Atlanta home security experts discuss alarms
What's the most important thing to consider when buying an alarm system?
Jim Callahan: "Ask how long the company has been in business, where the monitoring is being done, and who owns that center."
Chris Mackas: "They need to determine what openings to cover and with what devices."
Jules Stone: "Read the contract closely. If there's free installation, you're probably signing a long-term contract at a higher rate."
Who we talked to
Chris Mackas, owner
Perimeter Security & Wiring Services Inc.
What's the typical installation cost for an alarm system? How does that compare with the cost of the 24-hour monitoring service?
Callahan: "Between $800 and $1,200, depending on what you're adding. Between $15 and $20 is reasonable for monitoring."
Mackas: "Between $500 and $750 for the average house, depending on features. The monthly monitoring price is around $18."
Stone: "We install a basic system for $199, and it goes up with more features. Monitoring shouldn't cost more than out of the teens."
Is technology changing the industry? How?
Callahan: "It's changing dramatically. We can monitor via the Internet and send video and alerts to cell phones. Now people can do away with the landline and still have their system monitored."
Mackas: "Wireless technology has become more reliable. It makes it easier to retrofit areas without getting into the walls. It's cheaper to install and monitor."
Stone: "Many people use a cell phone or wireless technology to connect to the company. Most applications can be viewed on their cell phone or a computer at work or while on vacation."
Can a homeowner get an insurance discount by installing one of your systems?
Callahan: "Anywhere from 10 percent to 22 percent, depending on the company."
Mackas: "They'll get at least a 10 percent discount, and more if they have fire protection."
Stone: "Most discounts are anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent."
How long have you been in business?
Callahan: "We've been in business since 1967."
Mackas: "I've owned this business for about five years."
Stone: "I've been in the industry 13 years; I've been in my own business 11."
What would you say to somebody who says it's good enough to just have the alarm stickers on their windows and signs in their yard, without actually having an active system?
Callahan: "That's sort of like playing Russian roulette. If a burglar decides they want to test to see if you have a system, it only takes them half a second to kick in a door to see what happens."
Mackas: "You can talk to many people who have alarm systems and regardless of having an alarm system, they've been broken into. The yard signs and window stickers aren't necessarily a deterrent."
Stone: "It's a gamble. Do they believe in life insurance, or do they think they're not going to need it?"