The world is falling out of love with wires. From phones to speakers, we’re cutting the cord. But what about the important stuff like home security? For all their chunky looks and trailing wires, traditional systems do offer reliability. Are smart systems really safe enough to step in?
Here are 5 key considerations when choosing between a traditional wired alarm and wireless smart home security system.
How do you want to monitor your home?
Traditional systems are usually connected to your phone’s landline and from there to an alarm receiving centre (ARC) where your home is professionally monitored. If your alarm is activated, the monitoring centre will call you to check it’s not a false burglar alarm, if they can’t reach you, or they believe a burglary is in progress they will contact the police. Crucially, you will have what’s known as a ‘graded’ system which means it’s been tested to meet stringent UK and European alarm standards. With a ‘graded’ system the police have a unique reference number on file with your address and will attend as a matter of priority. The key advantage is that whatever happens, if there is an intruder in your home you know action will be taken. The disadvantage is that you’re reliant on the alarm company to tell you what’s happening. And, if your family’s prone to mishaps and the police are called to three false alarms you’ll be struck off. Leaving you with a very expensive bell on the wall and little else.
In contrast, smart home security systems give you the option to monitor your home yourself, with all the life-simplifying features smart tech naturally bring. Smart systems use sensors and cameras to detect intruders. They tend to communicate via Wi-Fi , Z-WaveⓇ, Zigbee or proprietary software, with a central unit that uses Wi-Fi or cellular back-up to alert you via your smartphone if an intruder is detected. Instant notifications to your phone show you at a glance what’s wrong, and what you do next is up to you.
Some smart systems offer a professional monitoring service, however not being ‘graded’ systems means they cannot offer a police approved direct link. How they confirm a break-in differs. Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) may drop in on cameras inside your home, or send a guard around (there’s usually a fee for this service) because they have to identify the intruder as hostile before any action is taken. If a burglary is in progress, they will notify the police in the same way you would do yourself, with a call to 999. There is no guarantee of response and, if given, (according NPCC guidelines) may be significantly slower than a response to a ‘graded’ system.
Boundary offers you the best of both worlds WITH a choice of monitoring options AND all without the wires. It is one of the only smart home security systems on the market in the UK designed to meet ‘Grade 2’ UK and European standards (certification pending). Meaning it will match any wired system for reliability, security and a police approved false alarm rating. In Autumn 2021 we will add a monthly plan offering direct police response to match traditional systems.
How much do you want to pay?
Another key difference between traditional and smart out-of-the-box solutions is price. Traditional systems command a price premium that has gone unchallenged for decades. You’ll typically pay more for a traditional system each month, and there may never be an option to use the hardware for free. Whereas, smart systems, including Boundary offer a range of subscription or plan options starting from free, depending on the features you think you’ll use.
Are you happy to lock-in to a contract?
Whatever type of system you go for, always check to see whether there is a long-term contract attached. Having invested up front in the hardware, be sure you know what the monthly running costs are likely to be. With Boundary each plan is on a simple 30 day rolling contract. You can upgrade, downgrade and cancel at any time.
If you’re in any doubt about whether you might want police response in future, it’s best to have your system professionally installed at the outset.
How do you want to install your new system?
It’s a prerequisite of any system with a police direct response that the system must be installed by an accredited professional. The same will be true of Boundary with police monitoring, and why we’ll be offering a choice of self-install or pro-install (£199) when you purchase your system. If you prefer self-monitoring, unlike traditional wired systems, the choice is up to you. A few basic tools are all that’s needed. Even the Boundary external alarm siren only needs a cross-head screwdriver, a small set of stepladders and a drill.
How do you want to maintain your alarm system?
With traditional systems you only have one option – annual maintenance, and the fee for this visit is obviously woven into your monthly bill. It’s worth checking with any system provider whether maintenance visits are ‘extra’.
Apart from the hub, all Boundary components run on standard long-life Lithium batteries and are self-testing. You’ll receive a notification when it’s time to change the batteries, roughly once a year, and if any of the sensors are not working they will let you know with alerts to your phone. With long-life components incorporated into the hardware, short of a battery change, there is nothing else to do, even the software updates are done remotely over-the-air. And if you do plump for a Smart Plus Pro plan with police response down the line we’ll do a remote maintenance check and change the batteries for you every year.
How comfortable are you with wires leading to your doors and windows?
It may not be the greatest consideration when your family’s security is at stake, but it is a consideration nonetheless. Wireless technology offers you a sleek, modern design solution with the option to mount sensors using heavy duty sticky labels or screws (a must for police response). With so many more electrical products around the home, for many it’s a big plus not having to introduce yet more trailing cables.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to trust. That’s why at Boundary it was so important for us to design a smart system that is every bit as reliable and secure as a wired system, with all the advanced life-simplifying possibilities of smart technology. We believe our system will protect you and your family for many years to come.