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How to Tell if your Security System is Outdated

April 16, 2014
Residential and commercial security systems are supposed to provide peace of mind, but that could lead to a false sense of confidence. Many homes and businesses throughout California are being protected by outdated security systems that are no longer up to the task. To determine if your current equipment is an outdated security system, consider the following points.

No Remote Monitoring

A basic security system is local, which means that it triggers an audible and/or visual alarm locally, and then someone on the premises must recognize that alarm and respond to it in proper fashion. A modern security system is monitored around-the-clock, year-round by a monitoring station. When an alarm occurs, a response agent receives it, assesses it and then responds to it accordingly.

No Plan B for Calling Home

In the past, a security system would be hardwired to the local phone system. When it needed to communicate with the monitoring station, it would call home via that line. That approach introduced a vulnerability that was relatively easy to exploit. Modern systems normally don’t use the telephone line, but more importantly, they have redundancies in place, such as the ability to communicate via a cellular network if the primary mode of communication is offline.

No Network Integration

A lack of network integration usually indicates an outdated security system. Network access is now the primary way that security devices communicate with each other and with the monitoring station. In addition, network access facilitates a wide range of popular security features, including remote access and home automation.

No Remote Access

Monitoring is no longer limited to just the monitoring station. All the best residential and commercial security systems have remote monitoring and remote access capabilities available to the client. Using these access points from a laptop or mobile device, a homeowner or business owner can inspect and manipulate the security system, including viewing camera feeds, locking/unlocking doors, adjusting the thermostat, turning off lights and so forth.

No Wireless Equipment

Whenever a wireless device is practical, the professionals prefer it to a wired solution because it is more convenient and cost-effective. If, for instance, the environment changes and motion detectors must be relocated in order to compensate for that change, the transition is much easier with wireless devices.

No High-Resolution Cameras

In the past, security cameras were expensive, and that made them rare for use in residential security systems and commercial security system for small and medium-sized businesses. Much has changed, and high-resolution security cameras are so affordable and effective that not having them is unusual. In fact, most security companies include them in their default packages, and many insurance companies provide even greater discounts when security cameras are present.

Conclusion

When in doubt, ask a professional. Since 1953, the professionals at Pacific Alarms have been serving residential and commercial clients throughout California. They can help you assess your security, determine if it’s an outdated security system and, if it is, modernize it in a way that best makes use of your available time and budget.

DIY Home Security: Pros and Cons

April 4, 2014
DIY Home Security
It always comes down to this, doesn’t it? The discussion of pros and cons for any project is always an attempt to help the uninformed and uninitiated come to a proper decision. Should I do this or not? What could go wrong? How much money can I save?

That last question is always the deciding factor for those who need this kind of article. If you are a true DIYer, you’ll more than likely never Google the pros and cons of anything like this, knowing that regardless, no one can do it better than you. If you are the exact opposite, the same holds but for a different reason. You have no idea how to install something like this or you just plain don’t want to, so why look? You’ll automatically call a professional.

This article is for those on the fence. You may have the skills, but are not absolutely sure if you could pull it off. Or, if money matters most to you, depending on the savings, you might be willing to take a go if you can minimize the risk. Regardless, here are the pros and cons of a DIY home security system to help you make your decision.

Pros

Let’s start off with the biggie. A DIY system will generally cost less. A wireless system with 6 sensors and 15 zones from Home Depot will run under $200 (does not include surveillance components). It’s a one-time cost and is pretty inexpensive.

This system can be installed all by yourself with relative ease, saving you the money on a professional installation tech. It’s pretty likely that you already have all of the tools you need in your tool box.

You save money as your system will not be monitored by a professional service as all alerts will be sent directly to you through your cell phone or any other text messaging device.

Another thing worth pointing out is that, as the system is easy to install, it’s just as easy to uninstall, making it easy to move the system when you move.

Some systems have smart home features, allowing you to remotely access and control other appliances within your home like the AC and lights.

Cons

Now for the “why you shouldn’t” side. The biggest negative is that your DIY system cannot dial 9-1-1 or the police directly. It must contact you and it will be up to you or one of your designated representatives to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. Also, there is no 24/7/365 day monitoring by a professional company.

Add-ons can be expensive. Not all DIY systems come with everything you need and when you buy them as stand-alone pieces for your system, they can get pretty pricey. The above system comes with a backup battery, but most do not. Other extras would include things like a panic button, redundant alerts, fire monitoring and pet-immune motion detectors.

You put it in, you fix it. With the DIY system, you are responsible for all maintenance and repairs. And, DIY systems have limited warranties and technical support. The above system comes with a 90-day guarantee only.

And, since you installed it, you run the risk of an incorrect installation. There is always something to be said for the experience of a professional installer. They’ve been there and done that, and can handle any surprise that comes up.

The Decision

It all seems to really come down to your budget, your confidence in your skills and what you ultimately want from your home security system. If you feel safe in knowing that all you want is a system that will let you know when something might be wrong for as little money as possible, then DIY is the way for you. If you feel that you might need more, that you would feel better with the added security, and cost, of a monitoring service, then you’ll need to look into a professional service. However, since nothing comes in black or white, but many shades of gray, it might be best for you to look at both before making a decision. After all, we are not talking about something trivial here. This is about your home and your family, and only you know the true value of that.