There are several ways to compare home security systems, and with so many choices it can get confusing. Systems can be wireless or hardwired, do-it-yourself or professionally installed. Installation can be done by a local security company, or by one of the national companies like ADT or Protection One. Your alarm system can also be monitored by a central station, or simply use sirens to deter an intruder.
You'll need to compare home security systems based on your needs, situation, and type of home you live in.
If you rent, for instance, you probably won't have the option of running wires for a hardwired system.
A wireless alarm system can be installed with little or no drywall damage, and you can take it with you when you move out.
These days, cost is one of the biggest factors in any home purchase, and your alarm system is no different. To make sure you get the best value, it helps to understand exactly what you're paying for.
Find out the details on what's available, and what the best choice is for your situation.
Learn more about Home Security Prices.
Regardless of who installs your system, it needs to be well planned. The best alarm equipment in the world won't do much good if the devices are located incorrectly.
Learn more about the Best Home Alarm System Layout
A hardwired alarm system should always be your first choice, if you own your home and wiring can be installed.
require transmitters at every point of protection(doors, windows, motion
detectors, etc.). These transmitters use batteries which must be
changed every few years. Wireless
systems can also have problems with range and false alarms due to loose
covers and tamper switches.
If you can't install a hardwired system, choose a wireless system from a company that installs them regularly. They'll be familiar with the problems associated with the equipment they carry, and you'll be more likely to have a trouble-free system for years to come.
Want to know more? Check out:
How to Compare Home Alarm Systems, Hardwired or Wireless?
If you rent an apartment or house, you probably won't have many options for adding a security system. See how you may be able to install a system, and then take it with you when you move.
As a homeowner, you can install any kind of home alarm system, right? Well, yes and no. See how your home's construction may dictate what type if security system you choose.
Get more details on Finding the Best Home Alarm Systems for Homeowners and Renters.
Another way to compare home security systems is based on how they are installed. Are you a hands-on type of person? Or, would you rather get the alarm installed and move on to more glamorous pursuits?
If you want a Custom Security System, you might want to have professionals do the installation. Their experience will make the job go quickly, and they can show you ways to improve your basic alarm plan. They can also give you specialized features like adding a vent zone to your system.
On the other hand, do-it-yourself systems are widely available, and are a great option for a handy homeowner or renter. Much of the expense of installing any alarm system, especially the hardwired type, is in labor. DIY'ers save that cost right off the top, and equipment sold in kit-form is widely available and reasonably priced.
Learn more about DIY Home Security Systems
These include all the names you recognize, like Protection One, ADT, and Brinks. They often advertise a "free" or "$99" basic installation package. This commonly includes a panel, one keypad, a motion detector, and protection on a few doors. Anything above what's in the package will be an additional charge.
These companies always require a monitoring contract, usually lasting three to five years. This monitoring fee is how they make their money, and is why they are able to offer the lower initial installation cost.
These are companies you may only know from seeing a yard sign or service truck in your neighborhood. Small, locally-owned companies typically install the same or similar equipment as the national brands. They tend to be more flexible, and are generally happy to customize a system around your wishes.
Many smaller alarm companies don't require a monitoring contract to install your system. They charge you up-front for the equipment and labor, which will probably be a few to several hundred dollars depending on the extent of the system. The trade-off is a higher initial cost, but no long-term contract to commit to.
When you compare home security systems from both types of company, the alarm equipment itself is very similar. How it's installed and serviced becomes the main issue.
Large national security companies can be slow to service existing customers; their focus is on getting new accounts and the recurring revenue they bring.
Get several free quotes on home security prices as you compare home security systems. Price is important, but you also need a system that works for you. Look for a local alarm dealer that offers the level of system you want at a competitive price.
Most alarm companies can give you a ballpark estimate over the phone, if you tell them the size of your home, the type of construction, and what kind of system you're thinking of.
Narrow your choices down to the top two or three likely candidates. Then, set appointments to meet with each of them at your home. This will give you a very good idea which company and system are the best fit for you.
Learn more about finding a cheap home security system.
Another way to compare home security systems is by their response to an alarm. All alarm systems will include some kind of audible sounder, like sirens, piezo alarms, or speakers. These are intended to scare off intruders, so you don't walk in and surprise them.
If you want the police and/or fire department to respond to your alarm, you'll need some kind of home alarm monitoring. Home security system companies use a central station, which receives signals from your alarm panel 24/7. These signals will cause police or fire department dispatch, notify you of a low battery, and many other conditions. Monitoring insures your home will be protected even while you're away.
Along with this extra protection comes the added cost of a monitoring fee, somewhere around $15 to $45 per month. This comes in the form of an alarm agreement or contract. These can range from as short as 6 months, to as long as several years in length. Generally, longer contracts equal lower cost per month.
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