Over the past few years, the security industry has seen the rise of the DIY home alarm system. How do they compare to a traditional security system? What are the benefits? Here are a few reasons why you should choose a DIY home alarm system.
Technology has come incredibly far over the past 10 years. This is especially true in home security. New wireless alarms can do everything a wired alarm can do, and more! Everything is simplified and can be connected to a central station through broadband or cellular signals. This means that a home phone line is no longer required. The advances in technology mean that a DIY home alarm can be easily set up. Some in around half an hour. Plus these systems are completely wireless, so no drilling is required. Simple, fast and effective, a DIY monitored alarm system easily protect your home and family at an incredibly low price.
Traditional alarm companies try to convince customers that installers are beneficial. They say they are needed to provide the best customer experience. The truth is that they are unnecessary with a new system. If you have an old, wired alarm system then yes you need an installer. A new system though does not.
In fact, installers are extremely detrimental. Customers have to take time off work to wait around for an installer. Most companies give half day windows, and on average a large number of installations either get rescheduled or the installer comes late! The reality is with new technology a homeowner can easily do everything the installer would be doing themselves. Plus, the installer doesn’t come for free. The alarm company pays large sums to the installer. This means that the costs get passed to the customer! So you’re paying more for an unnecessary service!
Plus an installer is someone you don’t know inside your home. They could be a smoker or wear dirty boots throughout the house! Who wants a stranger in your home? The beauty of DIY is you can do everything easy by yourself, in a fraction of the time an installer can do it.
DIY monitored alarm systems can provide lower prices than a traditional one. Why is this? Because of the cost of the installer! Less company overhead means more savings for you. For examples, Think Protection charges only $12.99/month for monitoring. ADT is $40+ per month. Vivint is $50+ per month. Both of these companies have installers and significant overhead! The cost of those gets passed to the customer. With a DIY system, you’ll save and get the same (if not better) technology.
You own a home alarm system. You’ve had it for a few years. You seem to be happy with your alarm company. Are you really though? Do you even know if your alarm is really protecting you? Here are 3 things every home alarm customer should be doing (and probably currently isn’t).
Test Your System
You’ve had a home alarm system in your home for years and set it every time you leave the house. Do you know though if it’s actually working? Most older alarm systems don’t tell you if all parts of the system are working. Newer systems show you the status of all peripherals of the system. Are the batteries all working? Is the system in proper shape? Older systems are “dumb”, meaning they don’t provide updates on their condition. The user doesn’t even know if all parts of the system work! With this said, test your system regularly. If you have window contacts, are the system and then open the windows. See if they work. Same thing with motion detectors. This is especially true for systems that don’t have an app that shows the status of each piece of equipment!
Check Your Monthly Pricing
The vast majority of alarm companies make you sign a multiyear contract when you sign up for service. During the contract, they reserve the right to raise your monthly monitoring rates. And most do. Some raise it a dollar every year. Others may raise rates a few bucks yearly. Just because a company said your rate is $25, doesn’t mean it will be a few years down the line. And there’s a good chance you don’t know what you’re paying because it’s a direct withdrawal from your bank account. Most people don’t even check their bank statements. Always check how much you’re really being charged. Also, understand when your contract ends, so if you are unhappy you can switch to a different company to monitor your system.
Always Be Researching
Just because you have a home alarm system in your home, doesn’t mean there are better ones out there. You wouldn’t use a 12-year-old cellphone. Why would you protect your home with a 12-year-old alarm system? Technology is constantly improving. And there’s nothing more important than your security. With that said, always update your home security. If a newer better alarm system exists, then get it for your home. Do your homework and research online.
At Think Protection, we like to expose certain secrets that have long existed in the security industry. Shoppers deserve to know the truth about the home security industry. So here are 3 more secrets home alarm companies don’t want you to know.
Installers Are Unnecessary, But Certain Companies Are Stuck With Them
Technology in the world of security has come incredibly far. No longer are alarm systems hard to set up. And those installing them don’t need a technical background or certain skill set. So why do companies like ADT, AlarmForce and Vivint still have installers? The reason is because they’re stuck with them. ADT, AlarmForce and Vivint would love to get rid of their installers. The issue is these companies need to somehow justify their long term contracts. They do this by saying an installer is necessary. Plus their older customer base had the installer already, so they are expected for future servicing.
Remember, installers aren’t working for free. There is a significant cost to them. These costs are relayed to the customer. By choosing a company that doesn’t have an installer, you’re saving money and able to install the system on your own schedule. Other companies would love to use this low cost, easy process, but they can’t.
You Don’t Need A Salesperson To “Assess” Your Home In Person
Some alarm companies try to pressure you into having them send over a Salesperson to your home. They say this will help them properly assess your home. How can you know what you need without having someone there to see the premise in person?
The truth is it’s easy to figure out your security needs over the phone. With a few simple questions, a Salesperson with the right training can easy fit your security needs remotely. So why do these companies want to send a Salesperson to your home? To pressure you into signing a contract!
It’s a lot harder to say no to someone in person. Alarm companies know this. This is why some send Salespeople to your home. Never fall for this scam as it may lead to you signing up for services and equipment you didn’t need.
More Equipment Doesn’t Mean More Protection
To properly protect your home you need sensors on every window and door, right? Wrong. The more equipment you have doesn’t necessarily mean more protection. In order to properly secure your home, you need the right amount of equipment. This can easily be figured out through answering a few questions.
The unfortunate reality though is some alarm companies will try to sell you unnecessary equipment. This is because the company makes great money on the equipment. The margins are fantastic, so they try to sell you more and more. And the equipment being sold may provide a false sense of security.
100 window contacts may not provide the same level of protection of 2 motion detectors. But some alarm companies will try to sell you those contacts because they’d make thousands of dollars more!
Go with an alarm company that will provide the proper security solution. More doesn’t always mean better. A smart security package with the right amount of equipment can do the same if not better job than three times that amount.
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.
Home alarm systems are, as we’ve discussed, not just about intrusion detection. Another very important role that residential security technology can play in your peace of mind is to detect certain conditions in your home. One of the most important of these is fire detection.
Unlike intrusion direction, which is only “active” when your alarm system is armed, fire detection devices don’t need to be turned on and off. A monitored smoke detector is working all the time. These detectors provide an incredible service.
In fact, fire protection all by itself is a major reason to have a monitored home alarm system in the first place.
- Let’s say you’re away when the fire happens, so you’re not home to hear that non-monitored noisemaker alarm go off.
- How about if you are home – and overcome by smoke? Most fire deaths are caused not by the fire itself, but by smoke inhalation. Wouldn’t you rather know that if you are overcome by smoke, help could be on the way?
- An additional advantage is that your insurance company may well offer further discounts for fire monitoring over and above the savings you’ll see just from having a monitored intrusion system.
So, let’s briefly recap the key benefits of adding fire protection monitoring to your alarm system:
- Non-monitored smoke alarms – even the extensive systems sometimes required by building codes – will never summon help. They do nothing when you are away, or if at home and overcome by smoke.
- Fire protection monitoring should not add a penny to your monitoring fees.
- Fire monitoring should provide you with additional home insurance discounts.
- Pets that are home alone need monitored fire protection, too!
Smoke and heat sensors are best placed high on the wall, or on the ceiling – and as a rule, not in the “corner” where the wall and ceiling meet. I generally recommend one sensor on each floor, starting with the upper floors, and working down (since heat rises, and upstairs is usually where the bedrooms are).
As you may imagine, the kitchen is not a great location for the smoke & heat sensor. There is too much possibility of a false alarm. The same can be said for a bathroom, as the steam may be interpreted by a sensor as smoke.
Monitored Fire Detection is Best
It’s great to know that if you are away from home – or if you are at home, and are overcome by smoke – that help can be on the way in minutes. That’s why a monitored smoke & heat sensor is the wise choice for homeowners looking for true peace of mind. Frankly, anything else is just a noisemaker.