An alarm system is a smart investment for any family, but knowing which one to choose can be a difficult task. With national and local options, a variety of costs and contracts, and dozens of features to choose from, make sure to know all of your options before selecting a home alarm system provider to help protect your household.
Credibility is a big factor in your home alarm system selection. Deterring intruders begins with the sign in your front yard. If the name on the sign is a recognizable one, it’s more likely to discourage home invaders. Lesser-known brands may go unnoticed or may not be thought of as belonging to an alarm system company.
To verify your alarm system’s credibility, also be sure to ask if they employ licensed professionals and members of Electronic Security Association. Many states require that home alarm system providers use trained and certified professionals. If this is the case in your state, be sure to ask for proof of these certifications. You can also evaluate the company’s work history by checking with your local consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau.
National home alarm system providers often employ large call centers that monitor all of its clients’ alarm systems. This typically means 24/7 monitoring and consistent service, though it may not be as personalized as a smaller, local company.
Local alarm system companies may use their own customer service employees, or contract out to a third party call center, which can lead to varying levels of customer service quality. Make sure you ask each company which method they use so you’ll know what type of service you’ll receive when you need to contact your provider.
If you have certain features in mind you’d like for your home alarm system, make sure that the company you choose can provide them.
For example, if you have pets or small children, motion sensors may be impractical in common areas, but video monitoring can come in handy for checking in on your child while he or she is napping, or tuning into your home to check on your pets while you’re at work or on vacation.
If you have elderly living in your home, strategically placed panic buttons or even wearable security buttons are a good idea to ensure that your loved ones have an easy way to alert the authorities in the event that mobility is impaired.
Families with tweens or teens may want to consider alarm systems with a compatible smartphone app, so kids can check in with their parents remotely at the touch of the button. Some home alarm system smartphone apps also allow locations to be tracked between friends and family members, and for parents to see if their teen made curfew the night before through lock/unlock notifications.
Whatever your family needs, it’s likely that the right alarm system company can provide it. By knowing what you’re looking for and what to ask, you’ll be sure the get what you need.
Different home alarm system providers balance their equipment and subscription fees in a different ways.
Some offer low, or even free, equipment costs and a free installation, but recover that cost with higher monthly monitoring fees. With this structure, you’ll be paying less up front, but more over the long-term. Free equipment also typically implies that your alarm system provider still owns it, meaning there will be additional fees if you change locations. Be sure to check your contract regarding ownership and moving costs.
Others may charge for the equipment and installation, but offer their monitoring services for a lower monthly cost. Though the initial cost of installation may be higher, you’ll likely save money over time.
It is also an option to install your own equipment, in which case you purchase the equipment outright and do the installation yourself. These DIY alarm systems are often completely wireless, making installation simple and affordable. With a do it yourself home alarm system, you won’t have the knowledge of a professional at your disposal, leaving room for error in the installation process. However, if you’re on a tight budget, this may be the best option for you.
Ultimately, the least expensive home alarm system may not be the best option. Extra features and professional installation bring added value that may be worth the cost if it can fit in your budget. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each home alarm system provider based on its credibility in the marketplace, the level of customer support, the features offered and your family’s budget.