View Full Version : Home Alarms? Insights and experiences and recommendations please.

Feb. 23, 2013, 05:14 PM
Well, my cousin has made me promise to get a security system if I buy a house. She said specifically that I need to worry about when I am not home. I am moving to a pretty populated area with easy access although nothing is secluded or hidden. And you know I am planting Barberry shrubs under every window!

So? I really, really don't want to because of two main things:

-I only have experience of back in the 80s when they went off if you sneezed wrong and it was a big clunky false alarm mess.

-I also seem to think they are mucho expensive. I work and earn a decent income but I also go to college full time. No extra big money floating around!

So what's up? Do they work? Have they gotten any better? best ones? Why? Worst ones? Why? Experiences??

Feb. 23, 2013, 05:46 PM
If you don't have pets, you can get one with a motion detector and just arm the doors and lower windows. Don't leave your windows open though, a breeze blowing curtains can set it off.

I used ADT, they were OK, the big expense is the monthly monitoring....there's lots of installation deals out there.

You could probably put a dummy panel inside your door that beeps and a bunch of stickers on the windows to convince any would be break-ins to pass you by. Make sure you change your locks, keep the windows locked and an extra lock on any patio doors.

Feb. 23, 2013, 05:50 PM
Within 5 minutes of your closing on your new place...your phone will ring off the hook with security companies calling to tell you that you NEED their alarm system. So you'll get a lot of opinions in the first couple months, LOL!

(you'll also get calls from landscaping companies, chimney cleaners, heating/cooling companies, sprinkler systems, etc. There are call companies that track closings and sell the phone and address lists. You can avoid if you go with an unlisted number)

ADT is still considered the most popular remote monitoring system I think. Most companies have a lot of packages in a bunch of price ranges. As low as $25 a month in some cases. And you can always, always, always negotiate cost of system and cost of installation. As a matter of fact free installation isn;t uncommon and I'd push for that if you decide to go with one.

I don't use a remote monitoring system, not through an outside company.

Feb. 23, 2013, 06:13 PM
You can have a system installed and have it ring your cell phone.
You can also any time check your security cameras, if that is what you put in, thru your cell phone and see that all is ok, or what the dog is doing.;)

For those systems, you don't have any monthly charges, that is only for the ones that do the monitoring for you.

The cost depends on what all you want installed, you can go cheap with a basic system, or as expensive as you want to keep adding options like monitoring and extra cameras.

Look at the security stickers in your area business, bank, electric companies, big offices, schools.

Our system is the same that handles security for the local school district and several supermarkets.

Feb. 23, 2013, 06:21 PM
I asked about this awhile back and received some good info. I followed the advice and am quite happy with my ADT and camera system. Do a search for the helpful information.

Feb. 23, 2013, 07:04 PM
I have ADT, have used them in my last four homes. I have the door and window sensors, plus motion and glass shatter sensors. I live alone, so it makes me feel like, if given the choice, the bad guys would go to my neighbors' homes without alarms and a dog. I did have a window sensor fail in my last house and it sent an alarm out at 1 in the morning, which scared me to death. The guy on the phone from ADT said he'd wait while I went down to the basement and checked it out. Gee, thanks. My dog wasn't concerned, so I figured no one was down there, but I still told him I'd prefer they send out the police. Their service guy came the next day to replace the sensor and I never had any other problems.

Feb. 23, 2013, 07:34 PM
Wow, thanks all! GREAT advice and helpful tips, thank you!

So, do alarms and security systems actually make a difference to burglars though?

Feb. 23, 2013, 07:53 PM
A burglar usually goes for the easiest target. Therefore, if you have deadbolts, no doors are windows are unlocked, and you have security system stickers, they go after the neighbor who has cheesy locks, unlocked doors, or who leaves the blinds open all of the time so they can case the house to see if it's worth ripping off or not. A neighborhood about 20 miles away from me has had breadins during broad daylight, and similar burglaries. The houses that were hit all had big windows that always have the blinds or curtains open, so the burglars knew that by breaking in the picture window, that they could get two huge tvs very quickly. It was a 2500 return, for about a minute worth of work.

Feb. 23, 2013, 07:55 PM
Ah. I am an open blind sort of person. This might need changing, at least while I am not home.

Feb. 23, 2013, 08:04 PM
What Jan M said. I have broadview, its about $370/ yr. All the houses in my neighborhood w/o an alarm system have been broken into. The alarm is a deterrent in it of itself. Plus, it calls you if the alarm goes off or the house catches on fire.

Prior to this house, I had a rottwieler based security system. She lived here too for a while before she passed away. The alarm guy said that burglars will break in even with a dog - depending on the type of dog- but that the rottie was a good deterrent.

Feb. 23, 2013, 08:08 PM
Very cool, thank you!

My two cats would not appreciate a dog roommie. Well, Tux would but he likes anyone and everyone, super obnoxiously friendly little guy that he is. Edo, on the other hand, would lose his mind and sleep in the litter box. Whenever life gets too much he sleeps in his outhouse. In his defense, it is this big litter box-

http://www.petptt.com/cat-supplies/cat-tree-and-cat-scratch/Cats_Litter_Box_Enclosure_Item_No_DFMPJ_002QT_638. html

Feb. 23, 2013, 08:30 PM
Too bad your cat won't accept a dog -- yappy dogs make great alarm systems, especially with a big, deep voice, like my 100 lb GSD, who also looks scary. I work with rescues and we just had one of our fosters take in a very sweet Rottie -- 7-8 months old that needs a home! I just think the noise and the "unknown" factor of a big dog(s) is a huge deterrent, especially if you have your home otherwise secured. It's also a great feeling to help a homeless animal! Good luck!

Feb. 23, 2013, 08:30 PM
Adt is a nightmare. Im a senior manager for security and life safety.
You want dmp, Honeywell Ademco or Bosch. Do not use adt they are proprietary and once you have their equip you are stuck and no one else can monitor or service it

Feb. 23, 2013, 08:36 PM
Thanks Morgan, thats good info I can use!

Feb. 23, 2013, 08:40 PM
Alarm.com is good. Don't know if they go where you are but they are national. Not proprietary and they use ge products.

I charge 21.50 for home monitoring per month, a little more for cellular back up

Feb. 23, 2013, 08:44 PM
Ours is $26.05 a month for basic monitoring of all systems except cameras, but keep a backup disc on the cameras.
I do the monitoring thru the cameras, that can signal an alarm thru the internet on the IPhone.
I have nabbed some brave rabbits hopping around at night.:lol:

The cameras are very good and at night just as clear, but in black and white.

Feb. 23, 2013, 08:48 PM
That seems so cheap!

Feb. 23, 2013, 09:28 PM
That seems so cheap!

If you sign up for a year, they give you some of the equipment, main boxes, cameras and all the basic wickets for windows and doors and all that.
Installation will cost, with labor wires, etc.
For us, adding camera monitoring, as in schools and such, would have doubled the monthly fee.

Maybe you could get bids from different companies and be sure you are comparing apples to apples?

Early winter, we had 40+ burglaries in 60 days here and now all that didn't have alarm systems have some.

Feb. 23, 2013, 09:50 PM
Thanks Bluey, I know how sensible you are, I appreciate your input!

Feb. 23, 2013, 10:36 PM
Depending on the type of burglars, the alarm system may make absolutely zero difference. In the country, the response time of law enforcement is such that the grab & go bad guys will hit houses and be gone so fast the alarm almost before the big alarm goes off. One of our neighbors was in his workshop a couple hundred yards from his house. The machinery was running and he didn't hear his own home alarm going off. He was being robbed while he sharpened mowing blades. He happened to notice his cell phone continuing to rattle around & answered. It was the alarm company. The crooks were never caught and the stuff snatched were things easily sold on the street no questions asked (electronics primarily).

As someone mentioned, make your home secure with deadbolts and security doors; keep your windows locked. Sounds like a dog isn't much of an option, but many times a barking dog is more of a deterrent than an alarm system. And from what my LEO friends tell me, alarm systems don't do much of anything to deter the snatch & go guys. It would be interesting to see info as to how cameras/signs saying cameras are in use affect burglars decision to break in.

Interestingly enough, a friend of ours put ADT on her tack room after being cleaned out twice. The crooks broke in a 3rd time, set off the alarm, and managed to clean out 1/2 the tack room before they bounced. They were never caught. Her insurance company did give her a break on rates, though, after she put the system in.

Feb. 23, 2013, 10:43 PM
Definitely going with dead bolts and good strong window locks with dowels. No sliding door, that is good. Barberry brush gives a good cut (evil things!) under the windows, Hawthornes along the side fence :)

Feb. 24, 2013, 12:46 AM
I Just put in a system, and went with SimpliSafe. I am really happy with it...no land line required, monitoring can be monthly rather than annual contract, and it's easily installed by myself. There are a variety of sensors available from door/window and motion sensors to temprerature, Co2, water, fire, etc. I did my whole house for under $500, and it took about an hour to install and set up.

Frank B
Feb. 24, 2013, 09:08 AM
Duplicate post deleted.

Frank B
Feb. 24, 2013, 09:12 AM
We've had an alarm system for years and the only false alarms we've had were when I forgot to disarm it as I entered the house. The modern systems are very reliable.

We have all entrance points alarmed, as well as motion, smoke, and heat detectors. We use a heat detector in the garage because it doubles as a workshop and operations like soldering, grinding, and even a table saw can set off a smoke detector, as can starting up the riding lawn mower. There are no CO2 detectors because our heat and cooking is all electric.

We had a cat and the technician was able to set the sensitivity of the motion detectors to ignore her wanderings.

We also have a wireless backup link in case any would be thieves try to cut the phone line.

If you fear for your safety, get a gun and learn how to use it. Most rod and gun clubs offer firearm safety courses. NRA's Refuse To Be A Victim (http://refuse.nra.org/) program is well worth the cost and effort. Remember: When seconds count, help is minutes away -- if you're lucky!

Feb. 24, 2013, 09:16 AM
I HATE our alarm system. We have ADT. They are slow to respond when it goes off.... they monitor our smoke alarm too (which is set off if you sear meat). Takes 15 minutes for them to call...umm.... my house could have burned down. The last straw was it malfunctioned and would not shut off when we were on vacation. They could not fix it, so the petsitter turned the power off to the system. So our house was disarmed while we were gone. Plus they will chargeto fix the system.

So we are keeping the signs, and not fixing the alarm.

Feb. 24, 2013, 09:26 AM
items of value should be permanently marked for easy identification

But even that does not deter them; all of our tack was embossed with farm name when stolen; the responding officers just said... tack, that will never be found as it will be sold at some horse auction one or two states away

The huge German shepherd dog who was a trained protection dog we got afterwards has worked; even ten years after he has died the police are still stopping by to check on our protection dog permit

Feb. 24, 2013, 09:47 AM
I asked about this awhile back and received some good info. I followed the advice and am quite happy with my ADT and camera system. Do a search for the helpful information.
I also have ADT....after finding a stranger in my garage, "selling " arial views of my farm. Their motion sensors ignore anything under 80 lbs

Feb. 24, 2013, 01:29 PM
Before choosing a company find out if they have local monitoring. And I believe some systems no longer require a landline.

With my previous house I also found out the owner had to give 30 days notice before a move, and if they didn't (and they didn't) and the silent alarm goes off, then the company would do nothing to help. You truly don't want to know that story. If there's an existing system you might be able to transfer ownership, and set up the account so you can have an easy changeover.

Feb. 24, 2013, 01:39 PM
Yeah, Frank, I'm worried about when I am not home. I am not concerned about defending myself and my.home LOL! In all honesty I might prove to be a little more redneck than where I'm moving is used to ;)

I am thinking my little electric automatic fan I put in ky window in summer is no longer a good idea, even with a dowel, the plastic fan will just pop out of the window :(