Can I Use My Old Security System with a New Provider?

Homeowners occasionally find themselves shopping for a new security services provider, whether because of dissatisfaction with their old provider’s quality of service, the pricing of those services, or another reason. We often get questions from customers considering switching providers who aren’t sure whether the security equipment they purchased from one provider—keypad, control panel, cameras, door and window sensors, etc.—will be compatible with a new provider’s services.

Can your existing security equipment be used with a new security services provider?

The answer is, it depends. In some cases, yes. While alarm panels made by different manufacturers may use different communication standards—meaning they speak in different languages—a new security company can typically use at least some of your old equipment.

But sometimes, equipment can’t be transferred to a new provider, and needs to be replaced. For instance, this is the unfortunate situation for homeowners and business owners who contracted with Spectrum Home Security. In December 2019, Spectrum announced that it would cease providing security services on February 5, 2020. Not only were customers left with less than 60 days to find a new security provider, but they also learned that their Spectrum-branded security equipment would no longer work.

Spectrum’s security equipment used Zigbee, a well-known software communications standard designed to allow many types of computerized equipment to talk to one another. (It’s like Wi-Fi, the wireless networking standard that ensures that all phones, tablets, computers, and a variety of other electronics can connect to the Internet through wireless Internet connections.) In theory, this should have allowed a new security services provider to step in and be able to monitor and maintain equipment previously sold and installed by Spectrum. Unfortunately, Spectrum chose to modify the Zigbee-based software on their security products so that no other security company could manage and monitor them. This means that regardless of what security company Spectrum’s former customers transition to, they will have to purchase new equipment.

Thankfully, this isn’t the norm. But when considering a new security company, it’s important to ask them ahead of time if they can monitor and service your current panel and connected equipment. Your new provider may have to install a new panel and keypad, but in many cases can use the rest of your existing equipment.

But there are a lot of other important questions you should ask your potential new security company as well.

When changes must be made to security systems, what pieces of equipment are usually replaced?

The most common pieces of equipment that must be replaced are the panel—the ‘brain’ of your security system, through which your provider can monitor equipment—and the keypad. If your system uses wireless devices, such as cameras or other smart devices, they may have to be replaced as well.

What questions should you ask about your old security system when considering shifting to a new security services provider?

Can you get parts for my current system?

It may well be that your existing system can be integrated into a new company’s security services. But they may not carry replacement parts for the system. If a component breaks, you’ll have to hire a third party to fix it.

Is now a good time to upgrade my alarm system?

Your security system may still be functional and supported by the new company, but new and better equipment is coming out all the time. Just as you wouldn’t be eager to use a laptop or smartphone you bought a decade ago, it may be that your security equipment technically works, but is overdue to be upgraded.

Can you effectively monitor my system as-is?

The answer to the question of whether a new provider can use your old equipment usually isn’t yes or no, but somewhere in between. In most cases old equipment can be monitored to some degree, but there may be limitations, such as some features not being supported.

When talking to a new provider, make sure you have a detailed understanding of any changes that you will see in the performance of your existing equipment if you transition to their services. Just because the equipment will work doesn’t mean it’ll work exactly as it did before.

Who owns the equipment: the homeowner/business owner or the service provider?

This is a question that cuts both ways. You may be considering switching away from your existing provider under the assumption that you’ll get to keep your old equipment. But it may be that you have only been leasing your equipment. This means that when you terminate your contract with your old provider, they will remove the equipment and you’ll have to start from scratch.

You also want to ensure that if you opt to use equipment from a new provider, that you understand whether you are owning or leasing the equipment. This will impact responsibility for the cost of repairing the equipment, and whether you’ll be able to keep it if you ever choose to end service. Usually, when it comes to home security services, homeowners do own the equipment. But this varies more with commercial customers.

Can I move my security monitoring seamlessly from one company to another?

We’re occasionally asked by homeowners who already have security equipment installed if it’s really necessary to have a technician come into their home. A site visit must always be done before starting services. In many cases, a system hasn’t been tested in quite some time. We thoroughly inspect every system and ensure that all devices are working properly.

What is the typical cost to transition to a new security company?

This depends upon the scope of the system you need, and whether updates or repairs need to be made to correct existing issues. Typically, the price for initiating services starts at around $99.

While we’ve tried to answer all the most common questions our technicians hear, we recognize that no two situations are the same. If you have additional questions or concerns about transitioning to a new security company, just ask! You can send us a general inquiry, or request a free quote if you want to learn how Bay Alarm can better secure your home or business.