Are Self-Monitored Alarm Systems Worth It?

As technology continues to improve, more options are available to homeowners to help them protect their homes and families. While the majority of potential customers are choosing to go with traditional home alarm systems that use a monitoring station, there are a variety of self-monitored home alarms available. We have to ask ourselves what is a self-monitored alarm and can they protect to the same level as a traditional home alarm system?

A self-monitored alarm system is usually sold through retail outlets (Lowes, Brookstone, Home Depot) and is installed by the homeowner. The security system could either be a single unit or one that resembles a traditional home alarm (base unit, peripherals, etc). The system works like a standard home alarm where it detects an intrusion but instead of sending a signal to a central station, the unit notifies the homeowner, either through text message, phone call or email.

A self-monitored alarm system usually costs anywhere from $99 – $499 upfront and then has a monthly fee between $0 – $15/month.

These systems are low cost and seem as if they provide tremendous value for the homeowner, the problem is that they can’t provide the same level of protection as a traditionally monitored home alarm system. Having the homeowner have to handle the monitoring puts too much pressure on the individual and ultimately provides a false sense of security.

For example, there’s a break-in at a house that has a self-monitored home alarm system. The alarm detects the burglar and a siren goes off (just like any other home alarm system). An email is then sent to the homeowner. Let’s say though that the homeowner is at work and in a meeting, where he’s not checking his phone. Or he’s at the movies. Or he’s on vacation by the pool. The system is reliant on the homeowner to take action, which if the homeowner is unavailable the intrusion is not dealt with and the burglar has unlimited time inside the home.

Even if the homeowner does get the email, the onus is now on him to notify the authorities to verify that there’s an actual burglary occurring as opposed to a false alarm. The homeowner has no experience dealing with these situations, doesn’t know that 96% of alarm signals are false, doesn’t have access to private guard services who will respond to the alarm faster than the police would, etc.

Self-monitored alarm systems can’t protect a home and family to the same extent a monitored home alarm system can. They provide a false level of protection. While affordable, the value isn’t there in regards to the service they provide, and at the end of the day leaves the homeowner vulnerable.

Anyone looking for true protection should get a monitored alarm system. These systems not only detect when someone’s inside your home, they allow a trained professional to deal with the situation 24/7, regardless of where you are. Let professionals protect your home and family. Think protection by using a valued monitoring service as opposed to a self-monitored system which may seem like a great service, but in reality is flawed security.

What Is The Canary Smart Home Security System?

Canary Smart Home Security System announced on March 5th that they have secured a $10 million in funding for their single unit smart home security solution. The product was first featured on Kickstarter and raised over $1.2 million in funding.

The Canary product is still being developed and is not currently being sold. The unit will cost around $200, and contains sensors and a camera. The idea is that the unit can do most things a traditional home security system can do. It has certain learning features, where it will supposedly understand the movements within the house, and then when activated if any movements seem unusual it will trigger.

The unit is self-monitored through a users smartphone, where the user can watch the camera, see video and arm and disarm the system.

There is currently no outside monitoring solution.

While the idea for the Canary Home Monitored Security System seems novel, unfortunately, it can’t do everything a traditional home alarm system can. It has definite limitations. If you live in a small apartment, or a trailer home then the unit may well be enough to protect yourself. Beyond that, it simply doesn’t have the functionality that a system with more equipment has. Multiple motion detectors located throughout the house adds more security value than a standalone unit.

Beyond that, if the unit does not have outside monitoring capabilities then the true level of protection is suspect. What if the homeowner is in a meeting and can’t look at their smartphone or if the user’s phone is dead? In both of those examples the system then simply becomes a local alarm providing little deterrent value.

The Canary Smart Home Security System seems like a product that would be found at The Sharper Image or Brookstone. It’s a cool concept that in reality has little true value as a security solution. If someone is really looking for a real way to protect their home and family then a traditional security system, with increased features and equipment that is strategically placed throughout the house continues to be the ideal form of security.

Here’s the Techcrunch article on Canary’s latest round of funding: