Home Monitoring Systems: Components & Uses Explained

smart control panel

Home monitoring systems are like 24/7 guards for your house, maximizing your existing smart tech to keep your family safe and sound. The control panel is the boss, communicating with every part of the system to ensure things run smoothly. Sensors look out for potential trouble, like smoke or unexpected guests.

In this article, we’ll get into how all these pieces work together to keep your home secure, from the different kinds of sensors to how they help prevent real-world risks.

Brief Timeline of Home Monitoring Systems

These systems have continually adapted to meet the changing security challenges and needs of society. We’ll trace its journey, highlighting key developments and technological milestones that have redefined home security.

From Moats to Alarms

Before modern technology, home security meant moats, drawbridges, and guard animals. A similar source explains that in 1853, Augustus Pope introduced the first burglar alarm using electromagnets. Consumer interest in home security surged post-World War I, leading to unique solutions like “door shakers“- a group of watchmen – ensuring doors were locked at night.

The Dawn of Video Monitoring

The concept of video surveillance emerged in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until Marie Van Brittain Brown patented a video home security system in 1969 that it became a household feature. By the 1980s, as costs dropped, these systems became household staples, with security firms offering lower installation fees for recurring monitoring charges.

Challenges of Hardwiring

Until the 1990s, security systems were predominantly hardwired, presenting challenges in installation, upgrading, and vulnerability, as criminals could disable them by cutting phone lines.

Wireless Technology Changes the Game

Studies confirm that the advent of WiFi in 1997 was a game-changer, enabling wireless video transmission and resolving hardwiring issues. The 2000s saw an uptick in remote home monitoring services, and the market shifted towards do-it-yourself security setups. This empowered homeowners to install and manage their systems.

DIY and Smart Home Integration

Introducing Bluetooth-enabled wireless sensors led to a new wave of smart home security devices, controllable via smartphones. Current DIY systems have revitalized decades-old technology, like motion and contact sensors, by enhancing their design and functionality. The reliance on internet-connected cameras has raised privacy concerns due to hacking incidents.

The Innovative Leap with WiFi Sensing

Origin Wireless’s Hex Home security system exemplifies innovation, using WiFi Sensing technology to detect movement without traditional cameras or sensors, providing extensive coverage and high accuracy, including pet-friendly settings.  

This system represents a new era in home security, moving beyond conventional methods and paving the way for future advancements prioritizing the protection of homes and families.

Components of a Home Monitoring System

Below is an overview of the core components that form the backbone of an effective home monitoring system:

The control panel is the main controller for your home security system. It’s where all your alarms and sensors connect and communicate. It uses Wi-Fi, cellular signals, or a wired connection to send messages and connect to other smart home devices.

The following is a table summarizing its functions and connectivity options:

Function

Connectivity Option

Alarm Activation/Deactivation

Wi-Fi

Sensor Integration

Cellular Network

Emergency Notification

Ethernet (Wired Internet)

System Diagnostics

Z-Wave/Zigbee (Home Automation Protocols)

Real-Time Monitoring

Bluetooth

Sensors are the alert system for your home, each designed for a specific job:

Sensor Type

Placement

Role in Intrusion Detection

Door/Window Sensors

On or near doors and windows

Alert when a door or window is opened

Glass Break Detectors

Near glass windows or doors

Detect the sound frequency of breaking glass

Smoke Detectors

On ceilings or high on walls

Sense smoke to raise an alarm for potential fires

Motion Detectors

In large open spaces or hallways

Detect movement within a specified area

CO Detectors

Near bedrooms and living areas

Detect carbon monoxide presence and prevent poisoning risks

Door and window sensors have magnets that signal when they move apart from opening a door or window. Glass break detectors have special mics that listen to the sound of glass breaking. Smoke detectors see smoke in the air using a light or a tiny bit of radiation.

Indoor Cameras:

Indoor cameras assist you in monitoring activities within your home. You can use them to keep an eye on your kids and pets or ensure everything is secure when you’re away. People commonly place them in areas such as living rooms or kitchens.

Feature

Benefit

Night Vision

Allows the camera to see in complete darkness. Ensures 24/7 monitoring.

Motion Tracking

The camera can detect and follow movement. Records any activity in its field of view.

Live Streaming

Provides real-time video feed accessible from anywhere through a smartphone or computer.


Outdoor Cameras:

Outdoor cameras are tough and built to handle weather like rain or snow. They’re great for watching over the outside of your house, like your yard or front door.

Feature

Benefit

Weatherproof

Resistant to extreme weather conditions. Ensure functionality no matter the weather.

Placement

Positioned to monitor entry points and outdoor areas for any suspicious activity.

These outdoor cameras can work with lights and motion sensors, too. Furthermore, if they detect movement, they can turn on a light, which helps scare off intruders and lets the camera see better.

Alarms are essential to a home security system, designed to alert you and others of a potential threat. There are two main types of alarms: audible and silent.

Below is a table that outlines their purposes:

Alarm Type

Audible Alarms

Silent Alarms

Purpose

To scare off intruders with a loud noise and alert occupants and neighbours.

To discreetly notify authorities without tipping off the intruder.

 

Integration with Authorities and Monitoring Services:

  • Alarms can be connected to local police or fire departments through monitoring services. When an alarm goes off, the monitoring service can assess the situation and call for help.
  • This integration ensures a quicker response time from authorities in an emergency, providing an added layer of security.

Motion detectors play a role in home security and automation. They sense movement and can trigger responses like turning on lights or sending a security alert.

Detector Type

Infrared (PIR)

Microwave

How it Works

Detects changes in heat (like a person moving)

Emits microwaves and measures changes in the pattern

Placement

Usually installed on walls or corners

Can be placed almost anywhere, less common in homes

Range

Typically limited to the room they’re in

Can cover a larger area and go through walls

Cost

Generally less expensive

Usually more expensive

False Alarms

Less likely to be triggered by small animals

More sensitive, can be triggered by any movement


Pet-Immune Motion Detectors:

These devices are specifically designed to minimize false alarms by disregarding the movement of pets. They achieve this by identifying heat and size patterns that do not correspond to human characteristics. Your pets can freely roam without triggering the alarm system.

Summary Table - Functions and Types of Each Component

Component

Function

Tech Advancements

Pros and Cons

Control Panel

Coordinates all security components.

Smart integration, wireless connectivity.

Pros: Central control, real-time alerts. 

Cons: Complexity, single failure point.

Sensors

Detect entry and environmental hazards.

Enhanced sensitivity, smart differentiation.

Pros: Accurate detection, easy install. 

Cons: False alarms if not well set up.

Indoor Cameras

Monitor inside activities.

Better image quality, and motion detection.

Pros: Real-time monitoring. Cons: Privacy concerns, blind spots.

Outdoor Cameras

Watch exterior spaces.

Weatherproof, high-res in low light.

Pros: Deterrence, perimeter watch. 

Cons: Higher cost, maintenance needs.

Alarms

Alert to breaches.

Smart emergency differentiation.

Pros: Loud deterrence, emergency alerts. 

Cons: Noise pollution, false alarms.

Motion Detectors

Detect movement, trigger responses.

Pet immunity, smart home integration.

Pros: Improves camera/alarm efficiency. 

Cons: Limited range.

Do Smart Security Cameras Deter Crime?

Security cameras are widely recognized as a deterrent to crime, but they need to be foolproof. Research from leading criminology institutes indicates that while they can’t stop all crime, they generally help to reduce it. Now, let’s look at what the data says.

  • An Oregon TV station, KTVB7, spoke to 86 incarcerated burglars and discovered most would flee if an alarm sounded. Cameras often discourage break-ins, though a few burglars saw them as signs of valuable items inside.
  • A study by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service reviewing academic reports concluded that CCTV cameras deter crime, especially when combined with good lighting.
  • The UNC Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology surveyed 422 burglars and found that many sought surveillance equipment before attempting a burglary. If they encountered an alarm, 60% would pick a different target, and half would leave immediately if they discovered an alarm during the break-in.
outdoor camera

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