A lot of security equipment is compatible with multiple monitoring companies, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find a home security company that can monitor your security system. However, the age and brand of the equipment factor into the answer.
If you move into a home that already has a security system, chances are good you’ll be able to have it activated and monitored by a professional security company. However, the bigger questions are which company you want to monitor it, whether or not the system is up to date, and whether you can add new products or replace some of the equipment.
What are the pros and cons of using an existing system over purchasing a new one?
- Cost savings on equipment
- No installation fees
- Less hassle when it comes to shopping/equipment selection
- Possible reactivation fees
- Less control over what equipment you have
- Limited monitoring company options
- Possibly outdated or unsupported equipment
If you’re happy with your new home’s existing security system, here are the steps you’ll have to take to get it up and running.
Step 1: Evaluate the existing system
First, gather information about the existing security system, including the company that originally installed it. Look for brand and model names, serial numbers, and any other identifying information on the equipment, especially the control panel. Take note of the design and placement of screens and buttons—that can help identify the equipment you have.
This is also a great time to decide if you need more equipment or if you want to change anything about your current setup. Don’t forget to look for any indication of how old the system is as well. If it’s more than 10–15 years old, you may want to think about having it replaced entirely.
A built-in security system is most likely wired, which is becoming less common with the advent of new technology. However, it’s a great option if you live in a remote area with limited cellular service!
Step 2: Contact the original provider
Once you have information about your equipment, contact the company that made the equipment and see if it offers monitoring services. You might not love some of the company’s policies or contract requirements, so treat this step as a chance to gather information rather than set up services.
Find out if the company can activate the equipment (and for how much) and what its monitoring contracts look like. Don’t forget to ask about upgrading or adding new equipment. Some companies, like Vivint, will be more than happy to activate their own equipment with a monitoring agreement.
Step 3: Shop around
Many security companies can monitor equipment other than their own, so check out your monitoring options before committing to one. (If you don’t know where to start, check out our list of top security companies.)
Call any company you’re interested in and compare contract lengths and details, the monthly cost of monitoring, and activation fees.
Step 4: Update and upgrade
Once you decide which company you want to monitor your home security system, you can explore additional options. Work with your company to find out if you can replace some of the outdated equipment or add wireless pieces to the system.
A lot will depend on the type of existing system you have and your chosen company. To get you started, we’ve got a list of our top home security companies and the equipment they offer to make it easier to compare and decide.
Can I monitor an existing system myself?
Self-monitoring is the least expensive way to monitor an existing system, but we highly recommend using professional monitoring services. If professional monitoring doesn’t fit into your budget or if you are set on creating a self-monitored system, your options will greatly depend on what kind of system is already installed.
With the addition of other equipment, like a home automation hub, you can create a self-monitored security system. If your existing security system is older, it may not be compatible with other self-monitoring equipment. The HomeSeer home automation hub integrates with several brands and connects directly to your phone, but it’s pretty pricey. There are other less expensive options out there, but they have more limited integration.
Do I have to use the existing system?
If you don’t like the system that’s already installed in your home or if the system can’t be monitored, you don’t have to use it. Just be sure to check that it’s completely disconnected so you don’t accidentally trip the alarm or inadvertently use monitoring services you didn’t want to sign up for.
We always recommend having some kind of security system in place, so check out our list of the top home security systems and more helpful articles below.