There are plenty of ways to attempt to secure your home without an alarm system: dead bolts on the doors and windows, outdoor lighting, safety bars on the ground floor, and asking your neighbors to keep their eyes on your home while you’re away. However, there’s a certain insurance that only having an active alarm system can provide. From intruders to carbon monoxide leaks, alarm systems immediately notify you and the authorities when something goes awry, which is why it pays off to have one installed. However, once you’ve decided to make the switch, how do you know which alarm system is best for you?
With the myriad variations on home alarm systems available today, it’s worth it to do some research into each one and weigh its pros and cons. Different lifestyles call for different types of security, so make sure you’ve evaluated your options before making a decision. Here are a few things to consider when deciding which alarm system is best for you:
What’s your main motivation for installing an alarm system?
There are a number of reasons an alarm system is a smart investment, but there is typically one deciding factor that goes into each person’s decision to make that investment. Identifying this factor can help illuminate which alarm system is best for you.
Do you take frequent vacations? If so, it may be helpful to have video monitoring or mobile access to your alarm system so you can track activity and watch your belongings while you’re away. Do you live alone? You may consider installing panic buttons throughout the house so that the authorities can be alerted in the event of an intruder. Are your appliances powered by natural gas? It might be a good idea to include smoke, fire and carbon monoxide monitoring in your alarm system package. Once you determine what worries you, speak with the company you’re considering to learn more about how their offerings cover what you need to give you peace of mind.
Are you a renter or a homeowner?
If you are a renter, you probably want to choose a wireless alarm system that can be installed yourself so that you can easily move it from location-to-location. In this type of situation, the alarm system company will mail you your equipment, and it typically takes 30 to 60 minutes to install. You’ll want to make sure the equipment doesn’t require a hard connection to a landline before ordering, as this can be complicated to do yourself unless you are an experienced electrician. You’ll also want to confirm that once you have the equipment, it is yours to keep and can be moved as often as you need.
If you own your home, or your living arrangements are long-term, either self-installation or professional installation is a viable option. However, with professional installation, there is the added comfort that comes from knowing the installation was done correctly by a licensed expert. Professionals also offer the benefit of onsite training and system testing, ensuring that you are familiar with all of the alarm system’s features and functions. Unlike self-installation, there is often a fee associated with professional installation and stipulations regarding its relocation.
With either of these options, you’ll also want to look at the alarm system provider’s contract to determine three things: whether you own the equipment outright, the length of the contract term, and whether there are penalties for moving. If you’re a homeowner, a long-term contract may be a good idea as there are often discounts for signing a lengthier contract. However, if your location may change in the next three to five years, it may be a good idea to go with a shorter contract and to ensure that the equipment you purchase belongs to you in the event of a move.
What features do you require?
Sometimes, the number of features alarm systems offer can be overwhelming – sensors for everything, security cameras, key fobs, medical alerts, light and thermostat controls – who knew there were so many options? Oftentimes, it’s easier to keep it simple and install a basic monitored alarm system that will go off when triggered and alert the authorities. However, you may want to ask your alarm system provider about additional services that can provide added control over your system and added security to your family, your home, and your belongings. Here are a few extra features to consider when searching for an alarm system:
- Mobile access
- Home automation
- Video monitoring
- Flood, heat and freeze sensors
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Glass break sensors
- Motion detectors
- Pressure sensors
- Panic buttons
- Personal security devices
- Two-way voice
Should you choose a local or national alarm system provider?
Once you’ve decided why you want an alarm system and what you want out of it, it’s time to decide who will provide it. Most alarm system providers, whether local or national, have access to the same technology and alarm hardware, and use similar equipment when installing your alarm system. Therefore, the pros and cons for each is not a question of technology, but one of quality, access and responsiveness.
For example, if severe weather hits your area and your local monitoring system is impeded, it is likely that a local alarm system company will be facing a similar situation and lack the resources to assist you. A national company, on the other hand, will most likely have the bandwidth to deal with these local crises and monitor your alarm system from afar. A local alarm system company may be able to deliver more personalized customer service, while a national company may not be familiar with your account when you initially reach out for help. However, a national company may offer more round-the-clock support due to a larger pool of employees. Local alarm system companies also may have better relationships with your city’s fire and police departments, making monitoring through these entities as seamless as possible during your installation process.
These advantages and disadvantages, however, are general situations to consider and may not relate to your specific situation and location. Make sure you ask the right questions when you reach out to either a local or national company so that you know what you’re paying for.
This may seem like a lot to consider, but home security isn’t something to be taken lightly. Evaluate why you want an alarm system for your home, how it fits your lifestyle and what features suit your needs before choosing which alarm system is best to save yourself time, money, and frustration down the line.