Helpful DIY Security Tips

We posted a shorter version of this on Facebook and a few of our local media platforms recently. We thought it might be useful to share with a broader audience. We also decided to expand on our list of tips to include information for managing security systems by both the home and the security provider.

Unfortunately, the past year has been a year of conflict and violence ending with the chaos in Washington DC. There is also an overall trickle-down effect from this climate, and increased crime is one of them. We see this increase locally in Central Oregon, in Portland, and throughout the entire state. We also know that Oregon is not that different from the forty-nine other states in our great nation and that crime will be increasing everywhere. With this in mind and twenty years of experience in the security industry, we also understand that the best security prevents your home or business from becoming the target. Here is a good list of our recommendations focused on deterrence, the first layer of an excellent comprehensive security plan.

Best Security Deterrence Tips 

  • Make sure doors and windows are locked, especially the garage.
  • If you have an alarm system, make using it standard practice for everyone in your home or business and make sure signs and stickers are visible and in good clean condition. You want everyone to know you care about security, at least enough to keep the signs clean and upright.
  • Pay attention to vehicles and people not familiar with you and call them in to the police.
  • Leave a radio or TV on when you leave your home.
  • Close the blinds when you leave your home or business if you have them.
  • Leave a few low energy lights on without visual access from the outside. Timers for lighting control with schedules in place can make this one of the easiest to implement.
  • Turn the front porch light off when you leave.
  • Do not let mail or papers stack up if visible.
  • Install visible cameras and doorbell cameras that can be seen quickly by drive-by traffic. And know how to operate them and review recorded data.
  • Install motion-activated lighting for dark areas around your home or business.
  • Dogs are a good deterrent, the bigger and more protective, the better.
  • Do not have your address on your keychain, especially if you have a disarming remote for your alarm system attached to the keys.
  • Take your garage door opener with you when you leave the car. Not leaving your opener in the car is particularly important when parked outside your garage.
  • Your WIFI network needs to be locked down. Meaning your password should be long, random, and complicated. Do not give unauthorized individuals access to this password… We have all seen hackers get access to video camera data, and being careless with network security is one way to lower this risk.
  • Get creative with deterrence. My father in law had a sign in the front of his house that said, “This house is protected by shotgun three days a week. You guess which three.” I will always remember this sign, and he has never had a break-in.
  • Make sure all members of your family and business know what to do in the event there is a break-in or a life-safety emergency. Installing panic buttons in discrete locations is highly recommended for emergencies. 
  • Find out if your alarm system is programmed for a duress code to be entered into your alarm system to alert the monitoring center discreetly that you need help and dispatch of police is necessary.

Best Tips for Managing and Maintaining your System Alarm System.

  • To prevent false alarms, ensure all authorized individuals know the abort code. The abort code will stop an unnecessary dispatch of the police and fire department. It may seem obvious, but many false alarms occur because of forgetting abort codes.
  • Change all life-safety device batteries annually, whether needed or not. A simple call to your alarm system provider can set this up in most cases.
  • When one door contact battery gets low or needs replacement, take the extra time to replace all additional door contact batteries. 
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors have a life-span. Typically, the lifespan is 7-10 years when replacement is necessary. Check the manufacturer’s information to confirm the smoke and CO detectors’ life-span in your home, replacing them when required. 
  • Take some additional time to understand your security system’s operation and features and ensure that all family members also know how to use it. 
  • Make sure your alarm system has encrypted technology, preventing hackers from gaining access to your system. 
  • Ensure your camera recording devices, either on-site or remote, are long, complex, and random.
  • Routers and modems need to be updated often, and passwords should be changed frequently. Know how to change your passwords or hire a reputable firm to do it for you. 
  • Do not leave a key outside in what you consider to be a great hiding place. Invest in at least one coded door lock, eliminating the outdoor key’s necessity. 
  • Once you have purchased a security system, continue to add protective sensors and devices as your home, security needs, and lifestyle change. Look for areas that remain vulnerable and fill in what is missing.

Best Security Cameras for Your Home

Security Camera Purchase Considerations Beyond the Confusing Acronyms and Tech Speak. 

Let’s put an end to all the consumer confusion on security camera purchase decisions. I have wanted to write this article for far too long. My goal is to help customers considering the purchase of security video cameras navigate the landscape of a complicated and rapidly changing sub-sector of the security industry. I live in Bend, Oregon, and have helped customers with camera systems for more than two decades, consistently finding confusion in the marketplace and the need for clarity on making purchase decisions. Naturally, the information provided will have the Central Oregon climate in mind, but the information should be helpful far beyond our pacific NW state lines. 


The Confusion.


If I were to list, without explanation, all the considerations recommended for security camera purchases, it would read like this.


“When making your camera decisions, consider the following: 1080p or better, motion-triggered analytics, video verification, sd, cloud or NVR/DVR storage, video monitoring vs. video verification, and lastly, IP66 rated and adjustable 30fps or better. Oh, and I forgot to specify whether we are discussing analog, IP, or HSCVI core technology platforms.”


It’s not hard to understand why consumers get confused. Any time you start using acronyms with letters and numbers combined, eyes glaze, and we start thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner or anything but technology. I witnessed this entertaining reaction in countless training seminars on security technology as the audience does their best to look interested while considering what time they should start the barbeque. And I get it, put me in an unfamiliar technology seminar and start using acronyms and I am the first to get that glazed look and thoughts of my stomach. So let’s clear these confusing camera skies and shed a bit of light on the security camera landscape. What this industry jargon means and how it is relevant when making your purchasing decisions.


The Basics.


All cameras need power. 

This may sound obvious, but when we start talking about wireless vs wired cameras it may not seem as simple as it appears. To my knowledge, there is no way to transmit power over long distances wirelessly, at least not yet. The data, or the information provided by the camera, is a different story and that can be transmitted wirelessly. So when I use the term wireless, understand I am referring to the video data being transmitted wirelessly. Below are general and common options for wireless vs. hardwired cameras and what you need to know.

  1. Wireless Data Transmission Cameras that plugs into an AC outlet.

-Easy to set up with existing WIFI network information handy.

-Good for indoor and outdoor use

-Outlet is needed preferably close to the camera location

-Potentially slows the speed of home or business internet using existing wifi.

-Can be set up on its own WIFi Network and not use the existing network to avoid issues.

-Most common type of camera for DIY or Self-Installation with consistent power. 

-If WIFI or power goes down so do your cameras.

  1. Wireless Data Transmission Battery Powered Cameras that do not need an outlet.

-easiest to self-install and locate

-no outlet needed

-batteries need to be recharged frequently

-generally fewer features and services

-typically stand-alone system not tied to a full alarm system. 

  1. Wired Data and Power Over Ethernet Cameras using Cat5 or Cat6 wire..

-good for commercial and advanced system needs

-needs cat5/cat6 wires run to each camera location.

-most often installed professionally unless you’re comfortable running wire and terminating Cat5/6 cable. 

-power considerations may be needed for  wire runs (75 meters is safe for most Cat5/6 wire types.)

  1. Wired Data and Power over Cable Analogue Cameras.

-Needs RG cable runs to each camera

-Most often professionally installed

-Older technology (this is where CCTV systems began)

-Runs of 500ft are good for power and data without additional adaptations.

-Video image quality can be upgraded with new equipment if wiring already exists.

Storing the Video Content Captured by the Cameras.


“I watched the guy taking the package off my front porch but I don’t have the video data stored.”


Let’s avoid this scenario with a discussion on storing video content captured by security video cameras. Stored data can happen in two basic ways.

  1. Onsite Data Storage

 The first is onsite with an SDcard in the camera or a recording device like an SVR/NVR/DVR. These acronyms all end in video recorder and in simple terms act like a computer or VCR if you’re old school like me. These devices record and store the video data the cameras capture. How much data storage or how long before re-recording over the older data depends on the amount of internal storage in each device and the amount of data content transmitted to the storing device. 

  1. Cloud Stored Data

The second option for storing captured video data is cloud storage. This is where video data storage is headed and I believe the best option for most consumers. In the event, a criminal gains access to the house or business on-site data can be stolen or destroyed and cloud storage eliminates this possibility. has an excellent platform for cloud-stored data as well as an option for locally stored data on an SVR for additional video data security.


Resolution or Max Resolution


Just like your television set, security cameras have different set resolutions like 1080p, 720p, or 1mp(megapixel). These numbers are heavily marketed by all camera manufacturers. What is not mentioned is that with wireless wifi cameras the higher the resolution the more potential for wifi bandwidth issues. Multiple WIFI camera systems will perform better and cause fewer WiFi bandwidth issues when they have their own network. Additionally, the greater resolution will impact the length of recorded time captured on the data recording devices. Adjustments can be made with how many frames per second get recorded but understanding the cause and effect is good to know before making your purchase. As a general rule, a camera with 1080p resolution at 30fps is sufficient for most residential and small business applications. 


Climate Considerations Indoor/ Outdoor and an IP66 rating


A few years back Central Oregon received four feet of snow over a few days. In fact, we had so much snow it collapsed the school gymnasium roof across the street from where I live. Fortunately, it was very early and there were no injuries, just a delay while every other school in the area was examined by engineers. Needless to say, most cameras were buried under ice and snow or at least heavily exposed to moisture. It is due to these events that cameras are rated for indoor or outdoor conditions and where the term IP66 comes from. The IP in IP66 stands for International Protection and is a standard for the housing that protects the camera itself. An IP66 outdoor rated camera is a safe bet in most climates and my recommendation when considering outdoor camera purchases and periodic extreme weather events or harsh conditions. Indoor cameras do not need to be IP66 rated and typically cost less than outdoor cameras for this reason. 


Style or Shape of Cameras


Every year it seems that there is another style of security camera on the market. Ten years ago the discussion pretty much ended at bullet or dome camera but now the number of styles, shapes, and names seems to be endless. For the majority of consumers, the choice between a bullet and dome is sufficient for pretty straight forward reasons. Security bullet cameras are typically mounted on walls and security dome cameras are mounted on ceilings. Yes, for commercial applications there are good reasons for the various other shapes and sizes and the purposes they serve but for residential and small business consumers the determination is pretty simple, is it going to be mounted on a wall or the ceiling? Where we’re headed next is, in my opinion even more important and often overlooked.


Angle of View


The angle of view dictates how wide the angle or how much of an area is being captured. This combined with the quality of the image is two of the most important considerations. Most spec sheets will give the angle of view in understandable language using degrees to indicate how wide the captured image will be. We know that 360 is the total so a camera providing a 117-degree angle of view is almost a third of the total circular view from the position of the camera. The idea here is to capture as much of the view as possible in the direction the camera is facing and clearly capture and record it on video. 


IR Range – InfraRed LED Bulb Lighting Range – Night Vision


In simple terms, how far can the cameras see in the dark? Keep in mind, even a camera with a good IR range specifications is not going to look nearly as good as the image quality during the day. But it is an important consideration. Most importantly, make sure the cameras you’re considering do in fact have IR night vision capabilities. Anywhere from 30ft to 40ft of range is common and does the job for most consumers. 


Video Verification vs Video Monitoring


The future is clear and widespread adoption of video verification services will be a standard in years to come. Video verification allows a 3rd party monitoring center to view and take action by viewing the cameras at your home or business during a triggered alarm event. It does not have widespread adoption yet, but given its inherent nature of preventing false alarms, I believe it will become the norm in the years to come. Video monitoring on the other hand is a term that creates more confusion than serving a purpose. Without verified video, the only video monitoring taking place for the consumer is in reality self-video monitoring. Meaning the consumer is the one monitoring the video stored data. Having a security video solution and an intrusion alarm system combined and working together on one software platform is my recommendation. Unless you have established video verification with your security system monitoring company, understand that the only recorded video monitoring taking place will be done by you. When consumers purchase a security camera system without also purchasing an intrusion alarm system there is often a disconnect between the level of protection perceived and reality. The fact is that without a monitored intrusion alarm system, should a burglary occur, unfortunately, they will be watching video footage of the bad guys taking their possessions. The intrusion alarm system is the primary system that will dispatch authorities in the event of a burglary.




Like any technology product, the warranty on the equipment should also be considered carefully. Most camera manufacturers offer a three-year warranty and given the rapid advancements in video technology, in most cases, there will be a much better product on the market by the time the warranty ends. At Innovate Security for Life, we extend the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional two years with intrusion alarm system monitoring. We understand that our clients may not want to upgrade their cameras in three years even if there is better technology available.


Clearer Skies to Make Purchasing Decisions?


I hope I have clarified the overly complicated security camera acronym filled language and provided most of the important considerations to help you navigate your security camera purchase decisions. It would be easy to turn this into a thesis paper on video cameras but my goal is to provide a simple and comprehensive article to help residential and small business consumers weed through the complicated nature of the video security industry terminology. A basic video camera education and major consideration simplification can make the selection process less complicated with a better final camera system installed.


Below are additional cameras and security-related technologies my company, Innovate Security for Life Inc. offers that meet our quality and feature requirements. All of the listed devices below work in conjunction with Innovate’s selection of smart home automation and alarm system platforms monitored 24/7 for life safety and intrusion detection. For more information please go to and contact us. We’re happy to answer additional questions by email or zoom consultation.

encrypted security systems

DIY Apartment Security

DIY Apartment Security and Smart Home Automation

Millennials are smart. In fact, I would argue not only are they smart but they are also pioneering. I am not a millennial so don’t think that this article is some self-aggrandizing way to celebrate my own demographic. As a fifty-year-old engaged in creating products that appeal to Millenials, I have spent countless hours in meetings all centered around how millennials think differently on many levels than other demographic groups. The topics range from purchasing behaviors to how to manage millennials as employees. What has become clear is how millennials approach almost everything is very different than what is traditionally expected. What I have come to understand and appreciate about the millennial way of life is that the only ones pulling their hair out trying to figure out why they don’t operate like the rest of us is the non-millennial. 


Being an entrepreneur myself, engaged in new approach opportunities, and most often thinking about things differently, I have come to the conclusion that millennials are “demographic entrepreneurs.”  I don’t know if anyone has ever coined that phrase before but I sure like it. What I mean by this is that they are willing to evaluate how things have been done in the past and different or not, chart their own course bending it to fit their desired outcome. Some would call this problematic, I consider it smart and pioneering. And now that millennials are the largest purchasers of goods and services it is up to us non-Millenials to meet them where they want us to be.  


One of these meeting points is the idea that renting an apartment or condominium is a better option than owning a home. You may ask,  “But what about the American dream of homeownership?” My answer is simply, did you own a home in 2008? Or how many hours have you spent mowing the lawn or trying to figure out why a zone in your sprinkler system isn’t working? It is this line of questioning that leads me to a new level of understanding and appreciation for millennial thinking. It’s that very willingness to look homeownership right in the eye and say, “not for me.” And taking it one smart step further, applying pressure to the rental market to provide a product that has the features and benefits the millennial wants and expects. High on that list of features is technology. But not just any technology, affordable, and durable technology that simplifies and enhances lifestyle.


This is precisely the area that I have spent the last two years focused on, developing innovative new products for a new category I am calling “apartment smart technology.” It’s the idea that you don’t have to be a homeowner to have smart home technology as part of your lifestyle. Think of it as a blend of cutting edge technology with a solid value proposition that is flexible in that you can install it yourself and take it with you when you move. Apartment Smart Technology gives you all the automated features of a smart home, but with lifestyle flexibility built into the product design. 


Considerations included, easy to set up and take down without causing damage to a rented living space. High-quality technology that has the latest in automation technology like Bluetooth disarming touchless disarming and high-resolution video. Providing the same level of backend service and a better warranty on equipment with the understanding that there is absolutely no difference between a customer that is renting and a customer that has purchased their home. My company, Innovate Security for Life Inc. is founded on the idea that there are many approaches to lifestyle but there is only one approach to how to treat the client. Coming from a background in traditional security and home automation products focused on traditional lifestyles and homeownership, just like millennials, I chose to change direction and pioneer a new method of doing business and an innovative way of thinking. Keep in mind that what you see now on our site is only the start of an entire line of innovative Apartment Smart Technology products. Visit for more information and to learn more about our innovative products.

What Makes a Security System Worth the Money

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article titled “Are Security Systems Worth the Money?” Given my career path, needless to say, I had no problem filling the pages with good reasons for why the purchase of a security system is worth the dollars spent. But a better question keeps spinning in my head, beckoning to be answered. Of course, I think security systems are worth the money, but what truly makes a security system worth its value? Is it the rapid technological advances that have allowed for better products or the feeling of safety when you close up the house at night and tuck the kids into bed? At Innovate SFL, we have invested in answering these questions and providing the customer with simple solutions to achieve peace of mind. We believe that security customers are looking for easy to install, high-quality security solutions that are less expensive than the traditional dealer products and backed up with ongoing customer service. Before Innovate SFL, the DIY security marketplace didn’t have a product that could meet all these needs. Understanding our customers’ needs is the heart of Innovate Security for Life. 

In the twenty years of helping customers design and purchase security systems as an owner of a custom security installation company, there was a common thread of what created the “worth” for clients. Clients wanted to know that the company they decided to provide security was sincerely invested in protecting those they care about and the things they valued most. It wasn’t the technology or the price; although the price was important, it was the idea that the company they had picked really cared about what the security system is designed to help protect. Their family, their pets, their heirlooms, and the things that could not be replaced if lost. So in simple terms what really creates the worth in the security system purchase equation is customer service and the idea that the company monitoring your home or business really cares about the ongoing job they have been hired to do. 

But in a world where person-to-person interactions are becoming rarer and quick and easy e-commerce is dominating the consumer market, how does a company create an authentic customer service value proposition? I believe that this value has to be inherent in the culture of the organization. An understanding that what makes our job worth doing is that we play a critically important role in helping to protect people “just like us.” We all have people, pets, and things we care about and want to safeguard. This is a company’s cultural mindset and it cannot be achieved without being genuinely invested in the well-being of our clients. So in order to create real value for customers buying security systems, at its core Innovate Security for Life Inc. had to start with an inherent understanding that our clients are just like us. And if it were our loved ones, family pets, captured memories, or items passed down through generations being protected, what would we want in customer service from our security equipment and monitoring company? acts like a small company in attending to its customers’ unique needs, all the while growing into an organization with a national reach through an e-commerce platform and a greatly expanded market. In order to keep this balance, the team carefully planned out how to bring the same level of customer service we offered on a local level to a client base that is national in scale. The PSA (Personal Security Assistant) program was born. It is the blending of the traditional security company with the ever-increasing trend and widespread adoption of the DIY/self-Install security option. 

When I was evaluating the DIY/self-install offers before creating, this blending of the older traditional security model and the new DIY/self-install e-commerce model was what I found missing in the broader market. The DIY offers that existed and for the most part have not changed, had a low price, low-quality, “buy your system and you’re on your own” attitude. This is the attitude is changing with a completely different DIY/self-install style and offer. Yes, it is possible to have a DIY/self-install security product that provides high-quality customer service through a ”just like us” company culture, with the highest quality professional products at prices far below what traditional security installations cost. With our patented installation mount, Innovatesfl has a security offer that has filled the wide gap that exists in the DIY/self-install security market offers today. 

So, what makes a security system worth the money? In my opinion, it isn’t the latest cooler than cool tech feature or the questionable limited time only free security system offer, but rather the ongoing relationship between the security provider and the security client and how that relationship is established, maintained, and managed. At we understand our clients are all different but at the core, they are “just like us.” 

Innovate Security Prioritization

How to Design a Complete DIY Security System

Growth in cities brings with it unfortunate baggage – Crime

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and not once did I ever feel like I was in a dangerous city or had to be worried about an intrusion in our home. We had an alarm system but rarely used it. There was an underlying feeling of safety, and Portland was still a small city relative to our neighbors in San Francisco and Seattle. I still live in Oregon and am inspired by the natural beauty of our amazing state. I visit Portland often, and there is no question that my hometown has grown up, changed, and brought with it the larger city issues of increased crime, and the loss of that general sense of inherent safety and security.


If you live in Portland or any large city, I would like to offer some help managing issues of criminal threats, and how to protect your home and family. My goal is to offer knowledge of how to design, build, and purchase a security system on your own. We may be limited in our ability to defeat big-city crime, but we can take action and do something about it in a well thought out way.


Deterrence is Where Home/Business Starts

Security for your home or business starts with deterrence. The goal is to make your home/business the last place a criminal would want to target. First and foremost make sure that if you do have an alarm system it is not a secret. If you don’t have a security system get one and use it. It can be a very basic system to start and you can expand over time. Even a system that is small and is expandable is far better than nothing. Signs and decals should be in good condition, numerous, and clean, indicating the system is new and is not a leftover from the prior owner of the home. It may sound like a small detail but if your neighborhood is being cased, you can assume that the criminal is looking for a house that does not have an alarm system or doesn’t appear to have a new alarm system recently installed. New alarm systems are typically used on a daily basis and are purchased with intent. A good indication, at first glance, that your home is not the one to break into. Especially when there are others not sending a loud message of “WE HAVE AND USE OUR ALARM SYSTEM ALL THE TIME.” Also, consider purchasing a doorbell camera and visible cameras for the outside of your home. These noticeable exterior devices are also good at sending a visible security message. Leaving a radio on and having a few timer lights on also adds complexity to a potential intruder equation. You don’t need an expensive lighting control system, just a simple timer for a few ac wall outlet lamps will do. If you have an extra vehicle, park it so it’s visible and turn off your front porch light during the day. Close your blinds to limit visibility into your home and without question make sure every door and window is locked and secured. Most of these may seem obvious but deterrence is about the details and when you put all these together it can make a significant difference in preventing your home from being the target.


Bullet Points on Security Measures for Deterrence:

  • Get a Monitored Security System – You can start small.
  • Make using it habitual
  • Security signs and decals should be numerous and appear new 
  • Install Doorbell Cameras and Exterior Video Cameras in highly visible locations
  • Leave a radio on when you are away
  • Put a few lights on timers – Security Automated or Simple Timers
  • Leave a car visible if you have an extra
  • Close blinds when you are gone
  • Turn front porch light off during the day
  • Always Double-check and secure locks and windows before leaving 


 DIY Security System Design Considerations 


Now let’s look at the basic design of the system you are going to purchase. The majority of DIY security systems are wireless, and good quality systems can handle more life-safety and intrusion sensors than you will most likely ever need. Relative to your budget, let’s start by considering the most important elements of the system you are building, and work down the list in a prioritized manner. Here are the major design consideration categories in my recommended prioritized order. 


  • Monitored Life-Safety Devices 
  • Monitored Intrusion Sensors 
  • Video Cameras and Doorbell Cameras
  • Monitored Environmental Protection Sensors
  • Home Automation Devices


Monitored Life-Safety Devices 


Often, clients do not know that high-quality security systems are designed with detection and monitoring for life-safety. When prioritizing the design of systems, I put life-safety at the top of the list. These sensors monitor for life threats whether the system is armed or disarmed. I place them first on my list because protecting people, especially the ones we care about, is the first and most important design consideration. Another reason, that many of my customers over the years had not considered, is that the “Code” smokes/carbon monoxide detectors (required by building codes), are not part of a monitored alarm system, and only make noise, they do not dispatch help in the case of a life-threatening fire or carbon monoxide event. More disturbing is that many of the code devices I have inspected had batteries missing, drained, or in some cases the entire system was powered down. The life safety sensors programmed into a monitored alarm system are very different. They communicate with the central monitoring station and will dispatch rescue. Additionally, they communicate and notify you and the monitoring center when there is a low battery or a device issue that needs to be addressed. A good security system vendor reviews reports on the status of their client’s systems. When there are life safety devices indicating trouble they will continue to communicate with you until the problem is resolved. This ensures you have a 3rd party monitoring the status of your system. The monitored life safety features of alarm systems, in my opinion, are undervalued even though they serve a valuable purpose in the overall safety of your home. 




Wireless Smoke Detectors 

With monitoring, this device can save your life.

Include at least one in all sleeping areas of your home and one on each floor

# Needed _____


Wireless Carbon Monoxide Detectors

With monitoring, this device can also save your life.

Include at least one in all sleeping areas of your home and one on each floor.

#Needed _____


Heat Detectors

Detects rapid temp rise and are not triggered by dust, smoke, or steam.

Good device for kitchens, shops, garages, mechanical room, furnace area, attics



Wireless Panic Sensors  

Can be programmed for silent or siren audible initiating dispatch of police.

Good locations include entry locations, master bedrooms, garage, central kitchen area, basements.





Doors Sensors

All entry doors should have sensors including the garage exterior doors and the garage to the house door. 



Window Sensors

Start by getting sensors for ground-level windows that open in the unexposed areas of your home. Egress and basement windows are a good example. You can always add more sensors to the system for the remaining windows at a later date to keep the cost under control.



Motions Sensors

I recommend putting at least one motion on each level of your home in heavy foot traffic areas and large rooms on the ground level. Consider areas like the kitchen/great room, basement, and front entry. Keep in mind that a good system allows you to arm the system with the motions disengaged when you are home and want the system to be active.



Glass Break Sensors

Glass Break Sensors are an excellent device for rooms with multiple windows like the great room. These sensors are also a good solution to add more security to your system when you are in the house and want the system active. Consider adding this sensor to any room with more than four windows or in a room with windows and a glass entry door.





Video Doorbell Camera

I like this device for a number of reasons. First, it is highly visible and we are looking for deterrence as the first priority when designing a security system. Additionally, many intrusions begin with the intruder ringing the doorbell to see if anyone is home. The video doorbell camera creates the first problem for the intruder who is ringing the doorbell. I smile when a device creates a problem for a potential intruder.



Exterior Security Cameras

Like I mentioned previously, cameras are a good deterrent when they are highly visible. If cameras are within your budget, in addition to life-safety and intrusion sensors, make sure to install one that can be seen from the street in front of your home. This sends the strong message, “look elsewhere,” to criminals looking for the easiest home to enter. I also recommend cameras at basement and back entrances due to their typical lack of visibility. 



Interior Security Cameras

In my opinion, security cameras inside your home are not as important as having a doorbell camera and visible cameras on the street/side view of your home. You may want indoor cameras for a specific reason such as checking on the kids, pets, or baby sitter in your absence. I do highly recommend a camera inside if you have teenagers and I am speaking from experience on this topic. One camera can be a very good deterrent for the party ending up at your home while you’re out.





Monitored Low Temperature or Freeze Sensors

If you live in a climate where temperatures get below freezing and you are away from your home for extended periods of time, I highly recommend this sensor. It only takes one to prevent a major problem like your house flooding due to a water pipe that froze and cracked when the furnace stopped working. 



Water Sensors

Along the same lines as the low-temperature sensor, water sensors can alert you to a potential problem before it becomes an insurance claim. Consider locations like an upstairs washer, sinks on the outside walls of your home, and refrigerators with ice makers. These sensors are discrete and easily hidden from view on the floor. They are designed to notify you that a water leak has started.





Automated Security Thermostats

This is a very useful device. If you have never had one I would recommend considering adding it to your list in the design of your system. It is not a critical component as with life-safety or intrusion but it makes life a little simpler and can save you money on your heating bill. When a thermostat is tied into your security system, you are able to program it easily, and change the temperature of your home from your mobile phone. It gives you more control over one of the larger systems in your home. 



Automated Door Dead Bolts and Locks 

Similar to automated thermostats this is another device that can simplify your life, allowing you to remotely lock and unlock doors through your mobile phone. Allow for some time to install this device. It is not on my list of easy to install DIY security items. You may want to have a locksmith perform the installation to avoid headaches-.  



Building the List of Sensors for a Comprehensive DIY Security System


Now that I have given you the various most common items for consideration and listed them in order of priority let me help guide you through the next steps of design. 


Starting with the life-safety and intrusion devices, create the number of each device that is needed for your home or business. Use the recommendation considered for each device and work your way down the above list.


Act as if you had an unlimited budget and create a complete list of all the items you would like to put in place. 


Understand that the complete number of items for everything you want may not be within the currently allotted budget. Remember that adding items to the system at a later date is easily done, and you are now making your purchase decision in a prioritized manner.


Once you are done and the devices are listed and counted in order of priority, you can choose what to buy now and what needs to be added at a later date.  Using the priority checklist and budgeting them in phases until you have all the components on your list installed.


If you would like more information or additional help designing your DIY Security System you can contact me through our website at

Featured Product: 2GIG FireFighter

2Gig’s FireFighter, Innovation in an Industry Often Plagued with Business as Usual 


I am not looking to throw stones at the industry that has given me a long and successful career but I do think the security industry could use a bit of fresh thinking and creativity when it comes to products offered to our client base. I would like to spotlight a product that embodies this concept of fresh thinking and innovation. Meet 2Gig’s FireFighter sensor. What makes this product special in my mind is that it has helped to fill a gap in the life-safety category of the industry through innovation and creative engineering. 


Over the course of my many years consulting with clients, builders, and developers, the number of times I would walk into a home or business and notice that the code required life-safety smoke/carbon monoxide detectors were inoperable was countless. In fact, checking this became the first item on my punch list when evaluating client needs and designing a security plan. The reason I paid such close attention to this detail was that at a bare minimum, making sure a client’s existing life-safety equipment was in good order was one simple item I could accomplish to not only help my clients but potentially save lives. Even now, being out of the on-site consulting business and running an e-commerce company, I still can’t help looking up at the ceiling when I walk into a home to see if there is an open battery casing or dangling smoke detector hanging like a pinata with a low volt wire acting as the string. Our current life safety code requirements are outdated and need a remodel but until that happens, 2Gig has a powerful solution for upgrading the outdated code smoke/carbon monoxide systems required in all homes.


The Nortek 2GIG FireFighter

The Firefighter detects alerts from existing code smoke/carbon monoxide detectors relaying the notification to a monitored alarm panel. Please notice the word monitored in the last sentence. The device is only as good as the system communicating with the central station and if there is no monitoring of the alarm system, the desired beneficial life-safety results are lost. The current NFPA72 fire code requires that multiple smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are installed in all new homes built. The code is specific about placement, power requirements, and practices for installation. It is required by this code that this life safety system has two sources of power. Typically, this is achieved through looped system wiring (what we call daisy-chaining within the industry) tying one smoke to the next with a central point of power at the beginning of the looped sequence. The second source of power is the battery contained within each device. This may answer the question of why when you take the battery out of your code smoke the darn thing still beeps at you. I have taken many less than happy client phone calls related to this lack of understanding. What is not required in the NFPA72 code is the monitoring of this system by an outside monitoring central station. The inherent problem I see with this is that it leads to smoke/carbon monoxide detector systems that are unmaintained and often inoperable.


The 2Gig FireFighter achieves a number of needed remedies. The first is highlighting a system that is often neglected putting in back on the list of important systems within the home and or business. The second is that it allows an important life-safety system rarely monitored to be tied into a monitored alarm system with the installation of one simple device. Yes, you heard me correctly, just one FireFighter is needed to monitor the multitude of code required smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. Going back to my prior description of how the code required smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are wired, only one FireFighter is needed due to the looped system configuration. In other words, when one code device is triggered they are all triggered. This is also what complicates getting them to turn off when you burn something in the oven. The Fire-Fighter takes the alert from any one of the devices and transmits that alert wirelessly to the security panel which in turn communicates the alert to the central monitoring station. The central monitoring station can then dispatch the proper authorities or alert the home or business owner that there is a problem with the system. 


So why would you want to have this system monitored in the first place if they all go off and make a giant racket? I will be blunt on this point, fires and carbon monoxide disasters occur at the least expected times whether you are in the home or not. Additionally, if carbon monoxide levels become high enough within a home or business whether you hear them or not becomes irrelevant because you will be incapacitated due to carbon monoxide blood levels. Once a high enough blood CO level is reached the only possibility for rescue is if someone pulls you out of the CO saturated environment or changes the environment bringing in clean air and eliminating the CO source. I have been in many homes and businesses after a fire or disaster event and believe me when I say that a one to three-year contract requiring roughly a dollar a day for third-party monitoring is a price worth paying given the potential downside risk. 


I would also like to mention that not all homes have code smoke/carbon monoxide systems that are wired in succession. Older homes and homes that have been remodeled may have individual devices acting independently of each other. In this case, I would recommend replacing all of these non-monitored devices with new fire marshal approved smoke and carbon monoxide detection equipment tied to an alarm panel with third party monitoring. 


Taking a broader view of a well-designed security system, the FireFighter is really an outstanding product and should be considered when building a comprehensive life-safety and security system. The FireFighter is an excellent device that leverages existing installed life-safety equipment, tying it into a more comprehensive monitored life-safety & security solution.


Below is a list of security sensors and components that, through my experience, I have ranked in order of importance. My hope that this checklist will help in your decision-making process when considering the purchase of a comprehensive life-safety & security system. 


Prioritized Home & Business Security Design Checklist 


Security Professional Vendor Selection

  • Experience
  • Ongoing Customer Service and Support
  • Detail Oriented
  • Customized Comprehensive Solutions
  • Technology and Product
  • Efficiency and Ease – (Purchase Process and Installation)

Monitoring and Communication Type

  • Responsive
  • Detail Oriented
  • Customer Service-Centric
  • Central Station Communication through Cellular Signal
  • Central Station Communication through Wifi
  • Central Station Communication through POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)

Life Safety with Monitoring 

  • Firefighter by 2Gig
  • Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  • Rate of Rise Heat Detectors
  • Panic Sensors

Intrusion Prevention and Detection – All Encrypted

  • Plenty of Yard Signs and Window Alarm Decals
  • Door and Window Sensors
  • Motion Sensors
  • Glass Break Sensors
  • Shock Sensors
  • Outdoor Rear and Side Entry Cameras
  • Outdoor Garage Entry Cameras
  • Front Entry Camera
  • Doorbell Cameras
  • Entry Gate Cameras
  • Wide Angle Indoor Cameras

Environmental Risk Detection

  • Water Sensors in Potential Problem Locations
  • Low Temperature or Freeze Detection Sensors

Alarm Automation Devices

  • Door Lock Control (Zwave)
  • Stove Top Sensor Alerts 2Gig (Zwave)
  • Gun Movement Sensors 2Gig (Zwave
  • Garage Door Control (Zwave)
  • Thermostat Control (Zwave or Wifi)
  • Lighting Control (Zwave)


Please note I have not included special application devices. Example (Water Hazards – Pools, Ponds, Hot Tubs) 


For more information on the FireFighter or how to design a comprehensive security system, you can contact me through our website at or contact me directly through LinkedIn.



Are Security Systems Worth The Money?

Are Security Systems Worth the Money?


I can’t make the case that I am unbiased, given that I have been in the security industry for more than twenty years, now CEO for my second security industry company I can at least lay out a good case for the benefits of purchasing a security system based on my experience. To begin my efforts in persuading you to purchase a security system, I am going to list my top ten reasons why security systems are worth the money, and are an investment in your home or business worth making. 


Top 10 Reasons Security Systems are Worth the Money:

  1. Well-designed life safety and security systems can save your life and save the life of your loved ones, including your pets.
  2. The cost of life safety and security systems is extremely small relative to the cost of an intrusion event, burglary, fire, or water damage disaster.  
  3. Homes and businesses targeted by criminals most often do not have security systems of any kind.
  4. Security systems are the most undervalued systems in your home due to a lack of understanding of their capabilities.
  5. The life safety features of a security system work whether the system is armed or disarmed. 
  6. Current code required life safety systems are problematic and unreliable due to the methods used to install these systems, the location of the devices, and poor unmonitored maintenance protocols used by most businesses and homeowners.
  7. Insurance companies studying the statistics of property loss understand that security systems reduce claim amounts, and will provide discounts to homeowners’ insurance plans with installed life safety and security systems. 
  8. The price and ease of installing security systems continue to improve, making the entry price point and purchase accessibility of security systems easier for home and business owners. 
  9. The quality and reliability of security systems have improved with the advancement in technology, limiting the number of false alarms dramatically.
  10. Realizing you should have installed a security system after an intrusion, fire, or preventable disaster will not make you feel any better.


Top 10 Reasons Why Purchasing an Innovate “Security for Life Inc.” Security System is Worth the Money:

  1. The management at have been in the security industry for more than twenty years. We have provided trusted monitoring of security products and services for thousands of clients, builders, and developers.
  2. provides dual-encrypted high-quality systems with ongoing monitoring and service in the DIY or self-install security marketplace.
  3. has created the systems and patented mounting equipment to make installation of advanced life safety and security systems easy to install and maintain.  
  4. offers professional-grade systems at a lower price than hiring and scheduling local security professionals to install a system.
  5. Purchasing a professional-grade system from is faster and easier than hiring and scheduling the installation of an equivalent quality life safety and security system.
  6. Through experiential learning, pays attention to the details of both products and services.
  7. takes pride and cares about the clients, families, and businesses we serve. Our goal is to provide ongoing “Security for Life.” 
  8. Like our name, will never stop innovating and improving our services and our product offers.
  9. understands that when you purchase a life safety and security system through our e-commerce site, it is not a one time sale. We invest in an ongoing relationship with our clients.
  10. We love what we do and take great pride in protecting lives, homes, and businesses with the products and services we offer. 


In my opinion, security systems are absolutely worth the investment, and purchasing a system from my company, Innovate “Security for Life Inc.,” is also a good investment. Our team has designed security kits to fit multiple variations of client needs. For example, a condominium owner may only need one motion sensor, a couple of door sensors, a smoke detector, and a carbon monoxide detector for a complete life safety and security system. Whereas a family building their dream home on a five acre parcel of land with three separate buildings will need many sensors, smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, and systems capable of automating doors, thermostats, and security camera video data. Innovate’s security kits are designed to handle an extremely wide range of client needs with an understanding that client needs change over time and that our products need to be adaptable and expandable for these changing needs. 


Now let’s take a look at what creates a good value when thinking about a life safety and security purchase decision. In years past, quality systems could only be found through experienced local security companies and required scheduling coordination, many hours of labor at well over $100.00 an hour, and often wall and ceiling damage due to invasive wiring of the needed equipment. Technology and some innovative thinking have opened the door for professional quality systems that can be easily installed without wiring and damage to the walls or structure of your home or business. Add this simplicity and ingenuity to a comprehensive offer which includes: ongoing 24/7 professional monitoring of your system and alarm event response coordination with a full line cutting edge products such as doorbell cameras, outdoor cameras, motion sensors, garage door alerts, glass break detectors, and door/window sensors. The value proposition for home and business owners becomes exponentially better. 


Home security systems of the past were often only considered necessary for higher-end custom homes and businesses. Technology and the continued reduction in equipment cost combined with direct fulfillment through e-commerce purchasing and simplified self-install have not only changed the perception of what type of home/business should have a security system, but it has also eliminated the barriers to entry for an ever-increasing population needing security protection. In the years ahead and technology continuing to improve, not having a security system installed in your home or business will be considered rare. And with insurance companies paying closer attention to the reduction in loss statistics for homes and businesses with professionally monitored life safety and security systems it will most likely become a requirement for obtaining home and business property insurance. 


Technology has not only brought the price down and reduced the barriers to entry of life safety and security systems, but it has also created a pathway for the convergence of smart home automation with life safety and security systems. Bluetooth and Z-Wave technology now available in products like the Qolsys IQ2 security panel allows for the integration of smart home technologies of all kinds including the following: smart arm and disarm through mobile handsets, remote thermostat control, remote outdoor camera viewing with data storage, entry doorbell cameras and alerts and even control over opening and closing garage doors remotely. The convergence of technologies is what clients are asking for with simple ease of lifestyle additions integrated into the life safety and security systems being purchased. Companies like Qolsys are paying close attention to these trends in consumer behavior and lead the security industry in offering products providing more than just the protection of homes and businesses. This attention to consumer demand will continue to drive innovation in the industry and convergence of systems designed originally to protect lives and property into systems that not only perform the originally designed intent but also simplify living through incorporated smart home automation technologies. I envision a security landscape in the future in which, for roughly a dollar a day in monitoring costs, end-users have security systems that provide a full range of automation technologies for all smart devices in their home. Considering the broad scope of lifestyle improvements with automation, built on the backbone of life safety and security protection, the monthly fees start looking very small relative to services and lifestyle improvements that are provided to the end-user.

Home security panelThe key to the success of the industry is placing security at the center of smart home automation. Security is the level of customer service provided by equipment and monitoring providers. If done correctly, strong lifelong relationships with customers can be built. The ongoing expansion of systems to include new technologies will not only benefit the end-user but also the vendor through continued purchasing and system expansions. It is this concept that has been my focus while building Security systems are a good idea, I don’t think there would be much argument on that point, but security systems can be more than just a good idea. In my view, it is the relationship between my company and the clients we serve that is at the heart of our success. We can sell our customer’s security systems and monitoring, but I see the true value in our offer as what our tag-line illustrates. “Security for Life,” is the concept of building a strong relationship with our clients through continued service and support including creating awareness of new technologies that can simplify and protect lives and property. I don’t see an awareness of this concept in the current DIY or self-install security marketplace and I have tasked my team to make this our core value proposition through service and action.


My answer to the original question, “Are Security Systems Worth the Money?” is a biased yes. I am in the industry and run a company that provides eCommerce security solutions to clients. What these systems provide is important, necessary and I believe undervalued due to a lack of feature understanding. When I look at my own home and care for my family and pets, I can’t think of another system within my home that serves such an important purpose. Yes, the hope is that the system will never need to dispatch authorities for fire or intrusion, but knowing that I have a comprehensive quality system in place if that need ever arises is peace of mind that I am willing to pay for. I have consulted on thousands of homes and businesses over the years. I have observed that the existing code smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed are inoperable, removed, in a drawer or even hanging off the wall or ceiling by a wire with the empty battery enclosure open. If I can make a small difference to change this unfortunate common occurrence and provide our clients with a product that works as intended and simplify living through technology, I will view my career as a success. 



encrypted security systems

Why Encryption Matters in DIY Security

Is DIY Home Security System Encryption a Big Deal?

Let me see if I can illustrate this well using an analogy that seems relevant. Imagine you are building your dream home. You’ve planned every detail down to what slightly improved shade of white selected for the ceiling paint. Your highly skilled and detail-oriented project manager brings you the list of needed decisions for the week, and one of those is the front door hardware. 

After scouring the catalogs and web sites for just the right handle and lock combination, you arrive at the perfect fit. You give the green light to your project manager, and the door looks great, and the hardware looks even better. 

A few days later, while searching the web for some finishing details to the new home, you happen to watch a recent news broadcast explaining how the perfect handle and lock you just purchased for your front door can be opened with a blank key from the local hardware store. 

Installing a DIY security system without encrypted technology is like making the key to your security available to anyone who knows how to purchase on Amazon. That’s a pretty large group of people and probably not what you intended for your home or business’s security. 

When making your purchase decisions for security, place encryption at the top of the list, then spend the time to figure out sensors and placement. Once you have checked encryption off the list, you can spend time putting thought into areas like where motion detection is needed and where to install security cameras. In that case, it makes good sense to ensure that a ten dollar part ordered through Amazon Alexa can’t disable the entire system. 

Fortunately, available today are excellent DIY security kits and DIY custom-designed systems that include encryption for sensors, security cameras, smart home devices, and even smart locks so you can avoid the universal key scenario. 

At Innovate “Security for Life,” Inc., the company I started, we spent weeks vetting our manufacturing partners for not only encryption technology but also reliability and a propensity for the latest in security engineering technology. Looking back at the years I have in the industry, it is easy to recall the countless and easily avoided service calls needed for various reliability issues like battery performance and adhesive materials. 

Like most businesses, the devil is in the details. In the security business, the details can mean the difference between preventing unwanted entry and a client losing all their family heirlooms. 

In addition to performing as the system is intended, knowing your DIY security system is encrypted adds one more layer to the peace of mind you are looking to achieve. So let’s go through the checklist of items to consider for your DIY security purchase. 

Combine encryption, monitoring services, intrusion detection with life safety devices like smoke detectors and CO sensors, and real peace of mind is looking very promising. Add some cool technology like encrypted blue tooth arming and disarming with a video doorbell, and the system is starting to come together. You now have also avoided the dreaded feeling of seeing a social media clip demonstrating how the system you just purchased can be hacked with a ten dollar device. Below is a simple checklist of security purchase considerations:

  • Purchase from a vendor with long experience in the security industry. 
  • Purchase Encrypted Security Equipment.
  • Use the Life Safety Features of Your System – Add Carbon Monoxide and Smoke detection.
  • Have your security system monitored for intrusion and life safety.
  • Purchase security equipment on the front edge of technology – Systems with Bluetooth and Amazon/Google compatibility.
  • Make using your system habitual – arm and disarm every time you leave the house.
  • Maintain your security system – Repair or replace broken sensors, clean sensors from dust, and make sure batteries are in good working condition.

Hackers and criminals will always be attempting to break the latest technology but let’s make sure we’re not making it easy for them. From my experience, after twenty years in the security industry, customer satisfaction starts with designing systems that do more than just giving you a cool mobile app and yard signs to show off to your neighbors. 

A well-designed DIY security system with protection for intrusion and life safety while also safe from hacking through encryption can provide you with real peace of mind. With a little education on some of the basics in security, this is attainable, and you will have a reliable system that works as intended when it counts. Learn more in our Technology Page

Why professional monitoring? It can save lives.

Okay, I get it. Save $20 or $30 a month by monitoring your own security system. Sure, it’s just another monthly bill you don’t have to pay. But let’s break this down one step further and consider some of the reasons you may want to skip a few Uber Eats deliveries and keep the security monitoring instead. The conversation around security systems is always about the criminal trying to break into your home or business. Yes, this is one reason to have a security system but in my opinion, not the most important. The first two items on your list for security should be monitored carbon monoxide detector and a monitored smoke detector. Notice, I did not say self-monitored carbon monoxide, and smoke detector and here is why… I have never heard of anyone carrying their own self out of a fire or a carbon monoxide leak. Having a monitored smoke detector and a monitored carbon monoxide detector can save your life or the life of your kids, mom, friend, babysitter, sister…. I could go on, but I am guessing you get the point.

Many potential clients I talk to don’t even realize that monitored smoke and carbon monoxide sensors are always monitored. Whether the system is armed or disarmed, those sensors will signal a dispatch to the fire department and potentially save lives. Think about this carefully. $30 for Uber Eats or knowing your loved ones are safe and sound. When weighing your options, think life safety first.

Innovate Security For Life

What should you be most afraid of in Home Security?

Life Safety in Home Security

I have been in the security business for a long time owning a small firm in Bend, Oregon, and I get asked this question all the time. Most people think about home security based on the fear that someone will break into their house, causing damage and taking all their (what they perceive as) valuable stuff.

I want to change the language and priority of the DIY home security conversation to focus on life safety. What does that mean you might ask? Almost all security systems are built to detect not only intruders, but can also detect carbon monoxide, smoke, heat, and even combustible gas when you get the appropriate sensors. These devices are where I direct my clients to allocate their resources first. The smoke and carbon detectors that most homeowners have on their walls or in their outlets do not dispatch the fire department. Monitored life safety devices are designed to contact the responding authorities through communication with the central station. Noisemakers are not good enough in some circumstances.

Unfortunately, I know this first hand. My brother-in law died from carbon monoxide gas. There is another valuable piece of information that everyone should know about these monitoring sensors. When you try to take the battery out or mess with the device, the central station and the main panel on the wall are notified with what called a “tamper”, which in turn calls your attention to acknowledging and addressing the problem.

I have been in hundreds of houses to find the battery removed in the non-monitored smoke/ carbon monoxide sensor or the device practically hanging off the wall, completely inoperable. Every time I see this, it reminds me that my industry needs to do a better job of helping people understand how essential the monitoring services we offer are, and to keep sending out the message to please monitor for life safety first. Visit our shop and check out our variety of carbon monoxide detectors  Herecarbon monoxide life safety detector

So when you are thinking about what is most valuable in your home and are making the decision to purchase a DIY security system, think about the life safety of your family and friends first, then move to the discussion about your stuff and the doorbell camera for your front door. I hope my first-hand experience with losing a family member will help prevent many of useless tragedies that happen every day to those who didn’t have all the information or understand how this technology works. But even if I just save one life, that is enough.


Graham Hausler