Alarm Systems

Q: How do alarm systems work?

A: All security alarms are composed of four basic parts: the control panel, keypad, sensors and detectors, and the alarm sounders or sirens. The control panel is the heart of the system, because all the alarm devices are attached to the control panel. When the control panel is armed using the keypad and a sensor or detector is activated, the control panel activates the sounders and transmits a signal to the Central Monitoring Station.


Q: How do the detectors or sensors work?

A: Switch or contact sensors are the most frequently used alarm sensors in residential home security systems. They are electromagnetic devices installed at all entry points considered to be accessible from the ground and all windows or balcony doors adjacent to trees. When a door or window is opened, the alarm is triggered.


Q: How are the sensors and "panic buttons" connected to the alarm unit?

A: Sensors, panic and emergency buttons are connected to the control unit either by direct wiring or by wireless technology. A wireless system operates on batteries that must be changed periodically. Each sensor, panic or emergency button includes a transmitter, and a receiver is installed in the control unit. The wireless panic or emergency buttons can be carried from room to room. Wired and wireless systems are equally effective, provided security professionals install them.


Q: How does an alarm system report an intrusion?

A: The traditional method of communication is through standard dial-up telephone lines. However this is the least secure way of communication, since these lines are susceptible to vandalism, damage from storms, vehicle accidents, construction cable cuts or line repairs. More secure options are available such as Radio or Cellular backup transmitters, and these can be supervised by the Central Monitoring Station to detect transmission failures.


General Questions

Q: Do I need a phone line to hook up my alarm monitoring service?

A: Not necessarily. Although you do need some means of communication available to transmit signals to the monitoring center, it does not have to be a traditional phone line. You can transmit the alarm signals with a GSM Cell Unit. The cell unit uses the airways to transmit the alarm call. It was designed years ago to transmit the signal in the event that the phone line was cut. It was used primarily as a back-up device. Currently, many people are foregoing the traditional land line and using the cell unit as the primary means of alarm transmission. The unit is a dedicated box that goes inside the closet next to the alarm panel in most instances.

Q: Is there an additional cost to have the cell unit?

A: Yes. There is a $10 monthly access fee and the cost of the unit. Even though you are paying more for your monitoring, you are saving much more by not having to pay for a land line. As an alternative, in some areas the local phone company can provide limited use lines for around $10/mo plus all their taxes. It is mentioned here as a viable alternative.

Q: What kind of systems can Entry Protection Systems monitor?

A: Entry Protection Systems is able to monitor most systems that have been put in service from 2001 to present. Many systems installed before 2001 are outdated in their communication formats. In addition, most of these type systems no longer have replacement parts available. Our preferred brand to work with is GE. In some instances we are able to work with Honeywell and Digital Security Controls (DSC), but most of these are locked out by the previous company and require a panel swap. Many keypads are private labeled (ADT, Ranger American, Protection One, etc.), yet we are still able to monitor the system. Give us a call and we should be able to determine via a phone conversation if your home security system is indeed a compatible system.

Q: Does my system qualify for an insurance discount?

A: Our monitoring station is UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved so in most cases the answer is Yes. Most Texas insurance companies offer 20% off homeowner’s insurance premiums with a monitored system. Some might offer an additional 5% or more if fire monitoring is added. Be sure to check with your agent for the specific discounts your policy is eligible for.

Q: I see that your standard agreement is 12 months. Does Entry Protection Systems
offer any shorter term agreements?

A: Entry Protection Systems is willing to work on an individual basis with each customer to meet their security needs. However, our liability insurance requires we maintain an initial contract duration of twelve months. After the initial 12 month period, you may cancel monitoring service at any time, no questions asked.

Q: What does Entry Protection Systems charge for service calls?

A: If you are a monitored alarm customer, repair trips are complimentary. That means, for example, if you need a replacement battery or a door switch goes bad, we will come out and replace / repair as necessary free of charge. The only exceptions to this policy are:

1) Damage occurring from Acts of God such as a lightning strike.
2) Damage occurring from another service provider such as an HVAC repair man who accidentally cuts alarm wires while in the attic.
3) If you change telephone service providers resulting in the alarm panel needing to be rewired in order to maintain communication with the central station.

Q: Why choose Entry Protection Systems?

A: Because you will have the convenience and added security of your home or business knowing that you are working with a local company that has been in business since 1977. We are honest and never overcharge our customers, and you will always receive great customer service.

Q: How do I update my emergency contacts?

A: You can update your emergency contacts by calling us at 713-664-1377. Please have your password available. Remember that Emergency Contacts are people you identify who will be contacted in the event of an alarm or an emergency. Your Emergency Contacts may also possess keys to your premises, which can help Entry Protection Systems to expedite police response. Your Emergency Contacts may change from time to time. It is important that you review and update your contact list periodically.

Q: Do you service alarms that are not monitored by Entry Protection Systems?

A: We only service alarms that we have installed and/or monitor. If your alarm is being monitored by another company, then you will need to have that company come out and repair it for liability reasons. If you are not being monitored but still need service, it is not a service that we provide. Most times there is a lock out code on the existing system, or it is an out of date system.

If you find yourself in this situation, give us a call. We can probably upgrade your system for cost and keep your rate at approximately $30 monthly. If you factor the cost plus the insurance discount you would be receiving, it would be more economical to get a new system with a central station monitoring agreement.

If you are not being monitored but want to repair the alarm, you will probably need to sign up for monitoring with a FULL SERVICE licensed company. Some of the alarm companies that you find on the internet do not do service and leave it up to you to get your alarm serviced should the need arise. Remember, most cheap online companies are either not a UL listed monitoring center, and/or have no local service department.


Read about how Residential Alarm Systems work