December 28, 2014 | Comments Off on Add Z-Wave Home Automation to your Security System
Home automation has never been easier to have or more affordable thanks to z-wave technology. The reason for this is the “open platform” nature of the technology. Z-wave uses 900mhz radio frequency to communicate. This is the same frequency used by early cordless phones and baby monitors. The frequency was abandoned due to range issues where you could not get more than 40 or 50 feet from your base station without losing your signal. That issue has been addressed by making every z-wave devise act as a repeater. With this feature you can have z-wave devices hundreds of feet away from your control panel as long as no two devices are more than about 40 feet apart from each other.
Currently Z-Wave technology is available for light switches, lamp control, appliance control, thermostats, door locks, and garage door openers, with many other applications under development. For each of these applications there are several manufacturers completing for your business, which drives the prices down. Previously home automation involved choosing one of three proprietary systems where once you decided on a provider you could only purchase their equipment at VERY high prices, and you would need to hire a trained technician for the installation driving the whole purchase price into tens of thousands of dollars. With Z-Wave technology the user simply pushes the learn button on their device, and the learn button on the control panel. No special skills are needed.
So, I encourage you to ask your Security System provider what it would take to upgrade your system to add z-wave technology and take advantage of all of these devices that can improve your lifestyle and save money on your utility bill.
October 8, 2014 | Comments Off on How much is your time worth?
I am constantly reminded how effective the millions of dollars that big companies spend on marketing their brand is, and how gullible the average American is to get sucked in to it, HOOK, LINE & SINKER!
The Cable Companies are getting extremely aggressive in convincing the public that you should abandon the security companies that they have earned your trust through decades of experience, and trust the phone/TV guy to service your security needs. I have explained in length in previous blog entries why they are doing this, and why it is a short sighted decision for the customer to get sucked into this “DEALS”. Once you accept their proprietary equipment that only THEY can monitor, they can raise the rates on your Alarm Monitoring, TV, Internet, and phone service. And because it is all bundled together with your proprietary alarm system there is nothing you can do but pay them.
Well, then there are those folks who are too clever for their own good! They say that they are not worried about what the company might do to the rate, because they will renegotiate or just hire a competitor who will put in a new system for them when they cancel. These are the folks that I am addressing this blog to: How much is your time worth?
No matter who you get a professionally installed security system from, if it is U/L Listed equipment and monitored, you have a commodity. The only way that Security Alarm Companies vary is on price and customer service. You never experience customer service until there is a problem with your security system. So when your system is not working, and you are spending hours on hold with your alarm company, and waiting weeks to get a service call, and waiting around all day for the tech to arrive at your place, I want you to ask yourself “What is my time worth?”. When you receive the notice that your monthly monitoring rate is going up and you are once again spending hours on the internet and on the phone discovering what the current best deal is I want you to ask yourself “What is my time worth?”.
For most folks who are in the market for a security system the answer is going to be $25 to $250 an hour. Even on the low end, if you multiply it times the hours you waste going with a big company and putting yourself in a monopoly you will see that your perceived savings of a dollar or two per month is really costing you a ton of money. So get smart and choose a local company that charges you a fair rate, won’t increase their rate at the end of your initial term, and give you great customer service!
August 5, 2014 | Comments Off on Are wireless systems better than wired?
I call on many customers who tell me that another alarm company that they met with advised them that wired systems are “old school”, and that EVEN IF THEIR HOME IS WIRED FOR A SECURITY SYSTEM they are better off going with a wireless system. What a crock!!
If your home or business is NOT wired for a system, I would agree that a wireless system would be appropriate reducing the cost of the installation, and more importantly the cost of the repairs to your walls and ceilings after the premise is torn up from the wiring process. Current wireless sensors are very reliable, and we install them with confidence in a great number of our client’s properties.
If your home is wired, you would be doing yourself a great disservice to install a wireless system. The two main benefits of sticking with a wired system are aesthetics and maintenance. Wireless sensors are generally surface mounted as the recessed variety require a very large diameter and deep hole be drilled into the door or window. Wired sensors are easily recessed. Wireless sensors have a battery making them significantly larger than wired sensors, and require regular maintenance when the batteries need to be replaced.
A wired system can be set up to enjoy ALL of the interactive services that a wireless system can, so you lose no functionality as is often implied by some alarm companies. So, why do they tell you otherwise??? Generally it is because they do not have technicians who are trained in the installation of wired systems. These types of seasoned techs are paid quite a bit more than the folks that these companies are sending into their customers homes and businesses, and they are barely trained to install a wireless system. Always use licensed contractors to do any work in your home or business. It is the only way to ensure that you get the work done correctly and are protected if anything goes wrong with your installation.
I hope that this blog entry was helpful.
April 25, 2014 | Comments Off on Why “Bundling” Alarm service with the Cable Co. is a bad idea
Ever since the government broke up the Bell monopoly on January 8, 1982 the phone (and now TV Cable & Internet) providers have been trying to figure out how to get back to the profitability of “the good old days”. The consumer has been very good about taking advantage of the competitive environment to drive down prices. We don’t really care about service. If we did, someone would offer better cable service at a higher price to offset the additional costs related to providing that level of service, but no one does!
So the Cable companies are faced with an environment where they are selling a commodity, and their customers can easily switch service providers without gaining or losing ANYTHING. And that is exactly what their customers are doing. The Cable companies are their own worst enemies stealing each others clients with a slightly lower bundle price than what someone is already paying to their current provider. So they wonder, what could they add to their bundle that would make it harder for their customers to switch providers at the drop of a hat??? Ah ha, Security Alarm Services. They figure that if they install proprietary equipment that only they can monitor the customer is stuck staying with them because they don’t want to change out their whole security system. A voluntary monopoly!! It is legal and been in practice by ADT, Protection One, etc. for decades. Except now not only are folks volunteering to be in a monopoly for their alarm service, but their TV, Phone and Internet too! People are giving up the competitive environment that allowed them to drive their costs down, and now they will see an environment where the bill for ALL of their services will go up substantially and often. Why wouldn’t they?
It is both funny and concerning to me that despite all of the information available online to educate the public consumers on the benefits of avoiding a monopoly situations with any service providers, the marketing departments of these companies spend millions of dollars and are able to run campaigns that generate hundreds of thousands of new customers every year. Please try to educate your friends and relative to educate themselves before making a very poor decision.