If you’re in the market for a home security system, you’re part of a growing trend. The International Data Corporation predicts that the home security industry will triple by 2022, building on the already robust growth of 27.6% worldwide from 2016 to 2017.

Additionally, if you’re the only house on the block without one, that can make you feel even more vulnerable. But with all the options available, which features do you actually need? Here are 6 questions you need to ask when shopping for a home security system.

Do you want it professionally installed or DIY?

Having a DIY security system used to mean drilling holes and running cable— a daunting job for anyone but the handiest of homeowners. But today’s smart wireless systems can be as easy to “install” as it was to set up the speakers that give you your morning weather reports.

But there’s still a lot to say for getting a professional system. The technician will visit your home to consult on what entry points to arm, install the system, and provide 24/7 monitoring. Plus, of course, those systems come with a fancy sign for your yard to deter would-be thieves. Keep in mind that with a professional system, you’ll likely have to sign a contract for a specified period, which will protect your equipment, but also lock you into using that provider.

Do you need monitoring?

Some wireless systems offer monitoring that you can have all the time, or even just for a specified time, like when you go on vacation. If you opt out of monitoring, you’ll be notified of any potential activity through an app so you can contact someone to check out your home.

Professional systems almost always require monitoring. Monthly fees run $30 and up from most companies, but that can be a small price to pay for peace of mind — and the ability to thwart a potential intruder.

Do you need cameras?

An external camera won’t necessarily deter a burglar. But it will give you more advance warning that someone is approaching and can potentially help you identify the perpetrator should you get an unwanted visitor. (And, of course, they’re a great way to find out what critters are tearing up your garden.)

Inside the house, cameras can also help identify suspects who enter. Consider putting them in the areas where burglars are most likely to head, such as your master bedroom, as well as in high-traffic areas where you might have multiple chances to grab incriminating footage.

Where should you put sensors?

Tripping a sensor on a door or window is what sets the alert process in motion. Of course, you likely have multiple windows and only you can determine which ones should be armed. In general, it’s best to prioritize those in inconspicuous places that might be particularly attractive to a criminal, such as in the back or behind heavy shrubbery. Door and window sensors also have a second, but compelling benefit, alerting you when someone’s exiting your home, be it a toddler or a teen.

Do you need motion detectors?

Again, this’ll be a matter of personal preference and depend on the layout of your home, but try to picture the route a thief would take through your house and install them there. And if you have a pet that runs around the house all day or jumps on the furniture, you might be dealing with a host of false alarms, which could make you think twice about motion detectors.

How easy is the system to use?

The bottom line is that a system that’s not being used is essentially the same as having no system. But the good news is that once your system is set up, it should be relatively easy to use. Take the time to figure out how all the bells and whistles work and then remember to set it as you leave.

Can I get a discount on my insurance?

We’re so glad you asked! Find out how having a home security system can help you save money on your insurance premium. And check out what other homeowners discounts we offer. Because when insurance is simple, transparent, and affordable, it’s surprisingly painless.

Safe and smart | Home safety


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.