Free vs Purchased Systems


What is the difference between a “Free” system & a “Traditional” one you pay for upon installation?
By and large the advertising of “Free” systems is a marketing ploy proliferated by the Alarm System mass marketing companies. We all know that nothing is free. If you paid $299 for the above system upon installation your monthly monitoring rate would be $19.95/mo., a savings of $10.00/mo. If you signed the same 3 year monitoring agreement you would have saved $61 and another $10/mo. forever, so long as you sign a new agreement every year prior to your previous agreement’s renewal date. The only advantage to a free system is if you simply do not have $299 right now but need the system.

Why is a contracted term necessary?

  1. We live in a very litigious society. All professional alarm companies (us included) state clearly that we are not an insurance company – the contract explains the limited liability we accept.
  2. If your system was “Free” the company who sold it to you, not gave it to you, needs three years to recoup its investment at the above noted $10/mo. – the extra $61 is simply more profit for them.
  3. You need the contract as well because it guarantees you that low rate for the term of the contract.
  4. With our “Free” System you get our same low rate for service calls and the same year long warrantee as our traditional system customers get. With most of the large Free System Marketing companies equipment is only guaranteed 90 days and in some cases only parts are covered. Also most of the Free System Marketing companies typically charge 40 – 90% more per hour for service work. This is important because if you get a “Free” system it is not really yours until you have completed your contractual term and therefore you are married to a poor warranty and exorbitant service rates. It is quite like a cell phone agreement where you have to pay for it for the length of the contract whether it works or not so you are forced to pay high rates to maintain it in operating condition.

Why might you want a Traditional Security System instead of a “Free system”?

Free Systems” generally protect a couple of doors and then rely on a centrally located motion detector to protect your home. Entry through windows or penetrations through the side of the house go un-noticed until and unless, the intruder passes the motion detector. First of all for the motion detector to work the burglar must already be in your home, we feel that is a pretty bad principle. The detector must be placed in a fairly central, highly trafficked area of the home so as to detect the burglar as quickly after he gains entry as possible. This means that typically only the doors are used when you are home for the night because you also walk around your home. You could put a delay timer on the motion detector but then the burglar has more time also. You could put a second arming station (more expense) in your bedroom but then you are stuck with arming and disarming the system every time you leave your bedroom. That might make the system enough of a bother to discourage you from even using it when you’re home. Guess what – you and your family are more important than your property. You should have a system that protects you at night when you’re sleeping as well as your property when you are not home.

“Free systems are anything but “State of the Art” or even remotely close to being high tech as they are often described. While the basic console sold to you might be reasonably high tech, the real test of sophistication in electronic security is how many of the most common methods of entry can the system detect. The answer is that every time you add a layer (additional devices) you are increasing your level of security to a point where you may have bank vault or Fort Knox type protection (State of the Art protection). That level security of course is not needed for the average home or small business, but only real security technicians can layout the appropriate compromise between free protection and protection requiring some minimal cost. If you have nothing of value and it doesn’t give you the heebie-jeebies to know that someone successfully broke into your home, you do not need anything but the most basic of systems and a skilled technician will tell you that. On the other hand if you have some collectibles, guns, jewelry, a collector’s car in the garage, nice appliances/electronics or other valuables – you might wish to invest just a little to purchase a traditional alarm system. Ask yourself: Would you be able to sleep in your home again if you returned and found it ransacked, with things broken and all of your personals gone through? I can tell you that as a former police officer who has investigated many burglaries, most women and many men say NO!

Traditional Residential Alarm Systems” start off with providing some level of protection on all first floor openings (windows, doors, basement casement windows, etc.). This at least minimally, prevents an invader from entering quietly by merely jimmying a window or door. Some folks go as far as to add glass break detection to trip the alarm if glass in a door or window is broken. All of this and more is what we refer to as perimeter protection and it is what protects the family at night when they sleep but at the same time permits them and pets to move throughout the house without turning the system on and off. One, two or more motion detectors might then be added to only come on when the house is empty (the family is away). If intruders cut through the side of the house when you were home you would probably hear the commotion but when you are away they can make all the noise they want, because no one is there to hear it. The motion detector is viewed by professional security specialists as primarily property protection because bad people are already in the house and pose a threat to occupants by the time a motion detector trips. Motion detection is a good backup to perimeter protection principally when the family is not home. It is generally not good primary protection for the home’s inhabitants.

You may want an outside siren as well as the central station police dispatch. “Free” marketing companies typically discourage or refuse to sell you an outside siren. Many don’t have the skilled technicians to wire them. It is nice to know that the police are being dispatched, but a little help from the neighbors alerted by a siren may make a difference.

There are so many options and devices that can be included in a traditional alarm system to protect your specific house based on its layout and openings and to protect family and pets based on their normal lifestyle movements throughout the house. These devices should be recommended and sold to you by a real technically knowledgeable salesman. An experienced sales person understands practical security needs and is not simply selling like the “Free” marketing sales force does to get commissions on every device they sell.

To us it seems like the value of a professionally installed traditional alarm system by knowledgeable security technicians would yield more peace of mind and actual security than would those jobbers, sub-contractors and young inexperienced installers utilized by most large marketing companies concentrating on selling “Free systems”.

We’re just saying . . .