We left off of our DIY alarm system purchase, install, and configuration with a functional alarm system not yet connected to a central monitoring station, mission half accomplished. But selecting a good central monitoring station is one of the most critical, variable, and potentially valuable aspects of a home security system. But before we started researching our various options, I really didn't have a true grasp on what this component of our security system did, let alone how it all works. Here I thought the most difficult aspect of the overall purchase would be the selection of the system. As it turns out, finding the right central monitoring company can ultimately make or break both your overall cost savings, as well as your general customer experience when you have an alarm event.
Before I go any further, I want to let you know that none of this post, or any of our security system posts were in any way sponsored. We didn't get free equipment or any free services. The whole purpose of these posts is simply to let you all know our process, experience, and the vendors we decided to use.
Before I started shopping for our monitoring service, I had a lot of assumptions led by misconception, misleading marketing, and incorrect word of mouth. I had heard everything from "You don't need monitoring if you can just have your alarm system call your cell phone," to "there are some full service places online that only cost $8 per month." If there's one thing I did already know, the rate we were already paying to ADT, $54 per month, seemed exorbitant, especially for the service level, and we no longer wanted any part of it.
However, the search for a replacement was not an easy one. The Internet is absolutely full of "security review" websites that are no more than affiliate sponsored storefront marketing campaigns, setup for Search Engine Optimization purposes to further prop up the well known brands. You can rarely see actual costs without a phone call, and when you can it's typically just the starter package without any of the additional features we are interested in. Once I added in all of the things I thought I knew but didn't really know (like my belief you could just purchase an alarm.com subscription right from alarm.com), and I was almost off the rails with confusion and general bewilderment before I even got out of the station.
After just a few minutes of research I quickly understood that I really didn't understand much and needed to do some decent research on what it was I was buying before I could begin to formulate a decision on who to actually buy from. And to be totally honest, this difficulty in comprehension led to more than one significant delay in our ultimate alarm system replacement. I'd by lying if I said we'd not attempted to replace the system several times over the years, and my efforts were not thwarted by my own ignorance and frustration.
To avoid the potential for derailment yet again, I began by making a priority list for myself, sort of a checklist of what we had to have or would like to have in a monitoring company. I came up with the following.
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