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burglar looking into window of darkened home

Burglar Alarms or Security Cameras: Which is better?

burglar looking into window of darkened home

We are often asked by customers which one of these is the better option for security.  Before you decide which option is better for your home or business, you must first decide what you want the system to do for you. Are you wanting to watch over your premises and perhaps identify persons or vehicles if a crime occurs or are you looking to prevent a crime from happening and intruders from entering your home or business?

Video surveillance

A security camera system allows customers to have a camera or cameras located either inside or outside and view their premises in real time. If an intrusion occurs, they can retrieve the video from the recorder or off-site cloud, and easily identify the intruders. One downfall to a surveillance system with an on-site recorder is that it can be located and taken which then in turn takes your video evidence. If the video recorder is off-site, this takes away that issue, although you are then responsible for a monthly fee for that stored video.

Alarm System

With a burglar alarm system, the door/window sensors, motion sensors, glass break sensors, etc., create a perimeter around the area(s) you want to protect. Once this perimeter is broken (such as door or window being opened or walking in the path of the motion sensor), the siren sounds, strobe lights can go on, and the monitoring station is alerted that an intrusion is happening and they dispatch the authorities.

Cost

Another consideration between these two options is the cost. Alarm systems are typically very cost-effective, with systems starting as low as $95 or monthly monitoring costs as low as $20.95. You can also typically receive a discount from your insurance company with a monitored alarm system. These discounts vary, but are usually in the 8-12% range.

A small camera system consisting of 4 cameras and a recorder can range from $1,000 – $2,500. Depending upon the type of storage you want (on-site vs off-site), you may also be responsible for a monthly monitoring charge.

With all this being said, the typical burglar alarm system is much more cost-effective than a 4 camera system with recorder. If you opt to add devices in the future, the sensors for an alarm system are far less expensive than additional cameras.

The Best of Both Worlds

Both systems serve their intended purpose: a burglar alarm system has a siren that sounds and alerts you when a burglary has occurred and a camera system records video of the event. The great advantage of an alarm system is that with the siren whaling, it greatly limits the time a criminal wants to stay and steal/vandalize your property whereas with a video system you may or may not be notified of the event taking place and sometimes may not know for days or even weeks later.

Combining both systems for your home or business gives you the best of both worlds.  You are immediately alerted when an intrusion occurs (with the alarm system) and you can immediately go to your smartphone and view the event taking place (with the camera system).


It can be hard to decide how to best protect your loved ones and valuables. We specialize in life safety systems are here to help you. For more information about security systems or video surveillance, please contact us.