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Home Security System Buyer's Guide - Monitoring Stations

Home Security System Buyer's Guide - Monitoring Stations

Published: 04/07/2011

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Monitoring Stations

While the alarm components will detect intrusion, the home security central monitoring station is the force that actually protects your home and family. As a result, understanding the role of the central station should be an important part of your purchasing process.



When your home security alarm is tripped, the control panel sends the relevant details to the central monitoring station over standard phone lines. Within 10 seconds, the central station will call your home – or speak through the security keypad if you have dual‐communication monitoring – to see if anything is wrong.



If the central monitoring station reaches someone at your home, they’ll ask for a passcode to confirm the person belongs there. If they don’t hear the right passcode, or if they get no answer, they will immediately send authorities to the scene. The central station will also contact the designated keyholder – a member of your household or a trustworthy neighbor you’ve chosen to be notified if there’s a suspected break‐in.



While many small monitored home security companies license the services of third‐party central monitoring stations, larger companies have their own central stations that can simultaneously watch over thousands of homes and businesses. The larger companies cost more than their smaller counterparts or third‐party administrators because they are held to a higher standard through verification from the independent, non‐profit Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL). Large monitored alarm companies pay for the UL to test their products and services for maximum safety and reliability.



Internally managed central stations are required to contact authorities within 45 seconds of the alarm going off. And should they lose power, they must have a reliable backup source – either a second station, or a backup generator with 10‐15 days worth of power on reserve.





How central stations help reduce false alarms



False alarms are a growing concern, and the industry and authorities are focused on preventing them. Make no mistake about it, the protection and safety of your home and family is important. But bringing authorities to the scene when they’re not required ties up resources that could be needed elsewhere. Also, those neighbors you depend on to keep a watchful eye on your home while you’re not there may not be so helpful if they are constantly disturbed by your alarm needlessly going off.



One way to combat false alarms is to have enough time to enter your passcode and disable the alarm. Most home security systems include an audible delay feature that gives you 30‐45 seconds to disable the alarm before the sirens go off.



Dual‐tech sensors are one important deterrent. Often times, sensors that operate on their own can accidentally trigger when a wayward curtain or frisky pet passes the device’s lenses. With a dual‐tech system, two separate components – PIR and microwave – must go off at once to activate the system.



Cellular backups also help avoid false alarms. The backup alerts the monitoring station when there is a problem with the regular phone line. Instead of immediately calling police, the monitoring station will call your keyholder to check out the situation. Only if they discover that someone tampered with the phone lines would the police be dispatched.