Burglar breaking into a house

Do cheap alarm systems really protect you?

You may have heard ads on the radio from large security companies promoting cheap alarm systems for your home.  There are a few companies offering systems from around $299 plus monthly monitoring costs.  The fine print reveals that the overall cost is quite a bit more than this – actually a minimum of $1600 over 3 years.

But what do you actually get for this price? We’ve had a look at the offers and here’s what they usually include:

  • Central unit/alarm
  • 2 x sensors
  • One remote
  • Monitoring via a 3G connection

The ads claim that these cheap alarm systems will protect you from intruders while you are in your home.  However, with only 2 sensors to cover an entire house, then you are probably going to hear the alarm only once someone is in your house.

We recommend alarm systems that include read switches on the main entry points, such as external doors and/or windows.  That way, as soon as someone tries to get through a door or window, the alarm is triggered rather than when they happen to get picked up by a room sensor in the house.

Most alarm systems now have the capacity to allow people to self-monitor their systems via their smartphone. That means, if you are not in your home when a break-in occurs then you will receive an alert.  Again, you really want to receive this when someone is actually trying to get in not when they are already inside.

Using only internal sensors to trigger an alarm, means that they need to be on to work even while you’re in the home.  So if you are moving about the house, you need to switch them on and off all the time if you don’t want to keep setting off the alarm.  Imagine, going to bed, arming the alarm and then when you get up in the middle of the night to attend to children or use the toilet, you need to remember to disarm so you don’t wake up your entire neighbourhood by moving past a sensor.

Another thing to consider is the quality and effectiveness of the components being installed.  For monitoring, a 3G connection is not good enough. This network is increasingly prone to signal drop-outs and is ultimately due to be phased out, which means you will need to upgrade your monitoring connection. We’re guessing, this will be an additional cost down the track.

Also, taking up one of these cheap alarm system packages, locks you into a 3-year contract and an alarm system that can only be serviced the company you purchased it from due to the equipment they install.

So, here’s the alternative to cheap alarm systems.  We recognise that you are protecting your assets and your family with a home alarm system.  So we’ll make sure it protects you in the way you need it to by:

  1. Including read switches on selected external doors, windows and other entry points (we can advise which one are the most important)
  2. Using the best connection for your monitoring set-up. We suggest using your existing landline (or IP connection) which connects to your smartphone via the internet.
  3. Using the best quality products that can be serviced by any reputable alarm or security system installer.

For this you will probably pay in the range of $1300-$1700 up front. So in the long-run you are paying the about the same but you get an alarm system that actually works the way you need it to.