There are numerous brands of alarm systems on the market. They all do basically the same thing. When an alarm condition happens in a protected premise, the panel reports this condition to the central monitoring station for action. The main difference between the different panels is HOW they report to the central station.
The basic and most popular type of panel has a telephone dialer built into it that uses the regular phone line to transmit its’ report. This is a very stable technology, but has one major drawback. If the phone line is cut, the panel cannot report the alarm. Over the past few years, manufacturers have been solving this problem by allowing the panel to use a cellular backup or a radio transmitter to send the report if the phone line is cut. Cellular backup is available anywhere cellular phones can be used and is a good option to have. Radio transmission is just starting to become popular and is not widely available yet, however Graham Alarm Monitoring does have a radio receiver if you choose this option.
The top of the line systems use a dedicated phone line called a DVAC system. This is a buried cable used expressly for the alarm panel only. Because it is a dedicated line, the central station is able to transmit a signal to the alarm panel appx. every 30 seconds to make sure the line has not been cut. If no answer back is received from the alarm panel at the central station then a signal is generated at the central station saying there is a problem with that particular panel. These systems can be very expensive and are generally used in high risk sites such as banks, jewelry stores, apartment building fire systems, etc.
There are also two types of alarm system installations: hard-wired and wireless.
There is a great debate over the reliability of wireless systems. To have a good wireless system requires the capabilities of a well trained installation company. Your best bet is to get a hard-wired system and only use wireless components where wiring is impossible or impractical.
There is one other type of alarm system being installed today. This system uses the standard phone lines to report and also allows the central station to activate a listen-in mode to actually hear what is happening at the protected site. Some systems also allow two-way communication through the alarm system and strategically placed speakers and microphones at the site. The quality of these systems is getting better all the time, but again requires an experienced installer to do a proper job of it.
One thing you should remember, an alarm system is not intended to prevent a break-in , it is intended to report an alarm. Having an alarm system installed will only help to deter a break-in and limit the amount of time someone is in your premise.