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Choosing a Monitored Home Security System

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Price is obviously a driving factore in most consumer security system choice. But a low price on a system that does not adequately meet your families security needs is worth less than nothing.

Communicating with the Monitoring Center: Choosing Cellular, Broadband Internet, VoIP or your Phoneline

In the past just about every security system was dependent on your phoneline. This has now all changed, consumers are abandoning landlines, cellular/gsm technology is mature, and broadband high speed internet connections are commonplace. The most popular choices are cellular and landline monitoring.

What is better Cellular or Landline Home Alarm Monitoring?

Cellular monitoring is the best monitoring solution if it is available in your area. A few basic points set it ahead:

  • The lines cannot be cut. A copper phone line cannot be snipped, a cellular enable control panel with battery backup (or charged batteries) is an independent device.
  • No need for a landline. This is also provides ease of setup if you move.

Landline monitoring is still a secure, and viable method to monitor your home. But if you are not committed to landline based equipment or current contract we recommend cellular based monitoring.

Prominent companies that offer Landline Monitoring:

Prominent companies that offer Cellular / GSM Monitoring:

VoIp and Broadband Home Security Systems

VoIP shines when it comes to long distance calls, but there are some potential issues when it comes to monitoring your house. Some VoIP companies recommend that they are not used for home monitoring, not all control panels work with VoIp, it is dependent on your home power and internet connection working. This adds many variables and potential weaknesses for monitoring. But it can be viable for low-cost DIY solutions despite VoIPs QoS (quality of service) issues.

Pure internet or broadband alarm monitoring means the alarm signal is not converted to a voice signal via VoIP. The monitoring center is sent a signal over the internet that the security system has been triggered. This is a preferable solution to VoIP since the control panel is designed to specifically handle this sort of signal. But the negatives are the dependency of your home network working, and power to house is required.

What questions should I ask about my home monitoring service?

The type of alarm monitoring as discussed above are a big issue. For prices review our home security system costs page for more details on comparing leasing a system versus buying a system.

  • What responses are offered? Will I be contacted? Will a local dispatch be contacted? Will the police be contacted?
  • Do I need a contract? Or can I have the monitoring on a month by month basis?
    • Not having a contract can result in large savings in case you ever move, or are unhappy with your provider
  • What are the maintenance fees? How much is service if the system is at fault?
  • Will I receive stickers for all of my doors and window entrances?

What questions should I ask about the security equipment installed in my home?

  • Is the equipment installed proprietary? i.e. Could I used the equipment with other alarm monitoring vendors?
    • Proprietary equipment attaches you to that security company as long as you use it. Consider equipment that works accross multiple vendors
  • How update to date is the equipment installed? Is it the most recent version?
    • Each year equipment manufactures improve and upgrade products, including features like less false alarms, more efficient power usage, greater reliability
  • Do you have pets? How large are they?
    • Systems exist with tolerances based on the estimated weight of an moving object
  • Is every entrance wired? (accessible windows and doors)
  • Does the system log events? Can I review false alarms? Alarms and other events that occured in the security system?
    • This can be of great value for maintenance. Service technicians can read the logs to determine any issues a system may be having.

What about False Alarms?

False alarms are nuisance for home owners, neighbours and potentially police and fire departments. Technological improves are pushing forward in reducing the number false alarms.

  • "Just Set" features, these indicate to the alarm company that the system had just been armed, this is the most common source of false alarms
  • If you have pets does the system allow weight threshholds for detecting intruders.
    • A system could be set to overlook detecting signals from a 30 lb object or less. These weights can vary upon your needs.
  • Does the system have Company contact delays?
    • When an alarm is should provide a gap of 30-90 seconds to allow the homeowner to disable the alarm with contacting the alarm company. This is helpful when you accidentally trip your own alarm.
  • Ignoring short momentary breaks in the detection system. Such as any detected breaks less that 0.5s.
  • Multi detect systems, requiring multiple sensors to detect intrusion within a set time period.
    • Called "Intellizoning" by Paragon
    • Called "Cross Zoning" by DSC