Advances in alarm systems provide new security options

Advances in alarm systems provide new security options
home security alarm

home security alarm

Home alarm systems were once thought of as a security measure foremost, and only for those living in high-end homes.

Improved technology has changed the ways alarm systems are used, and competitive pricing has made systems affordable to almost everyone.

While most security systems sound a loud alarm and notify a remote monitoring center of a breach of the protection point during a home invasion, more systems are including features like monitored fire protection, carbon monoxide detection, water penetration and sump pump failure alarms.

Related: Locksmiths say deadbolt key to home security

Home video systems are also increasing in popularity, with the homeowner able to monitor their home from a remote location, including mobile devices, says Shawn Morgan, an installation technician with Nelson Alarm in Indianapolis.

“You can make sure your kids have gotten in fine; basically keep an eye on your home,” Morgan says.

No longer are homeowners at the mercy of a working telephone landline to ensure their system operates without fail.   

“There are a number of options for people without home telephone service,” Morgan says. “There’s Internet monitoring, where the alarm signals that way. There are also proprietary (technologies), cellular backups, or GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) units. They’re designed so you don’t have to have an Internet connection or telephone line of any kind. It’s proprietary to the alarm company, so it’s not something someone can intercept or jam. It’s very reliable communication; probably more so than land-based telephone lines have ever been.”

Remote control key fobs have also grown in popularity and most include a panic button.

For home burglaries, security systems are meant to work as much to deter thieves as they are to offer peace of mind to homeowners, says Dominic Cipollone, the district general manager of Protection One in Greenwood, Ind.

“What you’re trying to do with that is scare the intruder out of the home,” Cipollone says. “A lot of people say, ‘We want to catch the intruder,’ but that’s furthest from the truth. Peace of mind is a huge factor. A lot of the attributes of a home alarm system are intangible.”

There are a number of alarm companies selling their services, so it’s important for homeowners to do their research before they hire. A good company should be upfront about contract terms – most are for multiple years – and be clear about any fees not included in the installation and monthly monitoring costs. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches. Get a written, detailed quote and carefully read any contract before signing.

The homeowner should ask the potential supplier to visit the home and recommend specifically how to best protect it. A system can typically be installed for $49 to $350, depending on the features, and monthly monitoring fees usually start at around $25. Some insurers offer discounts on homeowner’s premiums, ranging from 2 to 15 percent, for properly installed systems.

While statistics suggest a home without an alarm system is more likely to be burglarized than one with one, the added benefits of the fire protection and other ancillary services is immeasurable.

“Years ago, home security systems were thought of as just for people in higher-income brackets,” Cipollone says. “Today, really, there’s a system for everyone out there. What’s really important is that something in the home is better than nothing at all.”

To keep their homes safe, homeowners should also keep shrubs near windows and doors trimmed, use strong deadbolt locks, keep their vehicles parked in the garage or a well-lit area and consider installing motion detector lighting.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in December of 2010.

Angie Hicks is a Fishers, Ind., resident and founder of Angie's List, a national provider of ratings in more than 720 categories of service.

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