Subscriber Discussion

Alarm System Recommendations?

We will soon be offering alarm monitoring services for our customers (both residential and commercial) and so, are conducting a little research. Does anyone have any recommendations on alarm device brands? Are there any that are more reliable, easier to install/program then others?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Before I can answer, are you mainly in the heavy commercial market or the residential/light commercial market?

I'd say we are currently in the residential/ light commercial market.

Intrusion alarm dealing is ultra competitive! Going for success means building a good partnership with a monitoring company. One thing before deciding on a brand is to see which types of panels your monitoring partner works with.

With that said,

are all mainstream brands, and if not high-tech, can be programmed fairly easily and are reliable.

Good to know, thanks for the info.

I always recommend Napco. Not for any scientific reason, but because that's the one I grew up with and the one I learned to install and program. That said, they make really solid, long lasting, reliable panels. My dad's customers still have panels making RMR that he installed when I was a toddler.

Diddo's with Ari. I would recommend Napco also. They do not have the "packages" that Honeywell offers and are a couple of dollars more but they are work horses! I still see some CCI-8's out there that I installed decades ago that are still working (Get past rev.8 on the firmware and you are all set). One of the really nice features the Honeywell does not have and Napco does is the ability to connect your laptop up directly to the panel locally and do whatever you can do from remote programming.

I describe controls to laypeople like this; picture a box with a wire loop comming in and out on each side. If the wire on one side opens up the box tells the wire on the other side what to do. If a door switch, heat/smoke detector or a PIR "opens" the wire on one side the box "panel" tell the other wire what to do, turn on a light, sound the siren, call the central station. That's all an alarm/control system is. There are so many manufacturers of security panels out there and I don't know of any that are bad. Tech support is about the same with all of them but again, I do like Napco.

Make sure you like the distributor you are dealing with and go with a reputable central station. I have a hard time believing that I am getting the same service from central station that charge $2.00 per month as I do from a central station that charges $5.00 per month.

Good luck!

Thank you for the NAPCO recommendation... I've seen a few around here but not many. Btw, $2.00 is pretty good... I think the two central stations I'm considering is up around $4.95.

I am using a $5.00 service (I don't do much in alarms anymore so I don't get any great rate). Be careful that your monitoring company has enough income to support the number of people and system reduncys to make it a real "central station".

There was one central station that several of the local alarm guys got together and started. It was located on the ground floor of a commercial office building. The back-up generator was right outside, open to anyone to tamper with; there were no bars on the windows; no secured access into the office space and two people on overnight, except when one runs down to the coffee shop. I don't care if they are paying me, I don't want to be associated with a central station like that.

Also, be sure the central station is on the cutting edge of technology (and they have the right people there to handle it). You are going to be asked to install the cameras that are intergrated with the alarm control panel and can be controlled thru your cell phone. Technology is changing so fast, as I'm sure you know, be sure they can stay up with it.

If you comfortable with a certain distributor, that might influcence your decision, though I recommend having at least 3 distributors. For central monitoring I am totally biased for Emgerency 24 since we have used them since 1981. Can't say enough good things about them. They aren't the cheapest, but they have a great response time. They are UL and FM listed too. 5 call centers around the USA.

Off the top of my head here is where you can buy the alarm panels from. Sorry if I forget anyone.

Bosch Security - Direct for the most part.

DMP - Direct only

Honeywell - ADI

DSC - Scansource, Alarmax, Tri-Ed, (lots of regional ones)

Napco - Alarmax, Tri-Ed, SES (lots of regional ones too)

UTC/GE (Interlogix-Caddix) - ADI, Anixter, CSC, Tri-Ed

There are some pros and cons to each alarm panel maunfactuer out on the market. For our larger commerical/govt. installs we have always been Bosch/Radionics. If you plan on doing bid work or think about doing larger jobs in the future, you really want to take a look at Bosch. Still our number one alarm brand but Honeywell has been catching up. They have a three year warranty on their parts unlike Honeywell. I'm not sure on the others, I think Napco and DMP is three years as well. Keep in mind like DMP, Bosch is dealer only and both of those companies have tightly controlled dealers bases. Last time I checked, DMP was looking for a 50k commitment a year. Both Bosch and DMP intergrate with the larger systems out there like Genetec, Miletone, etc. You can't keypad program the Bosch G series or their new B series panels. Their B Series panels is aimed at the light commerical/residential market but it took Bosch many years to catch up to others in the light commerical/residential market. I'm not sure either DMP or Bosch is a good fit for you

I would recommended Honeywell based on my experience to you for a couple of reasons One is there already a large amount of installed Honeywell systems by ADT. If you can get people to swich over, you can add more monitored accounts much faster. Great markerting resources, they do great job in that dept. Pre-made literature is still import in this part of the markerting. We have sold Honeywell panels since 2009 for the residential and light commerical market. I would say we have doubled our residential sales because Honeywell is priced pretty well. Honeywell has a huge range of panel kits with wireless motions and door contacts. Their 5800 wireless series has super reiiable. Other than your standard DOA parts, I haven't really had any bad 5800 wireless devices. If you want to go all wireless, the Lynx series panels have work out well for us. The wired/wireless panel for larger houses and small businesses, their Vista 21 IP panel has been a workhorse for us. I will warn you about their 6280 touchscreen keypads. Don't use them! Their older touchscreen keypads worked a lot better. Programming the Honeywell panels espcially the Lynx 5100 is a breeze. The downside of Honeywell is I can't say much about the others because I . Good luck out there.