When considering which security system is best…

…for your home or your business, the many available options can seem overwhelming.

One of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing between a monitored or unmonitored alarm system. Your choice can have a huge impact on the security of your premises, and how effectively an alarm event is resolved. You might also find it is a requirement of your insurance policy to have a monitored alarm.

Below we answer the most common questions CIA receive about these alarm systems, so you are better informed about which is right for you.

What Is An Unmonitored Alarm System?

An unmonitored alarm system is a security system that is not connected to a monitoring station. Some allow you to monitor the system remotely, such as via a smartphone, but the responsibility is then on you to respond should an alarm activation occur.

What Is A Monitored Alarm System?

Monitored alarm systems are actively monitored, 24/7, by an alarm receiving centre (ARC). The staff at these centres will respond immediately when an alarm is triggered.

What Happens If My Alarm Goes Off?

There are several ways the ARC can respond, depending on different factors. It may be that they send a fully-trained Alarm Response Officer (ARO) to your premises to investigate the cause of the alarm. They may contact you, or your nominated keyholder, to inform you that there has been an alarm activation or, in certain cases, they may contact the police or fire brigade directly on your behalf.

What Is A Keyholder?

A keyholder can be a trusted person that you nominate, who is willing to assist in the event of an alarm event. They would keep a key to your property, and need to be familiar with both the premises and the alarm system. Alternatively, you can use a professional keyholding service whereby a third-party security company holds the keys to your property.

Should you be unavailable, your chosen keyholder is who the ARC would call to help secure your property.

Is There A Difference In Cost Between Unmonitored And Monitored?

Yes. An unmonitored alarm system will be less expensive than a monitored system, but you should ask yourself how cost-effective that short-term saving is. It’s up to you to weigh up the savings in cost versus the increased security and quicker response time a monitored alarm can provide.

What If There Is A False Alarm?

With an unmonitored system, unless you self-monitor your alarm, there is the potential for an alarm to continuously sound until someone, such as a neighbour or passer-by, notices it. Even then, that person may not know who to contact, or be able to get through to you. With a monitored alarm system, the ARC will contact you or your nominated keyholders, so the alarm can be reset promptly.

How Do I Find A Trustworthy Monitoring Company?

Thankfully, with third-party verification, finding a company you can trust is easier than ever. Simply check that both the alarm installer, and alarm receiving centre, are NSI-approved. The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is the UK’s most highly trusted and respected, independent, UKAS-accredited certification body in the fire and security sectors.

For maximum peace of mind and convenience, albeit at a higher cost, a monitored security system is likely your best security option. However, if saving money takes priority and you don’t mind taking on more responsibility in overseeing your system, an unmonitored system may better suit your needs.

Contact CIA Fire & Security to speak to one of our trusted experts, who will be glad to help choose the right alarm system for you.

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