Before committing to a professionally installed system, learn all you can
about the various options available. Comparision shop for a system that is best
suited for your needs. Price should be second on your list. As with other
major purchases, do not rush into any decision. There is no "one size fits all"
package. Each system should have the devices your property needs to work
adequately. A local siren without central station monitoring may be an
acceptable method for you, especially if you live in a rural area with slower
police response. There are many monitoring options, so research what is best
for you before signing any agreements.
- Always try to get at least three quotes (usually free). Each company will
have it's own ideas about system design, but try to have the companies quote
similar designs so you can compare more easily.
- Asking for references is OK, but remember that security is a private
matter. Ask references about service and installation quality and not specifics
about their system. Also, ask about the quality of service from the central
monitoring station as it is usually a separate organization.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau for the company reliability report.
- Check to see if the company is licensed in your area if required.
- Before meeting with anybody, prepare a list of what you would like a new
system to do. Such things might include:
- an outdoor and/or indoor siren
- locations of additional control keypads
- devices such as window and door switches, motion detectors, glassbreak
sensors, smoke detectors, wireless remotes, etc...
- central station monitoring options (Do you have a regular telephone line,
cable modem, etc..?)
- Some companies ask you to sign a contract. If so, read it carefully as it
may contain important items that they have not brought to your attention. Such
items can include ownership of the parts, automatic renewal, and installation
damage clauses. Always make sure a company carries proper insurance BEFORE
starting any work.
- If you have any unclear issues, do not rely on a verbal explanation or
promise. Get it in writing.
- If you decide on having the system monitored, consider the total cost of the
system including: parts, installation, and the cost of the entire term of
monitoring. Compare that to the other quotes that may have a higher up front
cost, but lower monitoring rates.
- During new construction or major renovation you should consider having the
wiring installed along with the other electrical wiring. Electricians and home
entertainment companies are usually not the ones to ask. Now is the time to
choose a security contractor.
Wireless systems have the advantage of faster and easier installation, but
use batteries that eventually need replacement. Also, wireless systems tend to
have devices that are more noticeable because they are usually mounted on the
surface instead of hidden inside a wall or door frame. Further, many wireless
system are "self contained" meaning that they might not be able to support an
outdoor siren and more importantly, the main control circuit is located at the
keypad. This makes the system more vulnerable to being physically disabled. A
wired system usually takes longer to install, but the parts are less expensive.
Wired systems tend to be a more reliable, long term solution. Sometimes it is
not possible to wire all devices so a mix of wired and wireless is a good viable