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What are the Best Home Security Systems for You?

Home Security Systems is comprised of much more than a bunch of technology programmed together to make noise when an intruder enters your home. All of the following should be considered when making the decision to purchase and install a home security system:

  • The Manufacturer of the System
  • The Installation Company
  • What are the Installation costs
  • Is there a Contract involved
  • What is the cost for alarm system service
  • How is the customer service for the alarm company
  • The Monitoring Station
  • Do you want a hard wired or wireless security system

The Manufacturer of your Home Security Systems

The amount of alarm systems available on the market today has increased dramatically. There are far more systems that can be DIY. Regardless of whether you install it yourself or not you want a product that is manufactured with high standards and that will work when it needs to. A lot of the new products seem to work great but are not time tested to see if all of the bugs have been worked out. You do not want to be the beta tester with an alarm system. The main players in the market are as follows:

  1. 2GIG
  2. Honeywell
  3. DSC
  4. GE

Home Security Systems 2gig gocontrol alarm panelHoneywell Control PanelDSC Alarm PanelGE Alarm Panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been an installation technician for 30 years and have worked with all of the above panels. Even though they all perform well I believe that the 2GIG panel stands above the rest. They currently have the largest installed base of panels in the USA.

The Installation Company for your alarm system

 The installation company that you chose will most likely require a monitoring contract for at least 3 years and sometimes up to 5 years. Since you will be with them for awhile it only makes sense to make sure that they have good integrity and respond to your needs in a timely manner. The following is a list of what you might need your alarm company for after the installation:

  • Upgrades to the system that they installed
  • Regular service or repairs
  • Questions about how to operate your new system
  • Cancellation of False alarms

Installation Costs for your New Home Security Systems

Your prospective alarm company should give you a quote for everything that you have requested before they start the installation. The quote should include the list of equipment that they will be providing and all of the labor costs for the installation. If you have requested that your system be monitored then there will be an Alarm Contract that is normally 3-5 years long. There will also be a monthly fee for 24 hours 7 day a week monitoring of your alarm system.

Keep in mind that when you are setting up an alarm system it is less expensive to get all of the work done on the initial installation. If the company has to return at a later date because you want to upgrade there is additional service call fees. In some cases there will be a new contract requested which will increase the obligation.

There are several ways that alarm companies will setup your alarm system as far as the contract and who will do the monitoring.

  • Alarm System Retail Purchase(In House)
    • This type of alarm installation and contract means that the alarm company retains the contract in house and they do the installation and bill you monthly for the monitoring.
  • Alarm System Funded Purchase (Account Sold)
    • When an Alarm Company uses funding for your account they are still the installing company and in most cases they are obligated to make any repairs for 3-12 months. The contract is actually with another company that will provide the monitoring, billing and ownership of your account. The funding company pays a portion of the total contract amount in advance to the alarm company.

Pros of having your alarm system funded

 The alarm installation company will typically offer some free equipment for your business. They can afford to make this offer because they are funding the account and do not have to wait for a portion of the alarm contract to be completed in order to make some money back from the equipment costs. When the alarm system is not funded the alarm company will typically charge you full price which normally carries a 100% markup.

Cons of having your alarm system funded

 Funding companies vary but the following 2 cases seem to be the most typical.

  • The original installation company will continue to service your account through the life of the contract.
  • The original alarm company will service the account for a mandatory break in period of 3-12 months and then the funding company will continue the service with their own field technicians.Alarm System Quote

 Sample of Typical Installation Costs

Is there a contract involved?

There is always a contract involved when an alarm system is being installed. At a minimum there is a contract for the installation which is for the listed equipment including any warranty. If you have also elected to have your system monitored then there will be a contract for a monthly fee for a period of 3-5 years.

Keep in mind that all alarm contracts have an evergreen clause which means that the contract will auto renew at the end of the contract for an additional year unless you send in a written cancellation. Many of the contracts have a clause they requires that they notify you 30 days prior to the end on the contract. I have never seen any of the alarm companies do this so I have helped many customers get out of the contract after the initial term because of the failure to do this.

 What is the cost for Alarm System Service?

 When I was in alarm system sales I never had a customer ask what the service rates were. The company I worked for charged $120 minimum for a service call and that included ½ hour of time on site. There were additional charges of $120 per hour after that. You should always ask what your alarm company charges for service. Here are some common service call issues that you may have to have repaired.

The Monitoring Station

 Most alarm companies use outside monitoring stations to monitor your alarm system. There are a few smaller companies that maintain an in house monitoring company but in either case it will not make much of a difference to you in regards to reliability or cost. I used to get a lot of customers that wanted to know why they paid every month for monitoring and then had to also pay when the system need repairs. It is pretty simple. If you have a cell phone you pay for the cost of the phone and for the monthly cellular service. If your phone breaks you will pay for the repair. An alarm system is the same setup. You are paying a monitoring fee to have live operators available all of the time basically waiting for your system to alert them of a problem.

There are several factors that will affect the cost of what you pay for your monitoring service:

As you add more features and access to your system the cost will go up. The range is typically $20-$60 per month.

Do you want a hard wired or wireless security system?

 Many people already have a hardwired security system. A hard wired system is what all older systems had to use because wireless home security was not available. The addition of wireless technology has brought a whole new world of possibilities and home automation into the marketplace. But if you already have a wired system it can be to your advantage. The 2GIG GoControl System developed a Super Switch that allows the installer to incorporate your hard wired zones into wireless zones at a fraction of the cost. This effectively makes your home security system a hybrid system that takes advantage of both worlds.

Pros of a Hard Wired Home Security System

  • No device batteries to replace
  • Contacts can be hidden better

 Cons of a Hard Wired Home Security System

  • Susceptible to rodent damage
  • Susceptible to damage from contractors in your attic
  • Contacts are magnetic and eventually where out
  • Connections can become loose causing false alarms
  • High initial cost of installation

 Additional Questions for your Prospective Alarm Company

 Always keep in mind that you do not have to allow the alarm company representative to pressure you into a purchase. Take your time! Never make a decision at the first visit. No matter what the representative says the offer will still be valid after they leave. If it is not then you probably do not want to do business with a high pressure company like this anyways. See our information on Aggressive Door to Door Alarm Sales

Talk to a few different companies and compare offers. It is your money and your signature that they want so use it to your advantage to get the best deal possible.

Ask them about the operation of the system before you purchase. Just like when you purchase a new car you can test drive it? A reputable alarm company will be able to show you a demo so you feel confident that you can operate the system.

 Unfortunately you will probably have to cancel a false alarm at some point in time so make sure you are aware of the procedure before you are faced with the situation.

Additional Features that you may want for your Home Security System

Crash and Smash Protection

This means an intruder can’t disarm your security system by busting into your house and trashing your alarm panel. Once an active sensor trips, it sends a signal to the monitoring station and places your alarm on standby. If the monitoring station doesn’t receive a disarm notice, it will alert you and dispatch law enforcement if necessary.

Alarm System WarrantyLifetime equipment warranty

Many alarm companies today are offering lifetime warranty with the installation of an alarm system as long as you maintain monthly monitoring. In some cases an existing system can be warranted. Almost all alarm companies warranty the system for the 1st year which is great but in most cases your system will operate without incident for at least the 1st year. A warranty for your system is something you should consider carefully because depending on the problem it can be expensive to repair. Keep in mind that the cost of the equipment at install will not likely be the same cost for replacement.

Summary:

  • Always remember that you are in control of the sale
  • Reach out to at least 3 Alarm Installation Companies for a quote
  • Do your research on what is available
  • An informed customer will always get a better system at a better cost

See 7 Questions to Ask a Potential Alarm Company

Download our Questionnaire for interviewing prospective alarm companies