“Free” Alarm Systems – Fact or Fiction?

In the home security industry we are flooded with questions about the “free” alarm systems that consumers read, see and hear about in advertising. Whether a door to door salesperson has come to your home following a police report, you’ve seen a scary commercial on television or colorful ads offering peace of mind for “free” it is important to be informed on what you, the homeowner is really getting as part of these “free” systems.

Fiction: A packaged basic home security system will offer the protection that is required for the average sized home.

Fact: Most packaged home security systems include a basic set of equipment such as 2 door contacts, a motion sensor and a keypad. The reality is that typically, unless you are in a very small home without windows, this type of package is sorely inadequate for really securing your home. These systems do not detect glass breaking, break-ins through windows or movement in the home away from the one motion detector that is usually installed close to a contact secured doorway. These systems do not monitor for fire, carbon monoxide or any other dangers that can be far more devastating than a thief, just a break in where the door is forcibly opened.

Fiction: No upfront fees for equipment means the equipment is ‘free”.

Fact: In most cases security companies lose money on the installation of equipment as part of these “free” systems. The homeowner pays little to nothing on the new equipment and that loss is made up over the 3-5 years of inflated monitoring fees. These fees can add up to hundreds of dollars over the life of the monitoring contract. There are companies charging$39.99 or more for monthly monitoring. When shopping for a home security system it is important to compare monitoring rates over the course of 3-5 years as homeowners may end up paying hundreds of dollars more for a “free system’”.

Fiction: Homeowners can do whatever they want with the security equipment after it is installed or move it to a new home.

Fact: In some cases the homeowner does not own the equipment that they have paid monitoring fees over several years for. If the monitoring contract is terminated the equipment may be removed by the security company. Many national security companies use proprietary equipment that cannot be reprogrammed and used again. A homeowner may pay several hundreds of dollars in monitoring fees and have a useless system if they do not continue with their original security company.

Fiction: The company that installs the security system is the company that will service the account.

Fact: Many security companies are dealers for national security companies. The monitoring contracts are sold to the corporation after installation and the homeowner is at the mercy of the corporation for any service issues that may arise.