Knowing that you need to invest in a monitored home security system shows that you are a smart individual. The ability to pick the right one out of the hundreds that are currently available makes you a genius. There are lots of companies out there selling alarm monitoring services. What makes choosing the right one so confusing is that on the surface, they all seem to be offering the same thing.The equivalent basic alarm components, pricing structure, even the guarantees are similar. So how do we go about choosing.
Some experts recommend that you go with companies that meet at least three basic criteria. They must offer 24/7 alarm monitoring, be in good standing with the Better Business Bureau, and their equipment and monitoring Center must be certified by underwriter laboratories.
This advice is well intended, but it is practically useless since the vast majority of monitored alarm systems out there can meet these requirements. This is the equivalent of recommending to a car buyer that they only consider cars that have four tires and a steering wheel. I have put together a list of four features that only the best alarm monitoring services will be able to offer their customers.
The importance of having multiple monitoring centers – Fire’s floods and acts of God. You cannot predict them, but you should still prepare for them. What happens if the facility that monitors your home security system is crippled by one of these disasters. Does that mean that your home will be left unprotected, and if so for how long?
The better alarm monitoring companies will have monitoring centers located in different geographical locations around the country. So even if one facility is crippled the others can pick up the work load. It would be next to impossible for a series of disasters to bring down the entire network of monitoring centers.
In the alarm industry, this single feature is what separates the men from the boys. To be fair just because a company that you are considering does not offer this redundancy does not make them bad, but it does give you some insight into the size and capabilities of their operation.
How do they secure the alarm control box? – The control panel is the brains of your alarm system. It is the device that integrates and controls every piece of security and safety equipment in your system, and it needs to be protected. What steps will they take during installation to protect it.
Every alarm system on the market offers a delay feature. This is done to give the home owner time to arm or disarm the system when entering or leaving the home. This handy little feature also gives a burglar ample time to disable your home security system.
There are two ways that your alarm company can secure the control unit. The first is to simply locate the panel in a hard to find secure location within the home. The goal is to make it impossible for a criminal to find and be able to disable your system in the time allowed by the delay function.
Before I present the second tip for securing the control panel, I should warn you that it is admittedly overkill and will incur extra installation costs. Basically, it requires you to create an independently alarmed area within your home.
Rather than just hiding the control panel in a secure location, we also alarm this room with a dedicated keypad that has no delay function. This way even if someone knows were you hide your control panel; it will be impossible to reach without setting off an alarm.
A good alarm monitoring company will definitely be aware of this problem and take proactive steps to correct it.
Do they offer backup cellular alarm monitoring? – You can do everything else right when choosing a home security system but if a signal is unable to reach the central monitoring station, it is of no use to you. It does not take a master criminal to disable your phone line, all it takes is a few minutes and the ability to work a pair of wire cutters.
I mentioned earlier that having a backup monitoring Center was a feature that separated the boys from the men in the alarm industry, well the ability to offer cellular alarm monitoring is another such feature. For some homeowners, it may be the only way to even have a monitored alarm.
Who knows when the revolution happened, but the cell phone has won the battle with the hardwired telephone. An ever-increasing number of households have given up their traditional telephone service and now use cellular service exclusively. For those interested in a monitored alarm system this would require them to install a telephone line for the sole purpose of communicating with the central monitoring station.
Now with some of the better companies offering cellular communications as the primary, or a backup mode of communications, having a telephone line is not important.
Make sure that it is future proof – The only thing that is constant is change. It may be a cliche, However, it is absolutely true. When considering purchasing a home security system you should be purchasing for your future needs as well as your current needs.
The two features that you should be looking at are the number of zones a system provides, and whether or not it is proprietary or can components from other manufacturers be integrated.
What is an alarm zone and how many do you need? An alarm zone is simply a way for your alarm system to group and organize the individual sensors. As a general rule having more zones equals greater flexibility in designing a system and increased protection.
Imagine that your system only had four zones. This means that you could group all of your door alarms in one, the windows in another, smoke alarm and motion detectors in the rest. This is a workable setup, but if you needed to bypass the protection on a specific window, or one of the door alarms malfunctions you will lose coverage for everything that is included within that zone.
The real power of having extra zones is that you can add a lot more points of coverage to your home, and having a single point disabled will not compromise your entire system.
Are the component’s proprietary? I currently have an ADT security system installed in my home. One of the reasons that I went with them ( other than their reputation for quality and service ) was that they allow you to integrate components from a list of well known manufacturers.
If at some point in the future I decide that I would like to integrate a motion detector from Honeywell, or an alarm contact from General Electric, it is not an issue.
Once you have compared this list of must have features against what most home security companies are currently offering, the task of choosing the right one will become a lot easier.