How to Choose a Full-Service Home Alarm Company

By Linda Ray

  • Overview

    It can be difficult to sort through the marketing hype and fear-based ads of some home alarm companies to make an informed decision. Full-service alarm companies vary in the level of services they provide and the amount of equipment and alarm accessories they sell. By following these tips, you should have a clearer idea of how to choose a full-service home alarm company to protect your family.
    • Step 1

      Make a list of the features you would like in an alarm system. Consider the level of protection you desire to determine how extensive a system you need. Alarm systems can be attached to every window and door in the house, or cover just the entrances. Some monitoring services provide response capabilities, while others simply report an alarm to the local authorities. Motion sensors, systems tied to smoke alarms and talking keypads are all features available for extra charges.
    • Step 2

      Set a budget to prepare for the quotes. The more features you desire, the more expensive the system will be. When collecting bids, you need to have a clear idea of the market prices. Equipment and installation charges are not typically included in monitoring fees, but some companies offer free equipment when you sign a long-term contract. Monitoring costs can run anywhere from $10 to $100 a month. Quality alarm equipment can be purchased for an average of $500 for a system to cover a 3,500-square-foot home.

    • Step 3

      Get at least three bids (see Resources below). If equipment is included, ask the company which models they use and how much they charge just for monitoring service. Read the entire offer to make sure you understand everything that's included in the quote and where extra charges will apply. Request free accessories such as remote controls for your keys and Internet access to company logs kept on your property.
    • Step 4

      Price service and equipment separately. To get the best monitoring equipment, purchase it independently from the monitoring company. Monthly contractors that monitor alarm systems specialize in the service and do not typically install the best equipment.
    • Step 5

      Sign up for a 1-month trial to make sure that the company you employed provides the kind of service you expect. While you may not experience any break-ins or emergencies during the trial period, there will most likely be bugs to work out, such as pets and animals setting off the system or family members forgetting the codes, and you will have the opportunity to interact with the alarm company to find out what kind of customer service they provide.
    • Skill: Moderately Easy
    • Tip: Consider a wireless alarm system to save installation fees and running wires through the walls.
    • Tip: Look into video camera surveillance options and cell phone access if you travel a lot and want to monitor your home from different locations.
    • Tip: Utse the stickers and yard signs provided by the alarm companies as a deterrent to burglars.
    • Warning:
    • Make sure that all alarm equipment comes with a battery back-up feature. Home invasions have a tendency to rise during power outages.

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