Every year, companies lose millions upon millions of dollars due to vandalism, theft and fire that could be easily prevented with a monitored business alarm system. Such systems can be installed quite quickly at most businesses, often in one day. True, the price is an expense, but compared to the possible monetary losses that could be prevented, the cost is very reasonable. We'll talk about actual dollar amounts after we describe the standard components of a typical business alarm system.
The primary function of these systems is to act as burglar alarms, but there are other beneficial side-effects. Not only does a business alarm system detect unauthorized entry, it also deters burglars from even trying to break in, discourages employees from any thought of theft and ensures the safety of all employees. Monitoring of the business premises is done 24x7x365, providing a continuous service for alerting local police about a crime in progress.
The basic parts of a business alarm system are:
- Control panels that are hidden, yet accessible
- Security keypads at a main entrance
- Motion detectors that sense the infrared radiation from human beings in areas where there should be no one at that time.
- Electrical contacts on window frames and door jams that can trigger the alarm system
- Glass-break sensors that recognize the sound of breaking glass and trigger the alarm system
- Strobe lights and sirens to draw immediate attention to a break-in
- Wiring that connects the system to telephone lines
- Backup power, communication and control systems in case of power failure
Other optional features that can be added to a monitored burglar alarm system are:
- Two-way intercom system between security keypad and central office of the monitoring service.
- Open/close logging to note when and by whom the alarm systems are turned on/off
- Closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance and recording
- Access control for various internal areas via magnetic cards and readers whose logs can be used to track employee access
Fire detection and prevention can be a very useful addition to a monitored alarm system, but should not be treated lightly -- it can be illegal in some areas simply to connect a smoke detector to an alarm system. The National Fire Protection Association has strict guidelines titled NPFA-72 on the installation of fire detection and prevention devices connected to monitored alarm systems. Periodic maintenance and inspection of these fire alarm systems are required above and beyond any similar tasks required for monitored alarm systems.
The price for the installation of business alarm systems can vary depending on the size of the facility to be secured. There are basic monthly fees and extra charges for options. Adding fire detection and prevention capabilities creates another separate set of costs for setup and fees.
The price of an install can be as low as $100 for a small office or storefront with one front entrance and one back entrance. the cost will increase if more sophisticated types of equipment are installed. The more security devices have to be wired into the system, the higher the cost will be. Total installation costs could go as high as $2000 for small business alarm systems. Work would typically be done in much less than a day.
For larger businesses, an install covering several thousand square feet and involving several doors and windows will take at least a full day, more likely two. Wireless systems will be the choice rather than stringing wire and costs would be in the $1000 to $5000 range. You might want to double that for a 100,000 square foot warehouse and stretch the install time to several weeks.
The security company setting up your system may include the cost of the on-site equipment, such as glass sensors, motion detectors and door and window contacts, in the contract -- in that case, the equipment is yours to keep after the contract expires. Some companies may lease you that equipment, including that cost in the monthly fee and remove it all when the contract expires. No matter which method is used, the equipment will cost you about $300 to $500 per year.
If you want to install a fire detection and prevention system in combination with your security system, it will cost anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000 to set up the detection system, which must tie in to the security system, and the sprinkler system, which must tie in to your plumbing. A fire alarm control panel must also be installed and approved by your local fire department.
Once the system is installed, it's tested for proper operation before the monthly fees begin. The contract can be month to month, but, usually, a contract is for three years, with a guarantee that the monthly fees will not increase and a hefty penalty clause if you break the contract before the end of the three-year period.
Normal monthly fees are $25 to $40; if fire control has been added, add another $40 to $50 per month. Fees for intercom and keypad communications with radio or cellular backup will add another $10 per month. Simple tracking and logging systems will add another $20 to $50 per month; if security staff are required to monitor your business via CCTV, add $50 to $100 per month.
Depending on the laws in your area, the local police department may require your business to acquire a permit for a monitored commercial alarm system. You may also have to acquire from your city or town government a electrical work permit for the installation and setup of the system and a low-voltage alarm permit. These costs are very low, no more than $5 to $40 total per year.
Make sure all systems installed at your business come with a warranty. Some security companies may offer a 90-day warranty for all parts and labor; others may offer one that lasts the life of the contract. Once the warranty expires, you should buy a maintenance and repair agreement to cover future repairs to your system.