Burglar alarm monitoring is a service typically offered through an alarm installation company whereby, when the alarm is tripped a signal is sent from the alarm system to a central monitoring facility. The Central Station monitoring facility is usually a private firm staffed with operators who’s primary function is to process incoming signals from alarm systems. The central station operator will dispatch police, fire or ambulance emergency services depending on the type of signal received from a customer’s alarm system. As well, if an alarm signal indicates there is a service problem with the alarm such as a failing battery backup or a device within the alarm system not function correctly the central station operator will notify the customer and the alarm installation office for service.

There are two types of central monitoring stations. One is UL certified (Underwriters Lab.) UL has outlined specific requirements in order for a central station to become and remain UL certified. Central stations are subject to unannounced inspection of their internal systems, controls, facility security measures, emergency preparedness, staffing and training programs.

The other type of central station monitoring facility is non UL certified service.

It is recommended you consult your prospective alarm provider to learn about the central station facility service you are being offered as well as to ask for appropriate supporting documentation to serve as proof.

How is the alarm signal transmitted?

The alarm signal can be transmitted to the Central Monitoring station via several different ways. They are: phone line, Internet, radio cellular or any combination of. Monitoring prices average around $24.95 monthly but do vary, both up and down, and depend on various services included. For example, radio cellular backup service is an extra charge and therefore could double your monitoring rate.

The Burglar Alarm Monitoring Contract:

The contract is important because it protects all the parties involved. It communicates to you, the buyer, about the system limitations, your commitments, and the liabilities of both parties. Often you will find several contract clauses common to the alarm industry that we’ll mention here:

  1. Evergreen – This is where a monitoring contract will automatically renew for a period unless cancelled prior and within the allowable time noted. Sometimes it’s very beneficial and sometimes it’s a point of frustration for the customer when they want/need to get out during the contract period. If you have questions about this get your answers in writing from the provider because this helps settle later challenges that can often arise down the road from a contract
  2. Limit of Liability – The contract is for monitoring service, not insurance. The Limit of Liability stipulates this because no burglar alarm is full proof and in the event of a loss due to theft or other… insurances you may have in place are in force for you to recoup your losses…. not the monitoring service.
  3. Title to Equipment – Usually when you purchase the equipment outright you immediately retain title to the equipment however in cases where the amount of money required upfront is little to nothing title to the equipment is often held by the alarm provider. Additionally the alarm provider may perform a “Lock Out” on the alarm thus rendering the system nearly useless during contract disputes, etc.
  4. Permitting– Check with your local officials about obtaining a special permit for an alarm and/or monitoring. Each locale governs this differently.