View Full Version : Home Security System?

09-29-2011, 1:27 PM
Looking for recommendations for a home security system. ADT, Alarm.com, FrontPoint, etc. Also companies to avoid in the SF Bay Area.

09-29-2011, 2:32 PM
Do you want a subscription-based model (linked to a company's central), or do you want to install your own system?

09-29-2011, 3:43 PM
Do you want a subscription-based model (linked to a company's central), or do you want to install your own system?

I'm up for either as long as the self install is not too bad. I know there are some do it yourself kits but have no idea which ones are good, and which ones are garbage. Any help appreciated.

09-29-2011, 3:50 PM
you can get standalone alarms and sensors for your home. This means each component is independent from the rest. You would need to arm each windows, doors, motion sensors. These types of alarms or sensors does not link up to any central HQ or LEOS. These will just make an insane amount of noise.

Pros: cheap and simple, easy to use easy to install
cons: independently and individually armed.

Or you can go with a subscription service. Normally there's some type of discount or deal for first customers and installs. They normally cover all vulnerable areas of the house (IE. downstairs windows and entrances and whatever that can be reached from ground level.). These type of security system are great. They do come with a monthly or yearly subscription fee. These systems such as ADT and the like always usually utilize a centralized control panel. The panel can tell you where there maybe a breach or something that isn't closed properly.

Pros: ease of arming the system, "smart" system - tells you what is opened and won't arm itself until everything checks out. Good sense of security. Centralized control panel.

cons: subscription fees, service fees, penalty fees (if you trip your own alarm). I've also read many consumer report complaints of certain services.

my recommendation: Do your homework and fine out what suit you most.

09-29-2011, 5:18 PM
Here's a subscription-free Wireless Alarm System with an emergency phone Dialer(you connect the Emergency dialer to your phone jack and you can program it with 9 phone numbers). It has a central control panel like an ADT system to arm the sensors. The Alarm is 115db loud.

I think set-up is fairly easy too, you just have to glue or screw the wireless door sensors and motion sensors in place. The only hard part is if you want to hide the wires of the control panel and emergency dialer through the wall, but you don't have to.


09-29-2011, 6:46 PM
I installed a top of the line security system in my home. If you want more info PM me and I'll give you my number. Be happy to tell you what I know.

Alarm Guy
09-30-2011, 12:05 AM
Being in the business myself I would recommend a local company. Bay Alarm comes to mind. I would not ever recommend ADT. And stay far away from anybody selling alarm systems door to door. Just remember bold print giveth and fine print taketh away. Even though I am in Fresno, I have actually traveled as far as Pennsylvania to install a security system so PM me if you would like to do business with a fellow CalGunner that has over 30 years experience in the Alarm business.

09-30-2011, 2:11 AM
What is bad about ADT?

09-30-2011, 8:12 AM
I looked in to this quite a lot and leveraged the experience of a good friend who was an ADT installer/project manager for over 10 years and now owns his own company installing high end systems.

Long story short, I did it myself and here's what I installed:


Completely wireless, so easy to install. Works like a charm and is very reliable. Wireless systems have come a LONG way in the last 10 years and are now the way to go for many installs.

I bought extra door sensors and since we don't have pets, lots of motion sensors and a glass break sensor directly across from the rear glass slider, which is a typical entry point for smash and grab burglaries in our area.

The wireless keypads are wonderful. We use these to arm and disarm the system rather than the main keypad. Ours are the older, non-talking keypad, but I see they now have talking ones for $75 each. Having the verbal acknowldedgement that it's arming as you walk out the front door would be nice. We may switch to these.

We just stick the wireless keypads to the wall near the front and rear door and the main panel is placed upstairs where it is safe, secure and hidden. The siren is upstairs too, so we'll hear it at night should it go off. It's loud as heck, so any intruder will hear it too.

My wife likes her keychain remote to arm and disarm. My keychain is already too crowded so I don't use mine, but they do work just fine.

Regarding monitoring, its a tough call. Most police won't respond to alarms any longer unless the monitoring agency can confirm the presence of unauthorized persons, usually via an audio or video link to the house. If you have uninsured, priceless items in your home, you might want to consider this approach.

You can get "regular" monitoring of your system for as little as $10 a month if you shop around online. Some people opt for this as they want to be called or alerted if their system goes off. The Simon XT can be programmed to call your cell if you want, so I set it up.

My logic for having the alarm is that we want it to alert us at night if someone enters the house while we're asleep. All windows in the house are very well secured with screws and fixed rods that prevent them from opening beyond 4" or being lifted out. Main entry door has a steel, 4 foot door jamb reinforcement plate, so it can't be kicked in.

Only way to get in to our house is to break a window. If this happens, the glass breaks will likely go off. Even if they don't catch the sound of breaking glass, the intruder will definitely get "caught" by one of the many motions that are strategically placed. There is simply no way to move around within the house without tripping a motion. I know, I tested them. :)

The siren is LOUD, so we'll have a few seconds to respond, collect the kids and arm ourselves. That's all I need.

If they break in while we're away, well, I've got very good homeowners insurance, so while it'd be a hassle, I don't much care.

You can probably tell that I don't bother having the system monitored.

My friend who owns the security company agrees with this logic.

Most burglaries are day time smash and grabs where they're out and gone in less than 2 minutes. That's not enough time for the police to respond. Burglars know and count on this.

That's my .02.

09-30-2011, 8:40 AM
After working in the Alarm industry for over 7 years I agree whole-heartedly with CalPlinker.

Due to the increased use of home security and subsequent false alarms in the last 10 years, most police departments prioritize home security low on the totem pole without confirmation of someone still on the premises. The most reasonable expectation for an alarm is that 1)the sound will scare away amateurs looking for a quick buck if you aren't home 2)if you are home you'll be notified of the intrusion and not be caught by surprise 3)if they're pros they'll disconnect your system quickly and it's up to your homeowners insurance.

With that said, I'll be getting one for my home to help in situations like #2 above.

As far as equipment: the Simon XT is old news and Honeywell has a new touchscreen that is miles ahead of the competition and is easy enough to install on your own without any special training. It also is home automation compatible (lights, thermostat, etc) and can send messages to your cell about system status.

09-30-2011, 9:02 AM
We've been happy with a company called Vivint:


(similar to ADT)

We've had a few false calls and the cops always show up within a few minutes, but then we live in a small town.

Not sure if they still do this, but when we initiated service a few years ago, they installed all the hardware for free and we just had to commit to 1 year of service at ~$30/month.

09-30-2011, 9:53 AM
got a link to the honeywell stuff?

09-30-2011, 9:53 AM
Thanks for all the information guys. I have some research to do but the DIY route looks like the path I will be taking.