110 • september 2009 • electronics for you w w w . e f y m a g . c o m
Assess the sources of threat before you select a security
system for your home. A totally integrated system is
recommended. But, if your budget doesn’t allow, you can
start with the basic and gradually upgrade
Invest In Your
Uma Bansal tector panels to intelligent remote moni-
toring systems. These include intruder
alarm systems, auto dialers, doorphones,
electronic locks, remote panic alarms and
video surveillance systems.
Security systems can also be inte-
grated with home automation features.
Various residential builders are already
offering home automation and security
together as an add-on feature for their
If you are planning to install, you
can choose between wired and wire-
less security systems. Both types can be
further divided into user-friendly and
high-end programmable systems.
Here’s the way to go for an ideal
security system for your home.
Don’t forget this is an investment for
your own security. The cost of the
lectronic security for homes
is fast catching up in India.
With either the elderly or
kids alone at home while
you are away at work, it is
essential for you to have a proper sur-
veillance system in place at home.
A variety of security systems are
available right from simple intrusion de-
mobile enabled by
electronics for you • september 2009 • 111w w w . e f y m a g . c o m
system depends on the features sup-
ported and technologies used with
scalability. It also varies with the brand
Home security systems are availa-
ble as standalone systems or monitored
systems, where a monitored system is
connected to a 24×7 monitoring centre.
Standalone systems start at around Rs
8000 for a basic package with addi-
tional installation charges. An installed
monitored system costs around Rs
14,000 onwards for the basic package,
which includes one year of 24×7 moni-
doorphones are available in B&W and
colour. Standalone video doorphones
and intrusion alarms, each costing be-
low Rs 10,000, are very affordable.
Security systems integrated with
home automation features cost any-
where between Rs 100,000 and Rs
350,000 per home depending upon the
Home security systems can be cen-
tered around an alarm, a system of
intercoms, locking systems or video
cameras. Determine the needs of your
home depending on the surrounding
Intrusion alarm system. Alarms
can be either silent or very loud. A loud
alarm will either frighten the intruder
Providers of Security
In India, there are today many companies
offering home security products. Prominent
among them are Zicom, Samriddhi
Automations, Honeywell and ADT Security.
Digihome, an Aftek Group company,
offers home automation solutions for
smart homes. Jaymit Systems, a trading
concern of Vishal Electronics, which is
engaged in the manufacture of CCTVs in
India, offers products like alarm systems,
CCTV access control, IP cameras, IR
cameras, dome cameras, doorphones and
away or alert the neighbours that some-
one is trying to invade your house.
Alarms fitted into the door sound right
at the point of entry. Others can be con-
nected (through wires or wirelessly) to
a central control pad, which sounds if
any point of entry is breached.
Generally, an intrusion alarm sys-
tem has different sensors, magnetic
contacts, hooters, etc linked to a control
panel. An auto dialer with a prere-
corded message can also be integrated,
which will automatically dial the fed
numbers and leave emergency message.
With this feature, if someone intrudes
your home, the security system will call
the police directly to inform them.
While selecting a warning alarm
system, ensure that:
1. It doesn’t produce false alarm
2. It has enough battery backup to
Sensors That Can be Attached to Home Alarm Systems
Magnetic sensor. It detects unauthorised entry through the door/window. One unit of the
magnetic sensor is installed on the frame of the door/window that is fixed on the wall and
the other unit is installed on the door/window. When there is an intrusion, the magnetic
contacts are released and the signal is sent to the main panel informing of an intrusion.
Motion sensor. This sophisticated device detects unauthorised human body
movement in your home when the home alarm system is activated. It is generally installed
in the living room/bedroom of the home.
Glass-break sensor. It detects the breakage of framed glass, thus protecting your
home from intrusion through the windows.
Gas-leak detector. This sensor takes away the worry of a gas leak, be it CNG or LPG.
It can be used standalone or integrated with the main panel. The sensor is installed in the
kitchen in close proximity to the gas cylinder/pipeline.
Smoke detector. This sensor is used to detect smoke that can be generated either by
short circuit or fire. Zicom’s smoke detector helps you evade losses due to fire before the
fire erupts by sending an alarm through its main panel to the central monitoring station
while an in-built buzzer warns people in the vicinity.
—Santonu Choudhury, CEO, Zicom Retail
112 • september 2009 • electronics for you w w w . e f y m a g . c o m
meet unpredictable power conditions
3. It is user-friendly, with minimal
and easy controls
4. If sensors like PIR are used, it
must be EMI-/RFI-protected
5. Magnetic sensors are easy to
6. The sound output is above 105
dB at 1 metre
Video/door phones. These can be
installed at the entrance to see/talk to
the person at the gate.
Cameras. A wide variety of cameras
are available for home security. Your
home can have a single camera at the
front door or many cameras placed
throughout the house. The multiple
cameras can be attached to motion de-
tectors and activated only when there is
movement in a certain area. These can
also be attached to VCRs or computers
for additional monitoring and record-
ing. If attached to a computer, you can
check the status of the home from any-
where over the Internet connection.
Cameras with audio are useful if
you want to monitor sound as well as
sight. These make use of a small micro-
phone to monitor sound.
If the camera will be used outdoors,
it should have a casing that is durable
enough to withstand the weather. If
you fear vandalism, an extra-durable
casing is needed. For units that need
to be plugged in, ensure that there is a
power source nearby.
A CCTV will let you view the en-
trance and other strategic areas around
your home. You may detect a regular
unwanted or unknown face moving
near your home.
Window and door lock systems can be
added onto your home’s existing locks,
creating a double lock at each point of
entry. Intruders will find it difficult to
break through such locks. More elabo-
rate locks include fingerprint checks or
Panic switches. These are nothing
but simple buttons with hooters at-
tached to create an alarming sound of
PIR lights. These lights activate
automatically when there is an activity
in the area of focus.
Standalone or integrated?
You can go for the different security
devices one by one, depending on your
budget. A gradual upgrade would also
let you understand the use of
each system one by one.
If your house has no inmate
during the daytime, an inte-
grated alarm system to prevent
burglary, trespassing as well as
fire would be required. For the
elderly or kids alone at the
home, a video surveil-
lance system is prefer-
able. For an occupied
house visited by many
outsiders, an audio/
video doorphone is
essential to identify the
visitors before they get ac-
cess inside the house.
If your house needs all the above,
consider an integrated system. Gener-
ally, an audio doorphone coupled with
a burglar alarm system with magnetic
contacts at all openings, and panic
switches at strategic locations, is the
basic requirement for homes. Use of
the rest of the equipment depends on
individual requirements. For example,
you can choose to add other sensors
like PIR, glass break detectors and LPG
detectors to the burglar alarm system.
Video doorphones are more popu-
lar. Builders generally provide them
as a part of amenities in the society.
You may also go for the technically
advanced systems that provide clips
of the visitors in your absence at home.
There are also systems with smart
card- and biometrics-based door ac-
Zicom Safe Homes home security solution
cess. Emergency pushbutton lockets
for the elderly in the house will alert
the watchman of the society and the
nearest hospital when they are in
Wired vs wireless
Both wired and wireless systems have
their own advantages and disadvan-
tages. The choice between the two has to
be made based on the actual site condi-
tions. For instance, homes that are under
construction may go for a wired system,
as the cables can be concealed. Moreover,
wired systems are more cost-effective
and more immune to any external dis-
turbance. However, these require high
degree of care and maintenance. Also,
wiring is cumbersome.
On the other hand, wireless sys-
tems are versatile and flexible in op-
eration. As the name suggests, these
do not use hard cables for connectivity
for various transmissions, but electric
cable is still used for power source.
You can go for them if you don’t want
to spoil the aesthetics and the décor of
your well-furnished home with dan-
But remember that wireless systems
have limitations in terms of features
set. No system with sophisticated fea-
tures will be completely wireless. Even
if it were, it would have issues related
to signal strength, etc. Also, wireless
systems based on advanced technology
shall be extremely costly.
Wireless systems can be either
RF- or WiFi-based. RF-based wireless
systems are not very reliable in terms
of signal strength and large data com-
munication. They may also interfere
with other electronic devices like
mobile phone, television, radio and
refrigerator in your home.
Therefore it is better to put up a
wired system wherever possible.
Electric or battery
No system will be entirely working
on battery. It would need power to
survive over longer period of time.
Also, a system with fully featured
114 • september 2009 • electronics for you w w w . e f y m a g . c o m
out, you may be prone to hacking.
Your camera clips may be available to
hackers. Hence while selecting a sys-
tem with remote monitoring, ensure
the data security solution.
Evaluate threat before
freezing the components
Before deciding on the components of
your home security system, evaluate
key sources of threat, and then de-
rive your security need. Decide your
budget, then refine security needs to
meet the budget.
Look for easy installation, mainte-
nance as well as actual performance
in crisis. Also, the system should be
user-friendly. Sensors are extremely
important to home security. If they fail,
security is at risk. If they give wrong
signals, it is a false alarm and so on. Sen-
sors should be of good quality and able
to track the slightest of movements.
Video doorphones are more of
convenience than a security solution.
These are restricted to the use of iden-
tifying a person ringing your doorbell
and communicating with the same.
For the sake of convenience, all
warning alarms, sensors and door
phones should be connected to a central
home security access monitoring device
which logs details of all intrusions. This
device should send reports and updates
of the intrusions to you via SMS so that
you are aware about the same from
anywhere through your mobile.
How to get more value for
Ensure that the system integrates with
your electronics appliances, so that
these can be controlled from remote
location through codes with user-de-
Digital systems are recommended.
The reason: you’ll have visitor clips ac-
cessible all the time, so your family is
secured all the time. You have access to
home on phone, SMS and Internet. You
can add multiple devices whenever
you need in and around the house.
The author is a deputy editor at EFY
functions will consume a good amount
of power and can’t be used on the bat-
So a security system should prin-
cipally be electrically powered with
long battery backup. Most of the secu-
rity systems currently available in the
market come with a built-in recharge-
able battery to function as a secondary
backup which can last for a minimum
of five hours. In the event of a power
failure resulting in a cut-off of the
primary source of power supply, the
secondary backup takes over.
Video surveillance, how
Video surveillance is added protection
on top of the security system in moni-
toring the home. For the most funda-
mental reason, the presence of a CCTV
deters intruders. It helps recreate the
events for review and determine what
really happened when you were not
Major contributors to this
1. Santonu Choudhury, CEO, Zicom
2. Chandrashekhar Raje, CEO, Digihome
3. Sanjeev Sehgal, managing director,
4. Ramesh Jayaraman, general manager
of India, ADT Security
5. Kamal Arora, head marketing,
technical services, Honeywell
Security & Data Collection
ADT MotionViewer wireless video intrusion
watching. It ensures that you
have the facts after an inci-
dent has occurred.
Video surveillance adds
more precision to the security.
With an audio door phone,
you cannot be sure whether
there is a single person stand-
ing outside the door or more
people with the person who is
talking through the outdoor unit.
So video along with audio is much
DVR-based video surveillance
combined with live real-time view
on mobile and sensor technology can
enable applications that make security
proactive and not just a form of post-
Sparsh has launched OmniSurv—a
Windows-based series of DVR cards
for building multichannel video sur-
veillance DVR systems. This solution
provides video surveillance anytime,
anywhere, enabling you to keep an
eye on your home at all times. You can
view continuous, live, real-time video
on your GPRS-enabled mobile handset
as well as remote PC/laptop through
TCP/IP protocol at high speed and
It is through the IP technologies that
homeowners can centrally monitor
their homes at their convenience. You
can control your home lighting and ap-
pliances, and monitor events through a
Web-enabled device. Security alerts can
be delivered through the Web-enabled
device such as the cell phone.
Remote access to your home adds
to convenience in terms of cheaper
(24×7) communication and surveil-
lance. It saves time and money by ac-
cessing home remotely for activating
your desired system profiles. You may
literally carry and communicate to
your home wherever you move.
Remember, you should opt for re-
mote monitoring only if the situation
demands. Otherwise, it may hike the
system cost unnecessarily. Also, if it is
not well-designed and well thought-