What is the perfect design for a Home Security System? Especially after a break-in, this is one of the most common questions we hear.  I get it. You want a rock solid Security System.

I’ll walk you through it quickly, and when you’re done reading I promise you’ll feel like a Home Security Pro.


  1. We’ll review a few Alarm System basics.
  2. I’ll show you the best Security System Design.
  3. Last, I’ll explain why the best approach isn’t the most common approach.

First, Some Basics

The Primary function of a Security System is to protect the perimeter of your home.  Security Sensors are all built with that aim in mind:

  • Door Sensors detect whether the door is open or closed
  • Window Sensors detect whether the window is open or closed
  • Glass Break Sensors detect breaking glass from windows and doors
  • Motion sensors detect for motion

Stay & Away Mode – If you’ve ever used a Security System then you’re familiar with ‘Stay Mode’ and ‘Away Mode.’  These help you arm the system when you’re home (stay) and away from the home (away).

There are subtle nuances between the two modes, but in ‘Stay’ mode the motion is deactivated allowing you to walk freely inside your home.

2GIG Home Security Panel, Salt Lake City, Utah

2GIG Home Security Panel
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Front Door Camera, Control4, Salt Lake City, Utah

Front Door Camera, Control4 app
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Design for ‘Stay’ Mode

The perfect Security System is one that fully protects your home when the system is armed in ‘Stay.’

2 Goals of a well-designed Security System:

  1. Allow you to walk and move freely about your home. While at the same time….
  2. Guarding a burglar’s 3 primary methods for forcing entry into your home

3 Primary Methods for forcing entry to your home:

  1. Doors – Breaking in the door, breaking or bypassing the lock, or simply opening an unlocked door
  2. Windows – Opening an unlocked window, or climbing through an open window
  3. Breaking Glass – Breaking the glass of a window or door.

The optimum Security System needs to guard all 3 methods while the system is armed in ‘Stay.’ This is accomplished using Door Sensors, Window Sensors, and Glass Break Sensors.

Door sensors are going to alarm anytime the door is opened.  It doesn’t matter how the door is bypassed.  Even if someone steals your Garage Door Opener or Key, once the door is opened the alarm will sound.

Windows are a little trickier.  There are two ways to bypass a window: opening the window and breaking the glass.

Window Sensors are only able to detect if the window is open or closed.  You need a Glass Break to detect if someone breaks the glass of the window.

Glass breaks also work for sliding glass doors, and doors with windows that can be broken to unlock the door.

Traditional Alarm System Design

In a traditional Home Security Design, door sensors are set on all exterior doors, and a motion sensor is placed in the ‘heart of the home.’ This is usually the Great Room or living room.

It’s assumed a burglar will enter the ‘heart of the home’ at some point during the robbery and trigger the motion thereby eliminating the need for window sensors and glass breaks.

However, the glaring problem with this approach is that in ‘Stay’ mode you have nothing covering your windows.

The Perfect Design

The optimum system design for ‘Stay’ mode would guard against the three primary methods of forced entry using:

  1. Door Sensors – on every exterior door
  2. Window Sensors – on every window
  3. Glass Breaks – To cover every accessible window, sliding glass doors, and glass on doors that could be broken for access to locks

No motions are needed.  While in ‘Stay’ mode, you can move freely about your home, and your home is optimally covered.

Why aren’t more systems designed this way?

The obvious question follows: if this is the best design approach for Home Security, why do most alarm Systems use Motion Sensors rather than glass breaks? It comes down to cost.

The perfect Security System isn’t the cheapest Security System.  Foregoing Glass Breaks and Window Sensors, and relying on a motion sensor, reduces the cost of the Security system substantially.

There’s nothing wrong with the traditional approach.  It works. A Security system with a motion sensor is certainly better than no Security at all.  But if you’re asking for the ‘Perfect’ Security design, then you need to arm all your windows and cover all glass in your home with glass breaks.

A few things to keep in mind

  • Scale your system overtime – Wireless Home Security Systems are very easy to scale.  You don’t have to knock it all out in the first go.  Start where the budget allows, and add sensors as you’re able.
  • Use Wooden Dowels – A popular approach is to place wooden dowels in the window tracks.  If there’s a dowel in the track, you can’t open the window without breaking the glass.  You can keep the glass break, but save the cost of the window sensor.  This isn’t absolutely foolproof, but it’s a budget-friendly alternative.
  • Traditional Still Works – A Security system with door sensors and a motion, is still a good system.  It’s stopped many a wood be burglars, and it will stop countless more.  If that’s all the budget allows, it’s still a great solution.

You’re a Home Security Professional Now!

Really you are!  You should feel very confident designing the perfect Home Security system for your home.

But if you’re still unsure, reach out to us, and let us know how we can help.  Contact us!







Matt Montgomery, TYM, Salt Lake City, Ut

Named one of Technology Integrator’s Top Talent Under 40, Matt has designed systems for 20 national award-winning projects, including  "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year" from CTA™ (Consumer Technology Association). His ebook “How To Wire Your Smart Home” is a best seller among professionals and DIY-ers alike.  He has taken classes with Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). You can watch Matt share the secrets of his craft on YouTube!

Matt is a Golden State fan.




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