You can take all of the world’s home security systems and compare them based on competing characteristics. For instance, there are professionally installed systems and their DIY counterparts. There are wired and wireless security systems. Then there are those that are monitored, as compared to those that are not.
If you have been looking into home security, perhaps you have contemplated the monitoring issue. Needless to say, a fair number of the active systems in the U.S. are monitored. Yet is there any legitimate reason to have system monitoring? And if so, is it necessary to pay for it?
In a recent post outlining five features to look for in a good security system, veteran provider Vivint lists alarm monitoring as the number one consideration. It is obviously important enough to them to talk about it. But they have also made monitoring a key component of their business model. Perhaps a more impartial viewpoint is required.
How Basic Monitoring Works
Alarm monitoring might make more sense if you understand how it actually works. Whether you have a wired or wireless system, a monitored alarm is constantly connected to a remote monitoring center. When you pay for professional monitoring, your service provider operates the center. Should you choose DIY monitoring, your phone becomes the center while you become the monitoring personnel.
With that constant connection established, signals are sent to the monitoring center whenever an alarm is triggered. Depending on your equipment and level of service, an alarm could signify a number of problems. A burglar alarm would indicate that someone has breached your home. A smoke alarm indicates fire while a medical alarm indicates someone in the home is injured or ill.
The best thing about remote monitoring is that alarms are triggered in real time. If there is any delay, it is but a few seconds. The minute your home security system is triggered, whoever is monitoring the system knows about it.
Faster and Better Decisions
The way remote monitoring works points to the fact that utilizing it makes sense. If you think about it, it really boils down to how decisions are made. Without any monitoring at all, a home security system is little more than a noise-maker. That’s fine to a certain degree. But if there is no one around to hear the noise, what good does it do?
Suppose everyone in your neighborhood works. No one is around all day, making your home a prime target for burglary. The absence of monitoring reduces your security system’s effectiveness as a deterrent. Intruders are not worried because no one will hear the alarm.
On the other hand, monitored security instantly alerts to intrusion. Now you can make faster decisions. You don’t have to wait until you get home to find out you’ve been victimized. Not only can you make your decisions faster, but you can also do it better. There is enough information to warrant calling the authorities and then heading right home.
Faster Response Times
While remote monitoring allows you to make fast decisions, it also facilitates faster response times among first responders. This could make all the difference in the world in the case of a fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, or health emergency.
Let us just consider fire. The speed at which residential fires spread suggests that your home could be overwhelmed by flames in under 10 minutes. With remote monitoring, you could have the fire department at your home just as quickly. But without it, your home could be as good as lost before the fire department ever knows they need to respond.
Fast response times are critical for carbon monoxide emergencies as well. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that kills in short order. In the event of a leak, you want first responders there as quickly as humanly possible.
A CO leak represents an especially dangerous situation. Imagine what would happen if your furnace were to begin leaking in the middle of the night, while everyone was sleeping. Then imagine an alarm triggering a response by your monitoring provider. You are home, but you are not responding to any attempts to contact you. An experienced monitoring professional would take this as a sign that you’re in trouble and call the authorities right away. In the absence of professional monitoring, the unthinkable could happen.
Professional and DIY Monitoring
Having your home security system monitored make sense for a lot of reasons. Only a few are mentioned here. With that point made, it is time to move on to the topic of professional versus DIY monitoring. Each offers its own value proposition.
In the professional monitoring camp is the obvious benefit of having an extra set of eyes and ears on your property at all times. Even when you are sleeping, someone is watching over your house. That could make a real difference in a life-threatening situation.
Some people choose professional monitoring because they simply can’t make themselves available around the clock. Professional monitoring keeps an eye on things while they attend business meetings, pick the kids up from school, and so forth.
As for DIY monitoring, its main appeal is cost. DIY monitoring is generally free. Where there are fees involved, they tend to be very reasonable. The downside of DIY monitoring is that it requires more of your attention. Some people find this just too distracting.
Something Is Better Than Nothing
You may have read this entire post and still don’t see the value of having monitored home security. That’s fine. Paying for professional monitoring isn’t a good choice for everyone. And among those who choose DIY monitoring, it doesn’t always work out the way they intend it to.
Still, know that something is better than nothing. Understand that criminals are still frightened by home security systems. Understand that smoke and CO detectors save lives. Even if you don’t want professional or DIY monitoring, at least have a home security system that makes noise. Even a noisemaker is better than leaving your home completely unprotected.
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