying a video doorbell include camera quality, mobile accessibility, motion detection, field of view, and installation requirements.

A high definition video is what most people want so that they can clearly see what’s going on at their front door. And the camera should provide sharp, clear images during both day and night.

The field of view is important, too, so you can see the person at your door from head to toe, as well as anything that’s sitting on the ground in front of your door (like delivered packages).

Most video doorbells will come with an app so you can access them from a mobile device, even when you’re not home. But you should confirm this before you buy.

Some video doorbells require a hard-wired installation and some don’t. You’ll also want to check the doorbell’s WiFi speed requirements for installation and use.


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Can I monitor my alarm system from my smartphone?

Most modern home security systems these days allow you to monitor your alarm system from your smartphone.

All it takes is downloading the appropriate app, entering your credentials, and connecting to your system. Most apps give you the ability to arm or disarm your system from your smartphone. And if you have cameras, you’ll most likely be able to access those from the app as well and view what’s happening at your home from wherever you are.

If your current alarm system isn’t compatible with smartphone monitoring, contact us to discuss your options. We’re happy to help.

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Can my home security system integrate with home automation?

Your home security system can integrate with home automation as long as your security components are smart devices and compatible with your home automation technology.

Getting your security and home automation connected to each other can provide extra convenience as well as increased peace of mind. Adding automation to your security system can also increase its effectiveness.

For example, what if you added an automation rule to turn your security system to Night Mode when you turn the lights off? Or what if you programmed all the lights in the house come on and start flashing when the alarm is triggered?

There are limitless ways to make your home even more safe and secure when you integrate your security system with home automation. Contact us to speak directly with our security specialists to learn more.

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What should I automate in my smart home?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what you should automate in your smart home. It’s a personal decision based on your lifestyle and your budget. After all, smart devices can quickly add up.

For example, there are smart door locks, smart video doorbells, smart cameras, smart alarms, smart light bulbs, smart plugs and switches, smart thermostats, smart smoke detectors, and more.

Some smart home automations provide simple convenience and comfort, while others increase your safety and security. It’s up to you to decide what’s most important to you and your family. But if you want help figuring out how to automate your home security, we’re here for you. Contact us today.


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How do alarm monitoring companies work?

Alarm monitoring companies work by responding when your system communicates an alert. They notify you and/or appropriate law enforcement authorities to respond.

Your home security system sends a signal to the central monitoring station that it’s programmed to communicate with. The monitoring station should be local, and it should be staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year so that someone is always there and ready to respond. Hoffman Security’s is always ready to respond.

Also, to be sure our system is always up and running, our facilities have uninterruptible power supplies as well as back-up generators.

Once the central monitoring station receives the alert, staff is trained on how to verify if it’s a false alarm or if an immediate response by law enforcement is required. If law enforcement is needed, the monitoring company notifies the authorities to get them there as soon as possible.

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Who installs the best home security systems in Fresno?

According to both Yelp users and Expertise.com objective research, Hoffman Security is considered one of the top companies to install the best home security systems in Fresno, CA.

Expertise.com mystery shoppers gave Hoffman Security an A+ rating across all categories. And we have several 5-star independent reviews on Yelp.

If one of your criteria for being “best” is a local, family owned and operated business with 35+ years of trusted service protecting Fresno families and their homes, then you, too, can trust Hoffman Security to be your best choice.

We’d love to prove it to you. Contact us to learn more.

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How to choose a security company?

There are so many choices, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to choose a security company that you can trust. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Are they locally owned and operated?
  • Is it a family company or part of a national corporation?
  • Is their central monitoring station local?
  • Is the monitoring station staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?
  • Do they have a track record of growth and stability?
  • Do they use state-of-the-art technology and systems?
  • Do they listen to your concerns to determine what you need?
  • Are they helpful and friendly?
  • Do they respond quickly to your inquiries?

The security company you choose should make you feel safe and protected. They should be able to give you the kind of system you’re looking for. If they don’t, they’re not the right company for you.

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What questions should I ask a security company when hiring them?

The safety and security of your family and your home is one of your most important priorities, so here are some questions to ask a security company when hiring them:

  1. Are you licensed and insured?
  2. Do you run background checks on your employees?
  3. Do I have to sign a contract?
  4. What do your customers say about you?
  5. What do you specialize in?
  6. How long have you been serving this area?
  7. Where is your central monitoring station?
  8. What is your response rate?
  9. What happens if I have questions about my system once it’s installed?
  10. What happens if I need help on a holiday?

Take your time and carefully listen to how the security company answers these questions. And if you don’t like any of their answers, keep looking until you find a company that can provide not just the answers that you’re looking for but the service, care, and protection that you and your family deserve.

We invite you to ask us these questions! Contact us today!

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Can you change alarm monitoring companies?

Yes, you can change alarm monitoring companies. And you should if your current provider isn’t providing you the service and response that you deserve and should be able to expect.

First of all, check to see if you’re under contract. And if so, what does it say about terminating the contract and switching to another company? Then give the company the required cancellation notice and arrange the transfer with the new monitoring company.

Before making the switch, you’ll want to confirm with the new company that all of your security system components are compatible and able to communicate with their monitoring.

We can’t speak for all alarm monitoring companies, but Hoffman Security takes pride in making these transitions smooth and seamless. Contact us to learn more.

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Can I use my ADT system with another company?

You can use your ADT system with another company. In fact, most home security monitoring companies can handle your existing ADT equipment and may be able to provide the monitoring at a lower cost or with more responsive, local service.

If you’re considering cancelling your ADT monitoring contract, first check the terms. You can always cancel a contract. There just may be fees associated with doing so if it’s considered an early cancellation.

For help in determining what you may gain by having another company like Hoffman Security take over the monitoring of your ADT system, contact us and speak to one of our specialists.

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Does it matter if my home security system provider is local?

There are a few indicators that confirm that it does matter if your home security system provider is local rather than being a national corporation.

First, local providers know the local communities — their concerns, their crime trends, and their law enforcement response behavior.

Local security companies also can usually provide faster customer service when you need maintenance, repairs, or upgrades.

And finally, local security companies are your neighbors. Their staff lives in and cares for the same local community as you do. The money you pay them stays local.

As a local, family-owned and operated business ourselves, Hoffman Security admittedly may be biased. But for these reasons and more, we think it absolutely matters that your home security system provider is local.

If you think so, too, we’d love to serve you and keep you and your family safe and secure. Please contact us to learn more.