Home security systems have really evolved – although it’s taken us decades to reach this point. That’s great news for homeowners. But some say that the pendulum can swing too far in the direction of change, and I actually believe that to be the case. Today I’ll explain why.
Milestones in Home Security Technology Development
Here are some of the milestones that we’ve experienced, as home security has improved over the years:
- Wireless sensors. These sensors are easy to install, easy to troubleshoot, and even easy to move, if you need to. If you can put a magnet on a fridge, you can put up one of these sensors! And they are extremely dependable.
- Cellular monitoring. More and more homeowners are getting rid of their landline connections, meaning those old-fashioned hard copper phone lines, and even their Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. And that’s okay by us: the alternative – cellular monitoring – is actually safer and more reliable, with no physical connection for an intruder to cut.
- Interactive monitoring services. These features allow you to arm/disarm your system from anywhere, and even allow your alarm system to tell you what’s happening in the home, by text or email. And it’s all included in the app on your smart phone.
- In-home video services. Adding smart cameras to home security is a natural extension of home security technology, and the really smart devices can even send you motion-activated video clips – and store them remotely for you.
- Home automation. This is the most recent chapter, where you can remotely control lights, locks, and thermostats, all from the same app. Now you can feel protected and connected.
- Do-It-Yourself (DIY) systems. All this new technology means that you can now set up your own alarm system. Just order from a reputable dealer (check those online reviews!), and your pre-programmed system arrives in days. You’ll be amazed how easy this process is, with the right company.
But there’s one area where some providers have gone too far – and that is with Monitor-It-Yourself (MIY) home alarm systems. These are not true alarm systems, since they rely on you to do the work of notifying the authorities. And they certainly do not provide the peace of mind that you need, want, and deserve.
Problems with MIY
This could be a long list, but we’ll just focus on three important issues:
- MIY alarm systems rely on the internet. Once you do even a little research on MIY alarm systems, you’ll find they all have one thing in common: they don’t use a safer cellular link when there is an alarm event, but instead rely on a vulnerable Internet connection. Not only can that connection be easily severed, just like a phone line – it’s also much more likely to be out of service (even if only briefly) when you need it to work, compared to cellular communication.
- If you don’t get the signal, nothing happens. Let’s say you’re out of cell range. Or imagine you’re on a plane, or somewhere else where you aren’t receiving signals. Or, what if your phone is off, or you are asleep? In these and more scenarios, when you miss that signal from your home, you can’t take any action – and the police or fire department will never be notified of a critical situation.
- If you do get the signal – what then? For starters, you need to carry the number of your local police and fire departments around with you: dialing 911 won’t help much when you are out of town. Then comes the hard part: convincing the authorities that you are 100% confident that the event at your home is a “real” alarm event. And do you know the protocol for making that alarm dispatch call to your local police or fire department? If so, you’re one of the very few!
Professional Monitoring is Better – Because It Works
There’s a good reason why professional monitoring is the gold standard for home security: it works! You want a system that reaches out over a safer cellular connection to the 24-hour monitoring center. The monitoring center will immediately attempt to confirm if an alarm activation is real, or a false alarm. Unless they can confirm it’s a false alarm, they notify the appropriate authorities right away: police, fire, or medical – so you don’t have to. After all, we’re talking about the safety and security of your home and family. Let the professionals do their job.
DIY Good: MIY Bad
To recap, a home alarm system you set up yourself can be totally secure, and many of them are just as secure and reliable as anything installed by a traditional alarm company. In fact, DIY is becoming increasingly common, but you should do your homework before picking your DIY provider. But if the system is DIY and MIY, that’s when you know to look for a different solution. The only DIY home security systems that you can trust – and that really provide peace of mind – are professionally monitored: they never take the MIY approach.