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What is a Home Surveillance System?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Also known as a home security system, a home surveillance system is a collection of electronic monitoring devices that are capable of identifying any type of unauthorized activity within the home. Some systems make use of motion detectors, visual monitors, and other methods in order to protect both the home and the residents. While many of these systems are primarily geared toward protecting the home from theft, some are also configured to warn the occupants of fires or other dangerous situations that may develop in the residence.

A basic home surveillance system will make use of a series of devices that are affixed to all doors and windows. When activated, these devices are capable of detecting any efforts to gain entry to the building. With some designs, the devices sound alarms that are loud enough to alert the homeowner or any other members of the household that an intruder is present.

More sophisticated designs go one step beyond sounding alarms when someone breaks into the home. A number of home surveillance system designs can be integrated with other electronic equipment in the home, such as a home computer network. The monitoring system utilizes an electronic connection to alert a support center operated by the manufacturer of the system. They, in turn, can attempt to contact the homeowners, as well as summon local authorities.

While a home surveillance system is often aimed at preventing break-ins, many systems today also include safety measures that can save the lives of anyone in the home. Systems designed to monitor for smoke or fire as well as fumes from gas hookups are very common today. Generally, these systems will also sound alarms when danger is detected, giving occupants a chance to leave the home before they can come to harm.

It is not unusual for a home surveillance system to be equipped with cameras today. These home security camera systems make it possible to tap into the home computer network and observe activity around the home. For example, monitors can be discreetly installed near entrances to the home, as well as several places in the interior. Systems of this type are often triggered by the detection of motion, automatically capturing images of any movement at an entrance or in one of the rooms. Homeowners sometimes make use of these visual monitoring systems to screen callers at the front door, making it possible to avoid salespeople or other individuals that the homeowner does not wish to see.

In terms of price, a home surveillance system can be relatively inexpensive, or cost a great deal of money. As more features are added to the system, additional costs are incurred. Because of the security they provide to the home, investing in a basic system now and upgrading the system at a later date is an ideal solution for households on a budget.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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