Thinking about getting a DIY home alarm system. Not all systems or companies are the same. With Think Protection, Simplisafe, Frontpoint, Livewatch and Protect America, there are so many choices. How do you know which DIY alarm company is best? When choosing a DIY alarm system, here are some things to think about and questions to ask.
Professionally Monitored vs. Self Monitored
What’s the difference between professional monitoring and self monitoring? Self monitoring means that when your alarm is triggered you get notified. You then have to respond. If you don’t have your phone, then you won’t know you had an alarm event. Professional monitoring means a 24/7 professional response. Your alarm gets triggered and you get notified. Then a signal is sent to a professional monitoring centre. A professional representative can then respond. They’ll notify emergency contacts. After they’ll contact police if necessary. When choosing a DIY alarm system, get it professionally monitored. Self monitored alarms provide limited peace of mind. Only a professional monitored alarm will truly protect your home.
What’s The Price?
Now that you’ve decided to get a professionally monitored DIY alarm, it’s important to look at price. How much is the monitoring? Some companies charge as much as $50/month. Others as low as $12.99/month (Think Protection). Understand that most people stay with an alarm company for 9 years. This means that $37/month difference will add up to over $3500 in savings! Think long term and go with a company with great rates.
Some alarm companies will force you to agree to a long term contract. Others go month to month. Never sign a long term alarm contract. Contracts only benefit the company, never the customer. With there being so many DIY alarm choices, go with the best value. And by not having a contract, if you’re unhappy you can cancel anytime.
Money Back Guarantee
Some DIY alarm companies have a money back guarantee period. Some go from 7 days and others go for longer. Avoid DIY security companies that don’t have a money back guarantee. A guarantee gives you a period you can return if you’re unhappy. If you have cold feet or they don’t live up to promises. Peace of mind comes with a money back guarantee. Make sure your DIY company has one.
Technology has come a long way over the past few years. DIY alarms are now easy to set up. Ask on your purchase call what the steps to installation are. Look at online reviews. See what other customers are saying. Do your research. Most should be easy to install. Some panels are harder than others. Check if the DIY company has a money back guarantee. If they do, then most likely the installation is easier. If it wasn’t they wouldn’t have the guarantee!
Check online reviews before purchasing. Trustpilot and Homestars are two online review sites. Both show actual customer reviews. They both eliminate fake reviews. Read about the quality of product. How good is the service? Was the DIY installation easy? How are the prices? You can learn alot from these review sites. It will help you choose with DIY company is best for you.
Aura is a new home alarm system created by Cognitive Systems, based out of Waterloo Ontario. Aura is a different kind of home alarm system. Cognitive Systems say that with Aura only two pieces of equipment can protect a 2500 sq ft home. Aura is definitely different from traditional alarm systems. The question though is how does Aura work and is it a better home alarm solution?
Aura does not have motion detectors and door contacts. Instead, Aura monitors the change in spectrum inside a home. Noise changes alter the spectrum in the home. This then sends invisible ripples throughout the area. Aura will pick up these “ripples” and will trigger the alarm.
Cognitive Systems says Aura was created for two reasons. The first is they claim this technology is perfect for people concerned about privacy. A camera inside your home can (with very low likelihood) be hacked. This way someone can see inside the home. Aura lends itself to privacy-focused individuals, as what would a hacker hack? They’d see lines of data. Changes of ripples. Not streaming video.
The second reason is they say that traditional home alarm systems have equipment that can lead to false alarms frequently. According to Cognitive System staff, this system should have less false alarms. Plus they say that traditional alarms need lots of equipment to protect a home. Aura though can protect with just two pieces of equipment.
Here’s a recent CBC report on Aura: http://bit.ly/2oQz3PU
We got a chance to see the Aura system at a recent trade show, ISC West. Here are our thoughts on it.
We liked how the Aura system looked. Nice and clean with only two pieces of equipment. We also thought the concept was interesting. However, there are many issues with Aura by Cognitive Systems.
First, while it seems like an easy solution for home security, the premise is inherently flawed. In regards to privacy, if the homeowner doesn’t want a camera in their home, they don’t need one. Nest Cam, Canary, and Ring.com are security solutions that rely on a camera. These systems are based on a camera. The vast majority of alarms though don’t require a camera to work. For example, Think Protection’s systems do not. A camera can be added, but it’s simply an additional service/piece of equipment. It’s not the base. With a cameraless traditional home alarm, privacy should not be a concern. It’s no different than Aura. So thus this point is a non-issue when you compare apples to apples.
Second, looking at traditional alarm equipment, there are few false alarms. PIR’s (motion detectors) rarely will trigger without actual movement. Aura currently cannot work with a pet in the home. A pet-friendly motion detector can. A properly installed motion detector is the best way to protect a home. Bar none.
Third, with new DIY home alarm systems, the installation has never been easier. For example, you can install a Think Protection Standard Package system in less than 30 minutes. Everything is wireless and requires no drilling. Anyone can do it. Think Protection staff walks you through it over the phone. Plus they make sure everything is up and running properly. So while Aura by Cognitive Systems may be easy to install, so are other alarms. With that said, the argument by Cognitive Systems doesn’t hold water.
Remember that not all DIY alarms are as easy to install as Think Protection. Frontpoint and Protect America take longer to install. However, they still can be installed by non-experts.
Last we have to look at the price. Aura is expected to retail for $500 (plus tax). A base package by Think Protection consisting of 1 door contact, 1 motion detector, 1 pinpad retails for $299.99 (plus tax). Additional motion detectors cost $49.99. A 2500 sq foot home will typically need only 2 to 3 motion detectors to protect your home. So the cost of all equipment with a traditional home alarm is far less than $500. Plus you can continue to add as necessary with a Think Protection alarm. With Aura, you’ll have to buy a second Aura system.
With Aura by Cognitive Systems, it may look cool and clean but it can’t compare with a traditional home alarm system. Aura solves a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s an expensive security solution that may sway some people who are looking at Nest Cam, Ring.com or Canary. But anyone looking for a real home security solution should go with a real home alarm system. One that uses motion detectors and door contacts.
More and more alarm companies are opting to do credit checks on their customers. Vivint, CPI, and Frontpoint are just a few of the well-known home security companies that make their customers agree to have a credit check done. The question is why do these companies make their customers undergo a credit check and why doesn’t Think Protection have their customers do credit checks?
Vivint, CPI, and Frontpoint make their customers agree to a credit check because they make their customers sign a 3 year (or in some cases 5 year) contract, where the customer in return gets the system for no money upfront. Now as we’ve said before, over the length of the contract the customer ends up paying significantly more than what the system is worth. The company though is limiting their risk, as they view people with bad credit as more likely to not pay their monthly bills which they are obligated to pay by signing the monitoring contract with the company.
Are people with bad credit really less likely to default on their monthly payments? Banks who are providing financing to these companies think so. And because of that, people with bad credit have to pay money upfront or higher monthly fees if they want the same system as those with good credit with these companies. And all of their customers have to agree to be locked into a contract, where the company reserves the right to raise rates at any time and if the customer wants to cancel they must pay a penalty or the remainder of their contract.
In all instances, customers should avoid signing any sort of long-term alarm contract, as the customer will always end up paying more and getting less than those companies without contracts.
With Think Protection, not only is there no contract, but there’s also no credit check required to be undertaken by any of our customers. Good credit, bad credit – we don’t care. With Think Protection, you buy the system from us and it’s yours to own. Then monitoring for your home alarm is just $12.99/month. All you need is a valid credit card and you’re good to go.
And Think Protection’s home alarm is incredibly advanced, where you can do everything you can with any other home alarm system and more! Plus you won’t be locked into a contract, which forces us to provide the absolute best service in the industry because if you’re ever unhappy you can cancel anytime!
Unlike other home alarm companies, we don’t make our customers jump through hoops to get our award-winning alarm system. With Think Protection you’ll get the best at a price that can’t be beaten, even if you have bad credit!
With every Think Protection home alarm system, access to the mobile app is included FREE. The app is easy to use and feature-rich, giving our customers the absolute experience while receiving state of the art home security. Here are 4 reasons why our smartphone app the best in the industry:
At Think Protection, our mobile app comes with our monthly monitoring rate of $12.99 with no contract. It is compatible with both iPhone and Android phones. Many other alarm companies, such AlarmForce, ADT, Simplisafe or Frontpoint charge extra for their app or for remote arming/disarming the alarm system. Every smart phone user in the house will also have access to the mobile app – it isn’t limited to just one user.
- You Have Full Remote Control
Your mobile device gives you the power to control your alarm system at any distance. You could in Tokyo and you would still be able to remotely arm/disarm your system. This allows you to stay connected and monitor the system, even if you’re halfway across the world. We give you the freedom and flexibility to always have your system active – giving you the best security at all times.
Our mobile app allows you to add full home automation capabilities to your home alarm service at any time within the same app. You can do things like controlling your thermostat, lock/unlock doors, open your garage and turn on and off lights.
Our smartphone app is incredibly easy to use. The app was designed with our customers in mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tech expert or a smartphone newbie, you’ll easily navigate our app and have full control over your Think Protection home alarm system!
If you would like more information, please call us at 1-855-76-THINK (1-855-76-4465). View our website, Facebook or Twitter for more information.
You’re thinking of getting a home alarm. You’ve done your research and are close to making a decision. Here are 10 questions to ask any home alarm company when choosing which home alarm to purchase. These questions will let you make the right decision in protecting your home and family.
1. Is there a contract?
Almost all home alarm companies will force you to sign a contract when getting a home alarm system. Big name companies like ADT and Vivint, along with cable companies like Xfinity and Rogers Smarthome all make customers sign contracts.
Why do they do this? First, this is done to lock the customer up. The home alarm industry is very competitive. Locking up the customer is ideal for the home alarm company. This means that the customer will be stuck paying for the system even if you’re unhappy. If you want to cancel, too bad. You’ll have to pay out the remainder of the term.
Contracts are great for alarm companies, not so great for customers. It’s important to understand that contracts only benefit the company. Try to avoid having to sign a contract at all times. Look for an alarm company that won’t require you to sign a long-term contract. Free yourself from a contract. This way if you’re unhappy you can cancel at any time. This will also force the company to provide better service.
2. How much does it cost?
Home alarms used to be expensive. Customers would have to pay huge amounts of money upfront and ongoing for monitoring. Plus service calls would cost additionally. Having a home alarm was an expensive venture. And you would also have to sign a long-term contract.
With the improvements in technology and the ever-growing home security space, you can now get a great home alarm at a fraction of the price. You shouldn’t have to pay more than $20/month to get a home alarm. If a company is charging more, be skeptical and find out for what. The vast majority of the time you’ll be paying more for fewer services.
So why would companies charge more than $20/month? The reason is that they historically charged higher rates. Due to this, they have to keep the prices high, otherwise, if they lowered them they’d have to lower all of their older customers’ rates as well. A rebound effect in lowering prices could bankrupt a company. It’s always easier for a company to raise prices as opposed to lowering them.
Shop around and do your research. Know what you’ll be paying and what you’ll be getting in return.
3. What are the system’s REAL costs?
You sign up for a home alarm system that costs $25/month. Good chance the alarm company will raise monitoring rates every year! In almost all contracts, there’s a clause where the alarm company reserves the right to raise monitoring rates at any time. ADT and the cable companies are notorious for raising rates. If a company with a contract won’t put in writing that they won’t raise your monitoring rates, then avoid them at all costs. Know what you’ll be paying ongoing, so you won’t be stuck paying more for less.
4. Does the system come with a mobile app and how much is it?
You carry your phone with you everywhere you go. Make sure that you can connect to your alarm system through it. Most new alarm systems have a mobile app that will let you control the system through. If the system doesn’t come with a mobile app, avoid it since it’s older technology.
These apps should be standard, included at no additional cost. If the company is charging you more for the mobile app, it’s nothing more than a cash grab. Avoid that company, since this should be a standard feature.
5. Is the system wireless?
30 year ago, you needed to have your home wired if you wanted a quality home alarm. That’s not the case anymore. A wireless home alarm can do everything a wired home alarm can do (and more)! An alarm company wanting to hardwire an alarm into your home simply wants to log more hours of service that they can bill you for. Always choose a wireless alarm system. It’s an easier, better solution that is far less intrusive to your home. And you’ll save thousands of dollars.
6. How easy is it to add features/equipment?
With some home alarms, the system you’re getting is the best it’ll ever be. In order to add equipment or features you’ll have to spend hundreds/thousands of dollars or the system just won’t be able to handle the additional services. For example, if you have a Simplisafe alarm, you can’t add home automation. Simplisafe doesn’t have that service. Or if you have Ring.com and you want it professionally monitored, then too bad.
Find out what additional services and equipment the alarm company offers and what are the costs. Ask if you can add them at any time. Find out how easy they are to add. Do they require an installer to come over or can you do it yourself? Get all the info when making your decision.
7. Does the system require an installer to set up?
New alarm systems are so technologically advanced they don’t require an installer to set it up. So then why do companies offer installers? It’s because they have alarms out in the field that uses older equipment. This requires ongoing service, which only someone skilled can do.
Times have changed and technology’s improved. New alarm systems don’t need installers. The problem with installers is that you’ll have to take a day off work for them to come in and do something you could do yourself. It’s inconvenient and unnecessary. Plus, you’ll have a stranger in your house that will leave a mess behind. And more often than not the installer will have to come back for one reason or another or will have to reschedule, making you miss additional time off work.
And remember that installers don’t work for free. The cost of the installer will be passed on to you. You’ll end up paying for something that you didn’t need!
Get a new home alarm that you can do yourself. You’ll be able to set it up anytime you want with minimal effort. A system with the newest technology will take between 30 to 45 minutes to install and will require no drilling. You’ll save hundreds of dollars and will get a better system.
8. Does the alarm company serve all areas?
Not all home alarm companies service all areas. For example, AlarmForce has geographical boundaries where you have to live certain areas to get service. If you move out of them then you can’t take the system with you. So with AlarmForce, if you live in Toronto and you’re moving to Seattle, your AlarmForce system won’t work there. You’ll have to pay out the remainder of your contract or find someone to transfer to it.
Ideall, find a company that doesn’t have geographical limitations. Find a national company that can serve you anywhere. Don’t be handcuffed by limited service areas.
9. Is the system professionally monitored?
Thinking of buying a Nest Cam or a Ring.com. These aren’t home alarms. They’re self-monitored systems. This means that if they detect an intruder they simply notify you. Now the onus is on you to respond. You’ll have to assess the situation and then contact authorities if needed. While Nest Cam and Ring.com are better than nothing, they aren’t home alarms.
For real protection, you need a home alarm that is professionally monitored. This means that if your alarm goes off, a link will be established to a central station. There a professional can assess the situation and contact authorities along with an emergency contact list.
This real 24/7 protection works. Proof of this is that insurance companies give homeowners with monitored home alarms discounts in their insurance rates. You won’t get the same discount if you have Nest Cam or Ring.com.
If your home alarm isn’t professionally monitored by a company with a 5-diamond (the highest certification) central station, then find one that is. Get the best security available.
10. What kind of return policy does the company have?
You’re thinking of getting an AlarmForce alarm. You get it installed. 11 days later you decide you want to return the system. The problem is you signed a 3-year contract. And AlarmForce has a government issued 10 day cooling off period. So now that you’re past that, guess what? You’re obligated to pay out the entire 3-years of the contract… even if you want to cancel!
A small number of companies have certain money back guarantees. For example, Think Protection has a 30-day risk free money back guarantee. If you’re unhappy at anytime during this period, you can return your system and get all upfront equipment costs refunded.
Alarm companies that don’t have long risk free guarantees lack confidence in products and services. They are trying to lock up customers because they know that better offers exist.
Avoid any company that won’t give you back your money if you’re unhappy. Plus if you sign a contract remember that you’ll be forced to pay out the entire term of your contract. Proceed with caution and know what you’re agreeing to.