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Self monitoring is the common difference between DIY and traditional security, but there are plenty of companies that strike a happy medium between both. We looked at providers offering pure DIY as well as those offering professional monitoring, either de facto or as an upgrade. We required all systems to have Z Wave Support — the most universal mesh network for communicating appliance to appliance. One of the biggest draws of a DIY system is the opportunity to add in third party equipment like Philips Hue lights or a Nest Thermostat at any point. Z Wave is available in over 2,400 home security and automation devices from more than 700 companies. Plus, you have flexibility in where you place various devices because Z Wave can communicate farther distances than other protocols — like Wi Fi, for example — since it functions by sharing an Internet connection between devices as opposed to a localized router. Ultimately, we wanted systems that could integrate seamlessly into our homes and improve our quality of life. To find which fit the bill, we spent a day outfitting a 1,900 square foot home with the equipment of our finalists. We appraised the installation process, the ease and clarity of registering and syncing, the app experience, and functionality. We were pleased to find we could get most systems up in less than half an hour, but the quality of both hardware and software differed. We docked points for flimsy or easy to knock over physical elements and slow or dysfunctional cyber ones.

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For the burglar who enters the home expecting it to be empty, finding members of the family inside can cause enough shock and panic to facilitate aggressive behavior. Having a security system in place often provides family members with enough warning to get to a safe location in our outside the home while the alarm system dispatches local authorities. For burglars that enter a home knowing that family members are inside, their intentions are often much more malicious and the home alarm system again serves as an early warning system and calls the authorities. According to the U. S. Fire Administration, in just thirty seconds a small flame can turn in to a full blown fire. In just minutes of a fire breaking out, the home will be filled with thick black smoke that makes it impossible for family members to breathe. These two facts alone are enough to reinforce the importance of having a home security system that will signal authorities to respond to a house fire. Time is the biggest factor in any emergency, but in the case of fire, time is of the essence. A few seconds of a fire safety concern could mean death or the complete destruction of a home and all of its contents. The presence of a home security system provides many families with a peace of mind knowing that their home is protected from a variety of devastating scenarios.