Are you thinking about installing a Home Security System, and wondering how to design the system for the best possible security?

To help the discussion lets take a quick look at how we interact with a typical alarm system.


Arming Your Security System

Security systems have two arming modes; Stay and Away.  It seems self-explanatory right? ‘Away’ Mode means you’re leaving the home.  ‘Stay’ Mode means you’re staying in the home.

Stay Mode

When you arm your system to ‘Stay,’ the Motion Sensor is turned off, but the Door and Window Sensors stay armed.  The idea is to let you freely move about your home at night, without setting off your own alarm.

Away Mode

When you arm your system to ‘Away,’ your Motion Sensor stays armed and active, as well as your Door and Window Sensors.

Getting back to the original question of how to best secure your home, tell me what you think. If you arm your Alarm in ‘Stay’ mode and turn off your motion sensor at night, what keeps the bad guy from opening the window and sneaking into your home?  You guessed it, nothing!

So if we want the most secure home, the first step is fully securing the windows and doors while the Alarm is in ‘Stay’ mode.

To do this we need two sensors, Door/Window Sensors, and Glass Breaks.

Door/Window Sensors

This is a small sensor that monitors if the door, and/or window, is open or closed.  They have a variety of Door/Window sensors to help with different applications, but the function is the same.  If the door opens while the system is armed, the alarm will go off.

2GIG Home Security Panel
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Front Door Camera, Control4 app
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Glass Breaks

‘Glass Breaks’ are the second type of window sensor.  These are triggered when the glass of the window breaks.  Glass breaks usually mount on the ceiling, and are similar in shape and size to a Smoke Alarm.  They can protect windows within 15-20’and in line of site.  So one Glass Break Sensor can cover multiple windows.

When we use both Window Sensors and Glass Breaks in tandem to protect windows, it becomes extremely difficult for a burglar to enter through a window without setting off the alarm.  If a burglar tries to open the window, the Window Sensor will trigger. If the burglar breaks the glass, the Glass Break will trigger the alarm.  But, even though your windows and doors are fully covered, you can be in the home and moving about freely without any risk of triggering the alarm.


I know it sounds simple, but that really is the most secure way to secure your home.  Cover all doors, including Garage Doors with a Door Sensors, and then double cover your windows.  If you want to add in motion sensors for added security you can, but it’s not necessary at this point.

If you’re trying to save cost, an alternative method I’ve seen used a lot is to place a wooden dowel in the window track to prevent it from opening up.  This makes it virtually impossible to open the window without breaking the glass.  So then all you need are glass breaks to cover the windows.

After hearing this advice, Clients usually ask us why Motion sensors are so popular if they aren’t the best way to secure the home? Honestly, it all comes down to the money. Buying 1-2 motion sensors to cover your home is a lot less expensive than buying sensors to double cover your windows.  And it’s still a acceptable method for securing your home.  It’s just not the best.


Matt Montgomery, TYM, Salt Lake City, Ut

Matt is a co-founder and lead systems designer for TYM LLC. His smart home and audio/visual designs have won three “Home of the Year Awards” from Electronic House & CE Pro magazine, and two awards from the Consumer Technology Association, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year".

Matt is a golden State fan.


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