Frequently Asked Home Security & Burglar Alarm Installation 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 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.  But nowadays, 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 monthly access fee, and the cost of the unit.  Typically if you roll the cost of the unit and air time into our traditional 36 month agreement, it will add $11 to your monthly bill.  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: Will VOIP phones work with my alarm system?

A: In most cases the answer is no.  VOIP phone transmission is not a UL approved means of transmission.  The problem is that often the signal does not get through with VOIP phones.  The system may work fine for 6 months, and then all of a sudden, you can’t get the signals to go through.  Also, some VOIP phones have to be reset after a power outage.  So we do not recommend connecting to VOIP phones.

However, we have had good success with the Comcast digital phones & the AT&T Uverse in the Houston area. Although it is still not UL, and there is a chance of the signal not getting thru, if you are looking to save money, and are willing to sign a waiver, Texstar Alarm Systems will hook up to the Comcast & AT&T Uverse phones.

Services like Vonage, Magic Jack, and the like, have been very unreliable in our experience.  Vonage even has a disclaimer on their website in regards to this.

Q: Will DSL affect my alarm system?

A: Yes.  A special DSL filter will need to be added to ensure communication with the monitoring station.  It is a special filter that is not the same filter that is supplied by the phone company.

Q: I have a pet.  Am I still able to have a motion detector?

A: There are pet motions available on the market.  They are rated by the weight of the animal (40 lb pet motion, 80 lb pet motion, etc.).  These motions really do not sense the weight of the animal, but the height vs. width size pattern the animal produces.  For most dogs, these motions work great.  But for dogs such as Labs, German Shepherds, and the like, you have to be careful that they do not set them off.  If the dog is upper thigh level on you, we recommend that you not do a pet motion detector.

Cats pose a different problem.  Although they do not create a significant size pattern, their ability to jump so quick, fools the motion into thinking that it is a person standing up.  This will cause a false alarm.  We strongly advise against a pet motion when a cat is present.

Alternatives to the motion detector can be an interior trap (contacting a closet door for example) or a glass break detector.

Q: How does a glass break detector work?

A: A glass break detector is designed to pick up the sound and vibration of breaking glass, and it has to occur within a set amount of time.  A glass break detector is a line of site product, so if there are faux wood blinds, heavy drapes, or plantation shutters, on the windows, the glass break may not detect the intrusion.  Whenever possible, we like to recommend a motion detector due to the fact that most people cover their windows by some means, which greatly limits the effectiveness of the glass break detector.

For more information on how a glass break detector functions, view the video below.

Q: What kind of systems can Texstar Alarm Systems monitor?

A: Texstar Alarm 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 brands to work with are Honeywell and Digital Security Controls (DSC). In some instances we are able to work with a GE system, 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: I don’t have an alarm currently installed.  What is included in your basic home security installation?

A: Our basic installation includes the following:

  • 1 Honeywell Vista 15P control panel
  • 1 Honeywell 6150 keypad
  • 1 40 lb pet motion
  • 3 door contacts (or activate all pre-wired openings if house has been pre-wired)
  • 1 110db interior siren
  • 1 back-up battery
  • 1 set yard sign and window decals

Wireless systems will have additional costs.  A wireless system will be necessary on a 2 story home that has not been pre-wired.

Q: Are panic buttons included on your alarm system?

A: Yes.  Texstar Alarm Systems is licensed for fire, so we do hook up police, fire, and medical panic buttons as well as a hostage code.  We will only hook up the police panic buttons on commercial installations or homes with VOIP phones.

Q: Is fire monitoring included on the basic system?

A: Texstar Alarm Systems is licensed for residential fire installations, but fire monitoring is not included on the basic installation.  If you wish to add fire monitoring, there is no additional cost to monitor for fire, however, there is a cost for the detection devices (smoke and/or heat detector).

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 10% off homeowner’s insurance premiums with a monitored system.  Some even give 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 36 months.  Does Texstar Alarm Systems offer any shorter term agreements?

A: Texstar Alarm Systems is willing to work on an individual basis with each customer to meet their security needs.  However, there may be increased installation and or monitoring costs up front.

Q: What other services does Texstar Alarm Systems provide?

A: In addition to our alarm monitoring services, Texstar Alarm Systems also offers home theater, structured wiring for phone & TV, alarm pre-wiring,   Call for a custom quote.

Q: Do you service alarms that are not monitored by Texstar Alarm Systems?

A: We only service alarms that we have installed and 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 free and keep your rate at around $20-$25/mo based on a 36 month monitoring agreement.  If you factor the cost to replace your current system plus the insurance discount you are not receiving, you are most times better off to do the monitoring agreement and get a totally new system.

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, or have no local service department, or both.

Q: What if I have more questions?

A: Feel free to give us a call at 281-272-8600.  We offer an honest and low key approach without the high pressure sales tactics that many of our competitors engage in.  Most times we can give you an accurate quote right over the phone, saving you time.  As an alternative if you prefer, you may fill out the contact us form on the website, and we can contact you via email.  However, it really is much easier to explain particular questions you may have via a phone conversation.