Choosing The Best Alarm Monitoring Service


There are many reasons individuals consider installing an alarm system and monitoring service. Individuals may want security for their family, peace of mind when they leave for vacation or perhaps they have had a bad experience in the past. For whatever reason it is needed, home alarm monitoring can help protect your valuables, your family, and even your life. Systems and services can be installed in residential homes with either a standalone system or a system with monitoring services included. Alarms and monitoring services are also popular for business applications during both open and closed periods of the day. Cost of installation is usually reasonable compared to the potential costs of lost or damaged possessions and/or goods.

The basics of alarm monitoring systems and alarm monitoring services

For those unfamiliar with residential and commercial alarms, there are a few basic aspects to keep in mind. On the residential side, people commonly have security systems installed in their homes. A basic system will consist of one or two keypad controls, which homeowners use to activate the alarm or other services. Other hardware installed throughout the home can consist of motion detector alarm and sensor systems, timers, sirens, phone line connections, lasers, and other devices that can detect movement or communicate outside the home to emergency personnel.

Alarm MonitoringFundamentally, there is also a difference between an alarm system and a monitored alarm system. Some companies will set up hardware such as keypads and motion sensors with a siren but may exclude monitoring services. The latter services usually consist of a call center that has the ability to contact emergency personnel or police in the event they are needed. Monitoring services are billed monthly to the customer whereas having a standalone system installed in your home without alarm monitoring to deter burglars would typically be a onetime cost for parts and installation. That said, some alarm companies do offer a maintenance agreement for an alarm system they have installed.

Whether just the system or system and monitoring service are purchased, the system is armed in the same way. When the user leaves the home or business, they arm the alarm usually by entering a code. When they return there is a short window of time to disarm the system after entering the residence or business. Failure to do this usually results in the alarm siren sounding, the monitoring service being contacted, or both. In cases where there is a monitoring service, a phone call will be made to the location where the alarm is installed. If no one answers, depending on what type of alarm it is, police or emergency personnel will be dispatched. If the user answers the phone, the monitoring service usually requires some type of pre-assigned password to deactivate the emergency response.

Home alarm monitoring

Many people enjoy the peace of mind of having a security alarm monitoring service or a standalone system. Standalone systems, so just the hardware such as keypad, detectors and a siren, can be installed in a home and are often very effective at deterring theft. It is common knowledge to many would be burglars that alarm systems are often tied to monitoring services so when they hear an alarm they usually leave right away. For the best protection however many consumers opt for alarm monitoring companies. These are particularly effective in cases of fire or if a home is too remote for anyone to hear a siren go off. Many popular companies have developed alarm monitoring software to have different alerts for fire or medical emergencies that can be activated either by hardware components such as fire detection equipment or by users while they are home. For example, ADT, a leader in home and business security systems, features an alarm where users can press one of a few picture-coded buttons for medical, fire or break in emergency so that the proper response can be initiated. ADT can provide standalone systems as well as twenty-four hour monitoring of a home for things like fire, medical or break in emergencies.

Another popular name in security is Honeywell. This company provides hardware and other security solutions to companies that provide alarm monitoring and alarm systems. They sell some of the most sophisticated video surveillance equipment, alarm monitor systems and a variety of other security products. Protection One is a popular company which is an authorized dealer of Honeywell products and provides monitoring services for about one dollar per day. Protection One installs some of the most cutting edge Honeywell technology such as wireless motion sensors, radio frequency keypads, and even remote key fobs to arm or disarm your system before you even enter your home. Wireless alarm monitoring is also available where the client receives text message notification of incidents.

Monitored alarms for business

While both private individuals and businesses both want to protect what they own, the process can be a bit trickier for a company than for an individual’s home. Businesses hold inventory that must be protected during both open and closed periods of time. As such, security systems are tailored to protect companies from loss whether by theft during normal hours of operation or from theft and/or damage during hours when the business is closed. Companies like ADT offer some of the same types of monitoring and hardware installation for businesses that they do homes as well as video surveillance and electronic access control. Some businesses that do not have customers coming in on a regular basis such as an inside sales department, administrative offices and other facilities need to monitor the comings and goings of authorized and especially unauthorized personnel. Perhaps a company that has had instances of violence on the part of ex-employees will want to install electronic access control in order to prevent future events. Video surveillance is very effective for businesses that have customers frequenting a location. It is a useful way to promote loss prevention and deter shoplifting and is also important in obtaining convictions or for the restructuring of crime scenes in the event those options are required.

More specialized companies such as diamond retailers or jewelry stores may need all of these services as well as a burglar alarm monitoring service during normal operation hours. Companies such as Sentinel Silent Alarm Systems provide silent alarms that can be tripped in the event of a robbery or other similar emergency. If businesses like these were not monitored with some type of alarm, chances are thieves would be long gone before police arrived. Silent monitored alarms also encourage criminals to stick around until police can come and arrest them. Brinks is another company that provides silent alarm system monitoring for businesses as well as consumers. They provide round the clock monitoring and the company’s call center representatives diagnose incoming alarm communication and notify the appropriate authorities.

General cost information for alarm monitoring systems

Installation costs for hardware and monthly monitoring are typically two different things. Installation is paid once and monitoring is assessed as a monthly charge. The level of these costs varies based on the size of the building being secured, the types of emergencies that are being monitored for, and the amount of hardware that needs to be installed in relation to the size of a structure. For consumers, companies such as ADT and Brinks offer special packages for around 100 or 200 dollars for installation of one key pad, a motion detector, 2 window contacts that detect the window opening, indoor sounder (siren) and wireless capabilities. Linked to this, customers must sign up for the company’s monitoring service, which is under 50 dollars per month. In the event of an intrusion, fire, or user initiated medical emergency signal, the company will alert the appropriate authorities or emergency service personnel.

An alarm monitoring company may well offer special incentives for businesses as well as services that are not commonly available to consumers. Video surveillance, electronic access door control as well as traditional intrusion detection are all offered to businesses. They can expect to pay similar costs as a residential system of the same size and features, however more hardware and different types of monitoring are often required. Systems for extensive square footage coverage are generally far more expensive than for an individual consumer, however monitoring fees may remain lower relatively. Other features that may be offered to businesses are multiple key codes for different employees, door access and locking devices, and service plans that cover installed parts.

How to choose the best system

Choosing the best home alarm monitoring service or business monitoring service requires several considerations. Consumers and business owners have to take into account the types of threats they may face using either past experience or present environmental factors. A business that operates in a high crime area for example may want to consider installing an alarm system that is monitored even if it has not been the victim of a burglary or robbery. Homeowners who live in rural areas may be less prone to these types of crimes, however crime is not the only reason to consider such a system and they may choose fire alarm monitoring as important to them.

Many monitored alarm systems offer protection from emergencies like fire or medical. If a homeowner is on vacation when a fire starts, emergency personnel will be able to respond much faster when alerted by an alarm company. Cost can also be an obstacle for many alarm users. Paying a monthly fee for monitoring is not always feasible however installing a siren and keypad can sometimes be enough to deter criminals.

While alarm systems can do many positive things for users, there are also some drawbacks. One is the potential cost and consumers can easily spend over 1,000 dollars trying to secure their home and pay for monitoring over the course of a year. Basic packages are relatively cheap, however, for larger homes, more is often needed and monitoring costs can add up. Security systems do not always work in the user’s favor either. False alarms can happen and unsuspecting visitors can find themselves face down in the dirt if they are unaware that an alarm was tripped. In general however, these types of systems are highly reliable when installed by licensed technicians using good equipment.

While the major brands discussed above provide services across many parts of the world, there is also a huge pool of local competitors that provide home alarm systems with and without monitoring. In general, choosing the best company will include thinking about how much you want to spend to protect what you have, what types of monitoring you will need or if you need it at all and the reputation of the company you plan to go with.

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