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Five Tips for Your Security System Upgrade

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One of the most common requests we receive from customers is to receive a “security system upgrade.” While this may seem like a simple request, it could refer to many features or services. In general, a security system upgrade allows us to utilize existing alarm components while adding new equipment and features. People have several potential reasons to call us for this type of work. Sometimes security systems simply reach the end of their lifespan and fail, as all electronics do over time. Occasionally, homeowners get impatient with outdated systems and wish to work with more modern technology.

Whatever the reason behind it, we wish to help you design your security system upgrade. In this post, we share some tips and best practices for improving your home security. Some of these ideas add additional features to your alarm. A few of them add convenience and ease of use to your system. Some of these tips even do both! Let’s dive in with one of our most popular reasons for upgrading security systems: adding cellular monitoring.

A rotary phone

In an age where traditional phone lines are beginning to feel as antiquated as rotary phones, cellular dialers have become a much more reliable option for security system monitoring.

Move Away from Landline-Based Monitoring

In addition to upgrading security equipment, many customers wish to upgrade their alarm system’s method of monitoring. Having central station monitoring creates a police response anytime one is needed. A monitored security system sends a distress signal to a central station when your security system detects potential danger. Someone at our call center receives this signal from the security system and attempts to contact the home. If this fails, or if the person who picks up cannot provide a user-designated security password, the central station dispatcher then calls the police.

We offer a few options for providing this service, which you can read about in our guide to Smart Home Security System Design. By far, the most common request is to switch from landline monitoring to cellular monitoring. This allows a security system to communicate with the central station without a phone line. Therefore, customers can now cancel their phone service and still have a monitored security system. Additionally, if a burglar cuts your phone lines or attempts to break in to your home while the lines are down, your system will still communicate with the central station.

Furthermore, your cellular dialer can add convenience and security above and beyond providing a reliable communication path. In our post on Using Your Smartphone to Add Security to Your Alarm, we discussed the generational expectation that customers can control their electronics with their smartphones. Our interactive cell dialer powered by Alarm.com allows users to arm and disarm their security systems remotely. It also allows them to receive notifications regarding security system status changes. These status updates can include low battery alerts, power failure notices, and other similarly important messages. Adding these features is one of the most popular reasons homeowners upgrade their burglar alarms.

Utilize Additional Security Equipment and Coverage

Many burglar system upgrade requests come from people wishing to beef up their alarm’s security coverage. Several circumstances can cause peoples’ security needs to change. Turning a room into a home office, for example, often calls for installing contacts to add extra security to an area that will now feature a lot of valuable equipment and information. Turning spare rooms into children’s rooms or playrooms can also trigger an increased need for security for couples having children.

Additionally, we can install sensors to protect your home against things other than burglary. If you take advantage of interactive cellular monitoring, you can receive notifications from sensors placed around your house. In our post on Unconventional Uses for Contact Sensors, we discussed how we can do this. Adding door contacts to closets, gates, or jewelry drawers can help you protect your valuables. These sensors provide notifications whether your security system is armed or disarmed. Therefore, you’ll know if guests or family members snoop or stumble into an “off-limits” area of the home. Let’s look at another benefit to upgrading to interactive cellular monitoring.

Add Smart Home Capability and Features

Adding smart home capabilities is one of the most popular reasons homeowners call for a security system upgrade. Many people think of a smart home hub as a voice-activated device (which may or may not do what you ask it). However, the same interactive cellular dialer that you use to control your alarm system remotely also acts as a smart home hub. This allows you to control smart home appliances with your phone and without buying a separate smart home service. Some of these appliances and devices add tremendous convenience to your everyday life. For example, smart lights allow you to return to a well-lit home every day.

More importantly, some of these devices add security as well. Smart thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home remotely. They also alert you to dangerously high or low temperatures in the home. Feel free to peruse our Important Security System Add-ons for Your Smart Home for more information on devices that add both ease and security to your alarm system. Let’s take a look now at one of the hottest home security products of the last few years.

Take Advantage of Equipment That Keeps an Eye on Your Home

Alarm.com camera footage and a motion-detection based alert.

Alarm.com cameras watch your home at all times, and can even send live video clips upon detecting motion.

Home surveillance cameras have made a significant surge in the security market over the last several years. We began installing cameras in customers’ homes several years ago, but have never done so more frequently than we do now. New technology has helped make adding surveillance a very desirable security system upgrade feature. Our camera installations often feature wiring running from each camera location to a dedicated recorder. Several years ago, we used this method for every single camera installation we completed. This type of installation provides continuous recording of each camera’s footage, and 3-4 weeks of video storage. However, this type of installation comes at a relatively high cost compared to some of the options on the market today.

We now have streamlined options that allow a camera system to fit into more customers’ budgets. We offer cameras that store motion-based clips on SD cards, or in the cloud for online viewing. One of our most popular camera solutions involves installing Alarm.com cameras viewable on the same smartphone app that homeowners use to control their alarm system. These cameras utilize the same Alarm.com cellular dialer we’ve referenced earlier in this post to communicate with your phone. This allows you to receive live video alerts when the cameras begin recording a clip. We also install doorbell cameras that work with this same technology. For more information on camera system options, we’ve written a post on Smart Home Surveillance System Design. Now, we’ll examine a security system upgrade tip that adds an element of life security to your home burglar alarm.

Install Monitored Smoke and CO Detection

Monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detection adds potentially life-saving security to your home. For this reason, we recommend adding this protection when performing any security system upgrade. We discussed earlier how a monitored burglar system sends for help when a security contact causes the alarm to activate. Likewise, monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors call for help upon activation. You have a couple different options for adding this protection to your home. Adding individual detectors provides spot protection at each location that you install them.

The Interlogix wireless Firefighter relay

A wireless relay device, such as the “Firefighter” by Interlogix, allows us to monitor an entire smoke alarm system with one easy-to-install contact.

Additionally, you also have the option of adding a wireless relay to monitor your smoke detectors. As we pointed out in our post on Residential Smoke Alarm Requirements, homes built after 1975 require a system of interconnected smoke alarms. This means that any individual alarm detecting smoke causes every other alarm to sound. If this requirement applies to your own home, we can easily monitor all of your smoke alarms with one device.

The “Firefighter” wireless relay (pictured) detects the sound of a smoke alarm. It then relays a message to the alarm panel. The panel in turn calls the central station, who then dispatches the fire department. This automatic response to a fire emergency can save your home in the case of a fire in an empty house. More importantly, it can save the lives of those caught inside during a fire. The benefits of adding this protection make it perhaps the very most important aspect of upgrading your home security system.

Putting Together a Security System Upgrade that Works for You

We hope that this post has given you some ideas on the potential scope of a security system upgrade. If you’ve considered updating your own burglar alarm, perhaps this post has given you some ideas. Or maybe you don’t even have a security system yet and now know what type of equipment you could add on to a new install. Either way, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about the information in this post. We provide free home site surveys to help plan both upgrades and fresh security system installations. Together we can design a security solution that incorporates all of the features, convenience, and security that a modern burglar alarm can provide.