Home security alarm system

andy2007August 23, 2006

I recently purchased a home which has a security alarm system

already installed with all the infrared scanners, doors/Windows contacts and key pads. (brand: SPECTRA).

I would like a security company to monitor my home/system.

Who can do it? What is a reasonable yearly cost?

I called a few people from the Toronto GTA yellow pages

and they ask $360 per annum. It seems a little too much

for just monitoring it. Please can I have some advice

and suggestions. Thank you andy 2007

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Our home alo came with a security system. We never engaged it or pursue the service contract as the monthly fees were high, as you say.

Be sure to check with your municipality as to regulations and costs of "false alarms". I understand there can be fees, eg charges by the police or city, for costs of responding to a false alarm. For my SIL, charges kick in after one false alarm for any future ones.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 12:01AM
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That is about what alarm monitering costs in my area and is the reason I did not persue installing one.

Also find out what kind of system you have if you did not already. You need a different type of system if you have pets. A simple motion alarm may not be the right system for you. There are glass break detectors and heat sensors and other things and combinations of things they can put in.

Some alarms go right to law enforcement. Some go to the monitering service and then a human must make a call to LE. Some are only outside bell alarms. What kind you have depends on the laws in your areas and you may be chaged for false alarms.

I've worked in business establisments that have monitering alarms and false alarms are quite common. A ceiling tile could fall and set it off. (This really happened once.) A squiril could get in and set it off. (Happened.)

And I know for a fact that the monitering service people are often "asleep at the wheel" and do not see the alarm on their screens because they don't pay attention. You could be being robbed and they don't see it and call it in. (Happened. More than once.)

They are a PITA to turn on and off everytime you leave your house and a hassle if you are carrying packages and need to punch in the code. They only give you a certain amount of time to put in the code or it sends a call creating a false alarm.

If your power goes out often in storms and such the alarm system won't work at all.

With some systems if the power goes off it sends a false alarm out. (If the robber knows the house has a system they will cut the power before they enter. Some systems are set up knowing this fact and will send out a distress alarm.)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 10:54AM
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I had a security system and monitoring service with my last home. They practically give away the equipment, but they make their money on the monitoring service.

If your house still has the yard sign and window emblems. That may be a enough of a deterrent for a would be robber.
Also, good neighbors are priceless!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:34PM
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we bought our house and it came with a system also. We decided to keep the ADT it came with (it was like 40 -50 bucks a month) and there was a stupid year contract. if you decided not to keep it they would charge you some obscene amount of money. They promised us that our pets would not make the alarm go off. Well our finches (small small birds) would set the alarm off. they came and adjusted the sensitivity of the system. Same thing. they came again and it was the same thing. If we dropped something on the floor or shut the door alarms would go off.
My husband was able to get out of the contract because they couldn't seem to get it to work for us. Also we had numerous calls in the middle of the night because of batteries in glass break sensors running out and various other stupid things.
SO frusterating.
We still have the sytem and all the signs and the system is hooked up so we know when/if/where there is a door opened or glass break or something weird by reading the panel. We can also set the alarm if we want. right now I have it set to notify me if there is a change in anything (like door or window opening). I do like that feature.

We also have two dogs so I think we have alot of alarms in the house right now. I don't need to pay 50 bucks for more.

also my friend has a system and her shower steam sets off the fire alarm all the time. by the time she calls the company the firemen are at her door and she is in her towel, very embarrased.

We dont' seem to have a "false alarm" fee in my county.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 4:37PM
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The previous owner had a monitoring contract at a cost of
$30/month. We did not take on the contract. We have the
operating instruction booklet. If I follow the instructions
would it set the alaram on? (Without the monitoring).

The previous owner had two poodles, so I am sure it is
not sensitive to pets' movements. We have three infra red
sensors, all external and patio doors have sensors too.

I do not know the specifics of other circuits but I have
the SPECTRA alarm companie's user guide. Also the front
door has a sticker on it. Where can I get some more
stickers and the lawn signs?? Are they sold anywhere?


    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 6:13PM
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Where can I get some more stickers and the lawn signs??

The alarm companies know that the stickers and lawn signs do about 80% of the deterrent work of an alarm system, so they're naturally reluctant to make those available. I'm sure there are some people out there who have salvaged old ones to sell; there also are some "generic" ("Protected by Acme Alarm") stickers and signs out there if you have particularly dumb criminals in your area.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 9:29AM
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if the previous owners had two poodles I bet they didn't set the alarm if the dogs were in the house. Unless the IR sensors were very high on the door jams.

I believe all systems can be set to go off regardless if you have a monitering contract or not. It will just sound an alarm and not call the police. The burgler would be out of the house by then anyways, so i don't think it matters.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 10:42AM
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Monthly monitoring service average $20-35. If it's more than $35, shop around some more. There are companies that can turn on your existing system. Some companies will try to sell their system and won't deal with that. You can go to the online Yellow Pages in your area and search for an alarm company. Many have their own websites for you to check them out.

Most companies allow certain amount of false alarms without penalty, generally 5. A false alarm is considered when the alarm goes off, the monitor company calls to check you out, if you don't answer the phone nor give them the proper password, the company will dispatch the police to check your home. However, if you answer the call and give the proper password, then, it is not considered a false alarm, (with most companies, this is unlimited).

Panic alarm, on the other hand, is different. If you hit the panic alarm, the monitor company will not call you at all. They will immediately dispatch the police. In the city of Houston, false panic alarm is allowed once a year without penalty. The 2nd time, the city or county will send you a bill. So check with your monitor company or the city about this.

Be also awared that most large monitor companies have more sofisticate equipments. When the alarm goes off, they can detect if it's a false alarm or not by checking to see if you turn the alarm off within certain amount of time. If it is, they won't call you. You will know if they're alert when you get your bill. It will state the date and time of each false alarm.

If you chose to pay a company for monitoring, they can provide you the stickers also. If not, you can go to your local Radio Shacks and get some.

As far as manual, did you check online with the manufacturer and see if there's a manual for your model to view and download? Most manufacturers that have a website would put product manuals in pdf format for users to download. It saves them postage fees.

Another thing you need to check out is if your city or county requires to have an alarm permit. In Houston, we do. The fee is higher initially ($50-60) but much less with the yearly renewal ($10-15).

Here's my 2nd personal benefit of having an alarm monitored. I'm in a wheelchair and I have a remote control for my home alarm. It's the same size of an auto alarm. I carry it with me wherever I'm at, indoor or outdoor. If I fall, get hurt or injured and can't move, I can use my remote control to set off the alarm to get help. My mom is in her 70's and we got her a remote control for her home alarm too.

We found out that some companies will include 1 or 2 in their alarm initial set up package. If not, ask for one. If they want your business enough, most likely, they'll give you one.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 3:04AM
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Btw, if you have pets indoor, you can set the alarm to "Stay". It bypass all indoor sensors so you or your pet can move around. However, if someone breaks in through the door or windows (if set up), the alarm will go off. Even if you don't have pets, this feature is useful when you're sleeping.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 3:16AM
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We initially had ADT. Can't remember what they charged, but we were stuck in a year contract. Then we found another local company at a home show that only charged $14.95/mo. The only catch was you had to pay for the entire year up front, rather than month to month. They were fine until the alarm system itself began malfunctioning. We weren't about to spend the crazy charges to fix it, and haven't had any problems. I still keep the alarm signs and permit posted at the front of my house though.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 3:31PM
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Also used ADT finished out the required contact period and had the monitoring shut off. Remember that if you have your alarm monitored, the system is hooked up to the phone line. We had lightening hit our phone lines and it took out our system. Costs us almost $300 to fix. That cinched the deal to pull the phone line and stop the monitoring. Have all the signs and stickers, plus a couple of LOUD big dogs.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2006 at 3:42PM
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When I lived in north San Diego, in a house near a flower growing operation, I was burglarized 8 times in 2 years. Cleaned out of cooking utensils, clothes, other household basics, anything easily portable that was valuable each time- draw your own conclusions as to who the thieves were. Homeowner's insurance was cancelled. The sheriff advanced me to get a dog--couldn't do that. The mayor advised me to stop fretting over stuff being "pilfered". I didn't see the sense in spending more for the alarm system than the cost of the stuff that was left (plus couldn't really afford it) so I went to HD and bought a single motion detector sensor, attached it to a loud horn that I mounted outside, and advised the neighbors and the greenhouse business what the horn would mean. It was triggered once. After that no more burglaries until I sold the house 18 months later.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 2:38PM
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Hi Andy2006-3/4,

There was a rather humourous program on CBC Radio One for some time called the "Dead Dog Cafe", set in a village near an aboriginal reserve in Alberta, that wasn't operating for some time, then renewed as "Dead Dog in the City" a few months ago, supposedly having moved to Toronto - (doesn't everyone?).

Jasper Friendly Bear, an aboriginal who didn't like paying for his coffee, always getting Tom King to pay for it, came in one day last week showing some rather large, gaudy decals for alarm system, calling it "A D T" (standing for "Aboriginal Deterrent Technology") saying that he was starting a new business. They asked him what he knew about the alarm business - to which he replied, Nothing - who wants to have someone running around their home, drilling holes in their walls, running wires here and there, hooking up to phone system, etc.?

He was just selling the decals that people could put on their windows.

Tom King said that he couldn't use the "A D T" label, as that was a company already in existence.

But that if he didn't have an alarm system and intruders came in, the system wouldn't know it, for the system needed to send a signal to the surveillance company, who would call the police, who would come out and catch the burglars.

To which the aboriginals had a good chuckle.

Jasper Friendly Bear asked whether Tom had any idea how far down the list of priorities on the police blotter the "Intruder in a home" was? He said that it takes 45 min. to 2 hours for the police to respond, usually ... if the staff at the alarm company are awake and call them. And the police are aware that a high percentage of such calls are false alarms.

Most burglars want to be in and out in about 2 minutes, I heard someone say the other day - certainly a lot less than 45 min.

So - if you can get 80% or so coverage as you are, at no cost ...

... is it worth it to pay over $400./year for the additional 20%?

You may be able to hear the program at www.cbc.ca, then go to Radio One, then to either "Dead Dog Cafe" or "Dead Dog in the City".

I may have to change my insurance company, for my landlord requires that I carry house contents insurance and the people who operate my auto system have minimum $25,000. coverage ... but I reckon my stuff comes in at about $10,000. (I live alone - and rather frugally). So why pay the premium for all of that extra minimum coverage ... that I'd not be getting?

Life do have its rough spots, don't it?

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 5:34PM
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raee, I sure like your system with the light and loud horn.. sounds like something I could use.. how in the heck did you hook up the horn to the light..??
if nothing else I surely could scare my goofy neighbors..LOL

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 5:01PM
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More on my insurance situation to which I referred above.

My landlord requires that I have tenant's insurance on the house contents, and, as I mentioned, the company carrying my auto insurance back in '06 did not offer coverage for under $25,000., and my contents were less than $10,000. ... plus, when we investigated the situation, they didn't like some of the plumbing and wiring system, according to the independent agency that represented them ... so I told them that I would not be renewing my auto insurance with the former company, either.

Later I got a request for payment from the earlier company and tried unsuccessfully to contact them to say that I'd cancelled.

Later I got a registered letter telling me that they were no longer covering my auto insurance ... and that I owed them $137.00 for the coverage which I'd had prior to their cancellation.

I told them that I'd told the agent that I would not be renewing, and they said that that notification had to be in writing .. and I said that their agent had not informed me that such a cancellation was required.

I told them that, as I'd had a situation where my vehicle had been hit by another in the meantime, that I'd be making a claim.

They said that, since I was covered by another company, that they would not recognize such a claim.

So I told them that they wanted my money for coverage that I'd said that I no longer needed ... but were refusing to make a payout relative to such coverage.

Since then, I have received a number of calls from a collection agency, then there's a quiet period, then there's another group trying to collect.

Recently when I answer the phone, there's a short pause, then a canned voice says, "Please hold while I transfer you", then there's a pause, and a machine instructs me that if I know my account number, to please give it, and asks for my phone number.

I say that they didn't identify their company, that I'm not aware of any account with them and they must have a bad memory, for they knew my phone number when they called me a couple of minutes ago ... and that I have a hard time remembering it, as I never call home, insofar as the only residents here when I'm gone is the occasional mouse.

The other day when I answered, I got to speak to a warm body, and when I told her my story, she said that I needed to pay, and could I pay if they reduced the fee by 20% (which they seldom do for accounts under $200.), and I told her that I don't give credit card numbers over the phone, so she offered to have me transfer via a certain bank, but I wasn't enthusiastic about that propoal.

When I said that I might die in the meantime ... she said that she guessed that I'd just have to put up with the ongoing calls.

I didn't ask her whether they had an idea of where they'd phone after I'd died ... I guess that can wait for the next time that I get to speak to a warm body.

However ... they usually call in the mid-morning, and a couple of days ago when the phone rang about that time, I almost didn't nswer ... and it was my daughter calling from AZ ... and it was about 6:40 a.m. her time ... so we had a nice visit ... and I decided that I'll be answering the phone in future.

I've heard that ancient people get rather stubborn ... do you think that there might be any truth to that rumour ...

... or could it be just another of those urban (well, in this case, "rural") legends?

I hope that you all have a really great post-holiday weekend.

For retired folks ... every day's weekend.

I you don't have a retirement plan in place, maybe it's time to get moving on one ... the longer you leave it, the steeper the hill that your invested dollars must climb.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 4:10AM
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The company that put ours in also monitor the system, did you check with the co. who installed it?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 4:54PM
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When I mentioned an alarm system to my exterminator, he said Lowes has one for $350 and it is all a person needs. It was probably not monitored, probably just some kind of motion sensors that made noise to scare an intruder off if they open a door or window. I think that is all anyone needs also. I talked to a police officer one time and he said, "in 13 years as an officer he had never answered an alarm that was caused by a real intruder". Sounds like a sign is all that's needed. LOL He also said lights are all anyone needs. Intruders do not like lights and will go to an easier home to get into.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 4:42PM
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One thing that might help with costs is that some insurance companies give you a discount on your homeowner's insurance if you have an alarm system.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 8:31PM
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