When shopping for a home security system, you’ll come across lots of terms, which can cause confusion among consumers. For example, what’s the difference between a monitored or non-monitored alarm system? And how can you know which you want or need? Here are the answers you need to know.
Defining a Monitored Alarm System
A monitored alarm system is connected in some way to a company, which receives alerts if the system triggers. The company is usually connected in one of several ways:
- Via the landline phone of the home
- Via the home’s Internet connection
- Via cellular service
Since it’s easy for intruders to cut landlines, and your Internet connection depends on power (which can also be cut by intruders), many modern systems have multiple fail-safes and rely on cellular connections. If the alarm triggers, the company tries to contact the homeowner to see if everything is okay. This helps prevent false calls to authorities. If the homeowner is unreachable, or indicates there’s a problem, the company alerts the proper authorities.
Defining a Non-Monitored Alarm System
A non-monitored system isn’t backed up by a company receiving alerts. Some non-monitored systems alert the authorities directly, but most simply sound an alarm in hopes the sound will scare away the criminals. These systems are often more expensive to buy, but carry no ongoing monthly monitoring charges. Also, if the intruders figure out the system is merely making noise and not alerting authorities, they may continue with the break-in.
Why You Need a Monitored Alarm System
Monitored systems are generally less expensive to buy, because the company gives the customer a break on the charge, since they’ll be an ongoing customer. But the cost is actually the smallest benefit of a monitored alarm system. Monitored systems offer benefits such as:
- Alarm screening, which means authorities don’t receive false alarms
- You never risk a criminal figuring out the authorities aren’t coming
- You don’t depend on neighbors to hear and respond to the alarm if you’re away
- The company can alert the right authorities to respond
Having home alarm monitoring also means the company can help determine what authorities to contact. For example, they’ll alert the police if it’s a potential break-in, or the fire department if there’s a suspected fire. For the homeowner, this means the right people come right away to render the aid needed.
And some cities actually charge homeowners for receiving too many false alarms, since it pulls necessary first responders away from real emergencies. Also, when police have responded too many times to your home for nothing, they’re likely to delay coming if a real emergency happens, thinking it’s another false alarm.
Too many people have depended on their neighbors to hear their non-monitored alarm, but neighbors can be away from home when the break-in happens. Also, people have become so used to hearing false alarms from cars, many are likely to assume it’s an accident and ignore it. A monitored system eliminates all these risks.
Not to mention, many homeowners’ insurance companies look more favorably on a monitored system than a non-monitored one. Homeowners save an average of 20 percent off their premiums for a qualified system. That’s just one more in a long line of benefits to monitored alarm systems.
Christy Wilson is a freelance writer working from her lakeside home in Pell City, Alabama. She received her degree in journalism from Samford University and has a background in newspaper writing and editing.