TRUSTe Certified Privacy Seal

Home Security Systems Probe: Unmonitored vs. Monitored Systems


An unmonitored home alarm system is practically a stand-alone system. When any of the sensors are triggered, the alarm or siren goes off. The system is not set up to deliver any form of notification, except for the alarm.

The biggest advantage of unmonitored systems is that they are inexpensive. There are no recurring monitoring fees. Purchase and installation of such systems are straightforward, with no contracts involved and no phone or internet lines needed.

A huge downside, though,is that without any link to a professional monitoring station, homeowners are practically on their own with unmonitored systems. When the alarm is set off and emergency help needs to be summoned, homeowners will need to do this by themselves. If the homeowner is not home, no help will come until he or she gets back which may be too late; or, unless neighbors or passers-by hear and act on the alarm to which there is a lot of uncertainty.


A monitored alarm system iscovered 24/7 by a professional monitoring center. This means that in the event of an intrusion, fireor other incidents covered by the system ,the alarm goes off and as soon as the alarm delay of typically 45 seconds has passed, an alert is sent through the system’s control panel to the monitoring center which immediately notifies the homeowner (by call, SMS or email) with whom the incident is verified. The monitoring agent may then quickly dispatch law enforcement, paramedics or firefighters to the scene if assessed as needed; or, if the homeowner cannot be reached.



The biggest benefit of monitored systems is the peace of mind homeowners get knowing that whether they are at home or away, someone is keeping an eye on their home 24/7 and that emergency responders will come if the situation will call for it.

Cost-wise, there is the advantage of insurance companies giving discounts forprofessionally monitored home security systems. However, these carry monitoring fees in addition to upfront equipment costs. In this regard, it is worthwhile to look into offers of some home security companies to discount equipment costsor to give these free with a contract of 3 years or more.


A third option is a self-monitored home security system. With self-monitoring, the homeowners are monitoring their alarm system by themselves without the help of a staffed monitoring station. When the sensors are tripped, the alarm sounds off and notification is sent to the homeowner by call, SMS or email. It is up to the homeowner then to assess the situation and to contact emergency services. This means that if for some reason (e.g. homeowner is asleep and is not awakened by the alarm, cell signal is weak, phone is off, phone battery gets depleted) the homeowner does not get the notification, thenan alarm incident can be left unchecked and unattended.

With a self-monitored system, discounts may also be availed of from insurance companies but these are expected to be at lesser amounts than with a professionally monitored system.


Unmonitored home security systems work for those who want basic, inexpensive burglar prevention. While much less dependable than monitored systems, they are better than having no alarm system at all.

Self-monitored systems keep the homeowner connected to their home alarm system but the homeowner must be diligent enough to make sure that he/she can be accessed by phone or email because only the homeowner can assess any alarm situation and can call for emergency help.

Monitored alarm systems are highly recommended as they offer the most security coverage, given round the clock offsite protection by the monitoring stations which can send notification of an alarm incident to the homeowner and to appropriate emergency services.