So you’ve just moved into a new house without a home alarm system or looking to replace that old system which never gets set because it’s always sounding off false alarms
But what should you know before you buy your new intruder alarm?
Whats the difference between a $500 system and a $5,000 system (besides $4,500) and do you really need 6 sensors or will 3 suffice.
That free system the nice door to door sales man was offering on a 3 year monitoring plan sounds good! Or does it…
Security Search have done the hard yards for you and interviewed 21 of the top specialists in home alarm systems across 12 different countries.
Why did we set out to create an international expert round up rather than keeping it local? Well it’s 2016 – quality home security equipment and installations are practically international, with many of the top security equipment brands being recognisable world wide.
Most countries have their own professional security association which quality operators are endorsed by like CANASA in Canada or PSA in Ireland.
Different cities and countries have their own idiosyncrasies, installations are tweaked and tailored to local requirements and conditions. An international round up gives us a better and broader overview of alarm installations in practice and a wider expert circle to draw quality information off.
We asked our 21 experts one simple question:-
” What do you see as the top 3 things consumers should know before buying a home alarm SYSTEM? “
The results were very interesting
As a brief summary of the top 5 responses can be summed up as follows:-
1. Follow up support, service and warranty
2. Installer reputation and references
3. Brand and equipment research (due diligence)
4. Delivery of a quality solution on time and on budget
5. Unique individual requirements, knowing what you want
Read on for the full comments from all 21 of our expert contributors, the real gems are in the details
If you are considering a new security installation – grab your beverage of choice and read through detailed responses, it could save you hundreds or even thousands on your new home security system
With any type of alarm installation one of the key things to ensure is that the installer is an ASIAL member and is licensed .
When selecting equipment it is always recommended that the product be a quality brand name well recognised and that it comes with a comprehensive warranty .
Modern systems are more of the volumetric coverage e.g PIR detection , rather than years gone by where Perimeter reeds were more the go.
When purchasing any product it is also advisable that due diligence is done in researching previous history , experiences , references etc., of the types of systems recommended
Ascertain what the system is to do for you , what priorities you have and list any special requirements ensuring your needs and requirements are fully catered for.
Consideration should also be taken as to whether the system should be monitored.
At the end of the day the system should be designed to effectively operate should any offender break in and give adequate notification
~ Martin Legge is a Consultancy Manager at ART Security based in Victoria, Australia. ART Security is 100% Australian owned and has been looking after the security needs of the Australia-wide community since 1983
1. What kind of detectors come with the alarm system.
Standard Passive infrared detectors can false alarm if they are installed in garages and kitchens or locations where they may detect heat movement. See this link for more information
2. Is the alarm system future proof regarding communication monitoring
Some alarm panels will only communicate over a copper pstn phone line and aren’t broadband ready.
3. How expandable is the alarm system
Is their enough spare inputs and outputs to allow for future devices to be added should they be required.
~ Graham Woods is the chief Electronics Security Technician at Go Alarm Systems based in NSW, Australia. Go Alarm Systems is a security company which performs quality work and proudly supports their installations
1. Research the Brand
The customer should research the brand first. A lot of Brands on the market are not maintained here in Australia and are only used by a handful of companies.
Therefore if something goes wrong and the installer cannot be contacted – you may find it difficult finding someone and parts to complete the service on your Alarm.
We have been using Bosch for Alarm Installations and Johnson DS for CCTV systems for the last 10 years as both are reputable and durable brands that are serviced and maintained here in Australia.
2. Find an Installer
Decisions on who to have install your Alarm system should never be based on price alone. Ask as many questions to as possible. Time in Business, Products used, Price, turn around time for installations, warranty on parts and service.
Remember that if companies need two weeks before they can get onsite to complete the installation – chances are is that they will need two weeks to get out there for a service call as well.
3. Decide on what it is you need.
There is no right or wrong answer when making a decision on how many devices you require.
The decision is totally the customers to make and should generally be based on the customers budget and how many they feel they need to make them comfortable.
Obviously the more detectors you have will only increase your security. But as a rule 2 sensors or cameras are always better than not having any, 3 are always better than 2 and 4 are always better than 3.
You should always try and stay within your budget and ask your installer to advise on the best location for your devices for better coverage.
~ Theo Tsakirakis is the GM of Silver Arrow Security based in Sydney, Australia. Silver Arrow is a premier security company, providing quality, affordable security products and services for your home or business.
Top priority for consumers is to select an alarm company that’s committed to providing ongoing after sales service & support to their customers.
Second rule is to purchase an alarm system that is user friendly and reliable.
I speak to so many people who admit that they never use their alarm as they fear that their system would false alarm and disturb their neighbors.
The ideal system should be self monitored, which means that the alarm can send voice or text messages directly to your mobile phone advising you of any problems directly.
The system can be fully controlled directly from your smartphone, and even have the option of emailing you snap shots from the camera’s incorporated into the system.
You could then take appropriate action of calling the police to respond with the confidence of even providing them with a description of the intruders.
Technology has improved significantly to put the homeowner in total control now.
The world is no longer a safe place, so we need to be more vigilant and security conscious.
~ Joel Abramowitz is the GM of Specialised Security Systems based in Sydney, Australia. Specialised Security Systems provide innovative wireless alarm equipment to home and small business owners in the Sydney metropolitan area.
There are many things a home owner must assess before choosing an alarm company. The most important are
1st is the companies level of experience. How long have they been in business? How dedicated are they to alarm installation and monitoring? How many alarm installs have they completed? Are they a member of a Professional Alarm Association like CANASA? Are they ULC listed?
2nd is the companies reputation and track record. What are clients saying about this alarm company? Potential prospects should be able to go to review web sites and read what existing clients have to say about the company.
3rd is the actual alarm equipment being used. Is the alarm equipment name brand? Does the proposed installation actually provide good and proper coverage to protect the home?
Many alarm companies are just looking to acquire another alarm monitoring account and are installing very basic coverage which may be inadequate.
Wireless alarms may be easier to install but they are also easier to defeat. Home owners must understand what equipment they are getting and what limitations it has. There are always good and bad trade off ‘s when using different types of equipment . Hardwired is still the most reliable.
~ Sean O’Leary is the President & CEO of Safe Tech Inc. based in Ontario, Canada. Safe Tech has provided ‘Loss Prevention Solutions’ for over 20 years. Visit Homestars and read some of the 440+ rave reviews customers have written.
Buying a Domestic Security Alarm.
Three things to consider when buying a domestic security alarm system are
1. The reputation of the company
Ask for references and take them up, check the company out thoroughly and don’t just take their word on the ability of their engineers, ask to see qualifications. There are formal City & Guilds qualifications for the security industry, they are the 1853 level 2 & level 3 Technical Certificate and Diploma and also the 2882 CBQ (used to be NVQ) which is a Competency Based Qualification. Some previous clients may also allow you to look at the job that’s been done.
2. Is the company an SSAIB or NSI Approved company.
These are the two inspectorates for the security industry, they will inspect all aspects of the installation company, from office administration, to false alarm management, Staff CRB checking and also the installations themselves.
3. Finally make sure that the system that the company proposes meets your operational requirement and is fit for purpose.
The system should meet the requirements of your day to day living, you shouldn’t need to adapt your lifestyle to the alarm system.
You can also look for other approvals such as Trading Standards, Buy With Confidence Scheme, where Trading Standards inspect and vet companies and contact customers that the company has worked for in the past.
Beware of schemes such as Fair Trades Approved and Check-A-Trade.com where the company pays to be referred to on the web site.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, you do tend to get what you pay for, so if you aren’t sure, go elsewhere.
Some companies require a deposit these days, that’s fine, but don’t pay the full amount upfront and don’t settle the balance until you are completely satisfied with the installation.
~ Roy Williams is a Partner at Crosby Intruder Alarms based in Liverpool, England. Operating since 1984, Crosby Intruder Alarms is now one of Merseyside’s premier independent security alarm companies.
Here in Ireland the security industry is regulated by the government. There is a state organisation called the “PSA” private security authority, all companies are audited every year to set standard to receive their license,
One issue we do face in Ireland is unregulated security installers, who are operating in the black market. It is difficult for reputable companies to compete with unlicensed installers.
1. We advice clients when getting quotes for work to make sure that they are from licensed operators.
2. We invest in staff training to keep up to date with advances in technology, we like to offer the latest equipment available on the market.
3. We like to do good quality work and Reciever excellent referrals from our clients.
~ Richard for Park 100 Fire and Security based in Wexford, Ireland. Park 100 is a provider of security & safety solutions in Wexford and Waterford with a strong commitment to integrity, excellence, and professionalism
1. Reduces home insurance premium
2. Must get it serviced annually
3. No point having it unless it is monitored
~ Suzanne Love is the Office Manager for Orbit Security Systems & Services based in Ireland. Orbit is committed to deter any threats to businesses or households and make Ireland a safer and more security conscious place.
1. The most important question is who is going to install my alarm system. Do I use a non-approved company or electrical contractor that do not hold the relevant trade approvals or insurance or can I obtain a Police response.
2. Are they Insurance Approved
3. Are they Inspected by an Alarm Inspectorate [UK SSAIB or NSI]
~ Michael Rooney for Premier Security Systems based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Premier is a local burglar alarm company that provides quality installations, monitoring and emergency repairs in Northern Ireland
From my experience, most customers are largely concerned with what the product does / doesn’t do as opposed to the brand, make, or reputation of the product.
Their priorities fall into:
1. Is the alarm an intruder detector e.g. a movement, vibration sensor (e.g. window break detector)or open/shut (door/window) detector. Is it a fire or equipment monitoring alarm.
2. What is the range of this system i.e. how sensitive is the system to stimulus.
3. What siren or user alert mechanism does the system use to communicate with the client or third party e.g. security firm.
4. What is the response time to repair or check on the system by our firm, incase of system failure.
~ Rubin Njagi for Solution Science Technologies based in Kenya. SST delivers high quality security solutions on the small scale (homes and small businesses) and large scale (factory and manufacturing) customers
1. Company Reputation & price
2. False alarm immunity & system reliability of the system
3. Warranty & Backup service
Most clients are not technical and many times the brand is introduced by the company.
The company’s reputation is more important than the alarm brand in this case unlike cars for example
~ Sandro Galea for J.Grima based in Birkirkara, Malta. J.Grima specialises in high risk areas where custom security systems are required to be designed & installed so that they work when put to the test
I believe people first ought to know the main difference between a wired and wireless installation, why to go for what?
They need to buy a reliable panel with very good after sales service, can the panel be expanded to cater for future development.
They also need to know all the peripherals that can be connected to the panel in order for it to blend with their existing automation if any, or use to hybrid with home automation, like gates, external lights etc, and cctv cameras etc
~ Philippe. J. Louise is the Managing Director at Alusafe Group based in Belle Rose, Mauritius. The products Alusafe Group offers are at the cutting-edge of the security industry. They provide the best quality equipment at the best possible prices
1. Origin and quality of equipment proposed.
2. After sales service and reputation of the company.
3. Client must define what are the most important asset for him and/or area to protect, and have to realise security is necessary but can be a burden if too complex.
4. No security system can be guaranteed 100% full proof.
~ Silvio Marques is the Managing Director for Seculogix Ltd based in Phoenix, Mauritius. Seculogix are the exclusive distributors of a wide range well known fire and security brands for the Indian Ocean area.
Three most important aspects
1. Ability for provider to deliver, but also to follow up in later times (when a problem occurs etc.)
2. You get what you pay for
3. Will the contacted supplier make the effort and actually visit the site pre-install to make sure all of the clients needs are identified
~ Brent Corbett is the Christchurch branch manager at VIP Security based in Christchurch and Blenheim, New Zealand. VIP Security is one the top security companies in the South Island and operate nationwide with strategic alliances in Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Tauranga , Taupo, Wellington, Dunedin and Invercargill.
Top three considerations when purchasing an alarm system
1. Know the difference between value & price.
There is a lot of cheap equipment often imported directly by the person you may be talking to. If price is your only consideration that’s fine but be aware that a short term saving can lead to a longer term cost if the equipment fails and there are no parts or anyone able to work on the system.
Be cautious of warranties they are only as good as the person or organisation offering it. If value is important go with a recognised brand such as DSC / Bosch or Paradox. With these brands you get the benefit of a nationwide supplier providing replacement parts, technical backup and a recommended technician if the person you originally dealt with is no longer around.
You will find the alarms more user friendly with proper English user manuals and online resources. Is the technician Security Licensed and qualified to do the work required (may need electrical qualifications.
2. Get to know your alarm.
Many people think an alarm is just to let you know when your house or business is being broken into however even a standard alarm has a lot of other features which especially if monitored can really add to the benefits. Some of these are
- Partial arming (Stay arming) Some of the premises detectors are armed some not, means people can live or work in one part of the building but also have other parts armed. E.g. hall & lounge and garage armed at night but bedroom detectors not activated.
- Chime feature.Although not armed some detectors if they pick up movement will cause the keypad to beep giving you warning of activity in an area that you may need to be aware of e.g. in a domestic situation movement in a garage or maybe a front door being opened either by an intruder or a toddler heading out. In a commercial environment it could let you know a door has been opened either by a customer or by an opportunistic thief.
- Duress feature. You need to be monitored for this feature but if someone grabs you outside and tells you to turn off the alarm you enter a special 4 digit code in the keypad. This will turn off the alarm so they think you are following their instructions but sends a silent alarm through to the monitoring station.
- User codes. Most alarms will take up to about 30 different codes with one master code to control them. By accessing the monitoring records or the internal memory of the alarm you can audit who has been in & out and at what times. This may be to keep an eye on the hours worked by a person (e.g. cleaners) or flag suspicious behavior (Why did Frank come into work at 2am)
- What other types of detectors can you add on and how simply. You can add on items such as panic buttons / medical alarms / smoke detectors / heat detectors / temperature sensors / flood detectors even in some cases Co2 detectors however be careful, don’t be undersold but don’t also be oversold have a good conversation with the consultant about how your particular situation works.
3. Get it monitored
Monitoring works that’s why for a domestic situation your insurance company will offer a discount for a monitored alarm. In a commercial environment usually they will insist on it.
Be aware however that not all monitoring companies are offering the same level or standard of service.
Cheaper monitoring is available but you will not be getting the same level of service that standard monitoring provides. As well what happens if the monitoring station is effected by either a natural disaster or fire or flooding, do they have protection against these events, do they have a backup station located somewhere else in the country.
Many of the more reputable companies also offer free access via the internet to your monitoring records. This will allow you to check if the alarm is set or not, review activations and the response to these and see who has set or unset the alarm.
Usually as well do some simple changes to your records with them such as emergency contacts.
Monitoring is also available by other methods than the traditional phone line. You can look at monitoring your alarm via the radio network / cellular or even your internet connection.
~ Mike Mathieson is one of the directors of Security Alert based in Wellington, New Zealand – a local security company which offers their comprehensive security and monitoring services nationwide as well as quality security products through their online shop
1. Ensure product is reliable proven internationally and installed by a qualified technician
2. Ensure there is 24/7 service available post job completion
3. Ensure they have the ability to deliver a quality solution on time and within budget
~ Quinton Broad is the head Installation Manager at Integrated Security Services based in Auckland, New Zealand. ISS offer the latest in home and commercial security technology
From the 11years of experience Artezia has had in this industry, I believe that the topmost 3 points in answer to your question are:
1. Proven Track Record in related installations
Most clients do not really have much of a grounded idea of brands and specifications, so a proven track record of previous installations helps to set their mind at rest about the investment they are thinking of making which is very key.
2. The excellence in service delivery
Also very crucial to most of the clients that fall into our own target market, who are also the kind who can easily afford this type of installations. They generally want to know that they are guaranteed of an excellent implementation and will be glad to make referrals based on the same, which is good for business.
3. Excellent After Sales Service
This is by far the clincher for most potential clients. Again, the best selling point is sharing testimonials of satisfied clients who are presently enjoying our after sales support several years after completion of installation.
~ Ayodeji P. Thomas is the CEO for Artezia Security Systems based in Lagos, Nigeria. Artezia understands the success of their projects lies in their ability to correctly interpret the needs of their clients and supply the most suitable solutions for them using existing technologies
Here are some factors we believe buyers should consider before buying alarm or security products:
1. Years of the company’s experience in the business industry and track records of company’s implemented projects or installations.
2. After sales support or service level standards esp for warranty claims.
3. Availability and lead time of items for stocks and ex-stocks.
~ Sales and Marketing Department for Alcon Telecommunications based in Valenzuela City, Philippines. Alcon is a market leader in security solutions with a focus on CCTV surveillance and access control
We find the top three things our customers are most concerned about is that, firstly, we give them an honest, competitive survey of their property detailing and explaining their requirements for the level of security required.
We are extremely customer focused and our customers know that they can budget throughout the year.
Our Full parts and Labour contract covers them 24hours a day. If anything goes wrong with their system.
There are NO hidden charges.
They also like to know that when we book them in for a day/time, we arrive when we say we are going to arrive.
We have taken over too many systems over the years to know that customers leave a company because of their poor service levels.
~ Keiren Spowart for Glendale Alarms & Security Systems Ltd based in Kinross, Scotland. Glendale Security are reliable and insurance approved. Their range of security systems are installed to comply with current British and European standards.
1. Does the alarm company have local monitoring?
Reason being is that the pronunciation of towns/streets in this state can be very challenging and without local knowledge this can create delays in dispatching the proper authorities.
2. Does the alarm company have local service, support and warranties?
Hawaii is obviously a series of Islands surrounded by salt air and over time this can dramatically affect the security system hardware and having a local organization supporting you versus hiring third party contractors can be problematic an unreliable.
3. Is your alarm company focused on complete perimeter security solutions with the best technology?
Or are they just trying to sell you a bundled kit and contract without a proper security solution.
~ Roger Savage for Alert Alarm Hawaii based in Hawaii, USA. Alert Alarm Hawaii is the largest security company in Hawaii with over 125 employees, servicing statewide since 1962
1. Make sure a “Lockout Code” is not used (in Writing), which will render the system unprogrammable if the customer decides to monitor with a new company in the future.
2. If using a land line or cable to monitor the alarm system the consumer should realize how vulnerable it is to being cut and consider radio primary or backup.
3. Understand the difference between the basic systems that most companies use and the sophisticated systems available that give the end user remote access and notifications through smart-phone apps, PC or Mac, from anywhere.
This way there are no regrets when they find out about the availability.
~ Matthew Lombardi is the GM of Absolute Security Alarms based in Seattle, USA. Absolute provide Seattle and surrounding areas with the finest home security alarms, light commercial security systems and surveillance camera systems