Alarm companies do not make alarm equipment. Even ADT, the largest alarm company in North America (if not the world) does not manufacture the systems it sells – ADT buys the equipment, primarily from Honeywell. In the alarm industry, the company that sells you the equipment and takes care of the monitoring of your alarm system is known as an alarm “dealer” – and there are roughly 13,000 alarm dealers in the US alone. My prior post on “Who’s who in the Alarm Industry” explains the dealer universe in detail. When it comes to who actually makes the equipment that is installed in your home, it’s a very different list.
When I first joined the alarm industry in the 1980’s, the alarm equipment companies were anything but household names. Here are a few examples – and these were actually the largest alarm manufacturers:
Now flash forward to 2011, and here’s what happened to the ownership of these same companies:
That’s right: the multi-billion-dollar, multi-national “big boys” joined the alarm industry. But there are some interesting stories that go along with each of these manufacturers.
- ITI (Interactive Technologies, Inc.) was acquired by Interlogix, which was in turn purchased by GE Security. Now United Technologies has purchased GE Security, and changed the name back to… Interlogix! But they are still allowed to use the GE Security name, and the equipment is better than ever. See below on recent defections from Honeywell to GE Security.
- Ademco was acquired by Pittway, a public company, which in turn was acquired by Honeywell. As mentioned above, ADT uses primarily Honeywell equipment, even though ADT’s parent (Tyco) purchased DSC, the next company on my manufacturers list. Go figure! Honeywell is hurting a bit lately, since some very large alarm companies have moved away from Honeywell – to more current technology, primarily GE Security.
- When DSC was acquired by Tyco, the alarm industry suspected that ADT would start to use more DSC equipment: it only makes sense, since ADT and DSC are both owned by Tyco. But it never happened. ADT is still pretty much a Honeywell house. DSC makes a smaller line of equipment, which is one of the reasons for ADT choosing a different source.
- Radionics was considered the most advanced and reliable equipment in the late 1980’s, with most of the top 10 companies using it or seriously considering it. After changing hands a few times, the company lost its luster and its leadership role – and was eventually acquired by Bosch, the European technology giant. It’s still very good equipment.
- Detection Systems was another great company that was known as much for its motion sensors as for its control panels (if not better known). Detection Systems and Radionics had flirted with merging for years, and then, ironically, they were both acquired by the same company – Bosch.
There are other, smaller equipment manufacturers that have been around for decades: DMP, Napco, and Visonic are good examples. Each company’s technology has its advantages and adherents, and many alarm companies stay with the same equipment for years – until there is a compelling reason to change.
Of all the alarm equipment companies, GE Security (Interlogix) is generally rated the best. One reason is that the wireless technology that GE acquired years ago has always been considered the most reliable equipment platform in the alarm industry. GE also had the wisdom to partner early with Alarm.com for safer integrated cellular monitoring and smarter interactive services – and the other equipment makers are still playing catch-up on those fronts. GE also meets all the various testing standards for ease of use and false alarm reduction: UL, CP01, SIA, and more. They also put a 24-hour backup battery in every system, while the competition defaults to a cheaper 4-hour battery.
And what about FrontPoint? We have used only GE Security equipment with Alarm.com cellular and interactive services since our inception. In fact, we are the only alarm company in the US with 100% cellular monitoring and Alarm.com technology in every system we have sold. For these and other reasons, FrontPoint is ranked #1 when it comes to wireless, interactive home security – and we plan to keep it that way.