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Commercial Alarm Systems: What You Must Know

Commercial alarm systems allow a company to conduct their business in a more calm and relaxed manner, safe in the knowledge that they are protected from vandals, thieves and disgruntled employees. The purpose of commercial alarm systems is to alert a central monitoring station when someone is attempting unauthorized entry. These centers are located all over the country and operate 24 hours a day. The station’s employees can quickly alert the police when criminal activity rears its ugly head.

The Basics

You should be aware of the basic equipment which includes a control panel, keypad, motion detector and other add-ons of your company’s choosing. You can replace your existing system with another wired system or else go wireless which is more convenient in the modern world. Although most businesses utilize loud alarms, the silent alarm can be chosen as a means of catching a criminal in the act. Silent alarms are the best solution for businesses constantly being targeted. It is likely that the same individual/gang are performing the theft so this alarm can end their activities and get them off the streets.

Less than a dozen companies are responsible for producing commercial alarm systems. Find out the name of these brands to ensure you do not purchase some cheap knock-off alarm system that is flawed. When purchasing a commercial alarm system, do not deal with any organization that does not offer installation and monitoring along with the equipment.

Choosing The Right Company

It is important that note that although most companies deal in brand equipment that works with the majority of central monitoring stations, some businesses sell products that only work with their own stations. Watch out for lockout and master programming codes implemented by these companies as this could result in you being unable to make any system adjustments once the contract has ended. Never purchase any commercial alarm systems unless you have full access to the security codes.

The best dealers will always meet you in person and analyze your company’s existing security arrangements as well as combating any glaring deficiencies. Look at four different suppliers and ask for price quotes in writing. This quote must include warranties, monitoring fees, setup and equipment costs. Locate a company’s previous clients and find out about the quality of service offered including the length of time it took to install, their customer service, their reaction time when an intruder attempted to break into your company and whether or not they gave your staff adequate training.


Bear in mind that although commercial alarm systems are relatively cheap, there are a number of different expenses included. The standard monthly monitoring fee is approximately $30 a month, tracking systems could cost between $300-$600 a year with setup and installation fees ranging from $500-$4000 or more. If you decide to add fire protection as part of your alarm system, it must comply with NFPA building codes as well as health and safety regulations. A monitoring service for a fire alarm costs $50 a month with installation costing up to $25 a square foot for complex alarm systems.

Beware Unscrupulous Traders

When purchasing commercial alarm systems, keep your eyes peeled for low-end systems sold by the notorious ‘trunk slammer’. These are individuals purporting to work for a commercial alarm systems company who drives around the country selling alarms from his/her car. The name comes from the fact that once they make the sale, their car trunk slams shut and they vanish. They sell systems that appear to be very cheap with reasonable monthly monitoring rates. However, the equipment may actually be leased and have fees included in the monthly charge that is not properly explained to you.

This type of salesperson purchases different commercial alarm systems from a variety of outlets at discount prices. They get customers to sign contracts which are then sold to the alarm company. This is a major problem for customers because they have no idea who to contact if something goes wrong. Do not purchase an alarm system off any dealer who is not registered with an organization like the Better Business Bureau.

Getting Value For Money

A big difference between high-end and low-end systems revolves around the central monitoring station. Small alarm system companies will use the services of a third-party monitoring station whereas large companies have their own stations which take care of hundreds or even thousands of clients simultaneously. These larger companies are thoroughly checked out by independent Underwriters’ Laboratories so are considered to be a much higher standard system. In fact, commercial alarm systems sold by small companies may have their central monitoring station located in another state. However, this is not a major issue as the role of the station merely involves phoning the police. These stations must contact the police within 45 seconds of the alarm going off. They must also have a second generator with a minimum of 10 days power in reserve in case the main station encounters difficulties.

There is no substitute for high quality commercial alarm systems so don’t use price as your main criteria for purchasing a system. Make sure the price quote offered by a company includes all services provided, beware the trunk slammer, only choose an organization that can train your staff how to use it and always retain access to the system’s security codes.