Types of Alarm Monitoring

In the past there was little choice, you needed to use your phone line (POTS – Plain Old Telephone System) to monitor for alarm monitoring. But now things aren’t so simple. Each of the following has changed the dynamic in home monitoring by making a POTS an unnecessary monthly cost:

  • Emergence of cell phone only homes
  • Broadband internet becoming the most important connection to home
  • Quality of VoIP services

What method should you use?

Like so many questions, the answer is “it depends”.

Using a Landline for home security monitoring:

The best reasons to use POTS are:

  • Reliability, simple, tried and true POTS monitoring works with most alarm set ups and monitoring stations
  • Compatibility with alarm panels, most alarm panels have POTS as the default form of transmission
  • Costs, if you already have a landline for your phone, POTS transmission is the most cost effective solution
  • Line Seizure: When the alarm is tripped, the alarm takes over the phone line (even if in use), and transmits the alarm to the monitoring station

Why shouldn’t you use POTS?

  • Costs…If you don’t have a landline, the cost of supporting it strictly for monitoring makes other monitoring solutions more viable
  • Worries about having a line cut. If you wish to go with a tamper proof solution this is not for you. A cut phone line cannot transmit an alarm trigger message.
    • Cellular backup is a popular method of adding redundancy to your monitoring. Signals would still be sent if the alarm was cut.

Summary: If you already have a landline and plan to keep it, stick with POTS. The cost and simplicity of the method makes it remain the best option for monitoring. Otherwise, investigate you other choices below.

What are the other ways to monitor my alarm?

Using VoIP is smart way to save on long distance, and eliminate landline costs, but there are definite disadvantages to using it for security system monitoring. We have broken down the pros and cons of using VoIP to monitor your alarm.

With broadband internet becoming commonplace and a necessity for so many, using it to transmit alarm signals because an obvious consideration. We have broken down the differences between pure network transmission of alarm signals and VoIP here with our review of internet based home alarm monitoring.

If money is not object, DVAC systems using a dedicated phone line are the way to go. Mostly used for commercial systems in businesses such as banks, hotel fire alarms, and high end retailers. These lines are buried and dedicated for alarm panel usage. This setup allows the alarm panel have constant communication with the monitoring station. If the panel loses contact with the alarm monitoring station it the monitoring station treats this as an alarm. Hence this protects against lines being cut.

Quick Summary: What type of alarm transmission method should you choose?

If you have a landline using POTS monitoring with a cellular backup is probably the best option. Without a landline then using a cell/gsm monitoring system is the preferred choice, followed by broadband transmission, then VoIP monitoring as your final option. If cost is irrelevant, than a dedicate line with a DVAC system trumps all.