Traditional home alarm systems started appearing on the consumer market in the 1980s-1990s. At that time, they were an advance in security technology. They had motion detection, cameras and very little visible wires. They made homeowners feel more secure.

But fast forward to today.

Compared to newer ‘Smart’ counterparts, traditional security systems are quickly becoming very outdated, costly and inefficient – and even worse – they aren’t even that great at preventing burglaries.

It’s important to realize the common pitfalls of older security systems when making informed decisions about how to protect your valuables – and loved ones.

At Ring, we care about the security of your family, home, and community. And we also believe in the power of cutting edge smart technology, which is why we researched and compiled the possible downfalls of security systems so you can make wise choices about your home’s safety.

Security Systems Are Poor At Burglary Prevention

To start, they have many of known technical limitations:

  • Burglars have become skilled at noting the common locations of motion detectors, and can avoid setting them off
  • Some systems are susceptible to signal interference
  • Burglars have also learned how to disarm them
  • Security systems may not work during power outages, leaving your home vulnerable

Additionally, when you have an alarm system, you’re relying on the alarm company to be a fast ‘middleman’ – relaying information to the police. Every second is valuable in a burglary, so even 30 seconds of a delay can make the difference. In 2010, the New York Times reported response times in major cities can be as long as 45 minutes. Even recently, a local HOA meeting noted that burglaries get the lowest attention of any call – and it can take 2-3 hours for police to get to your home.

They Don’t Protect Your Privacy

It should be noted that because alarm systems are often ineffective, this means complete strangers can get inside your home. Even if they don’t steal anything, many homeowners will feel their privacy has been violated. Reactive security systems fall very short when it comes to protecting your privacy.

False Alarms

Did you know these ‘alarming’ facts about false alarms?*

  • Between 94 and 99 percent of burglar-alarm calls turn out to be false.
  • False alarms make up between 10 and 20 percent of all calls to police.
  • False alarms cost us billions every year.


Furthermore, did you know some police department pass this cost onto you, the consumer? As one information board user states, most false alarms are due to user error:

“Most false alarms are a result of user error – entering the wrong code, forgetting to give the alarm code to the pet sitter, failing to close all doors/windows before setting code, and so on.”

False alarms (sometimes referred to as “nuisance” alarms) can be set off because of user error, pets tripping the motion detection or open doors and windows. In fact, a police officer from Salt Lake City said that “most police departments don’t respond to burglar alarms…”.

Additionally, repeated psychological studies show that false alarms (also referred to as detection theory) reduce our reaction when a real alarm happens.


The Hassle Of Alarm Companies, Dealers & Contractors

Many security companies can be notoriously difficult to deal with:

  • Salespeople will even try to scare you, by telling you crime has increased in your neighborhood (when they know it hasn’t).
  • Forbes even reported in 2012, that the biggest risk of home security systems, could be the very people who install them.

Because of these issues, the FTC recommends getting quotes from several companies and doing what can amount to hours of research. That’s a lot of your valuable time and it’s not fair to the consumer.

If you do end up installing a system, the larger companies outsource call centers and on-site workers.  This involvement of multiple companies and subcontractors is confusing and can result in poor service all around.


Alarm Systems Are Expensive

You may be surprised at the total price of alarm systems. Even the cheaper DIY systems start at around $250 and quickly increase. Advertisement pricing may relate to the basic systems, which are often inadequate for many situations, so you’ll find yourself adding extras.  

But that’s not even the worst of it, there are additional costs:

  • Monthly Monitoring – After buying the security system equipment, you’ll have to pay for monthly monitoring, which can run from $180 to $1200 per year.
  • Installation – Most companies will offer installation specials as low as $99, but start-up costs for all the equipment could run between $600 to $1,200 according to this USNews article.
  • City Fees – We even found a reader’s comment here stating their city charged them an additional $40 a year in fees just to have an alarm system.
  • Early Termination Fees – Alarm companies usually lock you into a 3-5 year contract, with expensive termination fees – often up to 90% of the contract amount.

Reactive Vs. Proactive Home Security

Home security systems are reactive. In the 1970’s they may have been a security innovation, but they are quickly becoming old and ineffective. They often don’t even stop crime, putting your family and valuables at risk. They allow complete strangers to get into your home, putting your privacy at major risk.

However, with the advent of Smart proactive security devices like the Ring Doorbell, you can prevent crimes before they happen at all. Thanks to two way talk and motion detection, the burglar won’t even make it into your home. They often will knock on the door or ring the doorbell before attempting to break in and flee the scene upon noticing the doorbell camera or hearing a voice on the other side.

With proactive systems your security, your safety and privacy are more protected.

There are many ways to keep your home safe and secure, such these security tips and the many new Smart security and home automation devices that can found in our Ring Plus program. We have even recently partnered with ADT to help bring a Ring of security around your entire home. These Smart solutions are comparably more reliable, more convenient, private and offer much more home security.

Do you have any experiences with home alarm systems? Please let us know in the comments below.