Home alarm monitoring is one of the most essential services of your home security setup. After all, even if you have the best home alarm system that catches every burglar, this won’t do you much good if no one responds in your time of need. This article discusses central monitoring stations, how they work, and things to ask your alarm provider before signing on the dotted line.

Central Alarm Monitoring Stations

Lots of the top alarm companies will go on and on about the number and quality of central monitoring stations (the station that take your alarm alert and pass it to local authorities), and the inferiority of central monitoring stations other companies use. The bottom line is that you want an alarm company that doesn’t simply use a good central monitoring station(s), but does a good job of installing your system to your needs (or in the case of a self-install, helps guide you through the process), answers your security questions, and makes you feel comfortable with the service you are buying. You want your alarm system setup correctly and with adequate security measures (i.e. doesn’t allow cut phone or internet lines) to begin with. And just because someone has multiple monitoring stations, does not mean those stations are as reliable as the one that the companies that choose one excellent one use. See below under Rapid Response and Criticom for more info on the choice in monitoring station made by Frontpoint and ProtectAmerica, our top two contenders for best security system.

How Important Is A Monitored Alarm System?

According to research studies, homes with a monitored security system are 2.2 times less likely to be burglarized, and business with a monitored security system are 4.5 times less likely to be burglarized. In addition, 85% of police chiefs recommend the installation of monitored security systems.

Rapid Response

So who does our winner, Frontpoint, use? They use Rapid Response for their central monitoring service (the center that processes your alarm event and dispatches local authorities). With a 40,000 square foot headquarters facility in Central New York, Rapid Response Monitoring is listed by Underwriter Laboratories and certified by Factory Mutual. Rapid Response is one of fewer than two dozen Central Stations approved to monitor fire alarms in New York City. In addition to fire alarms, Rapid Response also monitors burglary, supervisory & medical signals, and offers GPS tracking/monitoring. Rapid Response performs monitoring of military, commercial, and residential accounts as well as provides answering service capability for its Dealers. Video, voice and data are processed by highly trained personnel to ensure error free handling of calls and signals. Check out the Rapid Response website for more information.

Do Alarm Companies Monitor The Communication Path?

A very common misunderstanding of alarm monitoring service contracts is that people think that alarm companies monitor the communication path between the alarm in the home or business and the actual Central Monitoring Station. This frustrates a lot of homeowners who assume, instead of reading their contract or asking the right questions.

Typically, you are paying your alarm service provider to process, treat and respond to alarm signals originating from your home that the Central Monitoring Station actually receives.

You are not paying for your alarm company to monitor the communication path, unless this is clearly stipulated in your contract with the associated fees necessary to perform this additional service for you.

Program Your Alarm To Send Self-Tests

Alarm panels can be programmed to send daily €œself-tests€ to the monitoring station once every 24 hours. There are some alarm companies who will notify their clients if their alarm panel €œmisses€ its daily self-test. However, some alarm panels which I have taken over were programmed for a self-test only once every 30 days.

Questions To Ask Your Alarm Provider

I suggest that you ask your alarm service provider to explain what happens if your alarm panel stops €œcalling€ your monitoring station and find out exactly when you will be notified (if at all).

If you have interactive services and your alarm panel is programmed for daily self-tests, you can receive a notification on your cell phone each time that your alarm panel calls the monitoring station, reassuring you once a day that a transmission test has been successfully made.

You should test your motion detectors, door and window contacts on a regular basis to ensure that your home is properly secured. I recommend activating the “door chime” feature so that your keypad(s) make a tone each time your doors and windows are opened and closed. If you open a door and don’t hear a chime, it’s time to verify the contact with your security system.

Alarms and Sensors vs Complete “Home Security”

First and foremost, I think I need to differentiate the term €œhome security system€ from the phrase €œsecurity alarm system€. An alarm system is just that, a system of sensors strategically located around the property designed to pick up motion or some other stimulus and trigger an alarm inside the home, alerting the residents and potentially the local authorities as well. A home security system goes much further than that, although it does include an alarm system within the whole panel of services.

Home Security Monitoring Is Key To Home Security Alarm Systems


Home security is primarily focused around the concept of €œhome monitoring€ now. Again, a system of sensors and possibly cameras are integrated into the home and then connected to a network that is logged into a central command center. This center is manned 24 hours a day and seven days a week by staff that are trained to respond to triggers in the system and react accordingly. This may include calling the fire department if a heat sensor or smoke alarm is triggered. It may include alerting the homeowner themselves if the temperature of the house drops below freezing and the residents are away so the homeowner can make arrangements to avoid having pipes burst and other problems. It also includes monitoring agents to contact ambulance services if they see a homeowner is injured in the home or an alert is sent via network. The constant watch of an all-time security blanket is a powerful tool and a huge selling point of modern home security systems.

Home Automation And Interactive Monitoring Are An Added Perk

More than just security is being sold by these home security companies. The ability to control your home remotely and have access to what is happening there in real time is extremely alluring for many Americans, especially those who travel frequently for work. They can be told via text message or email alert on their mobile device when a particular door has been opened and a code has been entered into the system, potentially indicating that one of their children has come home.  The possibilities available via home security systems with a networked home monitoring and management system are increasingly limitless as we become more and more connected everywhere we go.

Wireless Communication Signal To The Monitoring Station Is More Secure

Lastly, the technology side of things, many systems are switching to 100% wireless equipment, eliminating the need for extensive wiring and increasing the potential for securing and secluding the hardware required to make the system work. But, it is important to note that hard-wired with supervised wiring or a hybrid alarm system (which is a combination of both hard-wired and wireless components) are just as secure as a wireless alarm system so long as they are installed by a true security professional. But, a top priority no matter how your security system has been installed (hard-wired, wireless or a hybrid of the two) is a wireless communication signal to the monitoring station (such as a long-range radio or cellular communicator).

Article Provided By: A Secure Life

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