Another article by our anonymous security consultant. Enjoy!
Cell Phone or Internet 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). So, yes it is possible to monitor ones house alarm system without use of a central monitoring station but is not recommended.
Self Monitoring Before Cell Phones
Self-monitoring in the “old days” meant that alarm systems were connected to telephone lines and had automatic dialers 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, its 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 text or email messages 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
A monitored alarm system has the advantage of staff around the clock, 24/7, who will respond to any alarm from your home, such as a smoke detector, and will ensure that the Fire Department is dispatched in a timely manner.
Cons Of A Self Monitored Security System
With a self-monitored alarm system, you may receive the message of an emergency when you are asleep or when you are 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, or
- You’re in an underground tunnel or subway, or at your country home, where cellular reception is poor.
Conclusion – Due Diligence Is Needed Before Attempting A Self Monitoring Security System
In short, while it may be possible for homeowners to self-monitor their 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.