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Discussion Starter #1
I did a search, and the only 2 threads I saw on alarm systems were from back in 2009. Quite a bit has changed since then with alarm system technology available.

Back then, I chose NOT to get a system, because we had stopped using a home phone, and the only alternative was an alarm system that used your broadband internet connection to contact the police, and at the time, ours was relatively unreliable (always dropping the connection). I also had the issue of two large dogs roaming around my house that I thought would constantly trip their motion detectors.

Now, however, most alarm companies offer cellular options so that your phone line can not be cut, nor can your internet cable line.

I talked to the ADT rep for nearly an hour here recently, and he called his installer and confirmed that they could position the motion detectors in a way that would not constantly go off from the dogs, and he said it was $45/month for their cellular service package.

However, ADT does not seem to have any answer for the stereotypical "crash and smash" deal where a burglar simply smashes your control panel off the wall during the 30 second delay before it sounds the alarm. Safe Touch (large provider here in Jacksonville) has that issue conquered, but they apparently make you pay for 3 years right up front (which equates to nearly $1300+ on the spot), not to mention they are apparently a pain to deal with when it comes to contracts (they allegedly have auto-renewed people's contracts for 5 more years if they didn't say no in writing fast enough... they have 119 complaints against them with the BBB).

But now I'm reading that you can go with companies like FrontPoint you can install the wireless sytem by yourself in 30 minutes, and get a much higher level of technology.

What do you guys use? I want to get something that won't cost me an arm and a leg for monitoring each month, but nor do I want to get stuck in a contract that'll never die either.
 

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What do you guys use? I want to get something that won't cost me an arm and a leg for monitoring each month, but nor do I want to get stuck in a contract that'll never die either.
We use Safetouch for one simple reason. We were robbed about 5 years ago and when researching companies, I spoke to several in law enforcement and they said that Safetouch had the lowest false negative rate, so they tended to get responded to the quickest, at least in Jacksonville.

So we went with them.
 

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My friend bought a system at cosco by Q-See on sale for 299$ 4 day or night motion detecting cameras with DVR it will send video to your smart phone when activated over internet and record it on DVR . No monitoring fee but if internet is cut you only have DVR record but price is good
 

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....stereotypical "crash and smash" deal where a burglar simply smashes your control panel off the wall during the 30 second delay before it sounds the alarm.
I've, honestly, never heard of that one. In my experience, most burglars just aren't about to take THAT kind of time. They'd have to FIND your control panel first. And, we're talking the main control panel typically hidden in a closet vs. the keypad. (busting the keypad wouldn't accomplish anything but, perhaps, silence the audible beep during the 30 second delay.) Not to mention, 30 seconds isn't very long unless you know where that panel is located, know your way around the house to get there in time to do your smashing.

I, personally, wouldn't worry about that too much unless you're in a 1 bedroom home or silly enough to allow them to install that control panel next to an entry point. :laughing It's probably happened, but, I'd say the odds are slim. Besides, most alarms I've had over my years have the ability to have that delay programmed by the installer. I have 15 seconds to disarm MY alarm when I walk through the door. :thumsup They don't like to do it much. They MAY even try to tell you a fib and say it's not possible. Just tell 'em to get it done or you'll call someone who can.

I think it's FAR more common for bad guys to clip the phone line in an attempt to keep the signal from going out before they'd take the time to search your home in hopes of finding your control panel before it sends it's signal. That's time they could be snatching valuables and headed down the road.

Remember, that alarm is just one layer in your home security. You shouldn't rely on it completely. Good exterior lighting, keeping shrubbery and such cut low (don't give them something to hide behind while they work on a window or door), good window locks, door locks, etc...motion lights. All are just PART of what you can do to safeguard your home and family. A good mutt is better than a good alarm to be blunt. But, both combined give greater peace of mind.

No alarm or any other measures will deter a committed crook. All you're doing is just making YOUR home less interesting and more trouble than it's worth to the random crook. Truth is..you just want them moving down the road to a neighbor's "easier" house. :grin

FWIW, we have a Brink's system.
 

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I made one for my old house that would record to HDD (15 frames per second for 1 week, then start re-writing) and switch to 30 frames per second when motion was detected. This used IR lights (black and white) for illumination and was built relatively cheaply out of old webcams, a computer used solely as a server, and internet connection. Could access the cams anytime anywhere with internet including smart phones. If something was happening, I can call the police myself.
 

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I went with ADT and had an incident that had cops on my property
in less than twenty minutes. Kudos to both ADT and police officers.
In addition to security system I have two German Sheppard mixes my
wife and I saved from a kill shelter in Orlando. They turned out to be
the very best security alarm system we ever had. :thumsup
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I've, honestly, never heard of that one. In my experience, most burglars just aren't about to take THAT kind of time. They'd have to FIND your control panel first. And, we're talking the main control panel typically hidden in a closet vs. the keypad. (busting the keypad wouldn't accomplish anything but, perhaps, silence the audible beep during the 30 second delay.) Not to mention, 30 seconds isn't very long unless you know where that panel is located, know your way around the house to get there in time to do your smashing.

I, personally, wouldn't worry about that too much unless you're in a 1 bedroom home or silly enough to allow them to install that control panel next to an entry point. :laughing It's probably happened, but, I'd say the odds are slim. Besides, most alarms I've had over my years have the ability to have that delay programmed by the installer. I have 15 seconds to disarm MY alarm when I walk through the door. :thumsup They don't like to do it much. They MAY even try to tell you a fib and say it's not possible. Just tell 'em to get it done or you'll call someone who can.

I think it's FAR more common for bad guys to clip the phone line in an attempt to keep the signal from going out before they'd take the time to search your home in hopes of finding your control panel before it sends it's signal. That's time they could be snatching valuables and headed down the road.

Remember, that alarm is just one layer in your home security. You shouldn't rely on it completely. Good exterior lighting, keeping shrubbery and such cut low (don't give them something to hide behind while they work on a window or door), good window locks, door locks, etc...motion lights. All are just PART of what you can do to safeguard your home and family. A good mutt is better than a good alarm to be blunt. But, both combined give greater peace of mind.

No alarm or any other measures will deter a committed crook. All you're doing is just making YOUR home less interesting and more trouble than it's worth to the random crook. Truth is..you just want them moving down the road to a neighbor's "easier" house. :grin

FWIW, we have a Brink's system.
First off, thanks for taking the time to type out all that info. A couple things: Monday morning (7/25/11) my wife's previous employer (runs an environmental laboratory where they test samples for arsenic, etc) walked in and found his lab and offices had been burglarized. He had a fully functioning alarm system, and all they did was smash out a window on the side of the building, walk right in and then smashed the alarm and motion sensors before the 30 second delay was up and an alarm signal went off. He had no idea you could even do that. They must have had at least a couple guys and moved quickly.

Apparently, older model alarm systems would begin to chime as soon as a sensor was tripped, and you had 30 seconds to enter the code before the alarm completely went off. Newer model styles (with "crash and smash" protection) send a signal to the server the instant a sensor is tripped, and then unless you enter the code to clear that signal, the alarm activates... so smashing the control module or keypad do no good. The more I've been reading up on this, the more it apparently is a problem.

One guy had ADT and when the installer put his keypad by his back door, he asked if it would still go off if a crook were to smash the keypad. The installer assured him it would. 2.5 years later he was broken into, and when he saw the damage, he noticed the keypad was smashed. When the police were called, ADT reported that they never received an alarm signal whatsoever from that location.

So I'm leaning toward a company called FrontPoint. All their services are cellular based (ie the control panel sends a cellular signal that cannot be cut or stopped from outside the home). They use a server-style set up so that once a contact switch/motion detector activates, unless the correct code is entered, the alarm is going off no matter what. They also allow web-interactive features where you can log in and see when your door was opened, when the alarm was armed/disarmed... you can alarm and disarm the system remotely, control lighting systems in your home remotely, etc. and you also get a text the instant the alarm goes off.

It sounded pretty interesting. The whole system is wireless and they claim you can set it up yourself in about 30 minutes while on the phone with them.

I do have 2 large (90 lb) dogs that act very aggressive toward uninvited guests, I keep low shrubbery, I have motion activated floodlights on all sides of the home, a locked gate in back, and solid dead bolts on all the doors. I had put most of the work in already on making my home like an onion with multiple layers of protection, but this is the first time I'd looked into a home security system.
 

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I have owned 9 homes and had alarms in two of them. Unreliable and by the time the police arrived the robbers would be long gone. As I was told by the responding officers, there are so many false alarms that it is not a priority for them. After that I just put the ADT sign in my lawns for all my future homes and never a problem. Now I do not even do that. I have two Yorkies and they bark if they see or hear a bird on my property. For the cost of the alarm system and monthly monitoring it is cheaper for me to get a rider to my homeowners insurance to cover actual replacement cost rather than depreciated cost or a fixed ceiling typical on most policies. If I am robbed I get all new stuff for free at less cost than installing and monitoring an alarm system. For what most people can afford or install without making them a prisoner in their own homes they are getting piece of mind rather than real security against someone other than a casual burglar looking for an easy score.

P.S. They all say they can put motion dectectors in that your pets will not set off but I have found that not to be the case as pets climb things and jump, etc.. I had a dog who liked to play by tossing his bone in the air and then chasing it. Set off the alarm every time so I had to deactivate the motion sensors. I really do not put much value in the monitoring services unless you live in an area that has very quick LEO response times and even then I have seen houses broken into and a computer and TV taken in less time than anyone could respond to unless they were right near where you live at the time. Where I used to live we were talking about half an hour response at best and heaven help you if you have had one or two previous false alarms as you will be almost ignored after that. After many years doing facility security I have found the best defense is to not let the burglars in in the first place. Steel doors and bars on all the windows along with guard dogs worked for us much better than any alarm system we ever had. At home good locks on doors and windows and a barking dog works wonders.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That's a very good point. Response time is something I can't control. I'm currently trying to research what kinds of response times are typical in Jacksonville, but I'm guessing that's not something people publish much...
 

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I do have 2 large (90 lb) dogs that act very aggressive toward uninvited guests, I keep low shrubbery, I have motion activated floodlights on all sides of the home, a locked gate in back, and solid dead bolts on all the doors. I had put most of the work in already on making my home like an onion with multiple layers of protection, but this is the first time I'd looked into a home security system.
Sounds like you've got it covered. :laughing

I really have never heard of smashing the control panel. That's a new one on me. I'm still not too worried about mine though. Mine is installed in a locked storage room in the locked garage behind a stack of lawn mowers and other large, heavy crap. It's unintentional, but, now that you mention the problem, I can personally guarantee you'll need longer than 30 seconds to get to mine. :grin

Of course, that's once you pry one of your limbs out of the jaws of German Shepard first.

Interesting alarm system. Keep us posted. Should I ever move again, I'm VERY interested in those wireless systems. :thumsup
 

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If any device is damaged or removed it should send a signal. The technology is way behind in security systems. There more interested in locking you in to a long term contract that you can't get out of. So what are you going to do if they don't dispatch? Cancel them? fire them? you can't if you have a contract and they know it. Nothing beats a loyal pit bull who's good with the family but not so nice with someone who shouldn't be there.
 

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One of the biggest problems I've found in home alarm system installations is the lack of knowledge displayed by the installers. I've done commercial systems in the past (Radionics/Bosch), and it takes a bit of thought to properly configure an alarm system so that it is effective.

First, there are three primary pieces to a proper alarm system. 1) the control panel, 2) the keypad, and 3) the sensor devices.

The control panel is the brain of the system. It contains the interface to the keypad, the sensors, the phone lines (or wireless communicator), and the backup battery. Often, the control panel is located in an obvious place out of convenience to the installation. Unfortunately, it is frequently in a place that an experienced burglar is familiar with (such as the front closet). Ideally, the control panel should be located some distance from the keypad, and may even be hidden or made inaccessible. In commercial installations, we frequently installed the panel above a ceiling tile. In residential applications, perhaps a bedroom closet or linen closet out of normal view. Wherever located, the dialer may need a full minute to communicate an alarm condition to the central monitoring station. The longer it takes a burglar to locate it, the better.

The keypad can be monitored for wiring integrity by some systems. In other words, if the keypad is damaged or ceases to communicate with the control panel, an instant alarm can be sent if the system is armed at the time of loss of communication. If the keypad fails when the system is not armed, a trouble signal is sent instead.

Finally, the sensors can be many types. There are motion detectors, magnetic switches, tamper switches, glassbreak detectors, etc. Proper selection and placement of sensors is critical to the overall system performance. Motion detectors can be simple PIR (passive infrared) devices or they can be dual-technology devices. Both types can be had in a plethora of varieties with varying coverage angles, both vertical and horizontal, as well as ones with differing ranges. Ideally, there should be at least one motion detector looking ACROSS the keypad, not directly at it. Motion detectors send out infrared energy that graphically resembles the teeth of a comb, and detect motion across the comb teeth much more reliably than motion coming toward or away from the detector along the comb teeth.

The effectiveness of the system is dependent upon proper programming as well. The system should be programmed in zones that have specific functions. (Note: the descriptions following assume the system is armed) First, the perimeter zone should contain all the sensors that comprise entrances to the home, with the exception of those entrances used for normal entry and exit. The perimeter zone should be programmed for instant alarm upon activation. The sensor on the door closest to the keypad should be programmed as a delay zone, offering both entry and exit delay for arming and disarming the system. Additionally, the motion detector that "looks" at the keypad should be associated with the entry door sensor so that if the door is opened, the motion detector will also delay activation of an alarm pending the disarming of the system. However if that motion detector senses motion without the door having first been opened, it should be programmed to send an instant alarm. Finally, if there are other motion detectors, they need to be programmed as the interior zone. This allows for two distinct modes in which the alarm will operate. When you press the "away" arming button, all sensors except the exit door and the motion detector looking at the keypad will operate in instant alarm mode when the system arms. However, if you press the "home" arming button, the system will only alarm the permeter sensors, leaving you to freely roam about the inside of the house without the motion detectors causing an alarm.

The final feature is a bypass mode. This is so that you can leave a window open and still arm the system. When you finally close the window, that sensor will automatically be "armed" with the rest of the sensors.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
 

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so the vulnerabilities are the control panel, not the keypad
Correct, although cutting the phone line means the panel cannot dial out. Some panels monitor the integrity of the phone lines and sound the horn if the phone lines are cut, as a deterrent. The problem with that is that in order to monitor the phone lines, the panel looks for the 48VDC talk battery voltage that exists across the phone line. Sometimes, that disappears if there's a crappy connection somewhere between the panel all the way back to the telephone switch building, and that means through all those pedestals and cables that have been buried or hanging on telephone poles for years, perhaps decades. That 120dB horn can be quite the heart starter if a drunk hits a pedestal in the middle of the night. Most systems aren't programmed to monitor the lines, or aren't programmed to do anything but buzz at the keypad if the lines are cut for that reason.

Radionics had a control panel at their factory in Salinas, CA that a customer had sent to them. It was in one of the optional armored boxes. The box had a huge gash in it where a burglar had whacked it with an axe. The customer had included a letter in which they praised Radionics because the panel had actually completed dialing out the alarm before it met its untimely demise.
 

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I'm ok, mine uses a cell phone for contact and the panel is almost impossible to access, I was worried that if the trashed the keypad I could be in trouble
 

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I'm ok, mine uses a cell phone for contact and the panel is almost impossible to access, I was worried that if the trashed the keypad I could be in trouble
Shouldn't be, but it couldn't hurt to ask your alarm tech if he has programmed the panel to supervise the keypad. If not, have him do it. Shouldn't take but a couple of minutes.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The FrontPoint system is odd in that the keypad is the brain unit all in one. If any sensors are tripped, the brain instantly notifies the server, and then the server (located at the monitoring center) starts the delay clock ticking. If you don't punch in the alarm code in the 30 seconds, then the alarm is tripped.

So even if your control panel sits right out in plain sight and they kick in your front door, walk directly to the control unit and smash it to pieces, the alarm is still going off because that contact sensor tripped when your door opened.

The alarm signal would be triggered by the server in the monitoring center, not by the brain of your alarm system at your house, which could have been compromised within that 30 seconds.
 

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The FrontPoint system is odd in that the keypad is the brain unit all in one. If any sensors are tripped, the brain instantly notifies the server, and then the server (located at the monitoring center) starts the delay clock ticking. If you don't punch in the alarm code in the 30 seconds, then the alarm is tripped.

So even if your control panel sits right out in plain sight and they kick in your front door, walk directly to the control unit and smash it to pieces, the alarm is still going off because that contact sensor tripped when your door opened.

The alarm signal would be triggered by the server in the monitoring center, not by the brain of your alarm system at your house, which could have been compromised within that 30 seconds.
Ah, technology! Is the FrontPoint a wireless system or does it depend on an internet connection?
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Completely wireless. Every component connects to the main console wirelessly, and the console connects to the monitoring center via cellular connection.

It seems to be the best setup I've come across yet, and their customer service was awesome. I'm waiting on the wife to go over the budget (she's an accountant, so I let her deal with our money, I just make it) and once she gives me the all clear, that's the system I intend to get.
 
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