Lifestyles

Plenty of options in security system technology

Tristan Sommi of Golden Ears Alarm Systems programs a monitoring panel. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Tristan Sommi of Golden Ears Alarm Systems programs a monitoring panel.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

When incidents like the Moncton and Science World shootings happen, people start to get nervous about safety issues, and that generally means security alarm companies see a spike in phone calls.

That’s just how it is, says Tristan Sommi, a sales representative with Golden Ears Alarm Systems, a company that has been installing and monitoring security systems locally for more than three decades.

“People are definitely more concerned after something like that happens,” says Sommi, who’s been with Golden Ears Alarm Systems for the past five years.

Of course, he adds, the number of people looking to make their homes and family secure is a growth industry these days anyway, as concerns about safety multiply with every story about violence and home robberies.

“People want to feel safe, and that often means purchasing some kind of home alarm system,” Sommi says.

The basic systems themselves are still pretty standard, with monitoring panels, door and window sensors, glass break and audio sensors the primary tools of the trade. Hard-wired systems are still king for their reliability and minimal maintenance, but wireless (radio frequency) options have become more popular, especially in established homes, where owners don’t want the hassle of drilling holes in walls or where it’s impractical to run wires.

Needless to say, there have been plenty of innovations in security alarm systems in recent years, says Sommi. For instance, while about 90 per cent of security systems still go through telephone lines, the increase in high speed Internet and cellular options is growing.

The cellular option is the biggest up-and-comer, says Sommi. It’s basically a stand-alone cellphone unit with backup batteries that connect your alarm system to the monitoring station through the cellular network on a different bandwidth than that used by cellphones.

Asked about the security of such a system, he says the fact that it’s on a different bandwidth means it’s very difficult for someone to interrupt it, and it’s more secure than telephone lines (which can be cut) or Internet, which can be knocked out if either the electricity or your Internet provider are out.

It’s not growing as fast as it might given its greater level of security because a cell pack can add a couple of hundred dollars to the bill, plus an extra $15 per month over and above the regular monitoring fee. But it’s coming, he says, as people begin to see its advantages.

Other innovations include remote arming and disarming apps on Smartphones and tablets. It’s part of the home automation trend towards convenience that’s been happening in recent years, but Sommi says the cost of using such apps still keeps people on the sidelines.

Vast leaps forward in camera technology, plus drastic price reductions have made HD video surveillance more interesting to homeowners, says the Golden Ears Alarms sales rep. Most businesses are wired for cameras, but a greater proportion of new homes are also being wired for HD video during construction, says Sommi.

“We probably do a system a day, commercially,” he states, “and about two or three a month, residentially.”

Home security isn’t just about keeping the bad guys out, says the security expert. Monitored medical alert systems are becoming popular with seniors and the children who worry about them. Giving mom or dad a wireless pendant that they can wear around their neck means they get to keep their independence longer, and the kids get to sleep better at night.

“We call our system Life Alert, and it’s really coming into its own right now,” says Sommi.

Another area of growth is in monitored smoke and heat detection systems, as well as carbon monoxide sensors. They didn’t used to be monitored often in the past, but the more safety-conscious homeowner is “definitely more concerned about that kind of thing today,” says Sommi.

Like most areas of life today, he adds, home security and safety are showing lots of innovation.

And as the prices get better, he expects even more people will want to take advantage of those innovations.

 

Robert Prince is a freelance writer who lives in Maple Ridge.

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