The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Home Alarm System

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Home security is a concern for many homeowners and in some cases, double locks on the doors or security windows don't provide adequate peace of mind. A home alarm system offers extensive security services that may allow you to feel safer and more protected in your home. Depending on your situation, an alarm system may also present some disadvantages. Understanding both the positives and negatives can help you determine whether a home alarm system is a good fit for your home and family.

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Advantage: Constant Protection

If you install a monitored alarm system in your home, you and your family have round-the-clock the protection against break-ins. Some security systems also have fire alarms; carbon monoxide detectors; and heat, temperature, and water leak sensors included, which provides additional reassurance. It keeps everything connected for easier overall monitoring instead of having a separate smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector that you can't monitor while you're away.

The constant protection of an alarm system is particularly comforting when you're away from home or leave your children home alone for an evening. It also means that your home is protected while you're sleeping so you can have peace of mind about your family's safety and get a good night's sleep.

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Many modern alarm systems include apps that allow you to monitor your home in real time, even when you're not there. You get set it up to send notifications for different issues. Many systems integrate other smart home devices, which allow you to make sure your doors are closed and locked or check other areas of your home.

Advantage: Deterrent to Criminals

Most home alarm systems provide small lawn signs or placards for your window that indicate that your home is protected by a security company. In many cases, the presence of this type of sign alone may persuade burglars and other criminals to pass over your home and move on to a dwelling that's not protected by a security system. Be sure to clearly display the decals and signs from your monitoring company to fully advertise your home's security.

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Advantage: Lower Insurance Rates

While there is a significant cost to install a home alarm system, it can mean a financial advantage as well. Your insurance company may adjust the rate on your homeowners insurance policy if you have a system installed in your home. Because your home is protected from theft and potentially fire, flooding, and other damage, it can help avoid costly claims. As a result, your insurance company can lower your rate since you're a lower risk.

Disadvantage: Cut Phone Line

Most new alarm systems use wi-fi or cellular signals for monitoring, but some systems still use a landline, especially in areas where wi-fi and cell signals are spotty. If your alarm system is connected to your security company by phone line only, you can run into problems. A burglar may cut your phone line before entering your home and all monitoring and communication with your alarm company are terminated. It's a good idea to have cellular backup in case your phone line is cut or your landline is down.

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Wi-fi connected systems can also have issues if your internet is down. It's still a good idea to have the cellular backup option, so you always have an alternative way to stay connected with the monitoring company.

Disadvantage: False Alarms

While a home alarm system can provide security and peace of mind, it has the potential to become fairly annoying as well. It's not uncommon for false alarms to occur. In some cases, the police or fire department may be dispatched to your home before you have a chance to explain the mistake to your security company. Some police departments may charge you for repeated false alarms. To avoid false alarms, consult with your alarm company to determine what might be causing them so you can make adjustments.

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Disadvantage: Initial and Ongoing Expenses

The primary disadvantage of a home security system may be its expense. It's costly to have the system installed initially, but security companies charge a daily or monthly fee to provide monitoring services as well. These fees can quickly add up, so if you're on a budget, it may put a strain on your finances. Some companies require a contract, so you're locked into paying for the length of the contract.

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Jennifer Blair

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.