I have, for some time, wanted to buy a security system. I hesitated for a variety of reasons, the foremost being the hassle of running wires all over my townhouse. Over the years I have considered wireless systems, but the need wasn’t urgent because I don’t live in a high crime area. So, since I couldn’t find just what I wanted, I didn’t bother. Also, very big, very loud, very protective dog.
Unfortunately the other night I had a bit of a scare and realized it was time to take another look at a system and install one asap. The question was, would I have to jump through the hoops to get a professional, monitored wired system, or would a wireless system be good enough. I have to admit to a certain amount of paranoia about monitored systems. I really don’t want to give an external company that kind of power over my life. Let’s remember the BTK serial killer worked for a major alarm company. If that doesn’t freak a person out, I don’t know what will.
Picking a System
Much to my relief, wireless systems have improved markedly. I went to my usual place for finding stuff and getting it shipped to me rapidly, Amazon.com. There I found the highest rated system was the SkyLink SC-1000 Wireles Alarm System. I found that the SkyLink had most everything I wanted for $139. Sold!
1. Alarm with control panel
2. Motion sensor
3. Two door/window sensors
4. Keychain transmitter
5. Emergency Dialer
I added several more items to make sure everything would be covered. I am not, however, going to share the full details of my alarm system on the web, somehow that seems to defeat the purpose.
Why This System?
When I actually need to buy something I make decisions pretty quickly, that is one of the reasons I like the ability to judge things by the ratings on Amazon, at least when there are a lot of ratings. I didn’t just go by the ratings though, and there were were several things I wanted in a security system that SkyLink had.
1. Rolling Code Technology – What rolling code does is prevent people from capturing the code, cloning it, and then entering your home or garage. If someone is going to case your house it isn’t much of a stretch to believe that he is capable of cloning your codes. It isn’t hard to find technology that enables thieves to do so.
Any system that uses a key fob of any kind should have rolling code. This includes your garage door opener. If your garage door or alarm system doesn’t have rolling code, replace it. If you aren’t sure, find out.
2. Ability to dial out over VOIP – This hasn’t just been an alarm system issue, it has been a VOIP issue. But with improvement of VOIP so that it works pretty much like traditional phones, I knew that this issue should be resolved.
You should consider how your VOIP works. Mine works just like a landline, meaning I can plug any phone into the jacks on the wall. If your system is different, meaning you plug your phone into your computer or into your router, your mileage may vary. So check. If you only have a cell phone, you can still look into a system that calls out. There are specific products now that work with cell phones. Buy yourself a cheap phone and add it to your plan.
3. Ability to dial a bunch of numbers, as opposed to just one.
Seriously, what good will it do me if I am at home, the system goes off, and it calls…me. The person invading my home will have no trouble finding my cell phone as it rings so he can pocket it as he continues to steal my stuff.
Setting It Up
I promised my concerned friends and family (and rapidly becoming paranoid self) that I would get the system installed right away, so I ordered overnight shipping. This meant the system would arrive on Saturday by noon.
Sure enough, a knock on the door came Saturday morning. Unfortunately due to the snow storm, electricity was out, so I had to wait. Finally around 9:00 pm I was able to get down to the installation. I pulled everything out of the boxes, took a look at the quick install instructions and got started.
1. Test the system
2. Install the pieces
3. Program the dialer to work with the system (This required some running around the house, causing Curtis to believe we were playing a game. Always helpful that Curtis.)
4. Test all the pieces
5. Put up the stickers – seriously, the stickers are almost as important as the system. Let people know your house is alarmed and they are less likely to break in. Most thieves want an easy target. If there is a chance you are alarmed then they might well go somewhere else.
I’d say it took me about an hour or so to set up most of the system. This included the time it took me to figure out how to position some of the sensors properly. Everything worked on the first try except for the motion sensors. The quick install directions failed to mention that the motion sensors need to reset after you put the battery in, so I thought they were broken. But the full manual explained the issue. Also, motion sensors are a bit of a pain to set up when you have pets, since their wanderings can set them off. A bit of fiddling and testing can solve the problem though.
This thing is ugly. The door sensors are huge. The panels are huge. It just isn’t pretty. But that’s ok, I’d rather be safe.
A system like the one I bought could be a great choice for a law firm. Plunk down under $200 bucks, spend a couple of hours, and voila, do-it-yourself security.
This kind of system works well for apartments too. It comes with screws, but it also includes stickers. You can also purchase a different kind of stickers, the velcro kind, that are meant to detatch without any damage. Just make sure you install the main box somewhere it is hard to find, since it would be easy to rip down when it is just being held up by stickers. You want the thief to have to take long enough to find and disable it so the system has a chance to call you.
The day is finally here. Those of us who don’t have the wherewithal, or the interest, to install a wired system can have good, solid systems at home for a reasonable price. If you are concerned about your security but never were able to seriously consider an alarm system before, take a look at the SkyLink or the other wireless systems out there.