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Do security systems actually work to secure your home?

Security systems are touted by companies on television, on the internet, the radio, and even occasionally by people who show up at my door.  Is there any real value in purchasing, installing or having the system professionally installed, and paying the monthly fees for an alarm system?  Does an alarm system actually serve as a deterrent to prevent break-ins?  

Do security systems work?

These are all really good questions.  The obvious answer that I am going to give you is, “Yes!” Having an alarm system that you know how to use, understand the capabilities of, and use on a regular basis will provide for you and your family a sense of peace of mind.  We live in a crazy world, one in which a lot of bad people do terrible things. Knowing that your home is secure, that the security system will protect those you love, and that the security system is programmed to communicate in a time of need with the emergency services is what delivers that peace of mind.  The security system signs on your mailbox, on a stake in your yard, and the stickers that are placed on your doors and windows, also serve as a major deterrent for a potential perpetrator. Why would they want to attempt to invade a home that clearly has a security system, when they can hit a different house that probably does not.  

An alarm system does not have to cost a large amount of money. If you contact the national alarm companies, they will go to your house or business and give you an estimate. Their estimate is usually reflective of the specials or packages that they are running at that particular time. In their proposal, they will charge you a minimum fee or even no fee at all for the initial installation of the alarm system. Where they get you is if you add additional components or equipment beyond their initial package, or add additional services beyond the basic services. If you would like to add additional protection for doors, windows, additional keypads, or anything else, you could very well feel quite shocked at the price.  

The monthly charge that they promise in their estimate is pretty reasonable.  However, if you read the fine print in their advertisements or their contracts, you will see that they reserve the right to raise the rates for monitoring at their pleasure.  If you sign-up with them, they will raise the rates every few months. If you would like additional services such as a service contract, daily test signal, smart device connectivity, radio signal service, fire protection, or cameras, be ready to see your rates increased dramatically.  What started out as a reasonable rate could very easily cost as much as a cell phone plan or a cable television subscription. This can be a difficult pill to swallow.

You might ask, what is a daily test signal?  This is a signal that your alarm system is programmed to send to your monitoring service, that your system is programmed to run a self-diagnostic on the power supply to the system and the communication ability of the system.  The system is then programmed to send a message to the monitoring center to let it know that everything is alright.  

You may ask, why would I need this? Well, especially if you have fire protection as part of the components of your alarm system, this is an upgrade you may want to consider.  The time to figure out that your alarm system, especially a fire alarm system is not working correctly, is not when the system is needed because a person with bad intentions is trying to break into your house, or in the unfortunate event of a fire breaking out in your home.  

The low price that the national alarm company is quoting you is also based upon you having a telephone land line in your home that they can use for the alarm system to send out its messages to the monitoring center.  If you do not have a landline telephone, what do you do? That is the reason for an additional monthly charge and a one-time cost for an additional component added to your alarm system-a radio.

This radio is like a cell phone for you alarm system. In the event of an activation or test signal generated from your alarm system, it will use the cell towers to send out the signal from your alarm system to the monitoring center.  Usually, the one-time cost is for the radio unit itself. This is like purchasing a cell phone for your alarm system. The additional monthly charge is like paying for the radio’s cell service. Your alarm system sending radio signals instead of using a telephone land line is far more efficient and secure.  Unfortunately, perpetrators have figured out that if they are able to compromise the telephone land line in your home, they are able to defeat some alarm systems. The alarm will still activate and the siren will still ring on the premises, but the system will not be able to send out its message to the monitoring center.  

The next tier of pricing for an alarm company is usually a service plan.  This is like the service plan that you are usually offered when you are purchasing electronics.  A service plan starts when the warranty on your system and equipment runs out. Most national alarm companies will guarantee their systems for ninety days.  Once that time frame is over, if you have problems with your system or something breaks, it will cost you the price of a service call, (usually around one hundred dollars just for the technician to show up), and a time and materials based fee after that.  A service plan is not a terrible idea going forward. The alarm company will usually charge an additional fifteen to twenty-five dollars a month for the service contract.  

As you can see, this is all adding up pretty quickly to being more than you realized it was going to cost especially per month.  The next tier in pricing is for smart technology connectivity and smart home application. After the original monthly charge that the company has promised you the company reserves the right to raise the rate for every few months, the cost can skyrocket.  

The bottom line advice is to BE CAREFUL!  Be aware of what the alarm company is going to offer you and what the pricing tiers are going to be.  Talk it over with your spouse, and come to an agreed upon level of security that is right for you.  

If you’d like to learn more about security systems, talk to one of our home security experts today!