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Will I get a discount on my insurance premium if I have an alarm?
Probably, but if you accept the discount the insurers will probably insist that the alarm is always set when the premises is unoccupied. Some will also insist that it is set at night when you are at home and have gone to bed - 'night set' (see below). They may also require that the system is installed by a professional installer, i.e. a company that is a member of SSAIB or NSI, so DIY systems may not attract a discount. The best thing is to ring your insurer before installing the alarm so that you know the conditions of receiving a discount.
Will my pets set the alarm off?
You can have ‘pet tolerant’ detectors fitted to reduce this possibility. Make sure your alarm company is aware that you have pets when you contact them and they will design a system to meet your needs.
Can I set the system at night when I’m in bed?
Yes. You can have your alarm ‘zoned’ in such a way that you can get up in the night to get a glass of water from the kitchen. Just let the alarm company know what you’ll need. In essence your system can be programmed as ‘full set’ for when you go out and leave the dwelling unoccupied, ‘night set’ for when you go to bed (which will switch off a few detectors to enable you to visit, say, the bathroom) and ‘part set’ where you can alarm a single room in the house whilst moving around the rest. This might be handy if you work from home and want to alarm the office room at the weekend. Most things are possible!
How is my alarm monitored by the alarm receiving station?
There are three ways in which alarms are monitored
- Digital Communicator (colloquially ‘digcom’, ‘digi’). The digicom sends a signal down your phone line to the Alarm Receiving Centre. It will also signal setting and un-setting events. This is the cheapest way of sending a signal, but the phone line itself is not monitored.
- RedCare Classic. Here the signal is sent through a BT phone line. Redcare is a system that constantly monitors the condition of the phone line and so will detect if someone has cut it thereby offering extra protection. In effect your alarm is being constantly monitored and a loss of the line will be detected within 3 minutes.
- RedCare GSM, RedCare Secure and DualCom. These systems use a combination of a phone line and mobile phone technology. If the phone line is cut these systems will still be able to monitor the alarm via the alternative link. This system is commonly used by businesses and for some domestic systems.
What are the common causes of false alarms?
They are many and varied and include:
- Failure to regularly maintain the system
- Wrong door entered, i.e. failure to enter the building via the designated alarm entry route
- Failing back-up battery - often revealed during a power cut.
- Insecure or loose fitting door or window – often revealed during a thunderstorm or during high winds
- Failure to practice good housekeeping, i.e. not securing the dwelling correctly before going out
The alarm bell box will switch off after 15 minutes to comply with the law, but the strobe light will continue flashing until the system is reset.
How long does it take to install an alarm to the average home?
There may be as much as four weeks between deciding to have an alarm and having it installed. You must allow time to obtain quotes and then the chosen alarm company will have a lead in time that will vary according to demand at the time. An alarm normally takes from 1 to 2 days to install. Wireless systems take a lot less time to install than wired systems.
Updated October 2015