Self-monitoring implies that the homeowner is monitoring their alarm system by themselves without the use of a staffed central monitoring station (live operator response) by using the internet on a smartphone or other internet enabled device. Even though it is possible to monitor your house alarm system without the use of a central monitoring station we do not recommend it. Why don’t we recommend it? We’ll tell you more below.
A Secure Life’s stance on self monitoring
The whole reason for purchasing a security system is to protect your family and home. What happens if you’re in a business meeting and your phone is at your desk on silent? Sometimes you have the option to add backup emergency contacts, but what’s to say they’re not away from their phones too? If you and your emergency contacts are not by your smartphones when your security system is triggered you’ve got no one looking out for you. Every second counts in the event of an intruder breaking into your home, so those 30 minutes you were away from your phone in a meeting could result in your home being ransacked or worse.
It doesn’t stop there either. Do you travel for work? If you’re on an airplane you obviously won’t have access to your security system. Do you go for runs or exercise in other ways? Is your phone with you during your entire workout? What we’re trying to say is, your phone probably isn’t attached to your hip 24/7. That’s why having a professional at a central monitoring station looking out for your safety is important. They can watch over your family and home when you’re unable to.
We realize that paying for professional monthly monitoring may not be something feasible for you right now. And for those of you, we want to state that we think having a self monitored security system is better than none at all. While we believe a monitored system is the safest option, we realize that a self monitored is better than no security system at all.
Tips for those of you wanting to self monitor your security system
- Do your research on the security systems available for self monitoring, here’s a link to our Best Home Security Systems Without Monitoring article
- Setup emergency contacts if your system allows you to
- Have your phone on loud so you hear notifications from your system
- Always have your phone charged. Consider carrying an extra phone charger or purchasing a battery pack case for you phone
Self monitoring before cell phones
Self-monitoring in the “old days” meant that alarm systems were connected to telephone lines and had automatic dialer connection setup that a homeowner could use to send a pre-recorded message to selected telephone numbers. When an alarm occurred at the home, the automatic dialer would just call the previously appointed telephone numbers and play an alert message. The automatic dialer would then hang up without knowing if anyone had heard or paid attention to the message.
Additionally, an automatic telephone dialer was triggered when the alarm system’s sirens were activated—the homeowner had to “guess” if the reason for activation was for a burglary or a fire and, therefore, had no way of knowing exactly which zone was triggered.
Today’s technology has changed self monitoring
Today’s interactive alarm services will send detailed notifications to cell phones about specific alarm zones and trouble conditions. This could be looked at as “a modern and vastly improved version of an older automatic telephone dialer” which only transmitted a general and unspecified general alarm message.
Today, interactive house alarm system services enable homeowners to self-monitor their own alarm systems. Self-monitoring is a less expensive option for homeowners because this service doesn’t have the additional fees associated with the live operator response added onto the fees for providing interactive messages sent to your cell phone.
However, insurance companies will not provide the same discounts on your home insurance policy for self-monitored alarm systems as they will for a monitored alarm system.
Pros of A Professionally Monitored Alarm
- Staff available 24/7
- Responds to any alarm triggered (i.e. smoke detector, door opened, window opened, etc.)
- Sends help (i.e. fire department, police, etc.) for you
Cons Of A Self Monitored Security System
- You may receive the message of an emergency when you are asleep or out of town, and can’t react to it
Additionally, there are numerous circumstances and reasons why you may never receive an SMS text or email message sent to your cell phone when you’re wide awake.
- The cell phone is intentionally turned off, such as when you’re in a business meeting or movie theater
- The battery dies unexpectedly
- Cellular reception is poor
Do your research before getting a self monitored security system
While it may be possible for you to self-monitor your own alarm systems, insurance companies recognize the associated risks to lives and property by not having each alarm or fire signal treated by human intervention to ensure that an appropriate response is made. Sure, self monitored security systems are cheaper but are the monthly savings really worth it if an intrusion or catastrophe such as fire were to occur? Now that you have the facts surrounding self-monitoring security systems, you should be able to make the monitoring choice that is appropriate for your needs and your family. Click here to visit our Best Overall Home Security Systems of 2017.
Why would you choose a self monitored security system over a professional monitored one?