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Disputting An Article About Why Monitored Home Security Systems Are For Suckers

I came across this article the other day, and I felt the need to respond to the author.  The article is entitled, “14 Reasons Why Monitored Home Security Systems Are For Suckers,” by Len Penzo.  He approaches the subject obviously from a very negative perspective, even though he admits to having a monitored alarm system himself.  His arguments do have some merit. I am not disputing that there are people that have experienced these issues. In my opinion, the answer to making your experience with a monitored alarm system a much more positive one is to either use a local alarm company, someone that you can actually talk to and do business with, or go the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) route.

Disputing article about home security systems for suckers  

I would like to go through Mr. Penzo’s objections one-by-one. 

1. “They can be expensive to install.”  Yes, this is a true statement.  In order to protect your loved ones and the items that are important to you, it will cost some money.  It does not have to be an outrageous amount of money. Alarm companies will have packages and run “specials” that you can use to your advantage to lower the price or even possibly eliminate the price all together.  DIY systems are also reasonably priced and offer a variety of options. The only problem in this area with DIY is figuring out what are the best protection options for your home to offer the best security for your loved ones and your valuables.  There are DIY companies that will walk you through your options and help tailor a system to meet your price and comfort needs.


2. “Those monthly fees add up.” Yes, that is also a true statement especially if you use one of the national alarm companies.  If you read their advertisements or their contracts, they will start you off paying a reasonable rate per month, and they are free to raise the rate whenever they want over the course of the two-to-three year contract.  This is another reason to recommend using a local alarm company, someone that is from your community, and understands your concerns. Someone you can get on the phone and talk to, not some operator answering the calls in a distant state.  The DIY option smashes this argument. Because the DIY monitoring centers are not having to pay for the equipment in your alarm system, the labor to have it installed, and the transportation and insurances needed to make you a customer, they offer substantially lower monthly rates for monitoring.  You are much better able to utilize the homeowner's insurance policy savings to balance out your monitoring fees.


3. “They’re annoying.”  The argument here is not the fault of the alarm company or monitoring service, it is based on user error.  The majority of false alarms happen because of motion detectors. While these are good components for an alarm system, I would recommend protecting all the doors and windows in the basement and first floor of your home as part of your security package.  This is called a “perimeter system.” This will not eliminate all false alarms because we all make mistakes, but it will cut down on them dramatically. Also, please make sure that all of the major points of entry/exit in your home are programmed for delay.  The delay gives you the chance to disarm your alarm system before it sends its message to the monitoring center. It does not need to be a long delay, just enough time to get from the point of entry/exit to the keypad to disarm the system. One last argument on this point, all alarm companies offer key-fobs to arm and disarm your system.  It can make it very easy disarm your system quickly in the event of a false alarm. This same service is offered by alarm companies on an app for your smart devices.  


4. “The have a high false-alarm rate.” Please see my arguments in my response to #3. To boil them down, avoid motion detectors, make sure the major points of entry/exit have a delay, consider adding key-fobs or use the app for your smart devices to be able to arm/disarm your system quickly and easily.   


5. “The security monitoring centers are overwhelmed.” This is a generalized statement that is somewhat unprovable.  A lot of national alarm companies and DIY companies will use regional monitoring centers to process the alarm signals that are sent from local alarms.  Most local alarm companies use local monitoring centers that are far less likely to be overwhelmed. It is not out of the question that even local monitoring centers might get overwhelmed, but far less likely.  


6. “Your neighbors will hate you.” Most alarm companies national, local, and DIY do not recommend installing sirens on the outside of the house for this very reason.  The siren will be blaringly loud, but it should not be loud enough for your neighbors to hear outside of your home. The author makes the argument that your neighbors will get mad at you, especially if the alarm activates while you are on vacation.  What the author does not know is that all modern alarm systems are programmed to silence and re-arm themselves after ringing for no longer than fifteen minutes. They will not continue to ring in perpetuity.  


7. “Most people just ignore them.” Lower quality alarm companies and installation practices will condition people and their neighbors to ignore the activation of an alarm, but if your alarm system is installed properly and you follow the advice given to you in the response to statement number 4, you and your neighbors will not be conditioned to ignore the activation of your alarm system.  


8. “Some police departments charge a response fee for wasting their time.” This is also true, however, this can also be eliminated by cutting down on or not having false alarms.  Again, the advice given in the response to statement number 4 should give you a clear blueprint on how to avoid or hopefully eliminate false alarms.  This argument is weak and derivative. 


9. “Burglars know that police response times are slow.” Municipalities are working hard every day to speed up their response times to emergencies.  One of the advantages of having an alarm system is the deterrent factor. A criminal is much less likely statistically to attempt to invade a home that they know has an alarm system.  The yard signs and stickers on and around the home make it known that you have an alarm system. When they see that, most perpetrators will move on to a different target. I know that this has little to do with police response times, but there isn’t really anything that can be done to improve the police response times.  We are sort of prisoners of the technology of the time we live in when it comes to their response times. Signals are not received instantaneously by the monitoring center, and there are steps that must be taken before the police are dispatched.  


10. “If you are a dog owner, they provide little added value.”  I love dogs.  Don’t get me wrong, but most dogs will just make noise at a potential burglar.  Some perpetrators even bring dog treats with them when they invade a home. Dogs can be pacified.  An alarm system can contact emergency services. Not only can an alarm system contact emergency services in the event of a break-in, but what about a medical emergency?  A dog can’t help there. What if someone is threatening you or your family with a weapon? In reality a dog cannot help much there either. Having access to alerting emergency services is important not just for a break-in.


11. “They won’t work during an extended power outage.”  This statement is also true.  The flaw with this argument is that the overwhelming majority of power outages that you will face are shorter than twenty-four hours.  Statistics show that less than five percent of power outages are longer than twenty-four hours long across our entire country. Your alarm system is set up intentionally to keep your alarm system up and functioning for twenty-four hours.  After that, it will go dead. The battery that holds the alarm system up through the twenty-four hours is rechargeable. Once the power is restored, it will recharge the battery to full strength, though after somewhere between four and seven years, that rechargeable battery will need to be replaced.  


12. “They’re fairly easy to disable.”  This statement is true of older alarm systems that use the telephone land line to send out the message of an activation to the monitoring center. Unfortunately, criminals have figured out that an easy way to defeat the alarm system from being able to send out its signal is to cut the telephone line.  The alarm system will still ring on the premises, but it will not be able to alert the monitoring center. Better more modern alarm systems are equipped with cellular radio monitoring. This is basically like having a cell phone for your alarm system. It is usually a little more expensive per month for the monitoring, but just like your personal cell phone, a fee must be paid to tap into the cell coverage of the area. 


13. “They’re not effective against snatch-and-grab burglaries.” This is true, but if a criminal commits a snatch-and-grab burglary, the likelihood is that you and your loved ones are still safe.  One of the reasons that a burglar abandons the idea of exploring the rest of your house for valuables is because they know that they have activated an alarm system, and their time is ticking. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of home invasions are not solved and do not result in an arrest.  No one wants to lose any of their possessions, but you would trade some of your possessions for the safety of those you love.  


14. “They’re not foolproof.” The author makes this argument that an alarm system only works if you arm it.  Um, yes. Obviously, you cannot expect your alarm system to work to protect you, your home, and your loved ones if you are not simply going to turn it on.  A monitored fire alarm will work whether the system is turned on or not. A residential monitored fire alarm is not a deterrent device, it is a life-saving device.  

We hope we’ve eased your mind about home monitoring services. If you’d like to learn more, contact one of our home security experts today!