The Six Alarm System Questions You Need to Answer

There are six primary questions in the alarm system design process that must be answered before deciding on an alarm system design:

What are you trying to protect? Are you protecting people, property or both? (Remember that insurance will replace most of your belongings with the obvious exception of family heirlooms and other personal keepsakes.)

How much time and money is budgeted to this project? Will this be a wired system, wireless or combination of both? Wired systems are by far the least expensive equipment-wise but significantly more labor intensive. Wireless on the other hand is fairly quick to install but the equipment cost is higher. If you are installing your own alarm system and are providing your own labor a hard-wired system will be less expensive. For a professionally installed system the price difference between hardwire and wireless system is minimal.

When will you be arming (activating) the alarm system? Will you or your family be setting the alarm just when you go to bed, when everyone leaves for work/school, or at anytime of the day or night while the home is still occupied? This answer is important since it drives how many and type of detection sensors will be necessary to meet you.

Do you have pets in the home and what type?  Cats, dogs, birds? Where do they sleep at night and do they have free roam of the house night and day?  This will determine what type of interior alarm sensors you will use.  Standard passive infrared motion sensors (PIRs) can only be used in areas that will not contain cats or dogs.  However some manufacturers now offer special motion sensors that are "pet immune" to 80 lbs.  As an alternative to motion sensors interior "Acoustic" Glassbreak sensors are available and many times used in conjunction with PIRs.   

Who will be using (arming and disarming) the system normally?Yourself, your spouse, kids, house keeper, a baby sitter?  Most alarm panels offered contain multiple "passcodes" allowing every family member to have their own unique arm/disarm code. With wireless capability, it is possible to have multiple wireless keyfobs that are able to arm and disarm the alarm system with a single button.

Will this be a "local" alarm or Central Station monitored alarm?A local alarm means you will have an outside siren and will be depending upon your neighbors to call the police.  Some alarm panels can notify you via pager or cell phone. All panels have the ability to transmit the alarm signals to a central monitoring station. When the signals are received at the central monitoring station, operators notify the customer and the appropriate emergency responders in accordance with instructions that are predetermined by the customer. When a central monitoring station is used the customer will pay a monthly (quarterly, semi-annual or annual) fee.


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