Is a landline needed for home security systems?
You no longer need a landline to install an alarm system. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member John O. of Orlando, Fla.)
Dear Angie: I am considering purchasing an alarm system and was told that I no longer need a regular telephone line for my alarm panel to communicate. Is this true? – Stephan B., Minneapolis
Dear Stephan: It is true that technological advancements have eliminated the need for newer alarm systems to be wired through your telephone landline. In fact, there are several options for people without home telephone service to still have reliable alarm protection.
Many reputable alarm companies have proprietary technologies, cellular backups, Internet monitoring or Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) units, all of which are designed to work without a traditional landline. This technology is now considered as reliable, if not more, than landline connections. With the proprietary wireless technology, lines can’t be cut and signals are less vulnerable to interception or jamming.
How new alarm systems work
Today’s alarm systems also offer many more features besides just a loud alarm if the security system is breached. Many companies also offer remote home video monitoring features, wireless key fobs with panic buttons, carbon monoxide detection, fire protection services and water penetration and sump pump failure alarms, and they will alert local safety officials if necessary. Some alarms do not offer the direct communication to police and fire officials, though, so if you want that as part of your service, be sure you are getting access to a central office where those calls will be quickly and correctly transferred.
How to find the right alarm company
When you shop around for alarm systems, you’ll find a wide variety of companies offering their services. Do your research before you sign a contract with any company, be sure you know what’s offered and how it works. Ask the potential supplier to visit your home and recommend how to best protect it. A good company will be upfront about contract terms and be clear about any fees not included in the installation and monthly monitoring costs. Beware of high-pressure sales pitches and offers to drop the price if you agree to a contract now. A reputable company will stick with the quote it provides. Get the contract details in writing, and understand them fully before you sign.
Angie's List collects about 40,000 consumer reports each month covering more than 350 categories of home-related services. Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angie’s List to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on Jan. 12, 2012.