Q1 – How much does a home security system cost?
There are very few upfront costs associated with a home security alarm system as the equipment and installation is heavily subsidized by a monthly monitoring agreement.
Most alarm companies typically offer a Home Security Alarm Package from as little as $99 to $199 for the equipment and installation based on the homeowner signing a 3- or 4-year alarm monitoring agreement.
Initial equipment costs can be higher if additional security devices, fire safety components, and/or environmental monitoring devices are requested by the homeowner at time of installation.
Q2 – How much does alarm monitoring cost?
Alarm monitoring costs will depend on how the alarm panel in your home transmits alarm signals to the monitoring station. Security alarm panels can transmit over a phone line, Internet, or cellular network and/or a combination of both.
Customers can also request smart device apps to remotely arm & disarm the alarm system and control other devices like door locks, lighting, thermostats, cameras, and other home environmental devices – all of which can affect monthly monitoring rates.
Monitoring costs are pretty standard in the industry. They are usually in the low-to-mid $30 range (per month) for phone line monitoring, in the high $30 range for Internet monitoring with a smartphone app, and in the mid-to-high $40 range for monitoring over a cellular (GSM) network with smartphone app.
Q3 – Who monitors my alarm system?
WE DO! Curtis-Elite owns and operates our own ULC-certified alarm monitoring station right here in Prince George, which serves all of Northern British Columbia.
Most other alarm companies are a dealer or representative of a much larger international alarm company and they sell your monitoring agreement for a monetary value. Once your alarm monitoring agreement is sold to another alarm company your alarm system could be monitored anywhere in the world. It’s important that you ask where your alarm system will be monitored and what happens when your alarm system goes off (see below).
Q4 – What happens when my alarm system goes off?
The alarm signal is immediately transmitted to Curtis-Elite’s Emergency Response Centre in downtown Prince George. The Curtis-Elite response operator knows which alarm device tripped and will respond appropriately. A Curtis-Elite patrol officer or RCMP may be immediately dispatched. The operator will call the homeowners and if unavailable they will contact a property representative off the customer’s contact list.
If you are located in our Immediate Alarm Response area (Prince George City Limits) – and if you opted for this FREE exclusive service – a marked Curtis-Elite patrol vehicle is immediately dispatched to your premises. Our exclusive immediate response service provides the highest level of security to your residence as we treat each customer’s alarm signal as priority one.
Once on-site, our patrol officer is in constant contact with our Emergency Response Centre and will give our operator or the off-site homeowner a live update about the status of the alarm. This service is optional and a customer can request that RCMP attend only or that both RCMP and Curtis-Elite guards attend. If it’s a false alarm there will be a $100 ‘False Alarm Fine’ levied each time by the City of Prince George (and similarly in other municipalities) for police presence to residential alarms.
Curtis-Elite customers that are not within our Immediate Alarm Response area can opt for the Curtis-Elite ‘No False Alarm Fine Guarantee’ and may opt for police response as first responders. If you live outside our Immediate Alarm Response area and would like to take advantage of the ‘No False Alarm Fine Guarantee’ please call us at (250) 614‑8000 for the details.
Q5 – What’s in an ‘alarm package’? Can I add more devices?
An alarm package will typically include an alarm panel with siren, an alarm communicator, keypad, door/window contacts, a motion detector, window & door decals, lawn signs, and – if chosen – installation of the equipment.
Most homeowners will add a few more security devices like door or window contacts at a typical industry standard cost of $65 each (installed) and a motion detector for around $125 (installed). Monitored carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors are the most common life safety devices added to home security systems across Northern BC. Carbon monoxide detectors are in the $150 range (installed) with smoke detectors in the $120 range. Check with your Curtis-Elite sales representative for these costs during your FREE home security evaluation and estimate.
Monitored environmental devices like temperature and flood sensors are commonly now integrated with home security systems. These devices can also be monitored by the homeowner through e-mail alerts and smartphone apps. Home control devices such as thermostats, door locks, lighting, and video surveillance are part of the fastest growing segment of the security industry… the ‘Connected Home’ (see below).
Q6 – What is a ‘Connected Home’ anyways?
A ‘Connected Home’ (also called a ‘Smart Home’) gives a homeowner the ability to remotely configure, link and control devices like lights, locks, and thermostats within their home through smart devices and computers. The security alarm panel becomes the interface between these devices and the mobile app that we provide to our customers.
For example, you have a friend that needs to pick up his golf clubs that he left in your garage. From your smartphone you can disarm your alarm system, open the garage door, and turn on the lights. If you have a $200 IP camera in the garage you’d get an e-mail alert and a video clip right to your phone of your friend coming and going and you could arm the garage, turn off the lights, and lock the door again before he even called to tell you he had gotten his clubs and was gone.
Let’s say you are on holidays and receive an e-mail alert and a call from Curtis-Elite that your temperature sensor has gone off indicating that the temperature within your home has fallen below 7 degrees. The ‘Connected Home’ would give you the ability to try and troubleshoot remotely with the programmable furnace thermostat. If that was unsuccessful you could remotely turn off your water main thus reducing any chance of freezing pipes and a flood. Either you or Curtis-Elite could then arrange for a heating company to come fix the furnace. You would be able to turn off the security alarm system and let the heating company in remotely.
These are only a few simple examples of what a ‘Connected Home’ is all about. Soon almost every major appliance and home entertainment product will have some level of connectivity.
Q7 – How do I test my alarm system?
It’s a good idea to test your alarm system and all of the security devices at least twice a year. It’s easy and simple to do, and you can do it any time of the day or night on any day of the week. Just call (250) 614‑8000 and ask for a monitoring station operator.
The first step is warn immediate neighbours that you are testing your alarm system and then call Curtis-Elite and ask for a monitoring station operator to put your alarm system on ‘test’. You will have to provide your name and your passcode or password. Without the correct passcode or password the operator will not put your alarm system into test mode and any alarm signals from your home will be treated as real alarms.
The second step, after the alarm system is placed in test mode, is to arm your alarm system in the ‘Away’ setting and open and close the delayed entry and exit door (which is usually by the keypad). Wait for the alarm system to fully arm. Once the alarm system is armed walk in front of all the motion detectors. Then open and close all of the contacted doors and windows. Then turn off the alarm system and wait a few minutes.
The third and final step is to then call Curtis-Elite back and have your alarm system taken off ‘test’. While you have the Curtis-Elite monitoring station operator on the phone ask them which security device alarm signals they received during the test period. Your alarm system should have sent an alarm signal for EVERY device that you tripped.