I'm looking at a home security system for my mom's house. Any tips? Seems like they want a 5-year contract but reluctantly will modify for a 1-year. Seems inexpensive, I wonder if it's worth it.
Comments ... #
Some comapnies who offer a free installation or $99, require a longer term contract to make up the money they are losing on the front end, usually in the range of $25-40 per month. The system is typically a lease unless you have a buy out clause. Purchase a security system for around $ 500-600 and your monthly monitoring can be as low as $14.95 per month (only a 1 year contract). Do the math to compare.
Possible insurance premium reductions depending on the carrier (5-20%). Home must have a phone line for communication or additional cellular transmitter required at an additional expense.
We have had security in our home for over 8 years and have used 4 different companies - our first went out of business, otherwise we never would have changed. My suggestion, go with a truly local company. In our case, that is Asset Protection Corporation. They are based in Toledo and the monitoring service is much better than we ever had with ADT or Guardian. They are also a lot cheaper per month. You will have to pay for a system up front, but like Hoops said, over the course of your time with the company, it will be cheaper to take the hit up front.
For us, monthly monitoring costs $25 (we have the cell transmitter), which includes burglary and fire. The same service was costing us nearly $65 per month with ADT and they were not very responsive when the system was triggered.
We also used Asset Protection for our businesses before we sold. I tried several alarm companies over the 35 years we were in a high risk business and found Asset Protection to be the best value, plus excellent service.
We use ADT. If I remember correctly, they spread out the initial installation costs (including cell transmitter, motion detectors, etc.) over a period of months. We are happy with them and have never had a problem.
But I would suggest shopping around. Cheaper and local like the above suggestions are always great.
Whatever you decide to get, make sure that you mom can operate it without thinking. The security system should be as easy to operate as locking the front door.
Getting fire protection and a panic button are useful, the idea being that if anything goes wrong while the house is occupied all the inhabitants need to do is push the big red button.
Have the system connected to a siren, and not some gentle little buzzer either. This should be something that's loud enough to shake your poor neighbors out of their beds at 4:00 AM and force them to take up arms. Think: How often do people ignore car alarms? Include an alarm that can't be ignored.
Make sure you and your mom know how to shut the whole thing down when it goes off by accident or for no good reason. There's nothing like being jolted out of bed because a battery somewhere has given up the ghost and triggered the alarm - but now you don't know how to shut the thing off.
Make sure you understand what the alarm will do and what it won't do. TV commercials show the bad guys running away because of the alarm system and give the impression that help (police, fire, EMS) is only a few seconds away. Neither of those things are true. The alarm won't protect you in the same way as an irate old man with a shotgun.
If you're concerned about security, ask the police to stop by and give you some advice about improvements you can make to your mom's house to make it more secure, like lighting and reinforced doors and windows.
Get a nice little dog that likes to bark at strangers.
Habitec. Approximately $25 per month for intrusion and fire (windows and doors, heat and smoke detectors.) Have used them for 15+ years; do not recall having a contract. If so, it must have been for just the first year. Local. 24/7 live person contact, which has been particularly helpful in late night false alarms. Repeat police / fire false alarms are very costly (like $100 each.) Exceptional customer service. Also use them for my business and am equally pleased. They have always been timely and responsive, if at times a little cranky in the service and support end. Might be a little pricier for equipment install, but will work with you to address your needs within your budget. For me, definitely more cost effective in the near and long term.
ADT is the oldest in the country established in 1874. The T stands for telegraph. There are 8 monitoring centers in the US and 2 in Canada. If one goes down due to natural disaster or any cause the signal rotates to the next one without interruption in coverage such as happened a few years ago with Katrina. Regional alarm companies' do not have that assurance of consistency. 7,500 service trucks maintain the country-wide system. ADT provides security at the nation's airports, the Pentagon, Fort Knox and more family homes than any other company. Never cranky - always there.
A lifetime ago I worked in the monitoring portion of alarm companies in Toledo. I worked for Sonitrol until they were bought by Guardian, I worked at Guardian until I could find another place to work! I worked for APC before they were APC. At the time they were CPS. I have nothing but good things to say about the way they handled alarms.
My advice for you & your mom is to also set up a bi-monthly test on the alarm system. Call your alarm company, let them know you're going to test, arm it, and trip it, and disarm. This way everyone knows it works, and your mom will get used to disarming with the siren going off which can be very intimidating to people. It's also a way you can keep in contact and hopefully have friendly conversations with the people who are monitoring your alarm.