Home security explained: everything you need to know

black security camera mounted on a house's wall

Tianna Nadalin & Danny Baggs

Posted November 03, 2022

Here’s how to keep your home safe, secure and protected. Whether you want to monitor your house while you’re on holiday or you’re simply after peace of mind, there’s a security solution for every need and budget.

29,621 Victorian homes and businesses have been burgled in the year ending June 2022, according to the Crime Statistics Agency, making home security a legitimate concern for many Victorians. A grand total of $96,391,707 in value was stolen from Victorian residences in this period, with top theft targets including cash, tools, electrical appliances, and jewellery.

“Keeping your home secure is just as important as ever,” says RACV Home Security Operations Manager Dean Rossi. “Learning about different home security systems and improving your home security can help prevent burglary.”

Here’s what you need to know about choosing the right home security system for you, so you can keep your prized possessions safe from theft.

How to improve your home security

What are burglars targeting?

Burglars target a wide range of possessions, from cash to cars. Victoria has seen rises in pet theft, car theft, number plate theft, bike theft, and even tradie tool theft.

Garages are a hotspot for burglary entry, especially as many Victorians don’t keep their garage doors closed or well maintained, while key safes are increasingly being raided. These are just two of the several ways that Victorian homes are easy to burgle - especially new housing estates.

That’s why RACV and Neighbourhood Watch have developed the augmented reality safety app How Safe is My Place: so you can identify weak points around your home and remedy them before theft occurs. 

What is home security?

Home security is your first line of defence against burglars. A home security system usually involves several components, such as:

What are the benefits of home-security systems?

The main function of a home security system is to protect yourself, your family and your valuables from burglars attempting to break and enter your home. Home security systems help to do this by:

  • Deterring intruders from attempting to enter your home

  • Warding off an intruder if they do breach your home

  • Mitigating the time an intruder spends in your home

  • Providing peace of mind when you’re sleeping or away from your home.

Depending on your insurer, having a monitored alarm system may also reduce your insurance premiums.

Do I have to be home to operate my security system?

All modern alarm and CCTV solutions have apps available to control your security system from the palm of your hand.

What is the best security system for an apartment or unit?

Depending on your requirements, a basic two-detector system may be enough coverage for a smaller dwelling. Some apartments may not be suitable for the cabling required in a professional CCTV installation, so a wireless solution may be more appropriate.

What is the best security system for renters?

Renters will generally not be able to install wired security systems. Instead, renters can investigate wireless security systems like IQ2, which can be attached (and removed) where you want. IQ2 can also be controlled from your smartphone, and send you alerts during suspicious activity. It's always best to speak to you landlord first before installing anything in the home.


The How Safe is My Place? app can help you identify weak points around your home.

CCTV surveillance systems

What is CCTV?

CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) usually comprises several cameras strategically placed around the home to monitor entry points and the perimeter the home. Additional cameras may survey high-value items, such as cars in a garage. A CCTV system allows you to review footage after an event has occurred, or to live-view what's happening around your home.

What are the benefits of CCTV?

CCTV can record suspicious behaviour that happens around your home, including burglary. The footage can be used to help police identify the perpetrator or their vehicle, and may even be used as prosecution evidence in court.

CCTV cameras can also deter potential intruders, who may hesitate to approach a home with a surveillance system. That said, CCTV systems are best used in conjunction with an intruder alarm system if you aim to deter burglars.

Theft aside, CCTV cameras can also be used to check on your pets, kids or elderly parents to make sure they're home safely.

How do I watch my CCTV footage?

Many modern CCTV systems deliver their footage via WiFi to apps on your mobile phone or computer. Therefore, you’ll be able to live-view your house or review past footage on your smart device anywhere with internet coverage.

Some motion detection systems can even send alerts to your phone if movement is detected when the system is armed.

How many cameras will I need?

Every home and every homeowner’s requirements are different. In general, you should aim to have a camera covering your entry points (front/back/side doors, front path, driveway, garage door) plus any valuable outdoor assets, like cars, boats or tool sheds.

"Discuss your requirements with a licensed security adviser for the best results," Dean advises. "They can help you decide what to cover."

Do fake security cameras work?

Fake security cameras are a cheap and easy way to give the appearance of security around your home. But don’t underestimate a criminal’s intelligence. Most fake or dummy cameras are easy to spot, and this will undermine your home’s overall security.

Do CCTV cameras have motion sensors?

Not all security cameras sense motion, because their main function is to capture visual footage. As a supplementary feature, however, some cameras and systems will detect motion. But as most CCTV cameras are used outside, they are prone to unwanted activations by passing cars, pedestrians, animals, wind, etc. It’s recommended to rely on your intruder alarm to detect motion and your cameras to capture visuals.

Ask a licensed security consultant about their range of cameras that use artificial intelligence to accurately distinguish between humans, vehicles and animals, avoiding unwanted alerts.

How often do DIY CCTV camera batteries need to be replaced?

DIY camera batteries will need charging every few weeks to every few months, while professionally installed CCTV cameras are constantly powered by mains power.

What is the best home security camera?

Cameras vary in size, quality and price, from <$100 off-the-shelf DIY cameras to a $3,000+ professionally installed CCTV systems. Depending on your requirements, a high-resolution camera with infrared night vision is the minimum standard for best performance.


RACV Security technician installing a CCTV camera

CCTV systems can capture footage that helps police identify and track down burglars.

Home alarm systems

What are intruder alarms?

Home alarms, also called intruder alarms, consist of a main control panel connected to detection devices like:

  • Motion detectors – sensors that detect movement in the house when the system is armed (turned on) and the home is meant to be vacant

  • Reed switches – magnetic contacts installed on doors and windows to activate when the entry point is opened by an intruder, breaking the contact.

If any of these devices are triggered when the system is armed, an alarm will go off to alert the intruder that they have been detected. This can spook the would-be burglar into leaving your premises before you, the neighbours, or law enforcement arrives. If your alarm system is back-to-base monitored, an alert will also be sent to the monitoring centre.

What is back-to-base alarm-system monitoring?

Back-to-base alarms (monitored alarms) are intruder alarm systems that communicate with a 24-hour monitoring centre. These monitoring centres are staffed by licensed operators who respond to signals received from activated alarm systems. When an alarm signal is received, the operator will contact the homeowner, dispatch a security patrol vehicle, or contact police to investigate the alarm activation.

It is highly recommended that your intruder alarm system is monitored, as an unmonitored alarm will simply make noise and won’t alert you or anyone else when you’re not home.

Do I need an active phone line to use home alarms?

You don’t need an active phone line to use a home alarm system. Traditionally, alarm systems reported over the copper phone line network. Now, with the rollout of NBN, alarm systems can report back-to-base over the mobile phone network.

What do I do if my security system is triggered?

If you’re at home and accidentally trigger the alarm system, you can simply re-enter your code to disarm the alarm. Make sure to give the monitoring centre a quick call to advise them that it was a false activation.

If you’re away from home when your alarm system is triggered, the monitoring centre will contact you to advise that they’ve received an alarm and discuss what you would like to do in response.

Will pets set off home alarms?

Pets can accidentally set off alarm systems that use motion detectors. Larger dogs and furniture-climbing cats are most likely to trigger home alarms with their movement.

Pet-friendly motion detectors are available, which ignore small animals like cats and dogs – but even these ‘pet-immune’ sensors can sometimes mistake larger dogs or unusual pet movements for intruders.

Your home may be better off with strong locks and a CCTV system. Speak to a licensed security advisor to help you decide which system is most suitable for your requirements.

How often do DIY alarm batteries need to be replaced?

Intruder alarms generally come with back-up batteries, so they can provide hassle-free service for many years. It’s recommended to have your alarms tested every few years to see if the batteries need replacing.

Will switching to NBN affect my alarm system?

Yes. If you have an existing intruder alarm system reporting back-to-base over the copper phoneline network, switching to NBN will interrupt this communication. This can be easily fixed by installing a mobile communicator that reports back-to-base over the mobile network.


RACV Security technician teaching a homeowner how to operate her new security system

Your recommended security setup depends heavily on what kind of property you live in.

Installing security systems in your home

How do I install a home security system?

There are a few DIY security solutions on the market that you can buy and install yourself with varying effectiveness and performance. For people serious about home security, it is highly recommended that you have a system installed by a professional and appropriately licensed security installer. In Victoria, a security installer must hold a Private Security Individual Registration - Security Installer, issued by Victoria Police.

How long does security installation take?

Depending on your needs, most residential security installations can be completed in half a day or a day.

How often do security systems need upgrading?

Most security systems on the market will give you many years of hassle-free operation and should only need an upgrade if the equipment has a major failure or the technology changes. It’s recommended you have your security system serviced every 12 to 24 months to ensure ongoing reliability.

How much do home-security systems cost?

There are many different systems ranging across many price points. For a professionally installed system, you can expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $5,000.


person with smartphone and security app in front of electronic lock

Electronic and mobile security systems are a digital alternative to home security.

Do security systems need to be wired in?

While hardwired security systems are more reliable, there are many wireless security system options available. A standard suburban home may be best suited to a hardwired solution, while an inner-city apartment may be better suited to a wireless solution.

Can I run home security off my home WiFi?

Some CCTV and alarm systems can connect to your home WiFi network, so you can operate them remotely and (in some cases) connect to a monitoring centre. WiFi and home internet connections are not ideal for back-to-base monitoring, as they are prone to outages and can be more easily circumvented.

Can I control my home security system from my phone?

Modern CCTV and alarm systems can be controlled via smartphone apps. Depending on the system, this can range from basic operation to extensive control. Most popular branded security systems are moving into the ‘smart’ space.

Can I run home security on solar power?

Professionally installed CCTV and alarm systems are powered by your home’s mains power.

What are DIY home security systems?

DIY systems range from wireless cameras to entry-level motion sensor systems. These offer a very basic level of deterrence and need to be personally maintained by you. Triggered DIY systems do not report back-to-base and will either sound a loud alarm in the house or send you a smartphone notification.

What is the best form of home security?

Every property is different, so no one form of home security is better than another. In most cases, an intruder alarm is best at deterring and warding off intruders, but this may not be the right solution for everyone.

How do I keep my home safe when I’m on holidays?

When leaving your home for extended periods, ensure all your doors and windows are well secured with strong locks. Check that your garage door is also well secured. Hide your valuables from sight, ensuring that nothing high value can be seen from the street or by glancing in a window. Don’t let the home look abandoned: ask a neighbour to pick up your mail and deliveries or park their car in your driveway every so often. Consider installing external perimeter lighting like motion sensor lights, or a professional security system to deter any would-be burglars.


Stay safe with alarm systems, professional monitoring and security cameras.
Discover RACV Home Security →


RACV Security Pty Ltd ABN 49 079 148 342 trading as RACV Home Security. Security Licence (Vic.) 733-411-10S and Security Registration (Vic.) 733-411-31S