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Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-29-2012, 12:53 AM Reply   
I am thinking about getting a home alarm.

Are they useful? Are they expensive? Any recommendations?

I would dig a system that detects motion in/around my house and sends me a text/email with a picture. If things look bad, I call the cops. Otherwise, I ignore.
Old    McGavin (Shooter)      Join Date: Apr 2010       07-29-2012, 8:32 AM Reply   
I think alarms are worthless. They are only good for false alarms or notifying you that your home has already been burglarized.

As a cop for 10 years, I have never made an arrest of an in progress residential burglar because of an alarm. After the alarm companies delay of 10 minutes and the PD's delay of 10 minutes, the suspect has gotten what he wanted and is long gone by the time police arrive. Depending on where you live, police response time could be measured in hours not minutes.

I believe the systems are very cheap now, but paying for monthly security monitoring adds up.

There are much better ways you can protect your home. Make sure your house has good visibility from the front and add motion sensor lights. Make sure your home is secure when you leave. False or real cameras can be a good deterrent. Don't trust door to door solicitors and watch out for you neighbors. Report suspicious activity to police.
Old    Cory D (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009       07-29-2012, 6:37 PM Reply   
Coming from someone who was recently burglarized and out about $1k of stolen goods and lived within walking distance of the #2 violent crime capitol of the States (will be #1 this year, been at least 1 murder a day for the past few weeks), I believe alarms are useless. Police response time in 8-10 minutes on a good day, plus delay from alarm company or contacting you. Most burglars are smart, they case a place, scout it out, and they're in and out quick with high dollar to volume items in a couple minutes at most. Police showing up can serve no good to you. I am a firm believer in never calling the police, unless being in jail is preferable to whatever you're doing right now. Personally I'd rather be out $1k in stolen goods than sitting in jail with tens of thousands of fines to the State. All the police will do is look for ways to fine you or arrest you, do not invite them onto your property or into your home. Nothing good can come of police interaction.

The best thing you can do to prevent burglary is harden your home. Make it noisy and messy for them to get to your valuables. Well lit, particularly if visible from the street. Also have an erratic schedule, criminals watch for when you come and go if they're identified you have something they want. If you're schedule is not predictable it's a deterrent. They have plenty of time to sit and watch while collecting your tax dollars in the form of welfare, food stamps, and unemployment. They are lazy though, hence not having a job, so they will move on to easier targets if you make it enough of a hassle for them.
Old    LR3w8kbrdr            07-29-2012, 6:55 PM Reply   
We had a house built, furnished it with all brand new items and my ex wouldnt move in unless we had an alarm installed bc she was worried that the house was too big she would be scared home alone. I had exterior sirens, motion detectors, glass break sensors, heat sensors and a camera in the dogs area that streamed to pc/phones. I paid $45/mo for all this monitoring.

I bet I set that thing off half a dozen times on my own by accident. I dont think it was to protect our valuables but more her comfort and the her toy dog.

I felt it was a waste bc like the others said, it took local sheriff dept 10 minutes to respond but the monitoring co did always respond within 15sec my cell phone was ringing.

Although it did stop her from coming in the house when I decided to end things bc I changed the code on her lol
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       07-29-2012, 7:40 PM Reply   
I have installed 3 Home Alarms. I bought them at http://www.homesecuritystore.com/ Im no expert at Home systems but I did it in 1/2 a day. Its a complete wireless systems so you don't need to run wires to any triggers These systems can start out small and you can add pretty much anything to them. You can get a complete system for $300. They turn on and off with a key Fob just like what you use for your car so its easy to turn it on and off.
The customer support is Awesome. if you need help with any programing they can and will help you out. ONLY down side to their customer support is that it is on the east coast so you have to account for the time delay. It also comes with a DVD that takes you step by step in installing your system. But I would say that pretty much anyone could install a wireless system. email me if you need any more help or advise on installing. Its pretty straight forward
Old    Darren Yearsley (ralph)      Join Date: Apr 2002       07-29-2012, 9:15 PM Reply   
The best thing about a house alarm is that it limits the amount of time a douche can snoop around inside. We have internal horns that are freaking loud, you need ear muffs on to stay inside.
Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-29-2012, 9:39 PM Reply   
All great advice. Yes, I want deterrant as much or more than I want the actual alarm. But, the actual alarm and video would not hurt. The alarm should get the creep out fast. The video should tell us if it is a neigborhood kid or some random loser. Both would act as good deterrents. Hardened doors, gates and motion detectors and cycled lights/radios/tvs should also help. I also have great neighbors who are retired law enforcement which is a plus.
Old    Joe Lo (JoLo_Si)      Join Date: Oct 2011       07-30-2012, 7:54 AM Reply   
I like having the piece of mind that it's there, especially when I am out of town and the wife is home alone. Get an extra key pad in the master bedroom though, it is really usefull. Key fobs are nice also. The ones that wire the house for online access seem cool but I doubt I would ever use it, thought the same thing about cell phones10 years ago...
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       07-30-2012, 8:10 AM Reply   
Dane. Sounds like you get the Idea. A complete system is a combo of all the things you talked about. I like the wireless systems that integrate with all the add on's.
Example at first you might only want doors and windows coverd. The. You can add water detection alarm so if a pipe busts while Ur away you will know of add a Smoke or Fire detection. This will call the fire department if your away. Many of these things will give you a credit or discount with your insurance company. $10 a month for home monitoring for a single home. I receive a discount for mulitable homes so I'm paying $5 a month per home. IMO company's like ADT and other pros that install for free and then get you for $50 a month are overpriced. The min you stop paying your alarm comes out and your left with nothing. With the self installed system if you decide to stop the monitoring you still have a system
Old    Nick (papag)      Join Date: Nov 2005       07-30-2012, 2:45 PM Reply   
I've never been much of an alarm fan myself. However, I recently got an alarm.com enabled system. It is awesome. The system can control the alarm, thermostat, lights, etc. The best part is that I can control it from my iPhone/iPad. So, if I forget to set it, I can do so from my phone. Or I can turn it off from my phone as well. I can also turn on/off lights when I'm away and set the thermostat.

I also had a camera installed. I can get a live view of the camera from my iPhone/iPad. It saves recordings based on preferences set by you. I have my system save a recording for 30 seconds before until 30 seconds after a door is opened while the alarm is set. It also records anytime there is a breach. The videos are saved virtually so that you can always access from any device. Its all really cool technology.

I can also check in on my dog at home from my camera when I'm away.

I'm located in the Bay Area. Let me know if you'd like info for the guy that did my system. He's a local guy with a long running small business with a good track record and great references. IMO, he provides much better service and a much better experience than you'd get with ADP, Bay Alarm, etc.
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       07-31-2012, 8:41 AM Reply   
I like mine as a deterent and for when I am home at night. If someone comes in I will know and have time to get my gun. Mine is also through Vivint, which I believe is Alarm.com. They came and installed everything for free and it cost me 48/month, with fire and carbon detection.They ask for a 3-5 year commitment, but I said no, I will do two and they agreed. I can access my alarm and thermostat through my phone as well which is nice.
Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-31-2012, 11:58 PM Reply   
Grant, is there a particular system that you like?

What I think I would really like...
1) smart phone interaction
2) super loud interior / exterior siren
3) multiple video cameras with motion detection
4) sign for front yard and siren box on side of house
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       08-01-2012, 7:17 AM Reply   
I went with the powermax system. Imo its a basic entrey level system. You said you won't smart phone interaction. What would like your phone to do / tell you.
Monitoring is gonna cost you 5-10 a month if u install Ur self. If your alarm go's off monitoring station is going to call you. If they can't get you the call the police
A camera system can be inter grated but dosent Need to be. Motion detection is standard even with the most basic cam systems as well as IR lights for night vision.
IMO if you want your phone to turn off and on Ur thermostat go by a Nest thermostat $279 at lowes
Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       08-01-2012, 7:43 AM Reply   
Good point. I wanted the phone interaction for monitoring. Get a text and pics when someone is at my door. Get a text and pics when my alarm goes off. I would call the police. But, $10/mo seems fair for monitoring which covers most of that. Hmm, I normally have my phone on vibrate while at work so I wonder if there can be an exception such that calls from the alarm company always ring loud?
Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       08-01-2012, 9:04 AM Reply   
Do you need a land phone line for most of these systems?
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       08-01-2012, 9:16 AM Reply   
Dane: one of my places has no land line. The system has its own separate cell phone that calls the monitoring station when it's activated . Systems that use a cell and not a land line cost $5 or so more a month to monitor.

With wireless systems you can install remote sirens threw out your house. They make it very hard to be in the house when they are going off. Also outside remote lights and sirens that trigger outside when the system go's off
Old    Eric (mjfan23)      Join Date: Nov 2003       08-01-2012, 9:19 AM Reply   
why have it monitored? Why not have it contact your cell phone.
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       08-01-2012, 6:28 PM Reply   
Eric; the Idea with a system that monitord is that the company can try and call you and give you the option to call the cops or not. Example you alarm
Go's off. The company will call you and tell you Your alarm is going off an in what section of your home the alarm was activated. This gives you the information to decide if it's somthing you want the cops to check out or I'f you can call your neighbor ect.
Also if the company can't get ahold of you they will just call the cops. I set my alarm off once and then shut it off but my cell phone must have been out of ranger or somthing because I never got a phone call. 5 mins later there was a cop at my door asking me who I was!
So I know my system works. I know they are not fool proof but its better than nothing at all.
If some one wants Ur stuff that bad then nothing's gonna stop them. But just having a system put the odd's in your favor.

Also with a cell system it can't tell you what section of your home tripped the alarm. It will just tell you general alarm.
Old    Tim C (lifetimewarranty)      Join Date: Oct 2008       08-02-2012, 10:58 AM Reply   
Sifting through this thread....I'm wondering what monitoring system you guys recommend. I'm spending way too much with Bay Alarm.
Old    Akadirtbikingdad (wakeboardingdad)      Join Date: Aug 2008       08-04-2012, 12:44 PM Reply   
There was a good show on TLC or some other channel a while back. Two prior thieves (maybe one thief and one security guy) would case the place, get an okay from the owner to break in and then do it. Afterwards they would bring the place up to security snuff. It was obvious that the things we take for granted or our bad habits due us in when it comes to home break in. Valuables not put away. Credit cards all stored in the kitchen junk cabinets. Vehicle and toy keys easily accessible. All big ticket items. How about silver and art? It was the secluded back yard, unlocked fences/gates and low windows that were easily broken, shoved open or not locked at all that did people in. And if that wasn't enough, no one even took the time to lock the deadbolts they already have or even lock the door in the garage. If you pop out the window in a garage door you can actually release the garage door pull rope and come on in. Or close the door behind you and then kick the locked door open in privacy.

One guy would go in and he was timed and would make out with good stuff and knew where to look. He would even load up the goods in the vehicle in the garage and drive off with everything. The prey would have to watch (via remote cameras) and see how quickly the lone thief would ransack a house and get to the goodies that they believed were hidden. Even the kids rooms would get it.

Everyone is the same; we become "comfortable" thinking it will never happen to us. I think an alarm is a good thing, but monitoring is a waste and also wastes the time of LEOs. Just look at everything I just said, actually use the alarm and get the family on board too to lock the house down when they leave. Remove loose items in the yard like stones, bricks, a piece of pipe or broken lawn furniture that can be used to break a window or jimmy open a door.

Heck, after saying all that, I actually think a lawn sign saying you have a system runs most criminals off!
Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       08-05-2012, 1:08 AM Reply   
It looks like Comcast is getting into this space...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml-2Vhzdq64
Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       08-06-2012, 9:03 AM Reply   
Grant, wireless vs wired? I think it would be relatively easy to wire all this up through the attic. Is the only advantage that the sensors don't require changing the batteries? Is your siren wireless too? I figure I want multiple sirens so it's hard for the perp to take them out. Or, do you hide them somehow?
Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       08-06-2012, 7:11 PM Reply   
This SimpliSafe looks super easy. Cell based and $15 per month for monitoring.

http://simplisafe.com/build-my-system-new-1
Old    GD (diamonddad)      Join Date: Mar 2010       08-07-2012, 9:37 AM Reply   
One thing I like about SimpiSafe is the fact that the keypad is separate from the base station so crooks can't simply bust up the base station within the 30 second count down for the alarm to be set -- is this a real concern? Can the other systems be defeated by smashing the base stations?

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