In any home security system, the essential equipment is largely self-contained. There’s a central control panel that registers the state of various sensors throughout your home. When a sensor changes state, such as when a door is opened, a window is broken, or a smoke detector or motion sensor is triggered, the control panel is programmed to respond by producing emergency alerts. Even if the system is not connected to remote monitoring, it will function properly by setting off loud alarms in the home.
However, connecting your system to remote alarm monitoring greatly increases your security options. When the control panel senses a potential emergency, an alert is sent to the central monitoring facility for immediate action. This may include contacting you at home or away or dispatching the request to the police, fire department, EMTs, or other appropriate authorities. In order to do this, the signal sent by your control panel needs to be “understood” by the equipment at the alarm monitoring facility.
Although there’s a certain amount of standardization in the home security industry, in some cases the signal sent by some home systems can’t be properly interpreted by another company’s remote monitoring equipment. To address this problem, some companies offer converters that adapt nearly any existing security system to their remote monitoring facilities.
Some systems have specific advanced features that are only supported by the company that installed them. For example, Frontpoint does not support existing security systems but instead uses wireless systems that are easy to transport from one home to another. Vivint also offers wireless systems as standard, but provides monitoring which supports several types of pre-installed and hardwired systems.
If you’re moving into a home with an existing security system, there’s a good chance that you can get the name and contact information of the company that installed the equipment, either from your realtor or written right on the control panel itself. At the very least, the control panel should give you a make and model number to assist with your research.
If you have an existing security system but don’t know who to call to set up alarm monitoring (or would prefer alternatives to that company), we can help. Use our roundup of the best home security systems to compare the best providers and find one that supports pre-installed equipment.