Is 24/7 Professional Home Security Monitoring Worth It?

Having 24/7 professional monitoring of your security system might seem like a great way to keep your home safe and catch burglars in the act, but is it really? Or does it just provide a false sense of security on which you’re wasting a monthly fee?

First of all, 24/7 monitoring itself isn’t a bad thing, and I think that in the right circumstances, it can be beneficial for some. But it’s also something that you have to pay for every month, which can amount to hundreds of dollars every year.

“But Craig, you can’t put a price tag on security!” Yeah, but you can, and paying for 24/7 professional monitoring services just isn’t worth it most of the time.

Burglars Are Usually Gone Before the Police Even Arrive

Most security systems are set up to notify the professional monitoring service (not the police) when an intrusion is detected. When they receive that notification, the service then contacts you to confirm whether it’s real or not (most of the time, they’re false alarms). When they determine that it’s real (or if they can’t make a determination), they then make a call to the police. Then, you have to wait for police to arrive. Under ideal circumstances, a “fast” response time can be anywhere from 8-10 minutes.

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And that’s under ideal circumstances. Depending on where you live, how busy the police are, and what other types of events they’re responding to, that 8-10 minutes could be at least an hour.

By that point, the burglar will likely be long gone. In fact, the alarm is what most likely prevents the police from catching the burglar red handed in the first place, as it’s usually enough to stop most burglars in their tracks, or at least limit the amount of time they spend rummaging through your home.

At that point, there’s really nothing the police can do except monitor the surrounding area for a bit and possibly locate the burglar if they’re lucky. Sure, the alarm may have scared the thief away, or at least kept them from stealing more than what they might have wanted, but at the end of the day, that thief is still out there on the loose.

A Loud Noise Works Just Fine

Of course, just because 24/7 professional monitoring isn’t really worth it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a security system at all. It’s always beneficial to have at least some form of security set up, but preferably one where you don’t have to continuously pay for it.

Most alarm systems can be used without paying for around-the-clock professional monitoring, and as mentioned above, that’s enough to ward off potential burglars most of the time, or at least limit the amount of time they spend in your home.

The SimpliSafe security system, for example, can be used without paying for professional monitoring. Granted, at that point it’s nothing more than a loud noise machine, but that’s all you need at the very basic level. In fact, a majority of burglars will stay away from a house just because of the presence of an alarm, as well as other things like randomized house lights.

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Ideally, though, you should have security cameras set up in plain sight on the outside of your house if you want to cover your bases. This is one of the biggest deterrents for potential thieves, as being identified is the number one thing they want to avoid in the first place. And in the event you are burglarized, those cameras can be useful in filing out police reports and insurance claims.

Image from Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.