December 21, 2011 | 1 Comment »

As much as I love doing a lot of business, I prefer to install monitored security alarm systems before people need them, not after. Unfortunately, my phone has been ringing off the hook with burglary victims.

There is always a spike of home burglaries around the holiday season due to travel, and a bunch of new merchandise conveniently kept together and clearly marked under a bright tree in the house.

Please be sure to make sure that your home is locked up and your security alarm system is armed whenever you leave your home, even for a quick errand. Have a safe and happy holiday! Cheers!!


Traveling during the Holidays

December 7, 2011 | No Comments »

Barbara A. contacting me because she is traveling during the holidays and wants to arm her security alarm system, but needs to allow someone to enter her home while she is out of town.

Home burglaries are at their highest during the holiday season due to homes being vacant more while homeowners are shopping and traveling, and the collection of new merchandise with gift receipts nicely collected under the tree. Arming your monitored security system during the holidays is especially important, but it is NOT a good idea to give anyone your alarm system code. All systems allow for multiple user codes. Depending on the system you typically can have between  6 and 32 user codes. Ask the person who needs access to your home what they want their code to be. Do not make up a code for the person as they are likely to write it on something since it is not a number that means anything to them. Add that code so they can arm and disarm your system while you are traveling, and when you return from your trip, delete the code that was assigned and that person will no longer have the ability to control your system.

Have a safe and happy holiday!


Motion Detection vs. Window Sensors

November 27, 2011 | 17 Comments »

Greg B. wrote in asking about the benefit of window sensors for a monitored security system that he is planning for his new home in Carmel Valley. In my opinion, the benefit is little or none.

In a modern home with modern double pane windows, it is virtually impossible to open those closed and locked windows from the outside. A window sensor can ONLY detect a window going from closed to open, so if you can not open it from the outside there is not anything to detect. Most window break-ins occur through open windows. If your window is open even an inch, you would have to bypass that sensor before you could arm your system, so entry through an open window would not set off the alarm. The other way that a burglar would enter through a window, which is much more rare, is to break or cut the glass. If the burglar then enters through the hole that is created, the window frame is not moved and the window sensor and magnet are not separated, so the alarm is not tripped.

So long as you have at least one motion detector as part of your security alarm system, an intruder entering through a window will trip the alarm when they pass through the area covered by the motion detector. Modern motion detectors are “pet immune”, so even people with animals roaming in their home can effectively use motion detection to secure their property. Electronic security systems are designed to instantly go into alarm if the motion detector picks up human movement in the home and an entry door was not open first, so their is no delay in the siren sounding and scaring the intruder out of the property.

The only practical use  for window sensors are for windows that you like to leave open a few inches to allow fresh air to enter your home. In that instance, you can get a “vented window” sensor where two magnets are installed. One magnet lines up with the sensor when the window is closed, and the second magnet lines up with the window open a few inches. Now you can arm your system with the window open to the vented position, and if any of those open windows are opened further by a would be intruder, the system instantly goes into alarm. This can be done on just two or three windows in the house, which is very affordable. To put sensors on all of your windows is very costly, and can make for a cumbersome system that is difficult to use. Typically when a system is difficult to use, people do not get in the habit of arming their system and all of that money they spent on window sensors is a complete waste!

Keep it simple and create the habit of arming your system, and your home will be secure.

Monitored Fire Detection

November 10, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Sarah G. asked if adding a smoke detector to her security system is a good idea.

I believe that it is an excellent idea, and have both smoke detection and heat detection in my own home. Heat detectors are appropriate for kitchen and garage applications, and smoke detectors are suitable for all other locations in your home. If a fire breaks out in your home while the home is vacant, the detector will trip and the appropriate signal will be sent to your monitoring company to have them dispatch your local fire department to your home to hopefully put out the fire before there is extensive damage.

Many Homeowner Insurance companies give an extra discount on their premiums for having monitored fire detection. The devices made for monitored fire detection use a different technology than the non monitored devices that you purchase and install yourself in your home. Because of this, and other reasons, you can not tie in your Home Depot smoke detectors to your monitored home or business security system. Fire detection devices for monitored systems do not deploy at the first sign of smoke, and generally do not go off unless there is an actual fire, so false alarms are quite minimal.

If you pay for the fire detection device, your monitoring rate should not be any higher with fire detection than without it. If you are paying more for this service, you are being taken advantage of, and I would advise that you find a new monitoring service. I work with three.



VOIP for Security System communication to Central Station

October 27, 2011 | 3 Comments »

Brian C. was told by ADT that if he has VOIP phones, he is required to have a cell back-up for his system to communicate to the central station. He asked if this is true for all central monitoring stations.

It is not true for any of the monitoring stations that my company and thousands of other alarm companies use. I believe that ADT does see themselves as having an especially high vulnerability to big lawsuits due to their deep pockets, so part of the reason that they take this position is on the advise of their legal council. Mostly, it is so they can justify charging a higher rate for the GSM communication.

Your system’s ability to communicate signals to the central station is dependent on a reliable telephone line. AT&T, Cox, Time/Warner, Vonage, and several other companies offer reliable service. Cheap VOIP options like Magic Jack do not work for alarm system communications. If not provided by your telephone service provider, it is a good idea to purchase a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) for all of the equipment that must have power for your phones to operate in the event of a power outage.



Honest answers to your questions

October 23, 2011 | 3 Comments »

Unfortunately, many people have incorrect information about home or business security systems, which cause them to make decisions that are not in their best interest. In my blog I offer an opportunity to get the true answers to questions you have about electronic security equipment or central station monitoring of security alarm equipment. Just fill out the information on the right and ask your question. I will reply as quickly as possible, and if your question and answer might be helpful to others it will be posted on the blog. STAY SAFE, KEITH

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