A few months ago, my wife and I returned home from dinner to find the front door wide open and the dogs barking wildly. We immediately called the police. When they arrived, we walked through the house and noticed that nothing had been taken (including laptops and cash in plain sight). The door doesn’t latch all the way, so we must have left it unlocked and it had blown open. Nevertheless, the event scared us and we decided it was time for a security system.
After some research, we settled on FrontPoint Security, one of the top nation-wide security monitoring providers. I was drawn to the upfront pricing, do-it-yourself installation, all-wireless setup, and choose-your-own-equipment style. The equipment I ordered was:
- 7 recessed door/window sensors
- 1 glass-break sensor
- 1 motion sensor
- 1 carbon monoxide sensor
- 1 heat/smoke sensor
- 3 keychain fobs
- 1 control panel
The cost came to about $900, but I signed up for a 3-year monitoring contract which knocked $200 off the total price. It all arrived a couple days later in an organized and neatly-labeled box. Here’s a picture of my old security system alongside the new one.
The included QuickStart guide showed me how to set up the control panel and turn on the sensor chimes – it took less than a minute. That’s when I hit my first snag; there were no instructions included for installing the recessed door sensors. No big deal – I found the manual online. These are some of the more difficult-to-install sensors sold by FrontPoint. On my first attempt, I did not drill the hole in the frame deep enough and the sensor stuck out about 1/8″, which kept the door from closing. Unfortunately, once the sensor is in it has some hooks which keep you from pulling it out. So I destroyed that sensor casing in the process (see below).
On my second attempt, I very carefully drilled the hole an extra 1/2″ deep only to find that at that depth the sensor was too far away to sense consistently. So I removed (and destroyed) a second recessed door sensor. At this point, I admitted defeat and called FrontPoint. I told them my story and they helpfully suggested I return the recessed door sensors for the normal door/window sensors. They sent out the new sensors the next day with a prepaid FedEx label for the return.
Three days later, I set up the entire system in ~1 hour. The new door/window sensors were peel-and-stick (like all my other FrontPoint equipment). After installation, I called FrontPoint and they activated my system in about 30 minutes. One additional snafu was that my carbon monoxide detector was DOA. Changing the batteries didn’t help. Once again, the FrontPoint representative shipped out a replacement immediately (and activated the rest of my system in the mean-time).
We’ve now got the whole system enabled and we’ve been using it for a few weeks. It works great and I have no complaints. We have the cheapest monitoring plan which basically does what you’d expect a monitoring plan to do: it calls the authorities if something goes wrong. They’re also letting us try out the “Interactive” plan for the first month. It lets you monitor the system status online and on your phone. It’s neat and I messed with it a lot the first day, but I haven’t touched it since. To me, it’s not worth an additional $10 per month.
All told, the cost is worth the peace-of-mind the system gives. I don’t have to worry about the dogs when we’re out at dinner. When we go on vacation, I won’t have to leave the TV or lights on. If I’m laying in bed after watching a horror movie, I can tell myself, “No – there’s definitely not a serial killer in the house – the alarm would have sounded.” Plus, it gives me plenty of exercise sprinting to disarm the system when I forget and open the back door to let the dogs out…