Home security used to be just about keeping bad guys out. Today the term encompasses an expanding list of services designed to protect homeowners from fire, accidental flooding and even themselves. Jennifer Geisler likes the security system she and her husband had added to their Gilbert home because it adds a level of comfort.
“It’s just more about feeling safe when I’m home alone if my husband is off at work,” she says.
“Probably the newest thing ADT has gotten into is the business of just securing lifestyle,” says Scott Herman, manager of ADT Arizona operations in Tempe.
For instance, the national company, which provides the security systems guarding the White House and the Pentagon, now offers electronic companion services, including one called Quiet Care that monitors when someone gets out of bed, if they take their medications.
Other systems that market to elderly or disabled residents include panic buttons that immediately alert police dispatchers and another medical alert button that triggers a call first to the security company before police. Other services include two-way intercoms that allow communication even when phone lines are down.
The top-selling systems, says Herman, continue to be those with window and door sensors, typically in combination with motion sensors or glass-break detectors. Some homeowners also include security cameras. The cost of home security systems can range from $500 to $10,000, depending on the size of the home and type of security needed.
“What’s your concern?” asks Herman. “Is it when you are away from your home or when you are in your home?”
Todd Bertocchi with Safeguard, Security & Communications in Scottsdale says one of the fastest-growing areas of home security is wired fire detectors, which can often mean a significant savings in home insurance costs. If no one is home, the alarm alerts police dispatchers, who in turn send firetrucks.
“It’s as much about fire these days as it is about burglary,” he says.
Monitors can also be wired to home sprinkler systems and send out alerts if they go off or malfunction, thus preventing potential water damage.
Tom Eggebrecht, owner of Bonds Alarm Co. in Phoenix, says homeowners need to consider the monthly monitoring fees before purchasing a home security system. Some companies charge less for installing security systems, but more on the three- to five-year monitoring contracts. In some cases, homeowners only rent the security systems from the company. Others sell the equipment at a higher cost, but charge less on the monthly monitoring and don’t require longterm contracts.
Homeowners should also investigate what safeguards a system offers against false alarms, says Scottsdale police Sgt. Eric Rasmussen, who oversees burglary investigations. False alarms are so prevalent that most cities assess a fee after responding to a certain number of them. The upshot is people will turn off their expensive security systems before leaving town to avoid false-alarm penalties, making the systems pointless.
As for specific features of a security system, Rasmussen recommends adding cameras that record onto a computer hard drive. Though, he adds, security cameras are generally installed only by those who can afford the higher cost.
Bonds Alarm Co.
3990 E. Camelback Road, Suite 306, Phoenix (602) 955-3990
Safeguard Security & Communications
16117 N. 76th St., Scottsdale (480) 609-6200
2720 S. Hardy Drive, Suite 1, Tempe (480) 731-9889