I'm looking for a monitored burglar alarm system for my house.
My insurance agent tells me a monitored system will reduce my
home owners insurance policy by $80.00 a year. I estimate the annual
cost of the system will be around $125.00 a year for a net cost of about
Any recommendations for a good monitored system?
Does any group or publication evaluate these systems?
Any personal experiences (good or bad) with these systems?
Get to know the neighborhood police officer.
I'm not joking.... They will know which INSTALLERS cause the most false
alarms. In one town ADT will have fewer false alarms. In another it
will be Brinks.
Another thing to look at is the control panel. Ask to see and get
instructions on the model of the panel that will be INSTALLED. (Beware
of "Bait and switch") You don't want to be confused when you're trying
to turn of the alarm in a hurry. (Forgetting it's armed when you're
tired and open the door to get the paper at 5am...)
Also find out how it is to add/change "guest" codes for when you have
someone house-sitting etc.
BTW: I've used ADT. The warning beep is the same tone as the keypress
on mine, so it's confusing to some people.
I just had a rather expensive motorcycle stolen from my garage. I am now
also looking at monitored systems, do you know if they have zones? What I'd
like is a system that will emit a loud siren if the garage security is
breached but won't make the entire house go off at the same time. These
scumbags obviously had time to work on the bike as it was locked up in
Any of the monitored systems have zones. You can have a zone for the
garage. However, what I don't understand is why you would want the
garage zone to not set off the alarm for the house when tripped. All
the systems I'm familiar with have zones that can be armed or disarmed
as you wish, but once a zone that's armed is tripped, it set off the
alarm for the entire system and it gets reported to the alarm center.
That seems very reasonable to me.
We have ADT and they are OK. Personally, I would look into a local
place---ask to see their facility---and you will probably get better, more
personal service. I've heard good stories about local people who know their
customers and fire/police departments.
Some things you want to consider:
*Get two panels and/or remotes. You can have panels in two locations and
remotes in standard locations. If they want to charge you a lot, find
another vendor. At very least, get a panel/control center for each main
floor of living.
*The water and fire sensors are (really) the most useful. If your basement
floods, the alarm goes off, etc. Also, some have temp sensors that can tell
if your boiler if off (and you are on a cruise or something).
*Find out if your town charges for false alarms. (Mine doesn't thank god.)
For fire alarms, most send the department immediately, regardless if you
*Teach your family that if there's trouble, just walk up and smack the
emergency buttons on the panels :). Then call 911.
*Call them and disable the system ANY TIME you change batteries, etc. I
guarantee you will set off the alarm occasionally.
*Stock up on sensor batteries. Nothing worse then one dying at 10 p.m. Sat.
*ADT will want to slap stickers all over your windows, etc. Don't let them.
get the stickers from them and then you can control where and how they get
installed. The previous owners of my house let the bozos install them upside
I'm curious about this one...
We have a monitored system (GE Concord Express) and it has the ability
to commandeer the phone line in order to dial out. If I hit the panic
buttons, I assume it will call immediately. Will it bust in on my 911
call in order to do this? (Although, police are supposed to respond to
a 911 hangup.).
Yes it will. I had the fool from ADT call my 70 yr old father one time when
I was out of town to have him check why the alarm hadn't 'called home' to do
the self-test. Without warning him what it would do, or how to stop it,
they had him hit the panic button to trip the alarm. Of course with the
siren blaring he couldn't understand the idiots instructions, and before he
could get them clear the alarm cut them off and dialed in.
He finally decided to punch in the entry code, which cleared the alarm and
shut off the siren.
I gave them an ear full when I got home. I've also removed my father from
the backup call list. If they can't reach me they can't reach anyone in
Zones, in the context of an alarm system, are individual sensors. A
'zone' could be a glass-break sensor on a particular window, a motion
sensor in a room, a door-open sensor, a smoke alarm, or whatever. If the
alarm gets triggered, the system will record which zones were tripped,
allowing you to know exactly where the burglar went within your home.
Most systems allow you to program groups of zones, so that you can, for
example, arm only the perimeter sensors without arming interior motion
sensors (useful at night when you're home). Zones also help your alarm
monitoring company know whether they should call the police or fire
department upon an alarm.
George Wenzel, B.A. (Criminology)
Buy your system and maybe your service separately. Package deals require
In most parts of the US 15-18 per month is the service fee for a no contract
Check out Clark Howard's website for useful information.
I used to install residental systems. To answer all your questions, yes, the
system can be armed to activate when your garage door is opened.
You should set yourself up with a good company that offers free service while
you have your system monitored with them. Most will include this in the monthly
cost or may charge you $5.00 more per month. Its worth it, changing out a
keypad alone may cost $100.00 depending on the system. Also, the big companies
(ADT) don't need your business. Your system can be down for a week before
they'll set up a service call for you. The little guy runs like hell when your
system is down. I worked for a small company (4000 accounts) and we basically
knew all our customers. When someone had a problem, we were there within 12
hours. I can't tell you how many accounts we stole from the big guys cause of
this. Ademco is also a big name in security so if your offered this equiptment
its usually pretty good.
Good luck on your search!!
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.