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Old November 5, 2010, 01:33 AM   #1
Davey
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Can anyone recommend a home alarm monitoring company?

I want a home alarm so that if an alarm is tripped it'll give me notice to grab my XD and cell phone(s).

My fiance wants it to be monitored ADT style. I can go the ADT route but I worry about being tied down to anything proprietary. For instance what if I want to add devices on my own later on? Does one of their techs have to come out? Also they have a three year minimum contract. At $45 a month it's a little on the steep side but still manageable for us.

I'm gonna call back the ADT sales rep tomorrow to follow up on the questions above however I would like to get some recommendations from anyone with experience.

I know there are lots of review sites out there but I suffer from being easily overloaded with information.

Anyway, does anyone know of a good reputable monitoring company that will let me use my own equipment and future addons? I live in the Chicago suburb area near Huntley if that makes a difference, but I don't think it would.

thanks
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Old November 5, 2010, 11:15 AM   #2
Sefner
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Dycks is cheaper from what I understand, monitoring for ~$20 a month (where I live).

The set ups I've seen are pretty modular, too. You can have video camers, motion detectors, lights, alarms, all of the above, or some of the above, where you want them, etc etc.

Not sure about adding your own stuff though, you'd have to ask them about it.
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Old November 5, 2010, 12:38 PM   #3
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You might consider a good dog. Burglar, fire alarm, and good friend. Just a thought.


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Old November 5, 2010, 01:23 PM   #4
longhair75
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Be very careful here. Some monitoring contracts are binding whether you continue to own the house or not. I know of one woman who is still paying on the monitoring contract for a house that was torn down.

Read the fine print before signing a contract.
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Old November 5, 2010, 01:40 PM   #5
Davey
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Quote:
You might consider a good dog. Burglar, fire alarm, and good friend. Just a thought.
Would love to however I'm allergic so dogs and cats are a no go.

Maybe if I had a pet velociraptor...

As for contracts yeah I'm watching out for those. That's one of the turn offs with ADT. Three years, yuck!
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Old November 5, 2010, 02:45 PM   #6
kraigwy
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I have no ideal what alarms company's are in your area. I do have a basic ideal of what works.

I spent 20 years as a cop, responding to all kinds of alarms. What I observed that worked best is the loud suckers that wake up everyone for miles around. They normally scare the bandits off before they make entry. Silent alarms are OK for notifying the cops or alarm company which still have to respond, thats minutes away. You can loose a lot of stuff in 5 minutes, even three minutes.

Here is a little test. Time your self, enter your house and see how much stuff you can make off with in 3 minutes.

The noisy alarms mentioned above scare the heck out of bandits, they don't know who they woke up, who's gonna respond or when. Bandits think they are safe from Cops for 3 minutes, but not from neighbors or tenants.

Regardless of which alarm company you choose, make sure you're alarm is loud enough to wake up the dead.
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Old November 5, 2010, 05:26 PM   #7
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I agree with kraigwy. Noise is your best defense.

I use Protection One and have had good service from them, both in my home and my business. Good responses to alarms and they call me very quickly, though not as fast as in the commercials.

I don't think any standard company is going to allow you to add anything to their system. Too much chance of noncompatability of components would be my guess. However PO's warranty service has been very good and they are fast when necessary to repair anything or change out batteries in remote sensors. Just my .02.
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Old November 5, 2010, 05:56 PM   #8
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Lasershield.

http://www.lasershield.net/

Marketed towards college students (in particular to protective parents of college aged daughters) as an inexpensive and non-binding way to secure dorms and rental apartments through college.

Modular system to fit your needs.

Last edited by azredhawk44; November 5, 2010 at 05:57 PM. Reason: bad url
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Old November 5, 2010, 07:35 PM   #9
nelso
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Wireless

Davey I was just discussing this with a colleague the other day. He is going to get me the details. He has a wireless system that he can add to anytime with motion sensors, sensors for doors, windows etc, loud alarm etc. BUT THE BIG NEWS for me was this: with his system he bought a dial up device that can be programmed to call several different numbers. It works like this, Bad guy sets off the system, a call goes to the local police with the message, "hello this is John Smith at 10 Main Street. My security system has been breached. Please send help." My friend loves his system and just got one for his elderly Dad. I will try to get the info next week
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Old November 5, 2010, 10:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nelso
Davey I was just discussing this with a colleague the other day. He is going to get me the details. He has a wireless system that he can add to anytime with motion sensors, sensors for doors, windows etc, loud alarm etc. BUT THE BIG NEWS for me was this: with his system he bought a dial up device that can be programmed to call several different numbers. It works like this, Bad guy sets off the system, a call goes to the local police with the message, "hello this is John Smith at 10 Main Street. My security system has been breached. Please send help." My friend loves his system and just got one for his elderly Dad. I will try to get the info next week
Check your local laws. Self-dialing systems such as this are not allowed in my town. They MUST be monitored by a service that has the capability to call upon receipt of signal and ask if it is a genuine alarm or a false.

The good side is that, when (not if) I head down to the basement in a morning fog and forget to disarm the system, I don't interrupt the officers' morning doughnut run. The down side is that it generally takes a minimum of a minute after triggering the alarm for the phone to ring, and another 30 to 45 seconds for the alarm company to ask if I'm okay and to verify my password. If it were a real alarm, there would be a minimum delay of at least two minutes before they even notify the police ... and the nearest unit could be 10 to 15 minutes away.
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Old November 6, 2010, 09:08 AM   #11
JasonG
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This has been my business for some time now.

As Kraigwy said, the big loud sirens and a neighbor are the best.

Most criminals know that if they cut the phone line the alarm cant call. Spend the $250 for the cellular dialer.

Avoid ADT like the plague. The fire and police refer to them as "always done twice" or "another dumb technician". Their hook is get now pay later. Do the math on $50 * 36 months and that will buy an awesome alarm system that can be monitored for $15-20 per month.

Most local companies are a good bet. If they have labeled work vans/trucks not just trunk slammers that is.

Window contacts can be defeated, motion detectors can't. Spend your money on them.

Remotes can be dropped as you get in your car or stolen with your purse.
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Old November 6, 2010, 12:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
I spent 20 years as a cop, responding to all kinds of alarms. What I observed that worked best is the loud suckers that wake up everyone for miles around. They normally scare the bandits off before they make entry.
I wholeheartedly agree. That and lights. Lots and lots of lights.

One note of caution about any alarm system though, make sure all sensors are reliable and well-placed. One thing cops hate is responding to repeated false alarms, and many communities have laws imposing a fine after X number of them.

At the least, LE response to a residence or business with a long history of false alarm drops tends to be assigned a "lower priority" .
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Old November 6, 2010, 01:17 PM   #13
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Having been both a police officer and a 911 operator/police dispatcher, I can also say that I am not impressed with ADT. It is amazing to me that we contact their monitoring center needing someone out on an alarm that they gave us, and they can't locate the account. We're like "You called us with this address, and now you can't find the account!!!! ***?"

Protection One seems to do a pretty good job for a larger company, and Brinks/Broadview is really laying on the advertising, so you might get a deal from them. They are pretty good for a large company as well.

I agree with others that some of the better local alarm companies seem to do the best job, but you have to be careful that you get a quality local company. One of the benefits to local companies is lower activity level, which results in faster calls to the police. By the time some of the larger alarm company call centers call the police, 10+ minutes may have passed from the original activation.

+1 on motion detectors & cellular dialing w/battery backup.

Know your password, and make it something easy to remember under stress. Also, make sure anyone who has your alarm code has the password.

Have your different alarm zones clearly defined so when the call comes into the police they know where the trouble is supposed to be.

Loud Sirens are good. Flood lights that activate are also good.

Also consider a monitored zone inside your garage. Its not uncommon for people to force garage doors as a way to make entry, and most people don't secure their garage-to-house door.

Remember, the alarm is about making your house harder than your neighbors. Unless you live in a small town, you are not likely to get a police response that is going to capture burglars. It is about encouraging them to go somewhere else or to leave quickly if they do choose your house.

The reality of police staffing and call volume in populated areas, coupled with the fact that most house alarms are false, means that alarm calls are not treated as emergencies without other information to indicate an actual break-in (like a neighbor calling in).
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Old November 8, 2010, 04:57 AM   #14
Davey
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Thanks for the tips everyone.

As for a local company I imagine they would just contract out the actual monitoring to someone else? A quick look on Smart Pages turned up one company located in the next town over. What are the chances that there is actually a manned station that close by? Does it really make a difference?

As for lights and stuff... yeah. I'm planning on making the alarm as annoying and loud as possible, both audibly and visually. I'm looking at X-10 to turn lights on and stuff. Maybe a disco ball and strobe light?

Some day I'll just buy a house with a moat...
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Old November 8, 2010, 10:38 AM   #15
pbratton
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Buy the gear outright. Look for one that will allow you to connect your internet connection. Program it to send email alerts. No fees, still gives you the local annunciation.

Also, get a dog and teach it to bark at anything that comes in the yard.
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Old November 10, 2010, 03:24 PM   #16
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I use an EMC (Electric Membership Corp) monitoring company. No contract, monthly fee is $18.00 paid quarterly and they have dual monitoring stations in two different cities via an 800 number. I have dual techniolgy motions (requires a trip on Infrared and Microwave) and door and window contacts on all doors and windows. Battery backed up and wireless dialer. I bought the system when the house was built.
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Old November 10, 2010, 03:47 PM   #17
ohen cepel
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I used LaserShield at one house and liked it fine, bit limited I felt though. Would use it again though.

Also, had one house where I was able to pull the code off the master box and use it without paying for the monitoring service. That is the way I would go, cost me nothing and worked fine for me.

Monitoring services do little for me. With the monthly cost I think you're much better to spend the money on more security and a better base system. $500 a year will pay for a lot of security extras, training, safes, etc!!!

I want the alarm to wake me up or to let me know that someone has broken in while I'm gone.

We lost all confidence we has in ADT when I was deployed. System went off in the middle of night. Took them about 30mins for the police to arrive. Totally turned my Wife off to their "service". We have a better small company where we are now but only because the landlord pays for it since it gets him an insurance break.

I think the only reason I would have a monitored alarm not would be if the insurance break effectively paid for it.
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Old November 15, 2010, 03:29 PM   #18
blackburn2413
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I have experience with ADT myself. Personally I like the feature of being able to arm the house with my iPhone in case a person forgets. I havent had a case myself where I have NEEDED response (Thank God) so I cant report on response times.
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Old November 15, 2010, 05:09 PM   #19
stephen426
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I think Brinks/Broadview security recently got acquired by ADT. I was just in the market for a new alarm system for the house. I had a smaller local company that farms the monitoring out (like a lot of smaller companies). I had a problem with my panel and they wanted to charge me an arm and a leg for a new one. I have a slightly older system that uses screen sensors in addition to the normal entry way sensors. That allows the house to be armed without the need for motion sensors. We have a radio backup (cheaper than cellular backup) in case the lines get cut. Finally the original company gave in and dropped the price (significantly) after we told them to remove their stuff.

In my previous house (which we bought because we got broken into at the house before that), I set up the layout of the house myself. I just told the techs what I wanted and they complied. I had criss-crossing motion sensors, and all entry ways were covered. My akita added an extra layer of protection. We had cellular backup in case the lines were cut.

As for adding your own stuff, I don't believe that any company is going to like that idea. Basically, they are responsible for ensuring your system works properly and they can't guarantee that with stuff that does not belong to them. You could always add web cams or a dvr yourself that is not tied into the system.

ADT offered us a bunch of stuff with one of their packages. It allows remote access from any smart phone or computer connected to the internet. It has the capability to integrate with web cams and can also turn on lights or fixtures. Its seemed pretty cool, but it isn't cheap.

Good luck and good decision going with an alarm company. The noise will scare off most intruders and the advanced warning will allow you to take care of those that aren't scared off by the noise. Be sure to request a panic code and a panic password in the case of a home invasion style break in. This has actually happened in Miami of the past few years and the intruders force the home owners to turn off the alarm system. The panic code and panic password are an indication to send in the calvary.
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