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Call setup... does it have to go to a monitoring company?

Discussion in 'Security Alarms' started by Dave, Feb 18, 2009.

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  1. Dave

    Dave Guest

    I'm new to alarm systems, and was interested in setting up one in my
    home. The main reason is to alert me if someone breaks in while my
    family and I are asleep (preventing theft while we're gone is
    secondary). So I'm not really interested in monitoring, but would
    like to get a call on my cell if my wife and I are gone and the alarm
    goes off.

    I called one of the online alarm suppliers and asked about the call
    setup (specifically for the GE Concord 4), and I was told that most
    alarm systems can only call monitoring companies... but I'm
    questioning that. They told me I could get a telephone module that
    would call additional numbers, but I'm wondering why I can't do that
    with the base system. Surely the number is programmable, although
    maybe only monitoring companies have the capability of programming

    So my question is this: are most alarm systems set up to only call
    monitoring systems? If so, is there a way around it? It doesn't
    violate any laws if I program it myself, does it?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Doug

    Doug Guest

    The number the alarm calls is programmable, and you could program it to call
    your cell phone, but the alarm won't talk to you unless you can mimic and
    interpret the tones the alarm communicator and CS receiver use to transmit
    and acknowledge the alarm signals.

    The easiest way is add a voice dialer to the system.

  3. Crash Gordon

    Crash Gordon Guest

    What Doug says is correct.

    But.. be aware; using a voice dialer in some municipalities to dial the
    police or 911 IS illegal.
  4. Dave

    Dave Guest

    Thanks for the response. I'm ok with it not being able to
    "communicate" with me, so long as I can program the number myself.
    I'll know it's the alarm if I start getting silent calls from my house
    when we're out.

    I also have a quick question about jamming wireless sensors (I've read
    some conflicting information)... do most wireless systems require the
    sensor to check in periodically when the system is armed to make sure
    there's no RFI being used? How frequently does it require sensors to
    "check in"?

    Thanks again!
  5. Frank Olson

    Frank Olson Guest

    The problem is that the panel will continue to attempt to call until it
    it's able to "dump" it's information. After the pre-programmed number
    of attempts it will go into "trouble" (communication fault). It's far
    better for you to use a voice dialer (as Doug has suggested) if you're
    too cheap to have it professionally monitored. I'd suggest contacting a
    couple of your LOCAL alarmcos. You might be pleasantly surprised as to
    how inexpensive it might be to have your system professionally monitored.

    It's possible to "jam" wireless sensors, but the ability to do so
    requires some specific knowledge of your alarm system as well as some
    pretty sophisticated equipment. The chances of a burglar gaining access
    to any of this is remote, let alone some "crack-head" whose only concern
    is getting ahold of some saleable stuff he can take down to the local
    pawn shop to exchange for ready cash.
  6. If your really worried about jamming Rf some systems like Honeywell
    Lxnx has an anti jam feature but agin to jam a system takes advanced
    knowledge and equiptment. dont belive everything you see on tv
  7. Doug

    Doug Guest

    I'm not familiar with the GE concord 4 and I can't be bothered to look up a
    manual on line, but the panel probably has a pager mode which will prevent
    it going into a comm fail situation every time it tries to send a signal, it
    still won't let the user know whats happening though.

  8. Crash Gordon

    Crash Gordon Guest

    Who has a pager these days?

    And, my experience with them was they didn't always work due to pager
    format...I think I may have 6 panels out there that work/worked (who knows
    if the still do)

    **Crash Gordon**
  9. Bob La Londe

    Bob La Londe Guest

    Good point, although there are a few...
    I actually ran my old office with multiple (paranoia) alarm panels both CS
    monitored, and in pager format. The pager format worked pretty well. I had
    OC, mail box, and delivery lockers all on pager only. Helped me track
    installers (were they really at the office when they said), mail (got work
    to do but waiting on a check), and deliveries when I was out of the office.
    Used a P1632 and a P800 and the pager format worked fine for both, although
    the P800 truncated the signals and sometimes it was confusing to decipher.
    LOL. I have noticed that some series of Napco 3200 panels did not seem to
    send the pager format well back when I was in the DIY business. I still do
    most of the same stuff in the new office, but now I have the CS e-mail it to
    me. If I'm gonna be away from a computer for a while I can forward my
    e-mail to my cell phone.

    Seriously dude. A panel with programmable trigger outputs, and a multi
    channel voice dialer is the way to go. Been a while since I installed one,
    but if I recall the voice dialers are capable being terminated with a
    keystroke on the phone from the receiving party too. Siren output, and a
    couple trigger outputs on your panel may be enough. Again I like the Napcos
    (particularly the 1632) for semi customized installations because they have
    a nice octal relay board were each of the 8 relays can be programmed to
    operate on a specific condition. Its also good for multi channel condition
    specific voice sirens, either directly to a speaker or to feed a PA system.
    (yeah I have done this type of install too.)

    ALSO... do not be tempted to have your voice dialer call the local PD or
    FD. In most jurisdictions you will get a big time fine for tying up an
    emergency response line with a mechanical device. ITS AGAINST THE LAW.
  10. Bob La Londe

    Bob La Londe Guest

    MOST if not all in the USA. If I recall somebody here posted a pertinent
    segment of the FCC regs where it said it was against regs to do this without
    the prior written consent of the jurisdiction. For those who are not aware,
    the FCC was created by law to create regs that will have the "force of law."
  11. Jim

    Jim Guest

    So you get a call from your home phone and you do what?

    Call the police? Call the fire department? Leave work and run home?
    You're in Hawaii and you may or may not be awake and then you hop on a
    plane and go home? You call your neighbor who goes to your house and
    gets hit with a baseball bat by some crack head?

    That is .... if you're in an area where your cell phone is working,
    or you haven't left it in the car or at home, or you have it turned
    off because you're in a meeting or you just plain don't hear it
    ringing because your in a noisy area.

    Boy oh boy! .......... now THAT's security at it's utmost.

    And your concerned only about when your home. So what? When the alarm
    goes off and doesn't alert anyone else, you're going to do exactly
    what? Shoot it out with the bad guys?

    Get your system monitored. You'll probably spend less on that than you
    you'll spend on beer or ice cream in a years time.
  12. Dave

    Dave Guest

    So if an intruder comes in, hears the alarm and decides to stay, I
    should just cross my fingers and "hope for the best" while ADT/Brinks
    calls the police? Do you really think I have 5 minutes to spare while
    I wait for the police? It's better to be prepared and have the guts
    to face the intruder if they come after you. The Brinks/ADT
    commercials are nice and all, but reality is much harsher. There will
    always be a few minutes that you're on your own, regardless of whether
    or not you're monitored.

    Secondly, when the alarm goes off, the police will be alerted... by
    us! Last I checked, police still take calls from private citizens.
    We're lucky in that we live in a town where 911 calls go straight to
    the dispatcher.

    Do you work in the industry? It sounds like you have beef against
    people that are willing to do it themselves..?

  13. JoeRaisin

    JoeRaisin Guest

    I have my home panel paging me (it also calls into central station - you
    don't think I take THAT chance do you?) and it's works pretty good.

    It pages me whenever anyone but my wife and I arm or disarm (keeps me
    from wondering, 'did my sister come by and feed the cat?' while I'm on
    vacation - I also know when the kid gets home from school) whenever
    there has been an alarm I've always gotten the page before central gets
    to me on my cell - though usually just by a few seconds. I'll get the
    page and have just figured out what I'm seeing when the phone rings, I
    always know who's calling and why.
  14. JoeRaisin

    JoeRaisin Guest

    A 'beef' against you? I wouldn't put it that way.

    But, some of us do take it a little personally. We make our living
    selling peace of mind and we truly believe in the products and services
    we provide.

    We believe in monitoring because we have seen it work to help catch
    thieves, save property from fire or frozen water lines and even, from
    time to time, save lives.

    Because we understand the gravity of what is at stake, the industry has
    spent a lot of time and money on technology that ensures we are there
    when you need us there, can notify the appropriate responders quickly
    and with as much information as we possibly can.

    When you claim that you can do the same thing with your cell phone it
    really discounts what we do, and shows (at least in our opinion) that
    you don't fully understand the difference between what we provide and
    what you would be able to do.

    I'll provide a quick compare/contrast. Granted it poses an extreme
    example, but Murphy has a tendency to pay close attention to things like
    this and loves to take advantage.

    You are meeting a client (or a friend, group of buddies, whatever) at a
    restaurant for an evening. Wife and kids are home.

    Furnace takes a dump, starts filling the house with carbon monoxide.

    You go in the restaurant and accidentally leave your cell phone plugged
    into the charger in your car.

    The CO detector trips, siren goes off but everyone is muggy from the gas
    because the installer disagreed with my opinion of where the detector
    should be mounted and it was too high/low. They aren't able to respond
    intelligently to the siren and smoke detectors screaming all over the
    house. They're awake but either flopping around on the bed or couch, or
    wandering around totally confused.

    This is where the situations diverge:

    1) the panel calls the central station who notifies the fire department
    that your address is full of Carbon Monoxide and they roll the
    appropriate rescue and medical response.

    2) the panel calls your cell phone. It stays on the line a long time
    waiting to get the handshake so the static does manage to leave a voice
    mail... ten times.

    1) the central station calls you cell phone to notify you of the
    situation. You come out after dinner (or whatever) and get the message
    from central station. You call home and Deputy Rogers answers the phone
    as he has been left to watch over the premises after the fire department
    smashed in the front door (you know how they love to do that). He tells
    you that they got there just in time and gives you name of the hospital
    that your family has been taken to. He reminds that your furnace does
    not work and the windows are all open so it might be a good idea to call
    your heating guy after you get to the hospital.

    2) You come out after dinner (or whatever) and get the messages (static)
    from your home phone number. You're pretty quick on the draw so you
    have figured it out by the beginning of the third hissy message. You
    call 911 and tell them your alarm went off thirty five minutes ago.
    They ask if it is a fire alarm or a burglar alarm. You don't know.
    They tell you that they will send a cruiser by. Did you know they
    probably won't respond with lights and siren? You head for home as
    quickly as you can knowing that you don't want to risk the delay of a
    ticket (or having to explain to the officer before he lets you go)

    1) You get to the hospital where your wife is already fully recovered
    and sitting with the kids who are still on oxygen, but awake. They will
    be ready to go home in a couple hours. You call Jimmy (your furnace
    guy) who is glad to hear that everyone is all right and is more than
    happy to head over to your house and check your furnace out.

    2) You get to your house to find a few police cars, a couple fire trucks
    and an ambulance. A police officer stops you at the driveway and tells
    you to talk to that fire captain over there before you try to enter your
    home which is now known as, "the scene of the incident."

    1) You get to your house, which has already warming up, Jimmy is just
    packing up his tools. He greets you and your family saying how glad he
    is to see everyone's doing so well. The furnace is fixed and in light
    of the situation he is only charging you for parts.

    I told you it was gonna be an extreme example. No furnace guy is only
    going to charge for parts, but everyone forgets their cell phone once in
    a great while.

    Kidding aside, I tell you this from personal experience and in all
    sincerity -

    You do NOT want to find yourself sitting at a funeral KNOWING you could
    have prevented it if only you had...
  15. Jim

    Jim Guest

    Exacatly how long would you choose to be "on your own"? Until one of
    you gets killed or one of your family?..... or until the police
    arrive? Should the alarm go off in the middle
    of the night and you actually hear someone breaking in, when central
    calls, you can
    tell them someone is in your house to expidite the arrival of the
    police. Otherwise,
    you AND YOUR FAMILY are totally on your own. And, what if you're not
    How would your wife react to an intrusion? Unless she's Laura Croft,
    she's gonna
    get hurt. What starts out as a burglary or home invasion usually turns
    into something
    worse when there's only a woman at home.
    You're assuming that you will ALWAYS get the call. You wont.
    Central always gets the call.
    Yes, in the industry for 40 years. I've seen the worst that can
    even WITH a monitored alarm system.

    If you feel that you're capable of installing your onw system and have
    done the proper research and have the appropriate tools and skills,
    you're the one who's taking the responsibility that the system will do
    what it's supposed to do. If you THINK you have all that's necessary
    and you don't, that's a chance you'll have to decide if your willing
    take. You'll never know until something doesn't work the way it's
    supposed to and you suffer a loss.

    Do I care if you install your own system? Not in the least. You're
    not the kind of customer I want nor look for. Do I care if you monitor
    the system yourself? Only from the standpoint that if I can convince
    you to have the system monitored, I'd feel I'd done a good deed for
    the day. If you monitor your own system, only you and you're family
    are at risk. That's your responsibility. I'd like to convince you

    This whole thing in about safety and security. It's really hard for me
    to understand why someone would got to the time, trouble and expense
    of installing an alarm system, whose purpose is to increase the
    that something bad WONT happen ...... and then skimp on the one key
    ingredient that holds it all together.

    Think of an alarm system as a sort of tangable insurance policy. If
    you were
    buying an insurance policy you wouldn't buy it and then send in the
    short a few dollars every month or not at all and risk cancellation.
    You'd want
    it in place in case the worst happens.

    You can have the system call you if you want but have it monitored

    You'll excuse me if I say that your thinking is particularly a "guy"
    YOU feel that you can protect, take care of, defend, safeguard etc
    your home and family. And you may well be able to do that ..... when
    you are there. When you're not there .......... anything can happen
    with a monitored system you're just reducing the chances that a
    will occur. As long as you've come as far as getting an alarm system,
    would you stop short instead of wishing you had, after a tragedy.

    It's about $20.00 a month. Not bad for the additional peace of mind.

    Oh, and by the way, your insurance company will give you a discount
    for a monitored system but not an unmonitored system. Does that make
    you wonder why they might do that? Think statistics.
    Some will discount for fire ..... some for fire and burgalary. They
    know that
    a monitored system will get someone there either to reduce the amount
    of loot being stolen or so they wont have to buy your totally burnt

    So, it's not even the cost of monitoring that you can complain about.

    Think about it. It certainly couldn't hurt ..... that's fer sure.
  16. alarman

    alarman Guest

    Where else would a 911 call go, to the janitor?

    You get a call from your "security" system on your cell phone, no message,
    just caller ID since the system can not communicate a message to you...and
    you call 911? What if you are out of your home area? Maybe the system is
    reporting a trouble condition. What do you say when the operator says "what
    is your emergency?" Is it a break in? A fire? Did the power go out? Low
    battery? Or did your wife or child press the panic button?
    Really? You are transparent as a piece of glass. Do you think you are the
    first to come here with the "I want my alarm to call my cell phone" crap?
    Doing it yourself is one thing, being too cheap to have it professionally
    monitored is quite another.
  17. Crash Gordon

    Crash Gordon Guest

    I have a new panel that will send SMS, but I haven't messed with it yet.

    **Crash Gordon**
  18. Crash Gordon

    Crash Gordon Guest

    Good job.

    You forgot the part about the panel having the home phone line seized while
    it is wasting time talking to dead air, so wife can't dial 911 if she
    needed to.

    Oh wait, maybe there is no line seizure, in which case the bad guy just
    took the phone off the hook so it couldn't dial out.

    **Crash Gordon**
  19. Injun Ear

    Injun Ear Guest

    You guys have convinced ME! When I get my new system installed, I am
    sure planning on getting it monitored. It's only 8.95/mo if I pay for
    it yearly. And that's WAY better than Brinx, who was charging me
    30.26/mo for monitoring, PLUS the tax they charge once a year.
    I hope you can convince him too.... My .02
  20. Dave

    Dave Guest

    And I think y'all do provide a valuable service. And it does save
    lives. I never said otherwise! But does that mean everyone that
    doesn't have monitoring is evil? Or that they even need monitoring?
    No, I just claimed that getting a monitoring service for what I wanted
    provided marginal benefits. What I want is to make sure I'm alerted
    if someone enters the house while my family and I are asleep.

    <extreme example clipped>

    That is an extreme example, but again, my goal is to alert me if
    someone enters the house while we're asleep. Should I buy a CO
    detector and get monitoring when I don't have a furnace or anything
    that burns fuel or gas in the house? Probably not. I could come up
    with a long list of services and items I could buy that add some
    additional protection. But if I try to purchase everything on that
    list, I'd easily go broke.
    Anyone could end up at a funeral and be asking themselves "Why didn't
    I spend the $80,000 to install a panic room?". I don't need CO
    monitoring, I'm not worried about frozen pipes here in the south, and
    anything that happens to the house while we're gone is secondary.

    According to our homeowner's association's records, the last house
    break-in in my neighborhood (which has 400+ units) occurred in the
    late 80s when my neighborhood was being built. Only one of my
    neighbors (out of the 8 in our cul-de-sac) even have an alarm (which
    has had 2 false alarms in the past year at like 4am). So the fact
    that I'm installing an alarm system at all would be considered by some
    overly cautious. IF I lived in a more dangerous area, I would
    certainly consider a more thorough system with monitoring.

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