Add to Your Outdoor Enjoyment

The sky is Carolina blue and the sun is shining. You’re standing in your backyard thinking about the perfect summer barbecue. As you survey the yard, a few fantasies dance in your mind:

A new deck or stone patio?

Built in Grill?

New outdoor furniture?

A fire pit?

Or maybe even a DJ …

 

Your imagination runs wild with the vision of family, friends and neighbors laughing and talking in your backyard – but wait …. there’s something else making it fun and festive – music!! With a sad glimmer of nostalgia, you remember the boom box that used to crank out your favorite party tunes (Jimmy Buffett comes to mind) – too bad that sudden summer shower destroyed it! With those fond memories running around in your head, you decide to look into something more durable. Something that is designed specifically for your yard where you can enjoy high-fidelity sound without worrying about the batteries, extension cords or weather.

Guess what… you’re in luck! Outdoor sound systems have come a long way since the boom box era.

When installed professionally, today’s systems produce extremely high-quality sound for listeners’ enjoyment. They are also very durable and can sound great for many years. However, there are a few key factors to consideration when designing your musical environment.

First off, an outdoor sound system can’t take advantage of the reflective surfaces that make indoor speakers more efficient (e.g. floors, walls and ceiling). In addition, there is ambient noise from passing cars, chirping crickets, and kids at play to consider in your design. Because of this, outdoor speakers require enough oomph from an amplifier with sufficient wattage to power them. The most common mistake people make with outdoors systems are under powering them which leads to distorted sound, or worse, blown speakers.

Consideration must also be given to the specific design of the area where people are to gather and the type of music you prefer to play. If your area is large, you’ll want to spread the load among multiple speakers and ensure optimal positioning. Multiple speakers playing softly in the right positions will sound much better than a few pushing too hard.

The backyard environment will also expose your system to the extremes of our North Carolina weather. Quality speakers must be able to endure sun, rain and hot/cold temperatures while melding in nicely with the landscaping. There are two basic types of all-weather speakers used: simple bookshelf-type models wrapped in protective casings, or stealth speakers that masquerade as garden rocks, flowerpots, or even benches. Although these speakers are built to be left out year-round, they will last longer and look and sound better if care is taken in determining their placement. For example, box-type speakers can be positioned under the protection of eaves or arbors. In the case of stealth speakers, they can be integrated and protected by natural cover like trees and bushes.

Finally, for convenience and user flexibility, wireless outdoor speakers are ideal. They operate on a designated frequency to deliver sound from your audio devices or Internet radio and can be tied into your home automation system.

So, this summer, you can stop just thinking about it and create the outdoor experience you have always wanted by adding quality sound to liven up gatherings or help you relax after a long, stressful day.

For more information on designing and installing quality outdoor sound systems, please contact Ken Henke at Secur-Tek: (919) 387-1800.

Avoid Disaster by Testing Your Home Security System

14260888 - home security alarm monitorYour home security system is armed and keeping your home protected — right? But what if a burglar invades your home while you are on vacation and the alarm goes off, but doesn’t alert police or fire? The loud alarm will scare the burglar into quick departure, but the police will not realize the emergency unless your neighbors call.

Why Test Your Security System

While home security systems and their technology are impressive, anything can happen to an electronic device, especially one that runs 24 hours a day. Lightning and power surges can cause problems. Plus, phone, cable, and Internet service providers are always upgrading their lines and equipment. If you have something replaced or changed, or you see digging in your neighborhood, you might later find your system no longer works.

Some homeowners do not arm their systems each day and may not realize something is wrong. Even if you arm the system, you will not be able to tell if the connection to monitoring services is working. That means you won’t know your system doesn’t work until it’s too late.

How Often to Test

Secur-Tek engineers recommend testing your system each month to make sure everything is in order. In addition, if you have crews working in or around your house, it’s important to test the system before they start and after they are done. Even if your Internet provider is “just replacing your modem,” accidents happen. Newer security systems are programmed to send in a monthly test. If you aren’t sure whether your system does this, ask your Secur-Tek team.

How To Test

To test your home security system, call the central station or the office and ask for a test. They will instruct you to arm the system and open up a door so the alarm goes off. They will then verify the signal was received. The test takes less than 10 minutes.

Other Tips

Security systems provide peace of mind and alert emergency personnel when needed, but only if they work — and only if they are armed. We often hear from clients who forgot to turn on the system because they do not use it frequently. Less frequent use also means more false alarms. Once you install a security system, use it every day to get into the habit. It will seem like part of your routine in no time.

Finally, don’t forget to check the fine print on your security contract. Many security providers with monitoring require a three-year or five-year contract and some automatically renew. Review your contract so you know when it expires and when you need to cancel. Contact your Secur-Tek team with any questions.

4 Amazing Security System Features You Should be Using

Home security systems are getting better all the time, and not just in keeping your home safe from burglars. Today’s security systems can also monitor many more things about your house, from water leaks to who’s at home.

Here are four features you’ll want to try:

Water Sensors – Remember that time you came home from vacation to find your laundry room flooded? What a mess. Avoid that situation from now on by installing environmental sensors in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and basement. These detectors notify you when floods, leaks and extreme temperatures occur so you can take action and prevent serious wall or floor damage. Leaks also account for 10,000 gallons of water wasted annually — in one household.

Pet Friendly Sensors – People with pets at home often worry about their alarm system going off when Fido jumps onto the couch. While that used to be a problem, today’s motion sensors can be set to detect the difference between an intruder and your furry family member. Animals up to 100 pounds can move around your home without tripping the alarm. Plus, home security systems can help you keep an eye on our four-legged friends, alerting you to smoke, carbon monoxide, or other problems. Systems can even tell you if outdoor gates or kitchen cabinets are open.

Video – Video is becoming very popular and it’s easy to see why: you have eyes on your home 24/7. You can see who is at the door, when your kids get home, and keep an eye on babysitters or other in-home employees. For pet owners, a live video feed gives you the chance to check on Fluffy from your desk or phone. You can even get a text message, email or video alert when your dog walker or pet sitter arrives or if they didn’t show up.

Light Controls – Your home security system offers a way to program lights for different situations, including an off-and-on scenario while you’re away to make the home appear lived in. Forgot to turn off a light when you left? No problem. What’s also fun about this control is the ability to instantly turn off or on indoor and outdoor lights from your office computer or smartphone. You’ll never have to arrive at a dark house again.

Check out many more fantastic features of our home security systems or contact us to learn more about setting up your home automation.

Connect Amazon Echo to Control4 for Voice Activated Home Automation

It’s not Rosie, the Jetson’s robot maid. But the future envisioned decades ago is getting a little bit closer every day, especially when it comes to home automation. The latest example is the Amazon Echo.

The Amazon Echo is a small black device that sits in your room. Using voice commands, you can ask it questions about the weather or sports scores, have it order something for you on Amazon, play your music, and more. Just like iPhone has Siri, the Echo has a female voice answering to the name Alexa. One woman says she loves to play a version of 20 questions with Alexa.

By connecting Echo to other systems, you can do even more. One man figured out how to use Echo to pull his Tesla car out of the garage.

Home Automation

Customers often ask us about voice commands for home automation and this is the answer. The Echo connects to smart home devices such as Nest thermostats and the Control4 system so that you can use voice commands to control some of the home automation you have created. At Secur-Tek, we have set up the Echo to work with our Control4 systems so we can turn lights on when we arrive and off when we leave. We can also turn on a TV in our lobby and raise and lower the volume of our lobby music.

While these features are on a limited scale right now, more features are coming every day.

Security Warning

One feature some might consider is using the Echo’s voice command feature to turn your home security system on and off. While this is possible to set up, the Echo does not have individual voice recognition. That means if you set up this option, anyone could come in and tell Echo to turn off the security.

Many of the features offered by Echo you can set up on your own. However, Secur-Tek is happy to help you set up Echo with your Control4 system or other enhancements you request.

Rosie the robot maid may not greet you when you come home, but Alexa is the next best thing. Give us a call if you want to learn more about how we can prepare you for the future.

Business Security Systems Need to Protect Inside and Out

Business owners all strive to keep their businesses safe. Installing security systems, cameras, and access tracking are all part of burglar prevention for your business.

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But what about protecting your company from inside threats? According to a recent study, 20 percent of employees would sell their work passwords to a competitor.

“The research by identity management company Sailpoint, found that of those who would sell their passwords, 44 percent would do it for less than $1,000, and some for less than $100. This is made worse by the fact that 65 percent admit to using a single password among applications and 32 percent share passwords with their co-workers.”

Less than $100. That could be all that’s standing between you and a hacker who takes down your business. While we all want to believe the people we hire are good, moral employees who would not do something like that, we simply do not know what people have been through, what life situations may drive their behavior.

Business security systems that keep intruders out are important, but just as vital are your internal security procedures. Take a look at this checklist of things to review to keep your data safe:

  • Employee access – Secur-Tek can help you control access to the business itself, and to certain rooms. But what about who has access to your important data? Of course employees need to have a certain level of access to data, and programs to do their jobs. Maybe you already track who has access to what while they are employed with you. But what happens after that employee leaves? The above survey found that more than two in five employees still have corporate account access after they leave their job. Do you have security procedures in place to revoke access or change passwords?
  • Uploads to the cloud – Well-meaning employees may be uploading data to the cloud using various storage programs. While it’s useful to backup information in case of a crash, be sure to confirm which information is uploaded where. If you don’t have a secure server set up, your data may be at risk.
  • Downloads – In large companies, employees are supposed to check with the IT department before downloading any software or installing anything. Studies show this does not always happen. Employees get impatient with the extra layer of process. As a small business owner, you may not have an IT department, or may not have oversight of what your team downloads. But one wrong program means a virus or malware or spyware, putting your business at risk. Make a list of approved programs and check all the computers in the office on a monthly basis. While this sounds big brother, your employee is not the one whose business is at risk.

Secur-Tek works to keep your business secure from the outside. Be sure to consider what security measures you take inside your company to keep it safe.

Part 2: Q&A Continued: Secur-Tek Owner Discusses Changing Industry

Secur-Tek opened its doors in 1990 to provide the Triangle and central NC residents with security systems and home automation. In our last post, Owner Ken Henke spoke about his business and what customers should know about home and business security. This time, we continue the conversation, which includes his thoughts on a changing industry.Ken at Home Show

What question do you most often receive from potential or current customers and what’s the answer?

The most common question I get from people who call in, usually it’s do we have a contract for the system? We have a yearly agreement. A lot of our competitors have a three or five-year agreement, but we do one year.

Secur-Tek specializes in many audio and home automation services. What got you into this?

We work with a lot of builders and they have homeowners who request low-voltage products such as central vacs, audio systems, home automation, wired or wireless networking. Those are things we are able to install so it made sense to expand those services and offer them to the builders and in turn when a homeowner calls us to install them.

Not long ago, Forbes published an article on DIY home security and how it will affect the security industry. What do you think about those systems?

It mostly affects the providers of the “free” systems. A lot of the DIY systems are wireless. Some of these DIY systems are very cheap and are going to be easy for people to hack.  We do wired systems so there’s no interference so there’s no hacking or jamming of the system.

What changes do you see happening in the security/home automation industries?

I think security systems will start becoming more and more automated. The security system we install interfaces with the automation system we install. It’s going to be more and more integrated as time goes by. As it gets less and less cost prohibitive, these homes are going to have a package that includes lighting, security, music, blinds, who knows what they’re going to include. The prices keep coming down.

The one thing that will determine where it goes is whether there is enough level of expertise in the field. The companies who offer free systems, the technicians they hire, there’s often no expertise there. As these systems get more and more involved, my fear — is the field support going to be there to do the troubleshooting and the technical work that’s required in the field?

What’s important for someone to know about your business?

What’s important to us is the relationship with our customers. Our attrition rate for our customers is very low. We want to take care of that customer for life. That’s why we install a system at a market rate with the low monthly monitoring fee. Secur-Tek, Inc.’s monitoring rate is going to stay constant and not increase once the yearly agreement is over. Our employees all work for Secur-Tek and are licensed underneath my license. We don’t have subcontractors or people that I’m not familiar with that I’m sending to my customers. We trust our employees. We can let our technicians handle it and we feel comfortable that our customers are going to be happy.

Also, we use brand name products that people recognize. Everything we use has brand name recognition where we have the support of the manufacturer behind us. We’re planning for years down the road, not just for today.

And we’re a local company. What you pay Secur-Tek, Inc. is going to stay in the local community and not sent to another company’s headquarters located out of the state.

 

Part 1 Q&A: Secur-Tek Owner Reflects on Best Security Practices

Secur-Tek opened its doors in 1990 to provide the Triangle and central NC residents with security systems and home automation. Owner Ken Henke recently spoke about his business, the industry, and what customers should know about home and business security.

You had your first security job in 1983. How did you get into security?

A security company had a job opening that was appealing to me and with my associate degree in electronics it was a good fit. I worked for this company for seven years and then I started my own business.

What do you love about your job?

I love that I’m my own boss. Working for myself and having more control over what I am providing to the customers. So if I was working for somebody [and] I didn’t agree with what was being provided to the customer, but that’s the way the employer did it, you bit your tongue and got paid. But as the owner, we have a standard we want to meet and make the customer happy and they in turn refer us to neighbors, friends and business associates.

What’s the most important security thing a homeowner can do?

Lock their doors. Go online and read about the breaks-in that occur. For example, you’ll hear about a rash of car break-ins in a neighborhood. The police find out all the car doors were unlocked. A lot of times it’s crimes of opportunity. People will walk up to a door and turn the doorknob and if it opens, they might knock on the door to make sure no-one is home, and if no-  one is home, they’re going to go in.

Installing a security system is also important because it’s more than just security. It’s smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors. It’s protecting your home from burning down or the death of a person who lives in your house because of carbon monoxide.

For businesses, what’s the most important security measure they can take?

In that case, a monitored security system is important. With businesses, people do break in and randomly search for things to steal whether it’s petty cash or small electronic devices. They’re going to break open doors and cabinets. It could be more of a monetary loss from the vandalism versus anything that’s been stolen from your business. How much money are you going to lose from being out of business for a day?

Are there any security challenges unique to the Triangle area?

People in North Carolina face the same crime challenges everyone does. Crime is pretty much random. All it takes is for somebody that is living a life of crime or if someone gets into a financial situation and they’re desperate or need quick cash. Neighborhoods are getting broken into now where people have said, “Oh crime doesn’t happen in our neighborhood.” One thing I would pass onto people is: some sort of crime is going to come to your neighborhood in the future. There is no way that you’re going to stop it, and it’s random. So a security system is like an insurance policy. Things happen at the wrong time. A security system is there to minimize the impact and to allow you to have peace of mind and go on with your life.

What security mistake do homeowners or business owners make most?

They buy the “free” alarm systems. The public is susceptible to the marketers, who say “I’ve got a free alarm system.” But they charge the customer more for the monthly monitoring. In the long run, you pay more for the free system than you do a purchased system. A lot of our current customers have already gone through the free system and came to Secur-Tek, Inc. to get away from it.

Click here to read Part 2

5 Security Features to Consider for Your Business

Security for your business is not the same as what you install at home. Your North Carolina business needs to be secure not just from outside intruders at night, but at different times during the day, or from different people. Secur-Tek, Inc. can design a security system customized for your needs, with both wired and wireless options available.

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Here are five features to consider to keep your business secure:

  1. Limit Access – You might want to limit access to a certain area, such as a supply room. Security systems can be set up to partition an area without affecting other areas.
  2. Front Door Access – You can limit access to the entire building. Some businesses do not have customers coming in and out and therefore can have extra security with badge-only access to gain entry. Your employees will also feel safer knowing that they are protected from uninvited characters.
  3. Access Tracking – Want to know who is accessing those areas and at what times? Set up opening/closing reports. These reports can include who arms and disarms the system each day.
  4. Limit Open/Close Times – This feature will notify you if the system is disarmed outside specified hours. You may want to limit your morning opener only to a window of time from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Preventing 24-hour access — even for trusted employees — is one more way to secure your business.
  5. Video – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that about 30 percent of all business failures are traced directly to employee theft. B2C business owners should consider installing video cameras to monitor both customers and employees. Systems today can be monitored from a smartphone or tablet.

Bonus: Fire Security

Keeping your business secure against burglars and theft is critical, but it’s also important to consider other hazards that affect your business, such as fire. Fire is a big disaster for a small business. Fire detection systems allow for affordable and reliable protection that complies to stringent fire codes.

Fire protection systems can include:

  • Automatic and manual activation
  • Supervised smoke detectors
  • Waterflow supervisory systems to prevent water damage

Make sure your business is secure by giving Secur-Tek a call for a free consultation. 919-387-1800

7 Ways to Tighten Your Home Security for the Holidays

Every year at this time you’ll read stories about the increase in home burglaries while homeowners are away. Studies show that increase is not always fact. Instead, many factors affect burglaries in different communities and when they occur.

21908228_sStill, it’s smart to play it safe with home security around the holidays. After all, you may have extra valuables inside after buying all of your gifts, and you may be absent more often as you attend holiday parties or head to grandmother’s house.

According to FBI data, in 2010, there were an estimated 2.1 million burglaries in the U.S. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property, an average dollar loss of $2,119 each. In the Raleigh-Cary area, including Franklin, Johnston, and Wake counties, there were 628 burglaries per 100,000 residents in 2010.

Keep your holiday gifts and your home safe this season with a few simple measures:

  • Light your home. The strings of Christmas lights may bring good cheer, but they don’t keep burglars out. Mount exterior lights on your home, out of reach. These can be put on a timer or used as motion detectors. Put indoor lights on timers.
  • Burglars don’t want to spend all day trying to break in. Keep your doors and windows locked and install deadbolts on exterior doors, making it tougher to gain entry.
  • Check your doors. Your lock might be amazing, but if your door is weak, a strong kick will give a burglar easy access. Make sure your door is solid wood or has a solid wood core. You can also consider a fiberglass or metal door.
  • Trim the shrubbery. Don’t make it easy for burglars to hide behind bushes as they work to open a window. Keep the landscaping trimmed so it’s easier for a neighbor to spot the suspicious person standing outside your home.
  • Install a home alarm system. More than 90 percent of burglars say they would avoid a home with an alarm, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Effective alarms don’t just make noise, but alert emergency services. Many insurance companies offer a discount on homeowners insurance if you have an alarm.
  • Hide and lock your valuables. Once inside, a burglar doesn’t want to take too long. He or she knows to check the desk and the bedroom for important documents and jewelry. Put your important papers and expensive items in other locations and hide them well.
  • Heading out of town? Be sure to:
    • Have your mail held, or have a neighbor pick it up.
    • Schedule deliveries. Packages are at risk this time of year sitting on your front porch. Try to time deliveries so that they don’t arrive when you are out of town.
    • Leave blinds in their usual positions so it appears you are home.
    • Ask trustworthy neighbors to keep an eye on your home. Letting a few people know you are gone will help keep them on alert for something amiss.

Questions about home security? Give us a call: (919) 387-1800.

5 Technology Upgrades to Home Security

Control4 Door locks

Home security has come a long way since the invention of chain link fences and guard dogs. Today, technology has made it possible to keep an eye on your home 24/7. Whether you’re looking for the latest cool tools in home security or just want an easier way to keep your home safe, here are 5 technology upgrades to consider:

  1. Door locks – Forget to lock the door? If you have an electronic door lock, it’s no problem. You can remotely lock it from anywhere. Electronic door locks work with your entire home security system. In addition to locking the door from your smartphone or tablet, electronic door locks track the history of opening and closing and can send you text message alerts if you want. You can also give visitors an access code that only works during certain times of day, making it easier to keep your home secure when working with household staff. Plus, no more digging around for your keys!
  1. Remote monitoring – Keep an eye on your home from anywhere with videos and photos of what’s going on. Home security systems now offer streaming security camera feeds, the ability to arm and disarm from anywhere, send alerts, and more.
  1. Cameras – Speaking of streaming, home security cameras are no longer for the super-rich mansion owner. Cameras are inexpensive and easy to install. If you don’t want to check the life feed, you can save it for later if you need to — a nice option if your home is burglarized or if you need to check up on working crews.
  1. Home Sensors – Your home is so smart, it knows you’re coming. Home sensors can open and close the door for you. They also work as part of your home security, for motion sensing when you’re away. They’re smart enough to work off of winks or waving and can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet.
  1. Garage systems – Some people may recall the large, brown button to open the garage door. These days, many people use a button in their car to open the garage. The latest systems not only open the door when you want, but give you remote control from your smart device, allowing you to let people to enter when you are not home. It can also track how long the door has been open. Systems today also have motion sensors to protect those jetting through the door as it’s closing.

Secur-Tek can help you install a Control4 Home Automation System to help with these areas and more, including lighting, sound, intercom and more. Contact us today to find out more.