ADI Scare Tactics Against DIY Security

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Nov 27, 2015

ADI wants you to buy alarm system parts from them, not those kits on the Internet.

Leveraging scare tactics, they have made an unsurprisingly weak case against DIY. In this note, we break it down, look at the real tradeoffs and better counterarguments.

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Comments (16)

If adi actually had good prices, and kept any inventory when they put items on sale, let alone provide good service, they wouldn't have to use petty tactics to get business. I only use them if I have no other option.

Who is this targeted towards? Most end users that would consider DIY have no clue who ADI is.... And when ADI sells direct to the end user, isn't that still a DIY project?

I believe ADI is attempting to 'educate' their dealers who sell to end users.

Also, a key argument ADI makes against DIY systems simply is hollow: "As a result, the client’s DIY system will, inevitably, generate a number of false alarms, resulting in false alarm fees from their municipality."

IMHO, this IS the main fallacy/falsehood with their argument, since they clearly call out Simplesafe and Canary as the examples, which as you correctly point out don't typically tie into central stations.

But, if they were to restrict the systems under discussion to DIY alarms that DO connect to central stations then I think the argument is valid. DIYers, due to less experience, are more likely to misconfigure their system than pros.

Lets talk specifics. Which DIY systems require both manual configuration and must be centrally monitored?

In both cases, configuration is done before shipping or monitoring is optional, as is typical of the DIY market.

The point is that the DIY alarms market, even those that might be monitored, do not cause a volume of surprise fees or false-alarm gridlock. In our experience testing multiple DIY systems, sensor mounting and configuration instructions receive good, plain-language treatment that even novices can follow successfully.

ADI is trumpeting a fear that is not a significant factor.

The point is that the DIY alarms market, even those that might be monitored, do not cause a volume of surprise fees or false-alarm gridlock.

What is your basis for this statement? It sounds like an assumption based on reviewing the materials in DIY kits and judging how likely consumers are to install it correctly. If it's based on statistics or other please indicate.

As for what I meant by mis-configured, I am not talking about connectivity or addressing.

I am talking about sensor installation. Regardless of the completeness of the instruction, every house presents challenges that may NOT be listed. Can I use mounting tape here, How should I rig French double doors, how much clearance is required there?

I've had these issues with my own system and would expect others might too. I would think that someone who does it for a living would do it better and in a way that lasts longer than the first major storm (like mine didn't). But that's just my opinion.

What is your basis for this statement? It sounds like an assumption based on reviewing the materials in DIY kits and judging how likely consumers are to install it correctly. If it's based on statistics or other please indicate.

If systems are not monitored, then they don't cause false alarm fees.

Most DIY systems are self-monitored. We take note of this aspect in the system reviews and updates we do. This is one of the central buying criteria of these systems.

In fact, it often costs more money to purchase a DIY system outright than a heavily subsidized '$0 move-in' special that many mandatory monitored incumbent systems offer.

I've had these issues with my own system and would expect others might too. I would think that someone who does it for a living would do it better and in a way that lasts longer than the first major storm (like mine didn't). But that's just my opinion.

You don't need to answer this, but have you paid false alarm fees because of sensor installation errors?

If systems are not monitored, then they don't cause false alarm fees.

Of course. That is why I said:

But, if they were to restrict the systems under discussion to DIY alarms that DO connect to central stations then I think the argument is valid.

As for being charged, no. Only warned, twice. Because of doors that blew open when away. They said you get 3 freebies, then $50 bucks after that.

ADI is actually scared out of their wits right now. Their golden Willy Wonka Chocolate Bar ticket is the Honeywell Intrusion/Fire Line. They do not want DIY alarm systems to flood the market at all or for dealers to buy Honeywell Intrusion products online which cuts into their biggest source of revenue. ADI without the Honeywell Intrusion/Fire Products would go out of business.

In a perfect world, ADI would be really direct and honest about this, but it's tough when there are big numbers at risk for them and their shareholders. With this propaganda, they are probably speaking to their manufacturers, as much as they are installers and end users as far as letting them know they will try to neutralize the DIY growth of the market and will take a stance against it to help slow it down and protect the trade. In that regard it's good for the trade, because the manufacturers that believe they need ADI, might slow down a bit with the DIY push.

The bigger issue for installers and distributors is the fact that for smaller jobs you can get similar quality equipment directly in big box stores, which in essence is giving the installer cost to the general public. I'd love to see them take a hard stance on that to protect the margins of the trade, maybe by boycotting brands that are selling through DIY channels. The irony is that in the end, Honeywell will go all in the DIY market as well.

Another major issue is that some of this home security equipment is becoming very easy to install, which will devalue the installer and turn it into more of a commodity and driving installation pricing down. A young homeowner that grew up on the internet, might be better trained than some of the old time security installers.

Think of the ADI scare tactics approach as the right wing stance on this topic, verses the left wing DIY manufacturer marketing tactics of making it seem like magic plug and play stuff, that will keep your family 100% safe. Somewhere in the middle, with out the drama, is reality.

If someone really wants to DIY, then so be it. You might be better off to let them do it. Hopefully for the installer, they understand the value in central station monitoring, best you can do is it explain it and if they don't cut your losses. If not, they will just end up getting that set up on their own as well. The key for installers is to identify the relentless DIY'er, to make sure they are not wasting their time on this person. It's the same as for home AV, networking, etc.

For example, I have friends that do their own carpentry (moudling, trim work) etc. in their house, they enjoy it and don't see the reason to pay someone to do it for them. I on the other hand, want it to come out mint and don't see the value in me spending my time learning how to make the perfect cut, I'd rather work on my company, and spend my off time with my family. I don't paint either, I pay a painting company to do it. And I don't need scare tactics for me to see the value in paying a painting company to paint for me. I just need a reasonable price from someone that does quality work, and knows their trade.

These days, where there is a will there is a way. If the end user wants to do it themselves and is into learning, they will. If they see more value in working their day job and spending their off time with their family the will do that.

Unfortunately though, costs in just about all trades are wide open, so anyone can figure out how much a contractor is roughly making on them if they really want to. As a contractor, you must be able to explain the value (system design, support, one point of warranty, etc) rather than using scare tactics. New and smaller companies can adapt to such change, it is harder for larger companies that are reliant on past market conditions.

Whether you are a manufacturer, integrator, or distributor these days if you are not innovating or offering something different or better, then you are a commodity.

Sal, interesting points!

One question:

"The bigger issue for installers and distributors is the fact that for smaller jobs you can get similar quality equipment directly in big box stores, which in essence is giving the installer cost to the general public."

Are there many DIY alarm system kits being sold at Costco, Sam's Club, etc.? For example, seems like a lot of Simplisafe is sold at Amazon, which would make it a potential fit for the big box retailers as well. Any ideas?

It's getting there, I am seeing Samsung starting to more aggressively promote their acquired SmartThings platform with multi-purpose sensors. Of course Nest has sensors.

Not necessarily a straight up alarm system, but an eco-system that accomplishes the same goal of securing one's home and notified the home owner directly on their smart phone. There are some other's as well. ADI's business analyze certainly recognize this.

I personally think it's foolish not to have a professional alarm system on your home with a reliable central station, but many people don't see it this way.

Actually I do replace my own disc brakes. Drum brakes are harder- but still pretty straightforward. As someone mentioned earlier the upside is a deeper understanding of how the system works, cost savings, and the knowledge that it is done correctly by someone concentrating on the job- not music blaring in the background. Unfortunately some in the security industry have used scare tactics for years. I think we would be better off explaining the value we add and seeking customers that appreciate what we offer. If a customer can do as good a job installing a system without any training we will have a tough time justifying more than a basic labor rate.

Timothy, I think this is the new "open" approach way. People are just smarter now with great information resources readily available. Many of the industry veterans were spoiled for so long, and their businesses were based on their customers not having a clue. This allowed for much greater profits.

"I think we would be better off explaining the value we add and seeking customers that appreciate what we offer. " I could not agree more with this quote. Many people just "want to know" what they are getting and don't want to feel like they are being duked. If you are honest, in many cases, they will be happy for you to make your money.

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