Toledo Talk

Home Security systems advice

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.

created by MaryCooksalot on Nov 03, 2011 at 08:30:08 am     Home     Comments: 38

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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.

posted by Hoops on Nov 03, 2011 at 08:59:27 am     #  

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.

posted by MoreThanRhetoric on Nov 03, 2011 at 09:12:34 am     #  

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.

posted by holland on Nov 03, 2011 at 09:56:38 am     #  

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.

posted by toledolen_ on Nov 03, 2011 at 01:26:32 pm     #  

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.

posted by madjack on Nov 03, 2011 at 02:11:40 pm     #  

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.

posted by LetItBe on Nov 03, 2011 at 07:39:52 pm     #  

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.

posted by Mariner on Nov 04, 2011 at 05:40:10 am     #  

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.

posted by tlm0000 on Nov 04, 2011 at 05:00:10 pm     #  

Bumping this to see if anyone has any current info to share. We've had Habitec since moving into our house (it was already in place) and haven't had any issues but I'm curious if anyone has recently shopped around. Our control box is old and I'm looking to upgrade to the modern cell controlled option.

posted by idinspired on Feb 26, 2018 at 05:16:42 pm     #  

We switched over to Surety DIY out of Columbus. Bought all of the equipment we wanted and installed myself - very easy to do. Can access everything through my phone via the app. Never had any issues. The couple instances the alarm was set off (by mother-in-law), we had multiple phone calls immediately from the monitoring company and law enforcement was there within 5 minutes. I think we pay $30 a month.

posted by wahhutch9 on Feb 26, 2018 at 05:40:30 pm     #  

Yeah, we pay like double that for ADT and I really don't think we're getting a good value.

posted by upso on Feb 26, 2018 at 06:00:16 pm     #  

Go down to the dog pound and get a nice dog. Get two; twice the security, twice the noise.

posted by madjack on Feb 26, 2018 at 08:53:09 pm     #  

We have APC at $18 a month, no complaints.

posted by SensorG on Feb 26, 2018 at 09:00:18 pm     #   1 person liked this

Damn, I really need to switch.

posted by upso on Feb 26, 2018 at 09:18:50 pm     #  

We're at $30 a month with Habitec, they said adding the cell controlled app would bump it to $42.

SensorG - can you control your alarm from your phone for that price?

posted by idinspired on Feb 27, 2018 at 09:18:55 am     #  

Nope - no mobile phone control. I don’t really need it. We turn it on when we leave the house and when we go to bed. Don’t really need it to do anything else.

Also, we got a discount on our homeowners policy, so the $18 is really less.

posted by SensorG on Feb 27, 2018 at 10:06:11 am     #  

Frankly, the APC sign in the flower bed and stickers on the storm doors probably do 90% of the protection.

posted by SensorG on Feb 27, 2018 at 10:08:34 am     #  

Anyone have experience with Simplisafe?

posted by endcycle on Feb 27, 2018 at 10:30:35 am     #   1 person liked this

wahhutch9 next time solve your prob... have law enforcement remove your mother-in-law. It will be a lot quieter.

posted by Mariner on Feb 27, 2018 at 11:16:07 am     #  

@Mariner - hahaha. for real!!

posted by wahhutch9 on Feb 27, 2018 at 11:40:36 am     #   1 person liked this

ADT installed our system back in 2009. No complaints with the equipment or the installation. They did a fine job. Would have preferred local (Habitec) but, at the time, Habitec wasn't really up to speed on the wireless aspect of home security. We have a combination of wired and wireless. A few years ago we switched the monitoring to Habitec. ADT's pricing kept going up and up and they missed a number of alarm events. We'd get a recorded message advising of the event 12 to 24 hours later.

Habitec added their "brains" to the boxes, did some program modification and we were up an running.

Because our installation was quite extensive with a lot of components, we opted for the monthly pricing that includes maintenance/replacement of equipment when needed. We also have a cellular backup in case the cable goes out or some jerk cuts the cable.

Monthly fee with tax is $52.18. Pretty small price for the peace of mind it offers.

posted by Foodie on Feb 27, 2018 at 12:16:26 pm     #  

Thanks Foodie. That is exactly the feedback I was looking for - sounds like we have a similar situation. Need to set up an appt to have them come out and take a look.

posted by idinspired on Feb 27, 2018 at 12:40:03 pm     #  

Both the house I own that I'm not living in and the house where I currently reside have alarm systems. The house I own has Simplisafe. There are no contracts. You buy the equipment upfront and pay for the level of monitoring you want. I currently pay $14.99/month for basic monitoring. I started off with four entry sensors and a motion sensor, and added additional sensors until all of my first floor windows were covered.

The house I rent has ADT. I do not pay the bill, so I don't know for certain what it is. It includes fire monitoring which has proven to be a bit of a PITA when the boyfriend is trying out a new cooking technique, but I can't complain too much about that.

What I don't like about it is that only our doors have sensors. I'm sure they did this because they were trying to save money, but none of the windows are covered. It just doesn't feel very secure.

I also do not like where the keypad is located, and unlike Simplisafe, I can't move it. It's just really inconvenient--we never use that particular door.

Lastly, I haven't tested this yet, but our landlord says putting the ADT system on "Home" still activates the motion sensor. Simplisafe's home setting allows you to arm your system and still move around in your house. If what our landlord says is correct, I can't set my alarm at night without tripping it if I get up to go to the bathroom!

The monitoring has been top notch. We have had a couple of false alarms, based on where we placed our motion sensor (the houses are close together and light hitting our neighbor's van as he was pulling out of his driveway would set it off if the blinds were open). We adjusted the angle and it's been fine ever since. And dispatch is on top of things. They call before we even realize what's happening.

tldr; I really like Simplisafe and will move this system with me (probably with increased monitoring) after my house sells.

posted by valbee on Feb 27, 2018 at 01:21:21 pm     #  

Our APC system has home and away. If we do "home", then the door and window monitors are armed and if we do "away", the motion sensors are turned on too.

posted by SensorG on Feb 27, 2018 at 02:06:30 pm     #   1 person liked this

Same here. The "Night" setting activates all door, window and glass break detectors allowing us to move around the house with the alarm set. The "Away" setting adds the motion detectors to the mix - which are pet immune up to 40 lbs.
When planning your system, don't forget a motion detector for the basement.

posted by Foodie on Feb 27, 2018 at 02:28:03 pm     #  

See, that's how I think it should work, but landlord said "Home" turns on the motion sensor, too. I need to try it out tonight for myself. You're giving me a little more confidence that I'm right! :)

posted by valbee on Feb 27, 2018 at 02:30:40 pm     #  

Hadn't thought about the basement for a motion detector. Although my 70lb dog likes to sleep on the basement couch at night so I think we're covered there for now.

posted by idinspired on Feb 27, 2018 at 03:23:01 pm     #  

Spring loaded B-Traps are god for basement windows, ties in like a contact. Old school technology but effective.

posted by Hoops on Feb 27, 2018 at 04:52:37 pm     #  

Another plug for Habitec's service:

In the middle of the night last night, our system went off. Nothing like a 100+ decibel screaming alarm to roust you out of a sound sleep. Once I determined it was not an intruder, I put Mr. Sig Sauer back where he lives at night and proceeded to determine what happened.
Reader's Digest version: it was a faulty wireless window sensor. System is 9 years old now so to be expected I guess.
Habitec was on the phone within seconds asking (for our password of course) if we were OK and did we need the police sent. We assured the nice lady all was well and proceeded to determine what had gone wrong. We traced it to the sensor on a particular window and, when we touched the sensor to see if it was loose, it triggered a tamper alarm - a much more calm version of alarm thankfully. The nice lady from Habitec promptly called back because she received the tamper alarm and we again assured her all was well. She set up a service call for us and the tech came out today and replaced the sensor as well as inspected all other wireless sensors.
Had we not made the switch to Habitec, we'd still be waiting for ADT's recorded message telling us there was an "event" along with a toll free # to schedule a service call for the 3rd Tuesday of next week.

posted by Foodie on Mar 01, 2018 at 04:13:50 pm     #  

Wanna try a local company. Toledo Tactical is a good place to go. They sell firearms but also have security systems.

posted by ThePhysician on Mar 02, 2018 at 01:30:35 pm     #  

I had ADT at my old place. Like another poster said I think just having a sign in your yard or a security system sticker on your door is enough to scare off most intruders but the peace of mind is nice if you travel a lot for the smoke detector system.

I had no problems with the monitoring but didn't have a land line so had to pay an additional fee for some mobile monitoring device.

My biggest complaint with them was having to call every year and threatening to cancel to get the bill discount (they did a increase every year). When I moved and cancelled the service I was stuck with everything so that's something to keep in mind, if you cancel your service you could be stuck with a panel on your wall you'll have to remove. I received an insurance break through state farm.

posted by jamesteroh on Mar 02, 2018 at 05:34:13 pm     #  

For those who prefer to support locally-owned businesses, G&N Alarm is owned by retired Toledo police officer, Greg Konzen.

Unless he has changed his services, you won't have to sign any contracts.


posted by 6th_Floor on Mar 03, 2018 at 01:23:56 am     #

posted by 6th_Floor on Mar 03, 2018 at 01:24:58 am     #  

6th_Floor posted at 12:24:58 AM on Mar 03, 2018:

I don't know anything about the company, but someone who lists themselves as an employee of the company tried to rob my house on Christmas eve. I have it on video surveillance and it's been reported to the police. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

posted by upso on Mar 04, 2018 at 05:58:16 pm     #  

It's tough to find good help these days.


posted by 6th_Floor on Mar 04, 2018 at 09:47:21 pm     #  

Ha! So true.

posted by upso on Mar 04, 2018 at 11:35:57 pm     #  

upso posted at 04:58:16 PM on Mar 04, 2018:
6th_Floor posted at 12:24:58 AM on Mar 03, 2018:

I don't know anything about the company, but someone who lists themselves as an employee of the company tried to rob my house on Christmas eve. I have it on video surveillance and it's been reported to the police. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Were you home alone?

posted by justread on Mar 05, 2018 at 06:17:41 am     #  

6th_Floor posted at 12:24:58 AM on Mar 03, 2018:

"The business was founded in 1987 by Gregg Konzen, now a retired police veteran in the Toledo, Ohio area. At the time he was operating as Audible Security Systems."

What? No one wanted an A.S.S. sign in their yard?

posted by SensorG on Mar 05, 2018 at 11:08:14 am     #   4 people liked this