Thinking about tightening up your home security with a new alarm system?
But whether you install the system yourself or call in the professionals (like us), you should know it’s not always going to be a straightforward task.
In fact, there are a few common installation mistakes that can have a big impact on the performance of your alarm and its cost effectiveness over time.
But fortunately, these mistakes are easy to avoid if you know about them in advance.
So here’s what to look out for.
1. Not thinking about future requirements
Sure, you don’t always know what the future holds, but here’s what you should think about when it comes to your alarm system.
- If you’re not already on fibre, you’ll probably make the switch in the near future, so you’ll need to make sure your alarm system has the capability and connectivity to work on fibre (and copper for now). Some systems are copper only, so you don’t want one of those.
- You might be more comfortable using a keypad to operate your alarm now, but will there come a time when you’re comfortable doing everything on your phone (including controlling your alarm system)? Even if you don’t have a fancy smartphone now you probably will within the next couple of years. Buying an alarm system that connects to a smartphone is probably a smart investment.
- You may not have pets now, but are you planning on adopting a furry friend in the future? Including pet sensors with the original install is a fraction of the price compared to retrofitting them in the future.
- Will there come a time in the future when you’ll want your alarm system monitored? Check if the alarm system has monitoring capability.
2. Not thinking through how you could use the alarm
Thinking about how you and your family live can help you determine the best specs for your alarm system. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Do you live alone, or is one partner away often, If so, would you sleep easier if you could alarm the rest of the house except for the master bedroom?
- Is there a part of the house that is isolated, has special possessions, or isn’t used much that can stay alarmed when not in use?
- If everyone’s working full time, would it be useful to be able to arm and disarm the alarm remotely to let friends, family or tradespeople if needed?
3. Missing the chance to link to smoke alarms
It’s no secret that smoke alarms save lives and property. But you might not know that it’s possible to connect smoke alarms into your alarm system.
This means when a fire is detected, the alarm system goes off, alerting neighbours or your monitoring service, who can then call the fire brigade if you’re not home.
This extra level of fire protection can be incorporated cost effectively if designed into the system before installation. But fitting it afterwards isn’t always possible, or it’s prohibitively expensive.
4. Not protecting your most precious belongings
Do you have any precious artwork or antiques? Maybe a safe where you keep valuables or guns? If you identify these items up front they can have special protection measures added – extra sensors in the vicinity or special seismic sensors that will alert when the items are moved.
5. Forgetting about aesthetics
It’s important that alarm systems are visible — you want intruders to know they’re there, but that doesn’t mean they need to look ugly for your friends, family and visitors. With some forethought, you can position lights, sirens, and sensors so they don’t destroy the aesthetics of your home.
6. Not factoring in hard wiring
You’ll need to hard wire your alarm system in. This requires a certified electrician to connect the alarm to the 230 mains. If you’re doing the install yourself you’ll need to get an electrician in to do this part. If you’re using an alarm company this can sometimes be an extra cost they surprise you with, so make sure you ask about it up front.
7. Buying the cheapest solution online
We don’t need to say too much here. Generally, you get what you pay for. Beware of any deals that seem too good to be true.
Here are a few things to be aware of:
- Make sure your alarm system has a good Ingress Protection (IP) rating which indicates how resistant a device is to water and solids (dust/dirt). Also look out for the IK rating which is resistance to impact and vandalism. Many of the cheaper products will have lower IP and IK ratings which may not cut the mustard under NZ weather and UV conditions. You really need IP65 plus and IK10 plus.
- There is generally no service or support set-up with purchasing cheap off the shelf products. You also need to consider liability should it not work properly. Think about your alarm going off at 2am (falsely) and not knowing how to fix it (or having anyone to call.)
- Cheaper products generally have lower quality componentry and electronics. So you run the risk of them not lasting as long, and not working as well. And when it comes to alarm systems, reliability is pretty important don’t you think?
8. Not having a support plan
So you’ve got an alarm, but what happens when it goes off? Make sure you have a support plan in place.
- Will your alarm be monitored?
- Who has remote access?
- What should the neighbours do if the alarm goes off?
You’ll need a plan and all those involved need to know what it is. The alarm itself is only part of the solution.
Plan ahead and avoid mistakes
As you can see, there’s a bit to consider when choosing a residential alarm, and it’s not a process to be rushed.
And the best time to add features to your alarm system is at the time of installation. That’s when it’s cheapest and when you’ll get the best results.
Involving security experts (like us) at the planning stage will help you design a system that will work for your unique requirements – now and in the future.