Are professionally-monitored or self-monitored home security systems better for you and your home?
By: Rob Frappier
Protecting your home against break-ins and other crime is extremely important, which is why millions of renters and homeowners nationwide have chosen to install home security systems. But there is no one-size-fits-all security solution. While some homeowners might want their security system to rival Fort Knox, others may be perfectly content with something less ambitious.
Let’s talk about two different types of home security systems: professionally-monitored systems and self-monitored systems — and a few of the reasons why you might consider one over the other.
Professionally-Monitored Home Security
A professionally-monitored security system is one that is installed and monitored by a professional home security company. Often, these systems include a range of features including motion sensors, door and window sensors, cameras, and alarms. Typically, when one of the sensors or alarms is tripped, the system sends a call to the security company. The company will then call you to confirm if you are in the home, or if the alarm was turned on accidentally. If they’re unable to reach you or if you confirm that it wasn’t an accident, they will call the police who will send someone to investigate.
There are many advantages to a professionally-monitored system. Some of the pros of a system like this include:
- Proactive monitoring. You don’t have to contact the police if you suspect someone has broken into your home, providing peace of mind if you’re unable to monitor your system yourself.
- Professional installation. Home security experts will first evaluate your home before installing cameras and sensors so that they make sure all angles are covered and there no “blind spots” that could compromise security.
- Physical deterrent. Sometimes the mere sight of a camera or sensor is enough to scare off would be burglars, but if that doesn’t work the automatic alarm often does the trick.
If that sounds good to you, bear in mind there are some drawbacks to a professionally-monitored home security system including:
- Cost. Most services charge fees for installation, as well as monthly monitoring.
- No direct control. If your alarm goes off accidentally because of your child, pet or even a friendly neighbor, there is no way to turn it off remotely. If the service calls you and you’re unable to answer, they will contact the police anyway and you could be charged for a false alarm.
Self-Monitored Home Security
On the other side of the spectrum are self-monitored security systems, which are becoming increasingly popular. Unlike a professionally-monitored security system, a self-monitored system is one that you monitor on your own using your mobile phone.
When something trips one of the sensors, rather than notifying a monitoring service, you get a message or call sent directly to your cell phone. Then, from your phone, you can review the situation and act appropriately. If it’s a burglar, you call 911. But if it’s your partner who forgot their keys, you can ignore it. Some systems even include advanced features like video recording, speakers and more.
There are many advantages to self-monitored home security systems including:
- Cost. Unlike professional systems, these are less expensive because they often involve self-installation and don’t require you to pay for monthly monitoring.
- Convenience. These systems are designed to be easy to install, so they can be moved around the house if needed.
- You’re in control. Because you are notified directly and can review video of the incident, you can make the call as to whether or not you should call the police.
However, there are limitations to what a self-monitored system can deliver. Some of the potential concerns include:
- Wi-Fi dependent. Most self-monitored security systems are connected to your home internet network, which means if there’s a Wi-Fi outage or a power outage, your system won’t function.
- You’re in charge. While this is a pro in one sense, it also means that you’re the one responsible for monitoring the system. If your phone isn’t working or you are not paying attention to it, you could miss a notification.
- Limited reach. Most starter kits for self-monitored security systems are limited to a handful of sensors and one or two cameras. If you want to cover your entire house, you will have to purchase more equipment which drives up the cost.
If neither of these options seem like the ideal fit for you, it may be worthwhile to consult a security professional and get a recommendation.
Cox Homelife provides a wide range of smart solutions for the modern smart home, including self-monitored and professionally-monitored security systems. You can even get started online with the digital Cox Homelife Advisor, which will provide recommendations based on your unique needs.