Security System FAQ

We've tried our best to anticipate any questions a visitor to our site may have concerning the modern security system and it's individual components. Here are a few of the more common ones we've encountered in the past.

You can also email us or telephone (778) 863-7147 if you have a question that’s not covered here.


How much security do I really need?
This is a question most often asked of the security alarm consultant/salesperson you've invited to tour through your premises.  In the case of a commercial establishment, the people best able to answer your question is your own insurance company.  Your agent or broker should be able to give you an idea of the type of system you'll need depending on the type of business and the risk involved.  Jewelry stores, financial institutions, pawn-shops are all considered high risk and in most cases the security systems these types of occupancies require is well above that of the  typical home and often have to comply with several ULC Standards.

The average residential application, on the other hand, has far less stringent requirements (but some home insurers will still insist on a certificate from the alarm company before they reward you with a premium reduction).  Again, you should discuss the matter with your agent or broker first, to find out how to qualify for the alarm discount.

The short answer is: How much security do you want?  The decision to install an alarm system is only a first step. Familiarize yourself with your product choices (this site is a good place to start), your general neighbourhood, your home's layout and then contact a couple of local alarm companies (we'd suggest three).  Listen to what each representative has to say. Ask for references and check out the companies track record.  Be prepared for a good sales rep to try and close a deal with you on the first visit (they wouldn’t be good if they didn’t).  Just remind them that at this point in time you are gathering information and want to make an informed decision based on what each one has to say.

Do I need a monitored system?
Ever bought a car without wheels?  What most people really want from their alarm system is peace of mind.  When you leave to go shopping and you arm your system, you know that if someone were to break-in to your house, the Police will respond promptly. You won't be able to stop someone bent on what's called a smash and grab, because chances are he'll be long gone before the authorities get to your house, but you will enjoy the benefit of having someone respond and take care of any immediate problems (broken window, low temperature, flood, etc.).

Monitored systems offer many advantages over unmonitored (or local) ones.  System troubles are reported promptly and in most instances your dealer will respond just as promptly. Additional emergency responses can involve the dispatch of a security guard or runner service, and is often a major advantage when it comes to dealing with your insurance company.

What about if the telephone line is cut?
Modern alarm systems employ a feature called phone line monitoring.  If the system is in an armed state and the telephone line is tampered with, the siren will start to sound.  This happens even before the burglar has a chance to get into your premises.  There are several different options available to you if you have any concerns in this regard.  The least expensive one is called a digital celemetry transmitter (also referred to as a GSM communicator). This unit utilizes the Alpha Channel of the digital telephone network to transmit an alarm or trouble to a special receiver.  The signal is then relayed via standard land lines to the central monitoring station.  The beauty of this system is that you don't have to have a cellular telephone account or a land line to take advantage of this.  The cost for this service is usually less than $10.00 per month tacked on to your regular monitoring bill.

DVAC's or an IP based active communicator are popular means of transmitting alarm signals over a secure line.  In this instance the telephone line from Telus (or your local phone network provider) can be supervised by the monitoring station.  A special receiver at the central monitoring station polls (queries) all the transponders the company monitors every three to nine seconds.  Polled communication results in the transmission of several status events among which include whether your system is armed or disarmed, and its current condition (i.e.  Is it in alarm? In trouble?).  If the line is cut or interfered with, the transponder can no longer respond to these queries and a special alarm is generated at the monitoring station commonly resulting in emergency services (Police) dispatch.

What about systems that use a voice response system?  How do they compare over systems that don't?
Being able to communicate emergencies effectively will greatly enhance your personal security.  A monitoring station, regardless of the technology they employ to process an alarm, has to follow certain procedures to properly dispatch an alarm.  Your alarm panel may employ several different methods to authenticate or verify an actual event.  Having a voice to actually respond to has some benefit, but in most instances will simply add another step for the operator to follow.  Keep in mind that your specific alarm event is being handled by only one operator in a room that could contain ten (or more).  How your emergency is handled depends on several factors including:

  • your local municipal ordinances,
  • the kind of traffic that's being received in the station at the time,
  • your own particular circumstances (yes, stations do allow you to set up your own emergency response parameters).

Do the Police respond to panic alarms faster than if I call them myself dialling "911"?
No, keep in mind that the alarm signal has one extra step to go through before the police are dispatched.  It still has to be processed at the monitoring centre.  The advantage of a panic alarm is that you can activate it without being obvious.  Panic buttons or alarms are usually located in unobtrusive locations (behind counters, inside cash tills, next to your bedroom night-stand) and can even be worn around the neck (a wireless pendant transmitter) or located on your key-chain.





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