F.A.Q. To Help You Decide What Alarm System to Invest In

This frequently asked questions page is designed to help homeowners who know they would like to get a security system installed but just have a few more questions.

Below you will find answers to questions about:

  • General Home Security
  • Equipment and Security Devices 
  • Features of Home Security
  • Home Automation
  • Video Surveillance and Cameras
  • New Homeowner Needs
  • Crime Activity
  • Safety Tips

Please feel free to call us in regard to any questions you have about getting a security system installed here in California.

Call today: 1-800-310-9490


General Home Security Questions

Deciding on which security system is best for you

Q. How do I get started?

If you are ready to get your system installed, simply give us a call at 1-800-310-9490 and we will have a security professional come by and talk with you about your needs. They will assist you in setting up a system specifically for your home and family. Get started today.

Q. What security devices should I include in my security system installation?

The best features will depend on the protection you desire for your home and your family's life style. An alarm certainly needs to sound when the perimeter is breached and quickly connect to the monitoring station. Many people prefer security systems that have a cellular connection versus relying on a typical land line. To be able to customize your system your security company should provide a large array of options like glass break sensor, monitored smoke sensors, carbon monoxide sensor, key chain remotes and other items.

You may want to take advantage of adding a home automation or camera packages. Security systems offer a low cost home automation platform making smart home technology an affordable option and there are huge benefits to integrating these features with you home security. This allows easy automation like having the doors lock when the alarm system is armed and much more. See this blog about how ADT Pulse can be customized to give you the best features for your lifestyle.

Q. Are wired or wireless home security systems better?

In most situations, if you have a home that is pre-wired for a home security system, it will be best to go with a hardwired system. If you want to expand your system utilizing your current devices and adding in new wireless devices like monitored smoke detectors or cover addition doors and windows, a hybrid system offers you the best of both worlds. If your home has no pre-existing equipment, a wireless system is a time efficient method that can cover all you needs. For an in depth look at hardwired vs. wireless systems, check out this blog.

Q. What alarm system should I get installed? 

An alarm system that you use daily will keep your home the safest. A lot of things go into that. An alarm system should be customized to the way your family lives. Your best bet on this is to have a FREE home security review with a professional security consultant that will talk to you about your lifestyle and what you are looking for in a system and guide you through the process of building your security plan for your family.*

Q. Can I customize my system, or is ADT Pulse "one size fits all"?

ADT systems are fully customizable.

There are many devices available to fit basic or complex needs. You can as well have smart home features with the ADT Pulse system. Smart homes have automated devices that will perform actions at scheduled times each day or based on other events such as having certain lights come on when you unlock the front door. Many clients are also very interested in video surveillance. The Pulse system can have indoor or outdoor cameras that integrate with the rest of your system and can be monitored on your mobile device. For more on ADT Pulse, see our ADT Pulse page here.


Remote Mobile Access

Q. Can I access my home or business security system or automation devices from a computer or mobile phone?


With an ADT Pulse system, you can access your home’s alarm system from anywhere that you have Internet connection. Use your mobile devices with ADT Pulse Apps or login to your ADT Pulse Web Portal from your computer or laptop to access your home security system. Even if you are just cozy on your couch and don’t want to get up to change the thermostat. 

Standard security systems do not have remote access. So make sure you get an ADT Pulse security system installed if you would like remote access.

Q. How do I obtain an ADT Pulse app for my mobile device?

Download that ADT Pulse app here for your Apple device and here for your Android device.


Contract and Financial

Q. How much does ADT cost for my home or business?

For a basic system, you can expect to receive 2-6 door / window sensors, a motion sensor and possibly a key chain remote for FREE plus installation that should start at about $99. That said, today’s systems offer integrated home automation, cameras, remotely controlled thermostats, lighting and door locks and more. Some homeowners invest a few thousand into their security systems with home automation and cameras.

Monthly monitoring can be straight security monitoring, include smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring, a warranty, remote access to your system, 2-way interactive voice options (someone will voice challenge an intruder,) cellular connection to the monitoring station and more. Monitoring rates start at $36.99 a month and go up to $59.99 a month for security systems with video monitoring and home management control.

For your best value, select a reputable local security company, and make sure they have good sound reviews from existing customers, are willing to work around your schedule, offer quality equipment and  are willing to send out someone for FREE to listen to your wants and help you customize a system that fits your needs. Price wise, you can start with a $99 package or build your own adding in what you choose. See here for a price list of devices and then call us for the specials at 1-800-310-9490. There’s always a special!

Q. What type of contract length can I expect from security providers?

Alarm monitoring contracts can last from anywhere from 12 months to 60 months, but the industry standard is about 36 months. In California, you can choose between a 24 month contract or a 36 month contract. 

Q. Can purchasing a home security system decrease my homeowner's insurance?


Most insurance companies offer a discount when you install a monitored security system. It might be divided into one discount for the basic security system and another discount for having monitored smoke detectors. Most insurance companies give between 10%-15% discount for a system with both burglary and fire monitoring with the largest discounts around 20%.

Q. Are home security systems and alarm monitoring tax deductible?

Typically, a home security system does not qualify for a tax deduction. If your security system is only used to safeguard your personal property then it does not qualify for a deduction. However, if you claim a home office or use your home for a business like a child care facility, you may also be able to claim a portion of your home security system. Talk to your tax professional for more details.

Q. Do I need an alarm permit to install a security system in my home?

An alarm permit is required by some cities for you to have an alarm system installed in your home or business. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to secure the alarm permit when necessary. To make it easy for you to find requirements in your area, we have compiled this list of links in California that show where it is and isn’t necessary to have a permit and how to secure one.


Home Phone Service and Internet

Q. Can I get a home security system without a home phone line?


Traditionally, home security systems utilized home land lines to transmit alarm signals to the monitoring center. Many people are now skipping home phones all together and even if one exists, the communication is slower and burglars can cut phone lines on the side of your home. A cellular connection to the central monitoring station is faster, more reliable and readily available. Eighty percent of California Security Pro's customers get a security system installed that communicates via cellular. 

Q. What is CellGuard and how does it work?

CellGuard is the name of the technology thatADT uses to provide a completely wireless connection to the monitoring station. This optional feature forADT monitored security customers uses cellular technology to help ensureADT's network of command centers remains in constant connection with your home or business.

Q. Do I need home home internet service?

When you get ADT Pulse with cameras or home automation you will need to have home Internet service. Otherwise, there are security system options that do not require Internet service to have ADT Security monitoring.



Q. Is a professionally installed security system better than a DIY (Do it Yourself) solution?

For some, a DIY solution is best. If you are good at actually tackling your DIY list in a timely manner and great at making sure things are 100% the way they should be, DIY might be a great solution, keeping in mind that how well your system works will determine your family’s safety. 

For many, a professionally installed system is your best bet. A security professional will present you with the different types of systems, crime trends in your area and help you find the most economical solution. Professional installation guarantees that the system is set up right and every sensor verified to be working. You will also receive training on how to use your security system. Here’s a blog looking at the difference between DIY and professional installation.

Q. Does your system support an emergency duress or distress code?


It’s a code that you chose to be used in emergency situations only. If someone were to follow you into your home and demand you disarm your system, you can enter this code and it will appear to the intruder as if you have disarmed your system. No one from the monitoring center will call you because this code is your way of telling the authorities someone is in your home with you. ADT imediately dispatches police. This means the police will respond quicker and silently, so you remain safe. You can talk with your technician at your installation and they will walk you through setting up a duress code.


FAQ’s about Equipment

Q. Where is best location to place the keypad in my home?

It used to be standard to locate your keypad within a couple feet of the door you use primarily to enter your home. Now you can take into consideration that your system can be disarmed and armed by your key chain remote, mobile app, or even set to arm automatically when the doors are locked. Having your keypad close to an entry is always a good idea but picturing how you will use your system on a day to day basis will give you a good idea of where you will use it most.

Q. How exactly does a Glass Break Sensor work? Where is the best location to place it?

Glass Break sensors detect the unique frequency associated with breaking glass. Ideally, you want to place this sensor on the opposite wall from the window you are trying to protect at no more than 20 feet away.

Q. Where is the best location to place my Motion Sensor(s)?

A motion detector should go four or five feet off the ground in the corner of the room. This way, it “sees” approximately 45 degrees to the left and right. The Motion Sensor looks out at a 90-degree angle from the floor on a flat plane. This will guarantee detection at almost any height. In a single story home the motion should typically installed in the hallway as a "trap zone" to the master bedroom. In a two story, motion should catch the stairway that leads up to the master bedroom.

Q. What is a panic pendant and how does it work?

A panic pendant is a small, portable, battery-operated device that ensures the user always has access to the help they need during an emergency situation, such as a break-in, medical emergency or a debilitating fall. You simply push the button located on the pendant when you need help.

Q. What are pet immune motion detectors and how do they work?

Pet immune motion detectors disregard the motion caused by animals weighing less than 40 or 80 pounds depending on the detector. More about motion detectors here.  

Q. What is a security system key fob (key chain remote) and how does it work?

A security key fob or key chain remote, is similar to the key fob for your car. It will arm and disarm your system with the simple press of a button. Some key fobs have 4 buttons which give the options to arm for stay, when you are home and only want the perimeter armed, when you are away and want the perimeter and interior armed, disarm and a panic button that you can hold down and manually activate the alarm system.  

Q. What does a carbon monoxide detector do and how does it work?

A monitored carbon monoxide detector detects carbon monoxide and sends an alarm signal to the ADT Central Station. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that is near impossible to identify without a proper detector.

Q. What happens when I press the panic medical, or fire alarm buttons on the keypad?

If you hold down the panic, medical or fire alarm buttons on the touch pad for a few seconds, an alarm is transmitted to the ADT Customer Monitoring Center, and emergency services are dispatched immediately. It's like having your own 911 emergency service.


FAQ about Home Security Features

Q. What is ADT's 2-Way Voice and how does it work?

ADT's 2-Way Voice features work something like an intercom, but it's much more powerful. In fact, it could help save a life. When your home's alarm or a panic button is activated, two-way hands-free communication with the ADT monitoring center begins.

You and an ADT professional will communicate through a speaker and microphone that are built in to your alarm panel. There's no need to find a phone. The ADT professional can hear exactly what is taking place in your home, determine your emergency and send the appropriate help.

Q. What are the best features to include in a security system?

I wish this was a short answer but it’s not. Kind like which are the best jeans, the best jeans on you probably aren’t the ones for me. Your security system protects and assists your family. The system that is easy enough for you and your loved ones to use daily is best. The one that protects your entire home within your budget is best. The one that also happens to show sports statistics for Mom and traffic for Dad might be the best for you. (not a joke, they do that!)

Here’s a fairly short blog that will give you a complete picture for you. Another option is to have a security professional come out for a no obligation security review and answer all of your questions.

Q. When I use my phone line, does it affect my alarm monitoring service?


Most security systems installed today utilize their own GSM Cellular module to communicate to the central station. If you still have a basic security system that utilizes a home phone line to communicate to the central station, when an alarm event happens the alarm system will seize the line and any current phone calls will be dropped. 

Q. If I lose power, will my alarm system still work?


Alarm panels have back-up batteries that last at least 24 hours and automatically reset themselves and re-charge as soon as the power is back on.

Q. How do I log in to the ADT Pulse portal?

When you sign up for ADT Pulse, you will receive an email with instructions on how to set up your ADT Pulse portal. Once you have set up your account, you will be able to return to https://portal.adtpulse.com and sign in at any time. For our customers, there is a log-in tab on our menu that will direct you to this site.


Home Automation

Q. How do I access my home or business from a computer or mobile phone?

Go to https://portal.adtpulse.com and use the personal login information that was provided to you at your installation.

If you have a mobile device, you may download the app free of charge from the Android Market or Apple’s App Store and then use your normal ADT Pulse login credentials to access your system.

Q. How do I obtain an ADT Pulse app for my mobile device?

You may download the app free of charge from the Android Market or Apple’s App Store and then use your regular ADT Pulse login credentials to access your system.

Q. What is Z-Wave?

The ADT Pulse system is powered by Z-Wave technology which works similar to Wi-Fi but does not interfere with your home’s Wi-Fi signals. Z-Wave operates on 900MHz of power and controls devices and appliances around the home like security systems, lights, thermostats and door locks.

Z-wave devices that are compatible with ADT Pulse include light switches, light and/or small appliance modules, garage door openers, cameras, thermostats, door locks and touchscreens.

Q.What are the best home automation features to include in a security system?

The best features for you will be the ones that make your life easier or more convenient and hopefully save you some money. Read more here for a breakdown of what each home automation feature can offer you.  


Video Surveillance and Cameras

Q. How Much Does Video Surveillance Cost?

ADT Pulse Cameras are your affordable option when it comes to video surveillance. when you opt for the home automation package you receive your first camera free. From there you can add additional cameras at $159 for an indoor camera ad $259 for a day/night, outdoor camera. So about $800 for a four camera system. Traditional cameras systems will run you about $3,500 for a 4 camera system installed with a DVR. A huge benefit with ADT Pulse is that you can purchase cameras on your own and add them to your system as you desire.

Q. Where is captured video stored?

ADT Pulse stored video is on-line. You can access it by logging into your on-line portal via any Internet connection. 

Q. Will my cameras notify me of suspicious behavior immediately?

Using your ADT Pulse cameras, you can set up text and email notifications of camera events including motion. You can also have the system record 30 second video clips of triggered events.

Q. Can I use a mobile device to view my home in real time?

Yes, with ADT Pulse, you can use any Internet enabled mobile device and view live footage of your home of business. You can also capture a picture of what you are seeing live or record a 30 second video clip. 


New Homeowner Questions

Q. Should I install my alarm system before I move in?


Your system can only protect your home once it is installed. An empty home is subject to vandalism and theft of copper pipes ad many other building supplies. Do not move in any boxes until you home is protected. New homeowners are targets for burglary.

Q. Can I get a home security system without a phone line?

Yes, although security systems have traditionally relied on a home phone or other landline to provide an around-the-clock link to the security company, the age of cellular communication has radically changed that. Although cellular connections to the monitoring station were originally developed to provide a backup in the event of a blackout or other home phone outage, cellular monitoring is now used on 80% of our customer installations.

Q. Can purchasing a home security system decrease my homeowners insurance?

Home security systems can save you money. With the average loss in a break-in being over $2000, and the chances of falling victim to that going down by 300% when you install an alarm, you are possibly saving the cost of your losses. Your homeowner's insurance also recognizes that your chances of a loss due to theft are way lower and will reward you with a discount for installing a monitored alarm system and usually an additional discount for monitored smoke detectors.

Q. If my new home is pre-wired for a security system, what are my options?

If you have a home that has been pre-wired for a security system, you should schedule a free home security review to have a security professional come to your home to go over your options. It most cases you should use the wiring to reduce the cost of installing a security system. BUYER BEWARE... "wireless" security systems are not better than hard wired security systems. Most often a hybrid security system that uses your pre-wire and gives you an ability to add additional wireless security devices is your best option.


Crime Activity

Q. What happens when I press the panic or fire alarm buttons on the keypad?

If you hold down the panic or fire alarm buttons on the keypad for a few seconds, an alarm is transmitted to the ADT Customer Monitoring Center, and emergency services are dispatched immediately. An alarm received in this manner cannot be canceled.

Q. What is a duress or distress code? What does it do?

A duress Code is a special access code to be used in emergency/duress situations only. When used, your system will disarm and a special type of silent alarm is also generated. For example, if an intruder surprises you when you are arriving home and forces you to enter the home and disarm the security system, you can enter the duress code instead of your usual access code to disarm the security system and send a silent alarm to the central monitoring station that indicates that you are under duress. To the intruder, it looks like you are entering the normal code to disarm the system, but the central monitoring station will notify the authorities that you are under duress. The duress alarm allows you to obey your captor while still sending for help.

Q. How do cameras add to my safety?

Cameras can add to your safety in a couple of ways. One common benefit of cameras is to deter crime. Many criminals desire to not get caught, seeing your cameras will make many criminals choose a target that is not filming them. Another way that cameras are commonly used is to spot suspicious activity. ADT Pulse cameras record 30 second clips that are neatly filed away for your viewing convenience. You can set up to have them emailed or texted to you. Taking a few minutes a day to review clips can allow you to spot strange cars on the street or unknown people doing anything out of the ordinary. Since one of the most effective ways a community stays safe is working together, sites like NextDoor.com allows you to send out alerts to your neighbors so you are all aware of any suspicious events your cameras are picking up. Check-out the blog on Community Safety and Social Media for more ideas on having a safer neighborhood. 


Safety Tips

Q. Will my kids be able to operate this system?


Kids around 9 or 10 and above love ADT Pulse. Because it is easy to use, they can operate the basic functions and feel like a grown up. For your older kids that might know more about technology than we do, it is cutting edge technology. May users rely on their teens to set up the automations for them. 

Q. Does my alarm system make my community safer?

The more homeowners in your community who get their homes protected will help eliminate your neighborhood from being a target. Also, as more outdoor cameras are installed by neighbors it will increase the ability to gather information about crime and help convict burglars. 


If you would like to get a security system installed, schedule an on-site free home security review by calling today at 1-800-310-9490.