You hear the same advertising pitch from home security companies.
It starts out with the company bragging about their industry-leading technology. Next, they hit the heartstrings with the "protection provides peace of mind" message. And finally, they boast about having the fastest response times in the event of an emergency. But you never really know until you compare each home security company against the rest.
Response times are an interesting metric in home security marketing strategies because they are not necessarily standard for every customer. For instance, some events have a fast response time, under 15 seconds, while others have experienced a longer reaction time 30-minute wait times.
When a home security system is triggered, there is a process the monitoring center has to go through in order to send help. This process affects the company's reaction time.
First, your system will send over the message notifying the monitoring center that something has set off the alarm.
Once the monitoring center has received the alert, the event will have to be matched with the corresponding account and the instructions will become available for the operator.
Next, the alert will be taken care of when an operator becomes available. This is an important step for response times. Once the operator sees the event, they will follow a procedure to verify that the emergency is legitimate.
Once verified that the alarm is real, the operator dispatches authorities to your home.
It is also important to note that when most companies are advertising their response times, the only account for time spent between when the monitoring center is notified and then the appropriate authorities are contacted. It does not take into account the police response time.
If a company has fast response times, that just means that they get the information passed on to the authorities in that area quickly, it doesn't mean you will receive help in that amount of time.
In fact, the national average for when a home security alarm is triggered and when the authorities actually show up sits around seven minutes.
So, which home security company really does have the fastest response time?
The answer is complicated and it really depends on where a person lives, how many monitoring centers a company has, and how many alerts operators are receiving during a period of time.
Companies such as ADT and Vivint have said that they average 15 second response times, but even that still depends on geographical areas.
And while home security companies can accurately provide an average response time, consumers need to be aware that the average time provided is not a guarantee.
Fortunately, there are ways for consumers to get a pretty good idea of how response times will impact them directly. Before signing a contract with a home security company, consumers need to ask not only about the system, but also about the quality of the monitoring service.
When speaking with the sales representative, consumers should ask the following questions about the monitoring center:
How long does it take before I will receive a call from the monitoring center?
A good monitoring center will respond in a matter of seconds, but anything under a minute is considered good. Consumers also need to stay on top of their monitoring company and conduct monthly tests to make sure everything is connected correctly.
Is your monitoring center UL Certified?
The top monitoring centers will be UL Certified. This certification requires monitoring centers to go through an in-depth process conducted by an independent company to ensure total safety. UL Certification proves that a monitoring center upholds a certain level of safety and follows strict procedures.
Does the company have their own monitoring center or do they outsource their monitoring?
This is important because it could affect the cost of your home security package. Dealing directly with a company and monitoring center may be less of a headache.
How many monitoring centers does the company have nationwide?
The quantity of monitoring stations has an impact on the amount of volume a company can receive. The more monitoring centers, the better trained operators are, the more likely a customer is to receive a rapid response. Choosing a company with multiple monitors increases the likelihood that their performance in providing support quickly is high. Since response times are directly correlated to when an operator can handle the case, the number of operators within the monitoring station are also significant factors.
How will my system be monitored?
There are three types of monitoring: cellular, broadband, and landline. The best home security companies will utilize each of these technologies to ensure better protection. Cellular monitoring, or wireless as it is often referred to, uses a GSM cellular device that will directly contact the monitoring station in the event of an alarm. Broadband monitoring uses your broadband modem/router and dispatches help when the alarm panel set off an alarm. Lastly, landline monitoring uses a standard telephone line. You panel will be directly connected to the monitoring station.
There is debate over which form of monitoring is best, but in reality, having all three is the ideal set up.
Contact your local authorities
Odds are the local police department has worked with the monitoring station your home will be protected by. Ask them how the monitoring station works and if they are efficient when it comes to dispatching in the event of an emergency.
Response times should be a factor in deciding which home security companies will be the best for your situation. Since there is not necessarily a way to pinpoint the fastest responding home security company for everyone, it is best to find out what those times would look like for where you live.