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Monitored vs Unmonitored Alarm System: Costs & Key Differences

There are a wide variety of home and business security devices and systems. You can opt to purchase doorbell cameras from the local big box store, install smart locks and smart lights, or hire a security system provider to install a burglar alarm, fire alarm, and security cameras.

How do you decide what tech to buy? Your decision should come down to what you need: basic security or a comprehensive system. 

Basic security is just that: tech that you can buy online or at a store that is relatively affordable and easy to install. While you might not end up with a security camera facing every entrance, it’s enough security to keep you comfortable and in-the-know. 

A comprehensive security system is more expensive and usually requires professional installation. We’re talking about things like ultra HD fisheye cameras, burglar alarm panels, and fire alarm systems. In addition, a professionally installed security system is often monitored 24/7 by a team of trained specialists.  

What is a monitored security system?

Comprehensive security ensures that if something happens it can be dealt with quickly. Imagine if you were home, and a pot on the stove caught fire. The smoke detector starts beeping and you either put out the fire yourself or call emergency services. Scary, yes. But it’s dealt with quickly. 

Now imagine if you aren’t at home or at your business and something catastrophic happens, like a thief breaking in. You might have a doorbell camera that alerts your phone with news that someone was just at your front door. But what if you don’t have a doorbell camera? What if you don’t see the notification right when it comes through? Unfortunately, there is little you can do if you don’t know about an emergency at your home or business, and you’re the only one who can respond.

A professionally monitored security system gives you an extra layer of security. The moment an alarm goes off—whether you are present or not—an alert is sent to a monitoring center that is staffed with monitoring agents 24/7. They will determine if the situation is a false alarm or not and notify emergency services if needed, which helps to more quickly rectify emergencies. Along with alarm monitoring, some security companies also offer live video monitoring, which can further help agents determine the situation when an alarm is triggered. 

Monitored alarm systems are also less likely to cause a false alarm dispatch, since monitoring agents work to verify the nature of the alarm prior to notifying emergency services. 

Monitored security systems are convenient and comprehensive, but they aren’t the right choice for everyone. 

While there are clear benefits to a monitored alarm system, they aren’t for everyone. One reason that you might decide against a monitoring system is the cost. To get alarm monitoring, you usually have to buy security equipment from a security provider, then pay a monthly fee for monitoring services. (In some cases, older alarm equipment can be transferred to a new alarm company, so don’t write off alarm monitoring if you already have equipment installed and are just switching providers.) 

Regardless of cost, what remains true is that unmonitored alarm systems leave a hole in your security—how much that matters to you is a big factor in whether or not you go with a monitored alarm system. That hole in your security might amount to false alarm dispatches, or perhaps worse, delayed or no response during an actual emergency (especially when you are not physically present at your home or business). Alarm monitoring and live video monitoring are great options to protect your home or business against these common issues. 

Here are some things to consider when thinking about adding alarm monitoring and video monitoring to your home or business:

Do you already have security equipment from a security provider? If you already have security equipment installed, and are just looking to add alarm monitoring or switch to a new provider with alarm monitoring, then you shouldn’t hesitate. Since you’ve already invested in the equipment, you’ll want to take full advantage of alarm monitoring from a security provider like Bay Alarm. 

Buy from the store, or from a security company? You will need to decide if you want to go with a security provider or with tech from the store. If you decide to go with a security company, be sure to find one that offers alarm monitoring. Otherwise, retail-grade doorbell cameras, smoke detectors, and Z-Wave smart technology are good options, albeit without alarm monitoring. 

Are you a DIYer? If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, then you’ll probably be more apt to buy and install security devices yourself, and maintain full control of your security system. But bear in mind that alarm monitoring is 24/7, and it’s always possible that you just happen to miss an alarm notification that is sent to your phone. 

It’s clear that home and business security can be bolstered with 24/7 monitoring services. You should consider your monitoring options when purchasing security equipment, and ask yourself if the support of a security provider with alarm monitoring is right for you. Have more questions about alarm monitoring and live video monitoring? Contact Bay Alarm today! We can answer any questions, and even provide you with a free security system quote.