Once you’ve made the decision to purchase a monitored home security system, begin researching security companies in your area. Below is a list of questions you should ask when narrowing your search.

Do some research into the home security company you choose. What is their reputation and history? How large is the company? How many current customers do they have? Is it a local company or nationwide? Additionally, find out if home security is their primary business and their level of experience. Check with the Better Business Bureau if you’re unsure.

How “new”is the home security product you are installing? Today’s home security systems are far more superior to those available in past years. Make sure you are getting the most recent product available.

Does the home security company offer central station monitoring? A security system is only as good as the company that is monitoring it. A reputable home security company should provide its own central station monitoring instead of having another company monitor for them.

Does the home security company’s monitoring facility have back-up systems and are those facilities UL-listed?

Does the home security company’s monitoring facility have back-up systems in case of power failures? Find out if the monitoring facility has gas or electric-powered generators – as well as battery back-up to ensure that monitoring continues despite power failures. Monitoring facilities should have at least two types of back-up power supplies.

Spend time thinking about the “amount”of security you need. The size and layout of your home and property must be taken into consideration when designing a security system. However, the basic elements of a standard system include a key pad, a control panel, a siren, an inside motion detector, at least two door contacts, as well as connection to a central monitoring station for around the clock coverage.

Secure your home from “hidden”household dangers, too. Don’t forget to equip your home with effective smoke, fire, carbon monoxide and flood detection systems as these are hidden dangers to your home and family. Be sure to also equip your home with fire extinguishers and develop a fire escape plan and route that is familiar to all household occupants.

Ease-of-use and convenience of the home security system ensure a high level of usage. Many homeowners admit that they don’t use their home security systems to the full extent because they are inconvenient or “scary” to use. When choosing a home security system, be sure to choose something that can be armed and disarmed easily by all family members.

Make sure the system you install has a battery back-up unit. A security system is only useful when it’s active and working – even when there is a power failure. Make sure the system you install has a battery back-up unit so home monitoring and protection is continuous. Monitoring facilities that have a UL rating (Underwriters Laboratory rating) have gone the extra step to ensure that they have reliable systems that will not fail.

What other benefits does the company offer besides installation and monitoring? Check to see what other benefits the home security company offers, including:
A money-back service guarantee in case you are not satisfied – including a full refund of your installation price and any monitoring fees paid?

Any guarantee against theft protection – if your home is being monitored by their service and is still burglarized, with the home security company contribute money towards your insurance deductible?

Are you a customer for life? Does the home security company offer a relocation package so a new security system is installed in case you move?

What kind of customer service do they provide? Is there a Web site that provides customer information and care?

Once you have selected a reputable monitored home security company, be sure to spend time with your security specialist to develop a security plan and system that meets you and your family’s specific needs.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing home invasions on the Gordon Elliot Show. Disclosures

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