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Home Security Monitoring: What to Look For

Written on February 25, 2013

Monitoring Services

The home alarm monitoring companies and services on our review offer many different methods of connecting to a monitoring station. You can set up an alarm system that transmits emergency signals through a telephone land line, cellular phone connection or broadband internet connection. The best home security monitoring stations are equipped with backup generators and other safeguards to assure that your trouble signal is never lost, even in a power outage. All home alarm systems’ monitoring centers are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which is why wireless alarm monitoring is so valuable.

When you set up your burglar alarm monitoring system, you determine how long the delay will be before a signal is sent to your monitoring station. Typically people set the delay to around 30 seconds, which is enough time to get in the house and disarm the system, but you can usually set it for up to two minutes. However long your delay is, that is how long your alarm will go off before an emergency signal is sent to the monitoring station. If you’re home when the alarm goes off and you don’t disarm the system within that delay, the signal will be sent to the monitoring station. When your home security system is armed and one of your devices is set off, the signal travels to the monitoring station within seconds after the delay period. The monitoring technician will then call the contact numbers you provide to verify that the alarm is not accidental. If you fail to answer the phone or fail to provide the correct password, emergency services will be dispatched immediately.

Some companies on our lineup offer a two-way voice intercom system which precludes the need for a phone call. If your alarm goes off, the intercom connects you directly to the monitoring station and you can call out for help or provide the password to let the company know you set off the system accidentally. To use the voice intercom, you have to be within about 30 feet of the speaker to be heard.

Security Devices

Home security systems consist of a combination of different devices. The brain of the system is a control panel, which coordinates all the devices together and transmits information to the security alarm monitoring station. The keypad is the interface through which you control your system. If one of your devices is set off, the keypad will tell you which one. Most keypads also have buttons through which you can quickly call for the police or fire department, even if your system is not armed.

You can connect a number of peripheral devices to your system, including entry sensors and motion sensors to protect your home from intrusions; smoke and heat detectors to protect you from fire; and a number of other devices to protect your family and assets, such as flood sensors, temperature sensors, carbon monoxide detectors and more. Some sites offer complete home automation, which coordinates a number of devices to keep track of all sorts of activities in your home. With some of these modern automation systems, you can use your mobile phone or internet connection to lock doors, turn lights on and off, view security camera footage and more.

If your system isn’t working properly or one of your devices is broken, you might need a service call. Most alarm packages come with an optional warranty plan that will get you a discount on service calls. None of the companies we surveyed offer free maintenance and repairs, but you can get a significantly lower rate by signing up for a service plan. Self-installed devices come with a manufacturer’s warranty. The terms of that warranty vary based on the manufacturer. If one of your devices breaks during the warranty period, you can generally have a new one sent to you at no cost.

Company Information

For each alarm monitoring service we surveyed, we looked for information about the company’s history, certifications and electrical wiring capabilities. We also noted whether the company’s website offers a place for customers to manage account options, pay bills and view data collected from their security systems such as recorded security camera footage and entry or exit logs.

Help & Support

Finally, we examined each company’s options for customer support. If your security system is malfunctioning or you need help installing or maintaining your security devices, it’s nice to work with a company that is available through several avenues. We gave the highest ratings in this category to companies that offer phone, email and live chat support. A home security system isn’t a cheap, one-time payment, it’s an investment – so make sure that you feel comfortable with the customer support you’ll receive.

About half of the home security companies we surveyed offer wireless equipment that you purchase online, install yourself and then connect to a remote home security monitoring service (also called cellular alarm monitoring). The other half provide in-person security consultation, installation and repair services. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to install your own devices or have a licensed technician do it for you. Whichever option you choose for equipment and installation, the most important aspect of a security system is having it connected to a home security monitoring station. Without monitoring, your system can’t offer nearly the same level of protection for your home and family.

Source: Top Ten Reviews


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