How to Specify an Alarm System For Your Small Business

Are you thinking of adding cameras to your current alarm system?

Are you specifying a new alarm system?

Are you worried about false alarms?

In any of these three scenarios, you should consider adding self-monitored video cameras to your system. Some alarm companies let you monitor alarm system cameras from your smartphone or tablet while you are away.

Burglar alarm

photo credit: Flickr

You may already use a camera linked to your TV to check the identity of visitors, and when you are away these cameras probably record using a DVR, so you will always have pictures of any dubious characters entering your property. However having images of guys in ski masks is not much consolation for the mental and financial damage resulting from a break in. This is the primary rationale behind having a monitored alarm system where the alarm company calls you and then the police.

Alarm Permits

You will need a license from your local police department to install an alarm. Installing an alarm without a permit could lead to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. A typical annual charge for this permit is $25 for a residential property.

Note that permitting can vary from location to location, and it is best to contact your local police station for permit information.

Adding Cameras to Your Current Alarm System

If you have a wired system, you will probably need to ask the alarm installation company to supply and install any additional components, which is going to be expensive. If yours is a wireless system, you will usually still need to ask the installation company to attend, but there may be a talk-through option.

Only one alarm company, SimpliSafe, allows you to install additional sensors and self-monitored cameras yourself. SimpliSafe has a 5-minute video that shows just how simple their system is to install or adapt, the wireless installation is hailed in reviews as a staple feature, that besides providing additional security, can be also a great solution for people who are renting properties and find themselves in need of better security.

Cameras you can check remotely will help you decide whether an alarm call is genuine or not. You need to avoid false alarms for three reasons; you will alienate neighbors, lose credibility with your police department, and they will cost you typically $100 each.

Specifying a New Alarm System

There are a few decisions you must make that will narrow down your choice:

  1. Wired or Wireless
  2. Self-install or professional installation
  3. Monitored or non-monitored

The best value system will be a wireless one you install yourself. Self-installation always saves labor costs and mess, but the instructions need to be simple enough that you are confident you have set the system up correctly.

Your specification should include;

  • Opening sensors for every door and window on the first floor
  • Movement sensors for any area where valuables are kept (home office, main bedroom, and living area
  • Panic buttons situated close to outside doors, main bedroom, and bathroom
  • A loud 105-decibel siren
  • A keypad near the main entry/exit route
  • Opening sensors for liquor cabinets and your gun safe
  • Self-monitoring cameras covering entry doors, valuables storage, main living area, and office
  • Sensors covering your garage, garden office and any other outbuildings such as stables or workshops
  • Monitoring
Mobile alarm monitoring

photo credit: Informedmag


Most alarm companies have a minimum three-year contract and charge $30-50 per month for monitoring and responding to alarms. When an alarm sounds the monitoring company operator phones the numbers you have supplied and asks for your secret password. If the alarm is a genuine one, the operator then calls the police. Panic alarm activations should automatically result in a visit by police officers.

All alarm companies ring the business owner before calling the police because local police departments charge for false alarm calls.

If you can use your smartphone to monitor your internal cameras, you can fix the issue with a sharply-toned phone call and avoid the expense and embarrassment of an unnecessary call to local law-enforcement agencies.


SimpliSafe’s self-install system fulfills all requirements. It is simple to install, accommodates multiple self-monitoring cameras, it has two low-cost monitoring options ($15 and $25), and you only commit to the company’s monitoring service one month at a time, rather than the usual 36 months.

SimpliSafe’s alarm calls are sent out over a cellular phone system that does not saddle you with extra costs and is more secure than a conventional landline. There is also a 60-day money-back warranty, which is unique in the industry.


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