Alarm systems are a great asset to help ensure the safety and protection of your property and the individuals living there. However, one size does not fit all, and choosing the right type of alarm system will depend on your lifestyle, budget, expectations, and actual needs.
In addition to determining your alarm system needs, you also will need to decide on a company to perform the installation as well as to provide the monitoring, if you choose to go with an off-site surveillance service. The home security industry today features national, regional, and local service providers, all of which will have their own set of pros and cons.
While the names of such national firms as ADT, XFinity, and Protection 1 are well-known in the business, that could be more due to their marketing efforts than to the excellence of service they provide at the local level. An ADT sign posted in your yard may act as enough a deterrent for some, but you may want the alarm system installed a monitored by a local company for true peace of mind.
Why Choose a Company near you
There are a number of reasons to prefer a company near you to install your alarm system. In the first place, you cannot be certain of the criteria used by national firms to select their local authorized dealers. That is, if there are any criteria beyond the dealer having a license and paying the fees for authorization. Often these subcontractors are not subject to background checks by the contracting company.
Local companies are just that—local. They know the area and are familiar with local police, fire, and other emergency services. They also should keep track of burglary trends and the modes of operation being used to break into homes. This means they can help you determine the best ways of protecting your property based on local factors and on-the-ground experience.
Local installers also can be easier to contact when you want to upgrade your alarm system or you need them to make a repair call. They typically are ready to answer your questions or come out to check on problems with only one phone call from you. National firms may have service requirements you must meet or contract limitations that can complicate and slow the process of getting their local representative to make a return service call.
Regardless of the company you choose, you will want to ensure you are getting one with a good reputation in the community and that has the certifications to show their training and professionalism. They also will need to be expert in the latest technology and offer consistent customer service.
Start your search by asking neighbors and friends for their recommendations. Research companies online by looking at their customer reviews. These can tell you a lot about the company’s reliability of service and the quality of their technology. Also, find out if the companies are members of such organizations as the National Burglar and Farm Alarm Association and the Electronic Security Association, which require their membership to adhere to strict standards of conduct and a code of ethics. These associations also can be contacted to provide you a list of local members.
The ESA provides training through its National Training School. Find out if the alarm companies that you are considering require that their employees complete the NTS or other training in electronic security. Professionals who are certified by the NTS often are more efficient and provide a higher quality of work.
Investigate the work history and credibility of home security companies by contacting local law enforcement, state licensing agencies, the Better Business Bureau, and consumer protection agencies. Ask company representatives for proof of licensing if your state requires them for installing alarm systems, and find out how long they have been in business. Generally, it is best to work with companies that have at least three to five years of experience.
When you have winnowed down your selections to two or three companies, make an appointment for a representative of each to come to your home. They should be ready to complete a home inspection and provide security recommendations. Ask them to provide a price quote in writing.
When you are in the market for an alarm system, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you are getting the correct one for your needs. Before you call your first alarm company, write down the number of windows and doors that will need to be protected. Locate possible places for the system’s keypads and control panel, measuring the distance from the windows and doors. This will tell you the distance the wires must be routed or that a wireless system needs to connect with sensors.
Your family’s daily habits will determine the type of security system that will work best. Do family members often get up in the night to use the bathroom? Are there pets in the house? Are there valuables that may need specialized security equipment, such as motion detectors or camera surveillance?
Whatever system you choose, it should work with other home safety sensors, such as gas, smoke, and carbon dioxide alarms. The system also must be easy for all members of your family to use. Adding new users or alarm codes should be an effortless process, easily provided by your local home security company.