Things to consider when looking at a new security alarm solution
Today, consumers have many options when looking for security solutions for their home. The choices can be overwhelming as we are bombarded with TV and radio ads about video door bell and camera systems that claim to “replace” the need for a traditional alarm system.
Let’s carefully look at some important considerations related to security today;
#1. Motion activated cameras that send out alerts via Smartphone
A commonly advertised product on the market is video doorbells and wireless cameras. Many of these are available in most retail channels as well as online. There are professional versions of some of these products complete with professional installation and enhanced features. Many video doorbells often include built-in motion activated cameras that, upon detection of any activity nearby, send alerts to your smartphone or tablet. This often becomes a nuisance as the alerts that continually pop up on your phone or tablet all day get very old, very fast. I know! I own one of these products advertised on TV.
My doorbell camera is convenient when there is someone at the door. I bought the professional upgraded version of the retail model because I wanted something better than the basic model commonly sold on TV and online. I am very happy with it as a doorbell. I love the fact that my wife does not have to physically go to the door to answer the door bell. We live in a gated community that has “No Soliciting” sign posted clearly at the entrance, but few salespeople pay attention to signage. In my city, ignoring the “No Solicitation” sign is against the law..
Nonetheless, I can not monitor my phone 24/7 as I use my phone for work, participate in sports and the constant alerts are a distraction to say the least. Having multiple cameras with motion based alerts means I would literally need my phone on me and active ALL OF THE TIME. This makes it less attractive as a “security” device that is primarily a live look in based on alerts.
If I wanted to access any kind of recordings with this product, I would have to pay a monthly cost per camera and would still need internet to access the recordings. If my internet ever went down, the camera wouldn’t be recording.
A better solution for recording video from cameras would be to have an actual camera system with a Digital Video Recorder that can be played back and exported as needed rather than get notifications with live view only.
#2. System Design
Most professional security installation companies will design a system around the customers needs and perceived threats. Additionally, the system will be designed to be professionally monitored by a UL Listed central station.
During a site assessment, consideration should be made and determine the vulnerabilities that exist at the site. For example, most homes have a security “hole” in the system, which is the Master Bathroom tub area glass feature.
Crooks know they can knock out the glass on an operable glass window and leave the “frame” intact, allowing entry without alarm activation. Or they might break out a solid glass feature in the bathtub area and they are immediately in the “honey hole”, as most people keep their valuables in the closets off the master bath. You need to address this problem area with at least a glass break sensor. I also like to create a 24 hour zone on any closet containing a safe. A simple “keyed” bypass allows you access into the closet any time. When activated, it becomes an instant alarm with no countdown to activation.
Additional devices can be put on safes that indicate tampering or opening. We have a safe system with a built-in contact for communication to the alarm panel.
On last thought. I don’t know too many people who want a camera in their master bath, hooked into the Internet by wifi.
#3. Wireless Alarms
Wireless alarms were actually introduced in the early 90’s. Most reputable security installation companies tried them briefly and then continued on with wired devices, citing problems with interference, batteries and operational challenges.
In recent years, wireless has come a long way and is used in many applications with an existing system where additional devices are needed and running wires is just not possible because of their home’s design limitations. We use wireless glass break detectors, motion detectors and wireless door contacts when needed. Again, this is not the best option but may be the only option. You still may have battery issues but the devices will tell your control panel when the batteries need to be changed.
Many of these totally wireless devices have a central control hooked up to the Internet to communicate alarm conditions either to your phone or a central station. What happens if a smart thief cuts your cable or Internet wires outside? Does your system offer redundant communication via wireless? If not, no signal can mean serious losses.
If I felt anything could be close to the protection level of a good wired alarm system with redundant communication, it would be a stand alone system using cellular and wifi.
These new systems also offer encrypted wireless signaling between the central control unit and the sensors in the field. This means they can not be hacked, unlike many popular security options today. If you are having a new “wireless’ system installed, ask first if the wireless communication between devices is encrypted. Very Important!
Easy to install and hook up, the systems come pre-programmed to make the activation easy and fast. I “cellular communicator insert” offers the redundant monitoring and smart phone app use to arm and disarm your system.
Call us today if you are thinking of an alarm system for your home or business. Our professionals will come to you and assist in the design best for your situation.
Call 713-378-7589 to schedule your appointment.
Resolving Problems using Security and Camera System APP’s
Steps for resolving problems accessing your apps when on premises
(IpFob Secure Smart Alarm and Speco Camera)
With almost all the systems we sell today, there is an App for that! Seriously, most systems provide the convenience of allowing you to control security and cameras from your phone or tablet. Sometimes these systems go awry and need tweaking due to phone system upgrades and minor Internet changes from your provider.
If you are having trouble connecting to your apps on your phone, try the following:
1. Disconnect your smartphone from the wifi at your residence as the wifi can cause a conflict resulting in the
app not work properly via the primary Internet connection.
2. If using IpFob or Secure Smart Alarm app’s and, disconnecting the wifi does not help or speed up
the app, try uninstalling and reinstall the App.
3. If using an Apple product, try downloading the Secure Smart Alarm app in the place of the IpFob
Lighting your home for Security
Lighting around the perimeter of your home is an excellent deterrent to fend off would be prowlers or burglars at night. Aside from using Infrared Yard beams to notify of persons in your yard at night, motion activated lighting is inexpensive and can certainly persuade a 2:00 prowler to consider another property.
Exterior motion detectors can turn on lights inside and outside your home to make it apparent your home is not a safe place for them to remain. Just like bugs, when you turn on the lights, they tend to scramble.
I have found the addition of motion detectors in my backyard, garage/driveway and immediate front door area has had the effect of convincing would be thieves they are in the wrong place. Camera recordings of light incidents can be entertaining and concerning. But, if not my house, then whose?
Talk with a security professional about how all this can work together for your benefit. If you are not able or willing to change out some light fixtures, then call an electrician. Not everyone can work off a ladder changing out equipment.
If you do not have a garage door tied into your alarm system, it needs to be. The addition of a wireless device takes a short time to make your garage more secure, especially if it is detached from the home.
Also, be sure you have a security yard sign and window stickers to let everyone know you have an alarm system. In the backyard, throw in a “Beware of Dog” sign on entry gates. Keep the bad guys wondering.
Call us at 713-378-7589.
Installation of a Houston Security Camera system for your home or business provides you with a video record of what happened only in front of available cameras!
Houston Security Cameras Augment Security Systems
When planning the installation of a new Security Camera system, there are several “finer points” you need to consider as you layout the system. They are:
- Facial shots at near to eye level are very important at all points of entry. Sometimes this is difficult to accomplish when retro-fitting a residence that was not pre-wired. You might need to either run conduit or exterior rated, UV resistant wiring to a point of access.
- Insist on 1080P Color cameras that have night vision capabilities.
- Ask for TVI Technology – This format gets you the best bang for the buck in resolution, true color and input to the Digital Video Recorder, your new best friend.
- Insist on a fully “hard-wired” camera system. Wireless options are out there but wired is best over the life of the system.
- Remember, white light is needed for good night time imaging. I like motion-activated white LED spot lights to help pick up color of clothing and other important items. Great in the back yard area and around cars parked on the driveway.
- Good range of view around parked vehicles on driveway – a lot of vehicle break-ins are done by kids looking for money, phone chargers, etc… I have had many clients recognize kids targeting unlocked cars or attempting to get in the locked cars on the driveway.
- Motion sensitivity recording – available in most DVR (Digital Video Recorder) units. This allows for a switch from 1 shot per second to multiple shots per second up to 30 frames per second. It is configurable so get to know your unit and it’s abilities.
- Most people do not like cameras on the inside but a great opportunity for recognition can be a camera in a living room or kitchen.
- Use your camera as a “pre-Alarm” device. All DVR’s have alarm outputs for motion activation. If there is movement around vehicles or in your backyard, the system can alert you.
Bear in mind, the majority of burglar’s head immediately to the Master bedroom closet(s) to search for jewelry and valuables. With most safes being placed in these areas, closet’s are highly hit areas in a home.
Monitored Alarm and Security Systems
Be sure to use cameras to augment a good monitored security system. Knowing the most common path criminals take in a home, be sure to have glass break detectors in your master bathroom and bedroom areas along with door contacts on master closet doors. These door contacts should be programmed to be armed only in the away mode and with an instant (no time delay) designation. This will not make the alarm go off when you are at home with the alarm on. Just be sure to keep the closet door closed when you are leaving, otherwise it will be seen as “open”, not allowing you to arm the system in the away mode.
Many criminals know they have 30 to 60 seconds to get to the panel and smash it to keep the system from transmitting via phone, VOIP or wireless. If you “road block” them with the simple installation of a keyed closet door (most places will charge you $5.00 to key a lock to your existing house key) you stand the chance of getting your signal out. Many also cut power and data lines into the house, if they determine no one is home.
Cellular back up communication is a great redundant communication that is fast and can be remotely placed in a secured and locked equipment can.
Security Camera Activation and Maintenance
Call us for a quote on your security camera system. 713-378-7589 We have the equipment you need for both residential and commercial applications.
Choosing an Alarm or Security company to install and monitor your alarm is the single best deterrent to crooks wanting to break into your home. They look for yard signs, window stickers and the indication of the alarm being armed; a red led on the security keypad.
In 2014, burglars broke into more than 2,400 Houston homes. Knowing your home security has been breached by being alerted to activity by your monitoring company is very important. Also effective, after the fact, is to have high quality video of the exterior and interior activities.
Choosing an Alarm Company – Questions to ask
To choose the right security company you have to ask the right questions. The number one question is, “are you licensed and insured in the State of Texas?” Ask to see their license! It looks very much like a Texas Drivers license.
Every alarm company in Texas and all of the employees must be licensed with the state. They should carry the license issued by the Department of Public Safety. You should ask to see it and don’t settle for just company identification. You can also look up the name of any alarm company or employee online to be sure that they are licensed and bonded in Texas.
You also want to make sure that the alarm company is using a monitoring facility that is UL-certified. Many locally owned companies will use a third party monitoring vendor, which is fine.
Many companies offer you free installation but they have to make money to cover the cost of equipment and monitoring in your monthly fee structure. In order to assure profitability, some will extend the monitoring contract for up to five (5) or six (6) years.
Understand completely what you’re signing and the term of the contract. Understand that you’re not really getting anything for free. You may end up signing multiple contracts as security system installations are often kept separate from camera system installs. This is fine. Just read what you are signing and be sure to read both sides of the agreement.
Also, be wary of the home alarm salesman who goes door-to-door. Ask to see their Texas Security license. If they ring the doorbell as the first point of contact with you (You did not call their company and request an appointment) then ask them to leave their card as they caught you at a bad time.
They will try hard to talk their way into your home. They will mention they have “helped” several of your neighbors, dropping names right and left. Most of these salespeople do not even live in the area. They are highly trained to do one thing… get your signature of their contract. Be extra careful if it is during the summer as many national companies bring in students and others for marketing blitzes. Their last rebuttal is usually, “We can put a camera on your doorbell!”
If you do sign a contract with someone who came to your home, by law you have three days to cancel that contract.
Our sales professionals are available to come to your home upon your request. A time will be set over the phone and they will communicate directly with you. They will provide you options and systems that best serve your needs.
Additionally, most of our monitoring contracts are for 36 months. They will not pressure you and want to be sure you get the best price for the quality installation our team provides. Remember, locally owned and operated businesses have a reputation to protect. They want you to be happy and you are more than a number to them.
Finally, as you are choosing your Alarm company, always ask, “What happens if the burglars cut my phone line. Today’s options offer a redundant cellular communicator that operates independently from the alarm. Both are backed up with batteries in the event the power is out.
To check whether an alarm company is licensed in Texas, please click here.
To check whether a salesperson or installer is licensed in Texas, please click here.
Call us today at 713-378-7589 and talk with our sales coordinator to set up your security review appointment.
OnDuty Systems, LP Commercial Fire Systems Department now installs the Vesda Laser Smoke Detection System
VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus) is a laser based smoke detection system. The name VESDA has become a generic name for most air sampling applications.
“Our latest installation of the Vesda System was for the Houston Zoo in a critical environment. We are excited to be certified and authorized as a Houston contractor for this new fire detection technology”, says Greg Martin, OnDuty System’s general manager.
An aspirating smoke detector (ASD) is a system used in active fire protection, consisting of a central detection unit which draws air through a network of pipes to detect smoke. The sampling chamber detects the presence of smoke particles suspended in air by detecting the light scattered by them in a chamber using laser light. ASDs can typically detect smoke before it is visible to the naked eye.
In most cases aspirating smoke detectors require a fan unit to draw in a sample of air from the protected area through its network of pipes.
Please call us today for more information or to provide a bid for your commercial project. 713-378-7500
When the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule May Help!
Have you ever been sold something by a door to door salesperson and then changed your mind? Know your rights!
The FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule gives you a 3-day right to cancel a sale made at your home, workplace or dormitory, or at a seller’s temporary location, like a hotel or motel room, convention center, fairground or restaurant.
It also applies when you invite a salesperson to make a presentation in your home. But not all sales are covered.
At the Time of Sale
By law, the door to door seller must tell you about your right to cancel at the time of sale. The seller also must give you two copies of a cancellation form (one to keep and one to send if you decide to cancel your purchase) and a copy of your contract or receipt.
The contract or receipt should be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain your right to cancel.The contract or receipt must be in the same language that is used in the sales presentation. Your right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale.
Exceptions to the Rule
Certain types of door to door sales can’t be canceled, even if they take place in places normally covered by the Rule.
The Cooling-Off Rule does not cover sales that are:
- under $25 for sales made at your home;
- under $130 for sales made at temporary locations;
- for goods or services not primarily intended for personal, family or household purposes. (The Rule applies to courses of instruction or training.);
- made entirely online, or by mail or telephone;
- the result of prior negotiations at the seller’s permanent place of business where the goods are sold regularly;
- needed to meet an emergency;
- made as part of your request for the seller to do repairs or maintenance on your personal property (purchases made beyond the maintenance or repair request are covered).
Also exempt from the Cooling-Off Rule are sales that involve:
- real estate, insurance, or securities;
- automobiles, vans, trucks, or other motor vehicles sold at temporary locations if the seller has at least one permanent place of business;
- arts or crafts sold at fairs or places like shopping malls, civic centers, and schools.
How to Cancel!
You don’t have to give a reason for canceling your purchase. You have the right to change your mind!
To cancel a sale, sign and date one copy of the cancellation form. Mail it to the address given for cancellations, making sure the envelope is post-marked before midnight of the third business day after the contract date.
Saturday is considered a business day; Sundays and federal holidays are not.
Because proof of the mailing date and receipt are important, consider sending the cancellation form by certified mail so you can get a return receipt.
Keep the other copy of the cancellation form for your records. If the seller didn’t give you cancellation forms, you can write a cancellation letter. It must be post-marked within three business days of the sale.
If You Cancel
If you cancel your purchase, the seller has 10 days to:
- cancel and return any check you signed;
- refund all your money and tell you whether any product you still have will be picked up; and
- return any trade-in.
Within 20 days, the seller must either pick up the items left with you, or reimburse you for mailing expenses, if you agree to send back the items. If you received any goods from the seller, you must make them available to the seller in as good condition as when you got them. If you don’t make the items available to the seller — or if you agree to return the items but don’t — you remain obligated under the contract.
If You Have Problems
If you think a seller has violated the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule, file a complaint !
If you paid for your purchase with a credit card and a billing dispute arises about the purchase —for example, if the merchandise shipped was not what you ordered — you can notify your credit card company that you want to dispute the purchase. By law, the credit card company must acknowledge your dispute in writing and conduct a reasonable investigation of your problem. You may withhold payment of the amount in dispute, but only until the dispute is resolved.
You are still required to pay any part of your bill that is not in dispute. To protect your rights, you must send a written notice about the problem to the credit card company at the address for billing disputes listed on your billing statement within 60 days after the first bill containing the disputed amount is mailed to you.
PRESS RELEASE – May 12, 2016
Better Business Bureau Recognizes OnDuty Systems, LP with a “Winner of Distinction” Award
In recognizing businesses and non-profits for their achievements and commitment to quality in the workplace, OnDuty Systems, LP was one of 292 companies recognized at the annual Better Business Bureau Awards of Excellence on May 11, 2016.
Recognized as a Winner of Distinction, this was the first time to be recognized by the Better Business Bureau for service excellence. When asked what it means to OnDuty Systems, LP to receive this recognition, Forrest Jenkins, COO states “We work hard to provide quality customer service to our customers and clients and it is an honor to be recognized for our efforts.”
The following video is for the majority of the Honeywell Vista Series KeyPads…