Should/Can I convert to DIY Security?

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Old 07-20-16, 11:07 AM
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Should/Can I convert to DIY Security?

Hello,

The home we purchased a few years ago already had a basic security system installed. Simple keypad with 1st floor window/door sensors and one motion detector. We're paying a company monthly for monitoring services.

I'd like to go to a WiFi or connected option so I can arm and disarm from the web or phone, but just about all companies charge extra for this service, not including the new system hardware.

I am actually contemplating cancelling the service, and changing the system control panel to a something (if available) that does the same duties as the alarm system but without monitoring. Realistically, if an alarm event occurs, if the panel was connected, I could call the police myself whether I am home or not.

Does anyone have any product recommendations?
 
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Old 07-20-16, 11:31 AM
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Look at SimpliSafe or similar. A lot depends on your needs and environment. Are you in a high risk area? Do you feel you need immediate police action if the security is breached?
 
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Old 07-20-16, 12:29 PM
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Not in a major city or anything, and if Police were notified, I doubt they'd be here right away anyway. For me it's just knowing of a problem.
 
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Old 07-20-16, 12:45 PM
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I checked out SimpliSafe and it looks like others such as Frontpoint. They still have a monthly fee. I'm more or less looking for one time equipment purchase that I own and then no fees.
 
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Old 07-20-16, 01:48 PM
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I have SimpliSafe and I like it. There are others very similar. It's all do it yourself. If you choose not to have Internet monitoring then the system is just self contained if tripped will sound an alarm but that is all. If you choose not to have 24/7 monitoring then there is no monthly fee.
 
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Old 07-20-16, 01:58 PM
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Good to know! Can I use existing wired door/window and motion sensors or does it only work with their own wireless ones?
 
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Old 07-20-16, 03:08 PM
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I suspect just their own, but they look like ordinary magnetic sensors.
 
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Old 07-20-16, 05:23 PM
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Generally, any control unit that accepts wired sensors will accept your existing wired sensors.

The biggest problem is that IF your telephone wiring is accessible from outside the house (an overhead drop running down the side of the house) or an underground wire that connects to the network interface (NID) outside the house you are vulnerable to having the alarm disabled by the burglar simply cutting the wire. This is standard procedure for any professional burglar. To overcome this problem alarm companies have gone to radio communications devices that work using cellular telephone technology. Unfortunately I know of no free cellular communication monitoring.

IF you can "harden" your land-line connection to make it difficult/impossible for it to be disabled from outside the house you can use any of a number of "autodialers" to call your cell phone and repeat a pre-recorded message. Some allow multiple outgoing phone numbers and also different messages for different alarm inputs. Prices start at about $90 as I recall.
 
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Old 07-20-16, 08:19 PM
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But, I'm not even interested in cellular unless there's one that has no monthly fees. I feel like I'm paying $40/month fit almost nothing. Should a break in happen, police won't be there in time to stop it. Generally, speaking from experience working for an AV company in the same town, if someone tries something, they bolt as soon as they hear alarms.

Oh, and my phone is buried fiber to my basement. So, yay!
 
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Old 07-21-16, 10:39 AM
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There are professional alarm companies that will offer you professional interactive services (like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com) with a low monthly fee ($10/month with no contract via IP) so that you simply get remote control of the system and text/email alerts without central station service.

It's not free but it's low cost enough and going through a managed server using an IP or cell path is more reliable than using a phone dialer.
 
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Old 07-21-16, 05:22 PM
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What system do you currently have installed? Some are quite easy to convert to DIY use, or to the use of one of the low cost monitoring services.
 
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Old 07-21-16, 05:46 PM
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I'll only say that when your house is burning down and you're not able to receive notification ...... you'll have second thoughts.
 
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Old 07-21-16, 09:09 PM
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Well, the security system doesn't detect fire.. and I know there are WiFi connected smoke and CO detectors out there too.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 05:34 PM
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OK so you don't think your house will ever catch fire.

So......

When your house is being trashed and all of your keepsakes and valuables are being put into a pillow case, and you're in a meeting (or whatever) with your phone turned off ........

I'm sure you get the point. How much of a concern you have about the welfare of your home, possessions and family will determine if 20 bucks a month to monitor your alarm system is worth it so that at least "someone" gets notified. Only you can decide to take the chance that it's not worth it .

I install 4 to 5 systems a year for people who had a non monitored alarms who ... after a scare .... decided that a monitored alarm system is better than one that's not. All you need is one burglary. It takes years to recover from an intrusion to the privacy of your home and longer from a fire. You purchase insurance and hope to never use it. Same goes for a monitored alarm system.

47 years in this trade gives me an insight most people don't have.

Good luck
 
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Old 07-22-16, 06:08 PM
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I've owned a house for 39 years and only once had a break-in/burglary. Never had a fire. At $20 a month for alarm monitoring I have saved $9,360 by NOT having a monitored alarm. I DO have "full replacement costs" insurance and the slight increase in the premium over depreciated cost replacement is well worth it in my opinion.

The one burglary I had was a smash and grab, I doubt that the perps were there more than five minutes. Even though I lived in a smaller city at the time I seriously doubt the police would have arrived while the burglars were there. I lost my stereo and video equipment, a couple of Christmas presents and a small tool case. They walked right past my camera and didn't bother with the cash in the desk drawer although they did open every closet door.

My insurance claim replaced the Audio and video equipment, in fact with higher end equipment since the original level of equipment had been discontinued. I was reimbursed for the tools and gifts that were taken and I had my front door, originally a hollow-core model, replaced with a VERY substantial door.


My position is that there ARE situations where a monitored alarm makes sense but for myself, and probably for a large number of people, it makes no sense at all. Just this last week there was a news story of a person in Seattle who caught a "squatter" in their house and attempted to hold them for the police. It took the officer(s) EIGHTEEN MINUTES to arrive at the house after the homeowner had called 911. Even the dispatch center admitted it took several minutes (four as I recall) BEFORE the radio call even was made. Needless to say the squatter escaped as the homeowner had no real means to detain them.

TRUTH is, that for many reasons and excuses, mostly the number of false alarms, the police place a rather low priority on residential alarms.
 
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Old 07-22-16, 06:58 PM
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I tend to agree with FURD on this.

To the OP...What kind of security are you looking for? What type of neighborhood do you live in (high risk or low)? Do you really need monitored service. Or will a wireless camera do what you want? If you have no monitoring but an alarm system active, do you think the loud siren or horn will be enough to scare away the intruder or alert your neighbors? Depending on how you answer these questions will determine the level of security you need and how much you should spend.
 
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Old 07-23-16, 12:46 AM
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I love the different thoughts here... although I don't see @Jimmiee's point on the house catching fire. I'm guessing if the house is on fire, it would take a lot of burning before the security system triggered a phone home to monitoring station. I'm not even sure if heavy smoke would set of motion or not. I think it should.

My area is low-medium risk. Not a major city, but not the boonies either. Don't really get people walking around the development that don't live here. I never see or hear police cars in the development. We've set off the alarm system accidentally a few times over the past 3 years. It seems like they wait 5-10 minutes to make sure you're not going to cancel before they notify police anyway. One time, it took monitoring station 5 minutes before they called our cell phone to check in. My county requires alarm system registration (and charges a fee too). I imagine police see an alarm call in and it's probably at the bottom of their list.. certainly after traffic tickets. Anyone breaking in could definitely be out before police arrived. And I'd certainly leave the loud buzzer installed.

And, while there are other companies out there that can provide the same service, I'm currently with ADT and they charge around $40/month. So that's not light on the wallet.

I do plan on installing my own IP cameras / NVR with web monitoring.

So what I am thinking is... I could save a bunch of cash by not having monitoring, but still having a security system. If the alarm goes off and I am not home, I or the wife could call it in. I pretty much always have my phone on me.

Here's another one for you -- I use an Android app called AutomateIt Pro. You can set up really cool rules to do things. Once rule that could be set up is if the phone receives a text or e-mail from my DIY security system, I can put a search for something like "ALARM-HOME-TRIGGER" and it can turn my phone volume all the way up and play a sound, speak a message, etc. So, getting such an alert with my phone on silent isn't much of a worry.
 
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Old 07-23-16, 04:25 AM
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You could always look in to an Eyez-on Envisalink.
It connects to your alarm system and home network, then you can get notifications and remote control
 
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Old 07-26-16, 10:22 PM
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My point was ..... I assumed that you had fire detection devices on your alarm system as most complete system do. So therefore ..... If your house was on fire and you didn't get the call ..... your house would likely burn down before a passerby could call it in. With central station monitoring, the trucks would roll even if they didn't get in touch with you.

To Furd, re saving 9,360.00 over 39 years. Look how much more you could have saved if you didn't get homeowners, fire and liability insurance too!

Insurance companies do everything based on actuary tables. I don't think they would be offering discounts on homeowners insurance for central station monitored alarm systems if they didn't know for sure it was going to save them money. They don't offer a discount for self monitored systems for a reason...... because ..... bottom line ...... it's not reliable.

Again, it all gets down to how much you value your possessions and how much of a risk you are willing to take that you are going to get the call. By the way, central station operators and 911 operators can transfer information in a matter of seconds. When you call the 911 operator you're going to spend minutes trying to answer all the questions that will be asked about your address, the color of your home, your EXACT cross street name and other information with much less authority, accuracy and impetus conveyed by an experienced central station operator who does this 100 times a day and has a working relationship with the 911 dispatchers.

In all my years installing systems, in my experience, I've seen more scary and bad things happen to self monitored system than central station monitored systems. You have to decide if it's not that important to you or if the risk is minimal enough to be worth the $20.00 a month.

To OP: Now that I see that you've been paying ADT $40.00 a month I can certainly see why you would think that self monitoring would be worth it. Of course, I'm sure your got a " FREE" system (which isn't really free .... now is it?) to require you to pay that much a month. If you'd have purchased the system outright you could have saved a lot of money. But "Free" is such a powerful word. You could have been paying $20.00 or even less and had a lot better, reliable, quicker service than going with the "I gotcha" company. Water under the bridge now but I hope you've learned your lesson. Nothing is Free. You do know that you didn't buy your system from ADT don't you? It was sold to you by a local dealer representing ADT who, .... upon completion of the installation promptly "sold" your account to ADT. In the future, stick with a local alarm installation company who's actually interested in keeping you as a client and you may even get to see the same person two times in a row to service your system, rather than the next ADT tech who happens to be in your area. Judging by the number of ADT takeovers I do every year, I'd say that I can understand why you feel the way that you do about a central station monitored system. You might want to entertain the thought of calling a local alarm company to see what they have to offer instead of dealing with a company who has commoditized alarm installations. In spite of the fact that large alarm companies have millions of monitored accounts ..... independent alarm companies still do more installation and have more monitored accounts than all the national companies combined. There's a reason for that. It's called ....... personal service. Something no national company will ever be able to provide.

If you've got the time ..... give it a try. Call a local alarm company. Just to see what they have to offer or ..... just to pick their brain to see what else is available out there. A custom alarm system with quality professional alarm equipment is so much better than "System A or System B or C" sold by the Nationals.

Good luck to you ..... what ever you decide.

YMMV
 
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Old 07-26-16, 10:48 PM
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@Jimmiee - You're jumping to an awful lot of conclusions and assumptions here. I did not get a "Free" system, or at least wasn't suckered into anything. The panel and system was already in the house when we bought it. Since we were new to the neighborhood, we subscribed to service so as to not pay anything. I know just about any company would work with the panel... It started out cheaper and they've raised prices since. It is also a decent well-installed, wired system.

The value I have in my possessions is covered with home owner's insurance. All of that said, I'm relatively aware of how to reduce the risk of fire in the home. Paying more for an alarm company to have monitoring is not one of the things I would consider a good use of my money. I especially wouldn't keep monitoring just so I don't have to "deal" with 911 dispatchers asking questions.

In any case, the nature of my OP was that I know the risks involved, but am looking into a DIY set up... not a lesson on why not to cancel.
 
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Old 07-26-16, 11:28 PM
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Gotta agree with Musicman again.

Jimmiee, you stated it when you said a person has to evaluated their risks and act accordingly. Having a mortgage, which I no longer do, REQUIRES a person to have certain minimum insurance coverage. Adding in the additional coverage for "all perils" and full replacement coverage is a really small additional premium in most cases. My insurance DID offer a small discount for local alarm only and the discount for monitored was only about the cost of three months of the monitoring fee, hardly enough to warrant the monitoring fee.

While your scenario concerning an alarm company dispatcher conversing with an emergency services dispatcher may be true in some cases it is NOT the norm in urban area where the emergency dispatch system has enhanced 911 coverage. E-9111, as I am sure you already know, displays the caller's address on their computer screen as soon as they answer the call. Having an alarm dispatcher call would NOT display the location of the alarm but the location of the alarm dispatcher which is of NO USE to the emergency dispatcher.

And, in the case I mentioned, it took the emergency dispatcher SIX MINUTES, not the four minutes I mentioned, before sending the call to the first responding police officer. Remember, this dispatcher already had the location displayed on the computer monitor so it was unnecessary to glean that information from the caller. 'It's just weird:' Seattle man finds stranger living in his attic | KOMO

I'll state it again, in many cases paying for a residential alarm system to be "monitored" is NOT cost effective no matter what any alarm installer may think.
 
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Old 07-27-16, 05:37 AM
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I also have to agree with Furd and Muzicnan. Fire and break-ins is the exception to the rule and not the norm. Of course the insurance companies will give a discount because the chances of any of those happening is very low in the broad picture. One thing I've learned is if you want the real truth about statistics just look at insurance companies. They insure almost anything as long as the chances of that insurance to pay off is very slim. I'll pay out a $100,000 insurance to a claim if 200,000 people will pay me a premium for that insurance. Just like life insurance. Death is a sure thing. So why insure against it? Because it's the exception to the rule in the wide picture even though it's inevitable.

Jimmiee, you're too close to the problem and as a result you see the exception more often than most people. You're not wrong in what you say but you're not seeing the forest through the trees. The OP made it clear that he wanted a self monitored system, after already experiencing a paid monitored system. Are we ganging up on you. Sure. But it's not personal.
 
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Old 07-28-16, 05:34 AM
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I'd ask you to act according to your conscience. Security is the one thing that we really cannot compromise on. If you're willing to go ahead and are confident enough about DIY, then feel free to do so. I personally like doing everything on my own at home. Be it plumbing, electrical or any kind of woodwork. But there's a lack of confidence that I face when it comes to security! Haha.
That being said, I got my intrusion detection system put in all by myself, such as the CCTV Cameras, control panels and everything that comes with it.
I had a basic fire alarm system but I got it upgraded so that it meets the latest security standards in Canada.
If you can, I'd suggest to not overlook the monitoring service as that can always be helpful.
But if you really don't want it, fair enough. I'd recommend you get a wired system over a wireless (even if it is wireless over IP) as its advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Agreed, it might be a bit messier and difficult to install when compared to a Wireless system, but wireless systems can be interrupted due to the existence of other wireless devices around it and give out many other problems.
This is just my personal opinion.

Cheers.
 
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