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Home Security Systems?

Old 04-04-2009, 06:22 PM
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Default Home Security Systems?

Considering a home security system.
Anyone have one installed?
Opinion?
Cost?
Security Company?

The ADT Rep stopped by a couple of weeks ago and I have been wondering about this.
I have home "protection". My wife and I both have CWP's and know how to use them.
So please keep the "if anyone breaks onto my house, I'll blow 'em away with my AR-15 mega-Rambo blah blah" comments, serious responses only.

Thanks in advance.
Ray
Old 04-04-2009, 06:29 PM
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Do you have pets? The answer may change the type of system. Pets obviously will inhibit any motion detection system.
Old 04-04-2009, 06:32 PM
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I got a quote from a local company for 2k a few months ago . This included 2 key pads, 23 wireless sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 smoke detector, and 1 heat senor. The monthly service was well priced at $20 per month with a two year agreement. The install cost was was the deal killer. I've started looking again due to a couple of break ins down the street from me.
Old 04-04-2009, 07:22 PM
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I'm having Guardian install the system in my new house. Seemed like a decent deal with real people (Americans) monitoring the system 24/7. I can even call it on my cell phone and hear everything going on in the house.
Old 04-04-2009, 07:35 PM
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I do have 1 dog. Outside.
Basically looking for one that is wired to all windows,doors.
Fire/smoke detect would be nice as well. Never thought of that. Thanks
Old 04-04-2009, 07:48 PM
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I use a local company that has been around forever.

2 keypads, 27 POE's, 3 motion, smoke, heat and CO. Exterior bell and interior siren. Two "panic" buttons and a handheld remote (keyfob). 24/7 monitoring as well.

For the pets, they can mount the motion sensors in a way that will make it OK in most cases. Plus you can always set it in "stay" mode which disables the motion sensors yet you still have everything else protected.

That is how we do it for short trips while our best friend hangs out inside. When we go for longer trips, we either take him with us or he hangs out at the doggy-daycare.

About $900 initial setup and $23.95/month with a two year commitment. That was about 9 years ago. We still pay for the monitoring.

There is a huge markup on the initial price. With most of these alarm companies selling through independent contractors, there is a lot of room for negotiation. They started us out at $2,495! when the initial offer at a home show was $495. We ended up paying $895.

Be sure and read your contract CAREFULLY! Some companies have been in trouble for their contracts. Pay close attention to the monitoring fee increases and the termination stipulations.
Old 04-04-2009, 07:49 PM
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we have ADT for quite a while now. radio backup and all. we do not have fire/smoke coverage as they indicated that they scramble the fire department as soon as the alarm goes off - no phone call verification. i didn't want to risk having them diverted in an unlikely scenario that a real fire is occurring somewhere else. there is a manual fire button (and a police one) that my daughter did manage to push when she was a toddler, my wife was a bit embarrassed when the trucks showed up.

i can't say anything other than that their monitoring is EXCELLENT. the system throws codes for low battery (we have both wired and wireless sensors) and if there is interruptions in the phone line link or the radio backup signal. if it took 60 seconds for the call to come in, it would be a long time.

the monitoring is the key to the security. whomever you go with, i would make sure they are well represented in your area.
Old 04-04-2009, 07:53 PM
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^^^^

Good point about the importance of the monitoring.

Also, check with your local authorities to see if you need a building permit (due to the wiring) and any other special alarm permits.

More and more jurisdictions are requiring a "use" permit these days.

Also find out if your local PD will even respond to a residential alarm.

Some won't...
Old 04-05-2009, 04:12 AM
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You want good system- have to spend few$. My 2- stay away from ADT, clowns, and other ...There's plenty of info out there how to hack their systems. Find good mom/pop shop and you will probably have a PRO installation, not a rookie.
Fire detectors, CO, monitoring, radio/cell backup well worth spending $. Try to look for "old school" hardwire system, windows OK for wireless. Find out who has local monitoring station, trust me on this one. As far as pets- yes, you can have PIR (motion) detector, dep. on the size of the pet- will not work with Mastiff size or you can do windows and glass breaks (carefull with heavy drapes near by- will kill sound). I never liked PIR's with cats- they like to jump- won't work if they too close. Windows- ask for "breeze", so you can crack window 3-4" open summer time, it's only a magnet ($5 bucks) or window screens (this will cost you).
BTW 2 keypads and 23 points for $2k is not bad deal.
You can also monitor sump pump or water in the basement, low temperature (great for 2nd house).
I did this for years in the past: custom and slap sh!t.........hope it helps.
Cheers!
Old 04-05-2009, 06:30 AM
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Default Let me give you some good advice from experience

First let me say the chances of someone coming in your house while you are home are slim (possible, but slim) these scumbags know when you are home and when you are not. All the CWP in the world are not going to protect you and your family's sense of security. I have been "hit" several times. Only once while I was home and by the time I figured out someone was in my garage ripping me off, he was long gone. So what do you do?? Here is what works for me without spending money for a high security perimeter system. Get the ADT basic system. Make sure you get a keypad near you bed! That way if your home is invaded while you sleep you or your wife will know! #2- Get a 2-4 camera surveillance system with a DVR recorder. You don't have to spend a ton (B&W cameras) but don't skimp on the DVR! Put ALOT of thought into where to put the cameras! Think like a thief and how they would approach your property to burglarize you. Remember...you want to get them on video, so you can prosecute them and/or get your stuff back (or have a heart-to-heart with them). Get all the signs and stickers for your ADT system, BUT DON'T advertise your surveillance system (they'll just wear masks then). Remember, when if you get burglarized you won't sleep well for a couple nights, BUT there is only one thing worse....not knowing who or how they did it!! Trust me. Here's a link to a post I made on another site in my area. After getting hit 2-3 times, I took matters into my own hands and now I know exactly what the hell goes on around my house whether I'm there or not! I got this bastard and now him and his "trailer thief ring" are toast. http://www.charlestonfishing.com/for...TOPIC_ID=74876 Good luck and if you have any questions just ask! Survellance systems are good if you have teenagers too!!! LOL.
Old 04-05-2009, 11:34 AM
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There is a lot of good info already posted, and more to come.

- monitoring, make sure whomever is doing your monitoring us UL approved. UL has stringent requirements for alarm monitoring, back up, and notification -- how to make it as fail-safe as possible.

- ADT, specifically, has designed and/or changed the board in their panels so that you, the owner, cannot change or re-program anything without paying ADT additional fees. Want to add more sensors, need to pay ADT to do it. I would stay away from all ADT hardware. ADT monitoring is excellent.

- in the event of an alarm state, your panel may seize your phone line to communicate with the monitoring station. You will not be able to make out going calls during this time. Also, it is possible for DSL service to interfere with the panel/monitoring base communications. You may need to install a second phone line for your alarm system. The newer panels have a cellphone embedded, do not depend on land lines. You pay an extra $25/month or whatever for the cellphone line.

- motion detectors are now very well designed, not cheap, can be set to detect a height above any pets to avoid detecting the pets in your home.

- the yard sign advertising your alarm system/monitoring and the alarm stickers in your windows really do work. The bad guys will avoid your house, they will hit your next door neighbor's house instead.

- plan, plan and plan some more. Do not depend on a college kid taking a summer job with an alarm company to know what you need. Learn what is available and decide what you need before consulting with the experts. Do not disregard their advice, just get yourself up to speed so you will know if they as BS'ing you.

- as already mentioned, look at any monitoring contract for how they will increase your rates. We had our monthly rate get hiked, out the blue, per the contract. And per the contract, I sent the monitoring company a letter declining the rate increase. Per the contract, they could only increase my rate if I did not notify them in writing within 30-days declining the increase.

- check with your city, some have an extortion scheme where you get hit with as much as $50 to $200 or more for a false alarm, unless you prepaid protection money to the police dept. I think the city extorts $35/year from me - gets me 1 free false alarm/month and 1/2-price on false alarms after that -- it is extortion.

Suggestion: most sensors use radio to communicate with the control panel. There are newer sensors small enough to fit into a hole drilled into the door frame, the magnet goes into a hole drilled in the door. The unit is not visible like the wall-wart looking sensors that hang on doors and windows with a glob of sticky stuff.

I think the average person can DIY their alarm installation. There is oodles of info online from manufactures. Once you start learning about the sensors you realize they are designed to work with any number of panels. Talk with the monitoring companies so you know what parameters they require to monitor the system you install. So will flat out tell you what hardware to avoid, what brand and model to buy, etc.
Old 04-05-2009, 12:48 PM
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A lot of good info here. While we're home we have the driveway alert system sold by Lord Henry Enterprises. It can handle up to 6 motion sensors and each one can be voice recorded to tell exactly where the intruder is such as "front porch" "side steps" "back patio" etc. The monitor is in the upstairs hall and the neat thing is that they don't know that they have been detected. Haven't had it but a year or so and so far the only "criminals" we have caught have been deer and an occasional racoon or stray dog.
Old 04-05-2009, 02:49 PM
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When I was young I lived in a bad area, and didn't have much money. So I went to a scrap yard and picked up a couple of refrigerator door switches. (Open on, closed off)

I put these switches in the door frame on the hall door, both front and back and ran a wire to my apt. Now every time someone would enter the front door of the building a red light would go on in my apt. and a blue light if they came through the back door.


Then I picked up a couple of backyard motion detectors and wired them both inside and outside my apt. to an old school bell. So not only would the lights go on but the bell would sound also!!

Certainly not fool proof but it worked for me and know one ever broke in my apt.!
Old 04-05-2009, 03:06 PM
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I don't have first hand experience with any of them but my fiance worked as a dispatcher for Palm Beach Sheriff's Office.

One thing to consider- ADT (at least in Palm Beach County, FL) will call the emergency number for the sheriff's office when the panic button was hit. No other company (for Palm Beach County, can't speak for rest) would call 911, they instead would call the non-emrgency number which in turn can take more time. Some companies would even call an "alarm" number for the sheriff's office that would take the lowest precidence. I don't know if that is how it is throughout the country, but in that county that is how it happened.

It may be something you want to speak to the sales consultant about. Find out how they contact the emergency services. You want to hit the panic button and have the company call the alarm number, and have the monitoring company sit on hold for several minutes.
Old 04-06-2009, 04:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyeball View Post
There is a lot of good info already posted, and more to come.

- monitoring, make sure whomever is doing your monitoring us UL approved. UL has stringent requirements for alarm monitoring, back up, and notification -- how to make it as fail-safe as possible.

- ADT, specifically, has designed and/or changed the board in their panels so that you, the owner, cannot change or re-program anything without paying ADT additional fees. Want to add more sensors, need to pay ADT to do it. I would stay away from all ADT hardware. ADT monitoring is excellent.

- in the event of an alarm state, your panel may seize your phone line to communicate with the monitoring station. You will not be able to make out going calls during this time. Also, it is possible for DSL service to interfere with the panel/monitoring base communications. You may need to install a second phone line for your alarm system. The newer panels have a cellphone embedded, do not depend on land lines. You pay an extra $25/month or whatever for the cellphone line.

- motion detectors are now very well designed, not cheap, can be set to detect a height above any pets to avoid detecting the pets in your home.

- the yard sign advertising your alarm system/monitoring and the alarm stickers in your windows really do work. The bad guys will avoid your house, they will hit your next door neighbor's house instead.

- plan, plan and plan some more. Do not depend on a college kid taking a summer job with an alarm company to know what you need. Learn what is available and decide what you need before consulting with the experts. Do not disregard their advice, just get yourself up to speed so you will know if they as BS'ing you.

- as already mentioned, look at any monitoring contract for how they will increase your rates. We had our monthly rate get hiked, out the blue, per the contract. And per the contract, I sent the monitoring company a letter declining the rate increase. Per the contract, they could only increase my rate if I did not notify them in writing within 30-days declining the increase.

- check with your city, some have an extortion scheme where you get hit with as much as $50 to $200 or more for a false alarm, unless you prepaid protection money to the police dept. I think the city extorts $35/year from me - gets me 1 free false alarm/month and 1/2-price on false alarms after that -- it is extortion.

Suggestion: most sensors use radio to communicate with the control panel. There are newer sensors small enough to fit into a hole drilled into the door frame, the magnet goes into a hole drilled in the door. The unit is not visible like the wall-wart looking sensors that hang on doors and windows with a glob of sticky stuff.

I think the average person can DIY their alarm installation. There is oodles of info online from manufactures. Once you start learning about the sensors you realize they are designed to work with any number of panels. Talk with the monitoring companies so you know what parameters they require to monitor the system you install. So will flat out tell you what hardware to avoid, what brand and model to buy, etc.

That was the way we mounted PIRS twenty years ago to avoid pet detection. For what its worth, what ended up screwing us in that application was cats. They tend to jump up on top of everything. Many times the owner didn't even know Kitty could jump up on top of the china closet. Now some motion detectors are "Pet Immune". Most are listed to work for either under 40 pound or under 80 pound animals. The technology is complex, and I will not discuss how it works in a public forum, but I will tell you that they work very well. I have installed hundreds fo them without ANY false alarm problems caused by pets.

You can PM me with any questions Ray Zor, and I will be happy to answer them.

Many interesting comments in this thread...I have enjoyed reading this one.
Old 04-06-2009, 05:54 AM
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I'm late to the party, as usual, but you have got some very good advive from ABoater, Elyse, Eyball, and others, so there's not much to add without being redundant. Whatever you do; do it right. Don't short-change yourself. Deal with a reputable company, and don't settle for shortcuts. I'd recommend you find a local company; and get referrals.

I personally don't like the wireless system. They are quick and easy to install, and have "supervision", where each sensor 'checks in' to the panel periodically, but I still would install a hard-wired system instead. It will take a lot longer to install, but if you find the right company, their installers will fish every wire to each point of protection, and will leave no trace that they have every been there.

Make sure you get a monitored system; and in addition, it will get you a 15% discount off your homeowner's insurance premiums every year. But monitoring is important, so there is response to an alarm. I recommend including a cellular (UpLink) backup system, which will report alarms to the central even if the phone lines are down. There are also things you can do to protect your phone lines.

Don't overlook using a few cameras and a commercial DVR with time/date stamp, running 24/7. If there is an event, it may provide useful information. I have seen that many times.

I have owned and operated a U.L. Central Station, installation and monitoring company for 37 years, so the advice I'm offering is from experience.
Old 04-06-2009, 06:08 AM
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We have owned security systems in the last 3 houses we live in......and the alarm has prevented at least 2 break-ins. I prefer the hardwired systems using flush window and door contacts. We have a few passive infrared monitors inside the house and a few glass breaking detectors as well. Make certain the infrared units aren't going to be triggered by sunlight or HVAC ducts pumping cool or warm air into a room. Set your alarm on a timer so that it isn't blasting noise for long periods when you aren't home. We also put an alarm inside the house as well as the attic. Getting a system that allows you set up zones and individual contacts allows you to immediately identify where the potential problem is. We have a cat and it hasn't triggered an alarm in the 4 years she has been roaming our house.
Old 04-06-2009, 08:02 AM
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A ton of good info here. All the tech stuff changes every day. I recommend that you call several reputable companies in your area and have them come out to give you the pitch. Many here do a free install for a 3 yr. monitoring contract, but limit the size of the install. Many of the companies use an out of state monitoring service while others use a local one. I prefer the local monitoring. They know the town and neighborhoods and I think you get a better response from them. One thing to consider is using a cell phone to transmit the alarm condition. That way, if they cut your phone wires you still get the call out. And if they don't cut the wires you have the phone to use inside.
A hard wired system is closed circuit. If there is a break in the circuit, like a window or door left open, you can't set the system. It is much harder to bypass this type than an open circuit system with transmitters.

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