10 Questions to ask a Potential Alarm Company

Potential Alarm Company Qualifications

Most everyone will answer yes, if they are asked if a home security system is needed. But when they start to try and make a decision the choices can be overwhelming. Not only are there more options than ever, there are more security companies fighting for your business. This is usually a good thing because it drives prices down but it also brings out the less than scrupulous alarm salesmen. Use the following 10 questions to help narrow the search down.

How long have they been in business?

I read another article that said that the length of time in business translated to the amount of experience in business. That could not be further from the truth. The company may have been around for a long time but what about the technicians that will be installing and servicing your system. I have worked for many companies where the techs were rookies and the company gives them a bit of training and then turns them loose.

I started in the Electronics field in 1976 in the U.S. Navy where I was trained for 3 years on Radar systems. I then became a Journeyman level Low Voltage Technician in the electricians union where 4 years of classroom training and On the Job Training was required.

What type of Equipment is used by your  Alarm Company?

You should be able to find on an alarm companies website what type of equipment that they use. Once you find out what it is then you can conduct your own independent research to get a feel for the type of equipment. Make sure that the equipment is not proprietary equipment. If it is then you will have a very small list of Sacramento Alarm companies that will be able to monitor or service it.

Security Masters uses 2GIG GoControl Panels. They are a division of Nortek Security. Nortek has been in business since 1961 and 2GIG since 2007. The 2GIG alarm panel has won many awards at the trade shows and has sold over 3,000,000 panels to date. It is the most innovative panel in the marketplace today.

Your ideal alarm system should have a minimum of all of the following features:

  • Remote Access: The ability to arm and disarm your control panel from any Internet enabled device.
  • Free Mobile App: The ability to access all of your system features securely.
  • Video Service: The ability to view your cameras through your App or online.
  • Notification System: The ability to email or text you notifications of activity on your system.

The 2GIG GoControl System has all of these features and many more including built in zWave for all home Automation devices.

Sacramento Home Security Systems

How often are system checks run?

 With older systems that used standard phone lines for communication most alarm companies would set a timer test for every 30 days. The panel would send a signal to the central station and if was not received the alarm company could schedule a service call to check the system. What about the other 29 Days?

Today’s newer system use cellular and they stay in very regular contact. This way you know that the system can communicate when it needs to.

Security Masters sets the 2GIG panel to ping every 30 minutes so you know that in an event the security panel is ready to go.

What are the total charges associated with my Alarm System?

Many alarm companies make a game of hiding the charges that you will pay. Some will give you an overall price for the entire system and give you a rough idea of the equipment. Many of the Door Knockers that are trying to get the quick sales will not even provide a quote so you can compare. They want the quick sale. Even when you find a reputable alarm company they do not usually show you the cost for service. In years of selling alarm systems I have yet to have a customer ask me what the service rates are.

You need to know all of the following before you purchase an alarm system from anybody:

  1. What is the Cost of the Equipment
  2. What is the Cost of Installation
  3. What is the Cost of Monthly Monitoring
  4. What is the Cost of Service

Security Masters will always provide you a written quote. The quote is a line item quote. That means that you will see line by line the item you are purchasing and the cost for each item. The cost per item includes the installation for each item.

You are provided with a breakdown of the total cost with any discounts that are included along with the amount of the deposit and the final payment once the installation is complete.

The monthly monitoring cost is clearly shown on the quote along with other extras that are available if you choose to have additional items installed.

Our service rates are $63.00 per hour. That includes the trip charge and the 1st half hour of labor. In most cases the service takes only ½ hour for a repair.

 Where is Your Alarm Company Located?

 With today’s global economy it is very simple for an alarm company to have an office in New York and have sub contractors in Sacramento, CA to install the alarm systems. This is not that uncommon but in many cases the consumer does not know that is the case. This not always a bad thing but you need to have the company that will be installing and providing service to be a locally based company unless you are going to do a DIY installation.

Security Masters is located in Antelope, CA right next to Sacramento, CA. We operate in a 60 mile radius so we can always provide prompt installations and service to our customers. We also have a DIY service where you can purchase the equipment and install it yourself. There are many advantages to this and we offer it anywhere in the United States.

Sacramento Alarm Company

Is Your Company Licensed?

The State of California requires all Alarm Company Personnel to be licensed. If you work for an Alarm company you must have an ACE license (Alarm Company Employee). If you own an Alarm Company you are required to have an ACO license (Alarm Company Operator). You must also be or have hired an ACQ (Alarm Company Qualified Manager).

Check a California Company

Getting an alarm company license requires having a 10 fingerprint scan run and background checks by the FBI and Justice departments. You must also pass an exam to make sure that you are qualified to work on an alarm system. You must also file all of the paperwork for a Business License and acquire insurance before you can install your first system.

If you are talking to someone about an alarm system then make sure they show you the correct credentials!

Is a Contract required to have an Alarm Installed?

Almost every alarm company requires that you have a contract. The amount of time required typically varies from 2-3 years. A contract is not necessarily a bad thing but you should make sure to read all of the terms before you sign. Be especially aware of when you own the equipment and the term of the contract. Most alarm contract also include an evergreen clause which means that if you do not cancel within 30 days of the anniversary date the contract will automatically renew for a specific period of time.

Do the Math!

It is easy to determine the true cost of your alarm system. Keep in mind that you have the cost of the installation and the equipment and a separate cost for monitoring. These are two separate items that in recent years have been combined and it is harder it tell what the true cost is.

The best way is to add up all of the costs for the entire term of the contract. Since the contract can be cancelled at the end and you can get monitoring elsewhere it is the best way to figure out true cost.

Example One:

  1. $500 installation Cost
  2. $50 per month for 36 months = 1,800

Total True Cost = $2,300

Example Two with higher month

  1. $99.00 installation Cost
  2. $61.00 per month for 36 months $2,196

Total Cost = $2,295

These are the games that many alarm companies play. You can see that the cost is about the same but look at the following years:

  1. Example One after 7 years = $4,700
  2. Example Two after 7 years = $5,223

If you calculate using this method you will quickly see the cost of your alarm system.

Security Masters is the only alarm company in the Sacramento area that has every option that you could want.

  • No Contract
  • Short Term Contract
  • Longer Term Contract with lower Month

Does the System qualify for an alarm discount?

As long as your alarm system is monitored you can submit the paperwork to your insurance company and typically receive a discount on your homeowners insurance and even your renters insurance.

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