Can I self monitor my home security system? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 06-08-2007, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a Honeywell home security system throughout my house. Sick and tired of paying $20/month for last eight years I would like to drop the expensive annual contract and try to do it myself. Are the home security systems basically a paging station in your house when activated they send a signal to certain phone number? If that's the case, can I program it so that it will call my cell phone instead of a monitoring station when I am away? If that's not a good idea, what options are out there that don't require an initiation fee and a service contract? Thanks much for your info and help!!
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post #2 of 16 Old 06-08-2007, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by GodobeHD View Post

I have a Honeywell home security system throughout my house. Sick and tired of paying $20/month for last eight years I would like to drop the expensive annual contract and try to do it myself. Are the home security systems basically a paging station in your house when activated they send a signal to certain phone number? If that's the case, can I program it so that it will call my cell phone instead of a monitoring station when I am away? If that's not a good idea, what options are out there that don't require an initiation fee and a service contract? Thanks much for your info and help!!

I think these guys offer month-to-month. It's still a paid service, but you get the functionality you are asking for (calls your cell / SMS / Email):

www.ucontrol.com

I have a buddy with the service and he loves it. Much cheaper than ADT/Brinks for much more functionality.
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post #3 of 16 Old 06-08-2007, 08:16 AM
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With all due respect, I think that's lunacy. Think past the initial notification - what would you do next? RUn home and confirm that there was an issue? Call the cops? If you're home at the time, then you're going to want external assistance ASAP.

I use NextAlarm.com for $12/month, but you're seriously looking to save pennies. Eat one less meal out per year or drive 10% less and you'll more than make up for the cost.

FYI - I wrote up a Security 101 guide here. Security systems are basically modems that dial a given #. You could use the $5/month NextAlarm plan to do some stuff, but it wont' call the cops for you.

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post #4 of 16 Old 06-08-2007, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys for the info.
We all know that 99.9% alarms are false ones. They are usually triggered by someone not punching the code in time or wrong ones or left some door open for too long. A phone call to the house almost always takes care of that. In fact that's all the monitoring company has done for me anyway in the last eight years. So I guess calling a cell number as first step is more common sense than lunacy.
I will look into the suggestions and see if they meet my needs.
IVB, you actually put together this guide yourself, wow, I am really impressed! Thanks a lot for your effort.
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post #5 of 16 Old 06-10-2007, 06:57 AM
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99.9% of the time you don't even need the system. It's that .1% of the time that makes it all worth while

Chip

PS would you drop your auto insurance plan or your home owners plan. BTW, your home owners plan probably gives you a deal for having the system which covers the monthly fee, or close to it.

Current owner of the last/best AmPro on the planet. The mighty 4600HD, and it's still running...better than Barco's, especially southern ones.
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post #6 of 16 Old 06-10-2007, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by stefuel View Post

BTW, your home owners plan probably gives you a deal for having the system which covers the monthly fee, or close to it.

Oh yeah, that's totally true, I never think about that. My insurance company gives me a 5-10% discount on my homeowners insurance, which is currently $1400/year so that's $70-$140/year off. Not full coverage, but dang close.

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post #7 of 16 Old 06-10-2007, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GodobeHD View Post

So I guess calling a cell number as first step is more common sense than lunacy.

I think it depends on ones perspective. If someone is breaking into my house and my family is home I don't want the security system to be calling a cell phone that might not be picked up.
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-11-2007, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
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You can program in multiple numbers on your home security system. In case of break-ins I think a shotgun or a bullet proof closet would be more appropriate. Police takes about twenty minutes to arrive on the scene anyway. My next door neighbor got broken in twice in the last three years by petty thiefs. One time police came too late the other time the alarm wasn't triggered. That really made me question the value of those monitoring services.

As I researched a little bit last week after the suggestions by forum members here, I found that home security monitoring was one of the best protected low skill industry and it is a multi-billion dollar business. If you look at owner manual of any home security system there is NO programming guide. Because secuity comapnies demand from the manufactures that there be another programming manual just for the professionals. So home owners are left in the dark about how the system functions and have to rely on the industry for installations and programming. No wonder almost everybody charges $50+ for initial programming for the monitoring service and requires contract, because you can't program the thing yourself to whichever the numbers, be it other companies or even yourself's. Thanks IVB for demystifying the installation and the systems.
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post #9 of 16 Old 06-12-2007, 10:27 AM
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Afternoon:

Actually, programming manuals are available for most of the major alarm panels. However, companies like Brinks and ADT have their equipment locked up tight so you can't change anything. You should check out the Home Security Store. They sell just about everything you need to setup an alarm system.

They will provide the manuals and even basic tech support for the system and/or sensors you buy from them. If you're not interested in buying anything, at least check out their forums. Lots of good information can be found there. Quite a few alarm installers frequent the thread to answer questions.

On another note, a monitored alarm does other things besides call the police department when someone breaks in. Most panels have a feature that will alert the monitoring company if you're having a medical emergency. Usually a button is pressed on the panel or on a remote to activate this feature. Also, do you have any smoke or heat sensors attached to the alarm? A monitored system will alert the fire department if one of those sensors is triggered.

NextAlarm and Alarm Relay are two of the larger internet based monitoring companies. Both have very competitive rates. I suggest reading this thread to get a better feel for each of them as both have their pros and cons.

Good luck!
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-12-2007, 08:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot, TradeViceroy. In fact I just signed up with NextAlarm a few days ago. I am going to read these posts a little bit before I activate the account.
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post #11 of 16 Old 06-12-2007, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GodobeHD View Post

Thanks a lot, TradeViceroy. In fact I just signed up with NextAlarm a few days ago. I am going to read these posts a little bit before I activate the account.

You should join cocoontech if you haven't already. Dan from NA is a member and monitors that.

Direct access to hardware/software/service providers is always good...

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post #12 of 16 Old 06-13-2007, 04:26 PM
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IVB did do a stellar job on that security info, not all encompassing but should probably get a sticky.


A big part of this is the average person doesn't have a clue as to what they are doing any why when setting these things up.

I'm saying that every licensed installer knows how to do it right.
I'm FAR from saying that every licensed installer cares to do it right.

There really is something to it, however not overly difficult it's just alot of information.
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post #13 of 16 Old 08-22-2013, 04:34 AM
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If you think about it, if YOUR a robber and the alarm is making noise you aren't going to hang around to"SEE" if the police are coming !!!! I don't pay for mine anymore because if it goes off they know what they are looking for and how long they have before the cops will get there! SO I WOULD JUST SAVE MY MONEY AND TAKE MY CHANCES!!!
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post #14 of 16 Old 07-12-2014, 02:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IVB View Post
With all due respect, I think that's lunacy. Think past the initial notification - what would you do next? RUn home and confirm that there was an issue? Call the cops? If you're home at the time, then you're going to want external assistance ASAP.

I use NextAlarm.com for $12/month, but you're seriously looking to save pennies. Eat one less meal out per year or drive 10% less and you'll more than make up for the cost.

FYI - I wrote up a Security 101 guide here. Security systems are basically modems that dial a given #. You could use the $5/month NextAlarm plan to do some stuff, but it wont' call the cops for you.
He's not crazy, actually self monitoring makes more sense then using a company. First, I will preface this by letting you know that I've been a police officer for 18 years. The cons of a monitored system are related to time. Most states require that the alarm company attempt to contact you first prior to the police. So the criminal breaks in and the clock is ticking, an employee in the monitoring station must notice the alarm and start the call processes. At best the will call you 2-3 minutes after activation. Now here comes the real delay, if you answer and say there is a problem they call the police. The alarm company cannot call 911, that would only contact the police where they are located. They must call the non-emergency number of your local police department. In a smaller town that may work fine, but for most this will not be the case. The alarm company will go through the non-emergency process and the call will finally get dispatched to an officer about 15-20 minutes after activation as a routine call. Now add in a response time and you can see where and burglar who's not a total idiot has filled a bag and is long gone. To add insult to injury many departments will charge you to repond to an alarm, which in my opinion as an officer is garbage, it's our job.

Now self monitoring;
You set up the system to text you and a few neighbors that you trust. Your alarm goes off and you're not at home. You recieve the text within a minute of the activation, your neighbors do too. You call or text a neighbor that's home and ask them to dial 911 ans advise the police that your alarm has been activated and their could be a burglary in progress. This gets dispatched as an urgent call and the police arrive within minutes of the activation. The added benefit to this is that you know you're neighbors, you rely on them they rely on you and everyone is safer.
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post #15 of 16 Old 07-18-2014, 01:34 PM
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I purchased a "spy cam" which can look like any household item. My insurance company stated they could not offer a discount, those are only applied to a monthly monitoring company. But if someone breaks in, I'll still have them on camera. Cameras are roughly $300 each. but they are hidden in plain site. Good for piece of mind in my home up north, which I only visit once a month or so.
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post #16 of 16 Old 07-30-2014, 12:37 PM
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I don't know what can be done with existing security company boxes to program other numbers to dial, but there are unmonitored DIY alarm kits that are pretty good for the price, where you program which phone numbers you want it to dial during alarm. The wireless sensors are very similar to what some major name alarm companies use.

X10 is the main one I recall, and I think there are other brands that they sell in stores like lowes, target or best buy. Probably amazon or ebay has a few. Not sure if they still do it, but x10 used to have weekly "blowout" deals where prices would be much lower than listed retail, and they make it sound like some crazy extreme once in a lifetime sale they are having, but they actually just do it all the time. You just need to wait and look around for the sales. I remember them selling kits with the base console, 10 or more window/door sensors, a few motion sensors, multiple remotes etc... for ~$100. These can work great if you're willing to do the setup and testing.
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