Residential Security – Seven Questions Everyone Should Ask

You see it advertised everyday through traditional media and social media – residential security. Presently more than ever, it is a concern of many for a number of factors (family safety, valuables, etc) and with the onset of continuous break-ins and thefts – just watch the news or look at informational pages such as the FBI website or more detailed information by city in your respective state with City Data’s website. Being in the market for a residential security system, there are a few questions you should ask anyone you are considering employing their services:

#1 – What type of certifications does the company carry? Are the technicians certified as well? By law, these security companies are required to either show their license numbers in the state they are operating in or their exemption must be clearly stated via the state in which they are working. For example, Tennessee states the following: As provided in Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-32-305(7), exclusion from the Alarm Contractors Licensing Act is available to Electrical, Mechanical and HVAC Contractors licensed under Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-6, who do provide direct sales, monitoring, installation and/or maintenance service of alarm systems, but who derive less than fifty percent (half) of their gross annual revenues from such business. In order to be eligible to file for the exclusion the company must hold a valid Electrical, Mechanical or HVAC contractor’s license, and must file an affidavit of exclusion with the Alarm Systems Contractors Board. Make sure you check this out.

#2 – Do they have any local references using their services? Nothing speaks better than a reference and make them give those to you. PLEASE NOTE – The contractor (unless they have already done so), should contact those people they would like as references and ask for their permission to be contacted.

#3 – When looking at specials that organizations provide – look at the fine print. Alright, that is not a question, but there will be under this subject. For example, if you stumble into a “$99 installation special”, what does that get you? Will it cover what you want to have monitored (doors, windows, etc)? What amount for an extra door contact or glass break sensor? You begin to see the dollar signs start to stack up – trust me on this one.

#4 – What is the monthly monitoring fee for the system and how long is the contract? To be honest, this is where these “$99 and minimal expense install” security organizations make their money. Typically, you would be looking at a 24 or 36 month contract with a rather hefty penalty if you break it. Make sure you compare each company you look at, put them side by side and level the playing field asking “If Company A charges this per month and requires a 24-month contract and Company B charges this per month and requires a 36-month contract, what amount does it equate to cost wise for 12 more months of service from Company A?” How would it compare to Company B at the end of the 36 month term? Do you come out cheaper or more residential security expensive?

#5 – What kind of warranty do you get with the system? Equipment does go bad, and it’s important to know what you would be faced with cost wise if a sensor were to malfunction. Once the warranty has expired, what amount does it cost to come out and diagnose/fix the problem?

#6 – How is the system monitored? It is important to know the company that is monitoring the system and respond quickly. All that you need to look for is to make sure that it is properly staffed (ask the number of security monitoring agents they have and how long the company has been monitoring) and what facilities they have (redundancy in power, communications, alarm receivers) – ensuring that your issue will be properly and quickly attended for the entire residential system.

#7 – What kind of options does the system carry? Can it come wired or wireless? Does it use a standard phone line for communicating back to the monitoring station or is there an option for cellular? Also, sensors can range from motion (with large pet allowance – up to 75 pounds), glass breakage, door and window contacts, heat and smoke sensors, and garage door tilting sensors, multiple keypads, even water sensors (for basements, boiler rooms and water heater areas).