smart security solutions for everyday living

How Does Alarm Monitoring Work?

by Mary Jezioro

Apr 9, 2015 9:45:00 AM


Alarm Monitoring 101: Communication Basics

Home security systems require reliable communications to ensure their effectiveness. Beyond working with an experienced alarm company, alarm monitoring is the most important part of the system! It allows the proper authorities to be notified in the event of an emergency. Alarm monitoring requires a reliable communication vehicle. Without that, no one will know if there is a problem at your home or place of business. If you're in the market for a security system, don't forget to ask about communication (phone line) options to facilitate reliable monitoring.

Alarm Monitoring Options:

  • Cellular radio communicators are very reliable if the home is in a location that has a strong and consistent signal. Radio signals are nearly impossible to interrupt, and cannot be detected by burglars. It is recommended that, when using this system for communication, the homeowner maintains a battery backup on both the alarm system and the radio.
  • Landline phones are the second most reliable communication system for alarms. While the speed of traditional phone lines is not as fast as cellular radio communications, they are more stable. Many carriers provide backup power that will ensure the phone line works even if the power is out.
  • Voice over IP, or VoIP, and internet monitoring are both unreliable communication systems for a home alarm system since the cable connection outside the home can easily be cut by a burglar. Additionally, both types of communications require a cable modem inside the home. If the power goes out, the communication is cut off, and cable providers typically don’t have a backup system in place. Although VoIP and internet monitoring are extremely fast, during heavy traffic times there may be hiccups on the phone line that prevent information from getting through.

Most Reliable Communication System

The best home security systems use the most reliable communication systems - which is a dedicated cellular communicator. Second best is a landline phone or internet as the primary system with a cellular radio backup. Although combining communication systems may raise the cost of the alarm monitoring fees, using cellular allows for some pretty handy conveniences like those offered by Honeywell's Total Connect which allows for remote arming and disarming, text notifications and live video feed.

Tips For Traditional Land Line Users

When choosing a traditional landline phone as the primary communications system, it’s important to keep these helpful tips in mind:

  • Contact your alarm provider or monitoring company if a change is made in the phone service provider to ensure the systems communicate properly.
  • When changing phone service providers, the alarm provider or monitoring company should have the homeowner trip the alarm system to test the signal. If a verification call isn’t received from the provider, it’s important to call them so that the problem can be addressed quickly.
  • Whether or not the phone service provider has been changed, home security systems should be tested every month to ensure proper operation.

SHIELD Monitoring

Every SHIELD Security System is monitored  24 hours a day, 7 days a week through our UL Central Station . Our monitoring center can interpret, record and maintain data from burglary, fire, panic/duress, medical environmental and other alarms - from as many as 428 signal types to ensure your safety in any emergecy.

Monitioring Services Include:

  • Supervised monitoring - get more control over your security
  • Two- way voice monitoring - for when "being there" really counts
  • Real-time and scheduled surveillance - keeps close tabs on the big picture

Have More Questions About How It All Works?

Have more security system communication questions? Ask the experts! If you're too shy to ask, here's a FREE Guide with some more answers about security system communication technology. Just click this link:


Topics: Security Marketplace, Securing Your Home, Phone Lines / VoIP / Cellular

blog author

Mary Jezioro

Mary Jezioro is the Vice President of SHIELD Security Systems. As the Marketing and Sales lead at SHIELD, she is focused on strategic planning and company growth. Mary is involved with the UB School of Management as former CELAA's Vice Chair, SCORE, WPO (Women President's Organization) and is also coached youth soccer. She and her husband, Ken, are proud parents of five children.