Anyone use alarm monitoring?


New Member
$40 a month? They better come to my house and personally check my alarm for this! If you guys don't find a solution let me know and I will check with my subs as they have a variety of monitoring solutions available I believe.


SammyGadt said:
$40 a month?  They better come to my house and personally check my alarm for this!  If you guys don't find a solution let me know and I will check with my subs as they have a variety of monitoring solutions available I believe.
Sammy - let's discuss what your subs offer and their pricing, and where are they located?

Your post for some reason rubs me a little bit the wrong way. It implies that I made some foolish error paying for this service. If I am indeed a fool for going down this route, please educate me and show me exactly how you know of an equivalent or superior service for much less money.

I like to consider myself a careful consumer, one who researches the alternatives carefully and decides upon the best choice based up my priorities.

$40 may sound a lot, but compared to the standard competing $30 - $40 for only telephone and cellular without the broadband enhancements for most security system companies I've talked to, it sounds very reasonable.

$40 is also very relative. For someone as inexperienced as myself with alarm systems, who desire more feature rich functionality out of the existing alarm system I have, it is very fair. For someone else who has more time, experience, and technical know-how, maybe it is a huge rip-off. That may be you, but that's not me, and that's not the majority of the home owners in the US.

Just by being on this site, I reckon we're probably the top 1% elitist in this home security space. You probably know 100 times more about home security systems than me, but I have done years of research, called around dozens of alarm / security companies prior to my home alarm install, and have continued to research security systems.

I have visited NextAlarm, DollarAlarm, called, spoken to local home entertainment & security installers about their recommendations for security systems, spent many hours on the phone calling security installers in the yellow pages and getting competing quotes, as well as calling the big boys - ADT, Brinks, Monitronics, etc. I feel fairly comfortable with my decision at the end of the day.

I feel like I have done my homework in terms of deciding to go with uControl and their service, in terms of what I have discovered.

If you know some much better alternative than I, please share them with an inexperienced beginner like myself and others here. This is the reason I joined this website, to ask for additional input, insight that I am unaware of.

Believe me, if there were a lot of security companies offering the ease of install and the features / functionality of uControl for a lot less, I'd have gone with those other companies.

AFAIK uControl is the first company that I know of that offers this unprecedented ease of install, and multiple redundant paths of communication to the mass market.

I'd love to get a hook up to a contractor's uncles' security company, but I have not seen or heard of a lot of similar alternatives to uControl.

Instead of bashing the $40, let's discuss the other alternatives, pricing, experience with them, pros and cons. I'm sure most people here will be smart enough to decide at the end if the alternatives are truly better values.



Senior Member

If you hang around here long enough you will realize many people here are diy'ers and inherently look for ways to do things less expensively. I think its fair to say they rather have a little extra up front effort that will pay both short and long term savings. In that regard $40 month for monitoring is kind of nuts for many people here.

With that said, as I stated earlier, as long as you are personally comfortable with your choice and happy, that's all that counts. uControl does seem like a nice easy to setup system, but it is not inexpensive. Many people have dumped ADT/Brinks, etc because we felt the monthly charges were unrealistic. I think thats why you see many people here using inexpensive solutions like NextAlarm. I know you did not like NextAlarm's website, and I am not even recommending them here, but lets just look at a quick comparison.

$125 up front, $40 month for monitoring of pots, broadband and cellular, 3 year contract ($480/yr). So your 3 year total would be $125 + $1440 = $1565

Broadband - Need ABN for now ($100). With an Elk you will be soon be able to do monitoring without ABN. Cellular - Need a radio like Uplink ($250). Monitoring - $11.95 mo w/year contract with OPTION to cancel anytime for prorated refund. Cellular backup additional $7.50 month for monitoring. Ok, doing the math, you have $350 up front and then $19.45 mo ($233.40 yr). So the same three years as uControl would cost $700.20.

So, I spent $225 additional up front but saved $864.80 over 3 years. Subracting out initial cost, I saved $639.80 which is $213.26/yr or $17.77/month. I have not read the fine print, but if I am locked into a 3 year commitment that would also be a big negative, as peoples lives change and alot can happen in 3 years and would not want to be locked into a commitment.

Again, not trying to sell NextAlarm, just illustrating an example of how you could have essentially the same thing and save almost $18 month (almost half!). Now, the uControl system is more 'integrated' and probably a nicer, easier system to put in, but is that worth an extra $18/mo - only you can decide that. If you have an Elk, you can eliminate the ABN and save $100 of the up front cost as well.

I hope this helps explain where people like Sammy are coming from in thinking that $40 for the 'average' person is excessive and unjustified. However, if you have the funding and want the tight integration uControl offers then by all means have no regrets and enjoy the system.


Yes that makes a lot of sense Steve.

As I stated I am a newbie compared to 99% of you, so for me DIY is good up to a point.

There are a lot of things that I could also save money on by DIY but I choose not to, and some that I do.

For example, my hair grows very fast, and I used to spend $10-$15 on a haircut evey 3-4 weeks. I figured that by learning to cut it myself, I'd save a few hundred a year. So 10 years ago I learned to experiment and cut my own hair. The only thing hurt if it didn't work out was my vanity. :p

I also used to hire a gardener to do my yard. After paying a hundred per month for 4 years, I said to heck with it and I bought $200 worth of tools, and now do my own yard work. The only thing that I'd hurt if I didn't do it right was weeds or wierd looking plants. :p

With my home security system, since I'm still a newbie, I felt that it is worth the extra premium to have a very easy to install & integrated alarm system out of the box, pay a bit more, and have the peace of mind knowing that my family is protected. That is why I shopped around with dozens of alarm installers when I was choosing my initial alarm install. If I made the wrong choice my family's safety was at stake.

I'm hoping that by absorbing the expertise and experience of other people here I'll have the confidence to do more myself in the future here. But for $10-$20 more per month than the alternative right now, I have saved myself some user mistakes that could result in an unprotected home, and have full functionality that I know works.

I'm also glad to hear that NextAlarm and Elk systems will have the same features in the future, but I wanted to stop paying Monitronics now and have the best functionality with the least amount of hassle. Plus the customer service at uControl has blown me away with how good they have been.

Competition is a great thing, and if other companies offer similar services as uControl for less, then it will cause uControl to reduce their prices.

However, I am very glad for uControl, because up to now the big alarm companies have been way too lazy to offer the mass market anything other than the very minimum required for their heft monthly fees. These guys - ADT, Brinks sure know how to spend money on TV advertising, but the average package they offer to the mass market really sucks and is really lacking in functionality. uControl will be a huge shift to these guys by forcing them to offer broadband / cellular monitoring as well, if enough people leave these companies.

Similarly if NextAlarm is getting the job done for less, then it will cause uControl to drop their prices which will be a good thing for us.

But at the end of the day I do not feel like I am getting ripped off, and that my money is well spent. A 3 year commitment sounds like a lot, but cellular companies are forcing people to sign 2 year commitments, and people switch cell phones a lot more than they switch homes.

Thanks a lot for your detailed response and let's keep this dialogue going so we all learn more about the alternatives, pros and cons, and how to save money while still having a robust and reliable system. B)


PS Steve - I don't want to make this thread into a uControl vs NextAlarm, but I do want to let you know that I did do some homework on NextAlarm on the Vonage Forums before I found this place to ask questions.

Here are some good as well as negative reviews I found on NextAlarm:]Well I wish I would have found this forum sooner.:// forum sooner.:// forum sooner. I have had my ABN adapter for more than 30 days. Nextalarm told me my system was compatible (ademco vista 10 se). I needed to run cat 5 from one end of the house to the other so I could have the adapter located with the rest of my network equipment and procrastinated due to the holidays. Bottom line is in Nov they had me run the test on my panel where you enter a number and wait for "20" to come up. I guess if you get "20" everything is fine and dandy. Well I got "20" back in Nov. I finally finished the online app on Tues evening expecting it to take an hour or two for them to do whatever processing they need to do. It is now Friday evening and after a trouble ticket requesting status (evidently there is no real person customer service...I hate that ...

I sent another email informing nextalarm that I was very disappointed in their customer service thus far and further telling them this was no way to begin a business relationship. Oh did I mention the first time I emailed them in Nov, the first line of the reply was, "Please, accept our apologies for the delay in getting back to you."

I've been using the NextAlarm - Vonage combo now for almost 1-year. My biggest gripe is NextAlarm's piss-poor customer service. They worked with me to get my system up and running but beyond that, nothing. They simply, flat-out, do not return my calls or respond to the 'tickets' that I open via their web site. I experienced a period of ~ 2 weeks when my Abbra panel was off-line due to a communications error. During this time I had no clue what was going on or how I could remedy the problem, as NextAlarm never responded. Then one day everything mysteriously began working again. I called and submitted tickets in an effort to find out what they did to fix the problem and never received a response. The low price is definitely appealing ($8.95), but that's about all they seem to be able to offer. We're switching to another alarm company the next time something like this happens.

I went thru the process of registering my current alarm panel with Next Alarm in early Sept 05. and purchased a ABN adaptor of ~$120 w/shipping. They claimed my panel could be monitored no problem.

After very slow responses & delays NA could not get it to work. You can only email them via work orders & I think they are selective on who they get back with. I did talk to couple of techs, but nothing materialize. They claimed they had to reprogram my alarm to ContactID messages which was attempted. Of coursed it has not worked with my old monitoring company since the first time they messed with it so I have been w/o monitoring since mid Sept. All of this took forever because of their slow responses.

ON the advice of a few here, I signed up for i need help. I have all the equipment. i had to set up a wireless bridge at my ADT alarm panel. It works with the ABN. I plugged the phone into the the ABN and it works...i get the dialtone, the message, etc. When I plug the RJ31x jack into the ABN...nada. No communication with the Nextalarm center. It establlished communicatin with the polling center once, but nothing after that.

You can see that while NextAlarm does appear to work great for some, there seems to be a fair number of complaints about slow responses to problems or lack of service. It was through that research that I found out about uControl fortunately.

For me service is a key factor in my alarm system. If my service is to be intermittent or unreliable I might as well just be my own call center and service myself. Since I'm not as yet of a power DIY'er as most of you, I'd gladly pay a bit extra for great customer service that calls me back within the hour for any questions or complaints I may have, as well as the monitoring center that picks up as soon as the line connects instead of wading through layers of menus and having to leave messages to get a call back.

Thanks and have a great Sunday!


There is a lot to be said for getting a system working the way you want it to! :p

Also, one will possibly explore different overall options as they are comfortable and also obtain a little more infrastructure and experience with their automation/security systems.

I myself have a bunch of stuff that I used earlier when first exploring home automation that I don't use now. For instance, I first used ActiveHome for my home automation software and a Firecracker RF receiver. Then I upgraded to an X-10 RF (to Powerline) receiver and an RF booster that I first used to receive signals from my remotes such as a palmpad. Later I replaced my ActiveHome with HomeSeer. Then I migrated to a receiver that would get these signals off of the powerline by using a PC (MR26A). After that I realized that a WGL W800 receiver had better performance and reception then the MR26A and could also receive security devices such as a DS10A. Needless to say the ActiveHome CD, RR501, MR26A and Firecracker units are collecting dust in a box in my closet.

Note that all of these devices did what I first wanted when I implemented them. It was just after wanting to expand my system to the next level that they became inadequate for my needs. Also note that the above events took place over many years (it is a hobby after all). With a security system, I could see going with a methodology that you could implement immediately, knowing it would work, and you would be comfortable using it.

Will you change your system after getting more comfortable and experienced? Probably. Just like most of us, you have to start out with something though. I’ve seen more problems with the people that purchase everything up front, wanting to implement everything and anything in their first shot rather than starting out slow and totally understanding how all of these components work.

Yes, my ActiveHome CD sits unused, but it did give me an understanding of how I want to expand and the features available with an automation/security system (thus choosing HomeSeer instead). Without having used ActiveHome, I may not have even known about other features available (it sparked that interest).


I fully agree BSR.

I also reckon in 3 years time technology will have leap-frogged again in this space and I'll have a lot more alternatives.

That was the case when I initially installed my Vista 20P with Monitronics and got locked into a 3 year contract to get a good discount off of my alarm system.

Back then I knew of no broadband alternatives so I was SOL.

As my contract expired uControl seems to be the current leader in this space for an inexperienced beginner like myself.

In another 3 years, maybe another service provider or even uControl will offer a whole lot more rich features and functions in security and home automation for less money. I definitely intend to do my homework and keep updated in this space.

Oh I also want to mention that when I was talking with uControl the tech guy did say that they are forging into home automation as well. With their unique Linux box running Unix there is a lot of possibilities in terms of interfacing with advanced home automation equipment. The uControl link has a SD card slot, 2 USB slots, and of course the standard ethernet port. They said they can SSH into the box and they have already pushed out a firmware upgrade through broadband into my box!

I've had the box activated for a couple of days and they've already had enough changes to upgrade the firmware. That's pretty cool stuff. :p


Senior Member
I'm also glad to hear that NextAlarm and Elk systems will have the same features in the future,
Available now with the ABN like any other system, just using the M1 ethernet adapter in the future.

I've had the box activated for a couple of days and they've already had enough changes to upgrade the firmware. That's pretty cool stuff.
That could be good or bad - were they bug fixes or new features? I would not feel too good if they are fixing bugs daily.

You can find both good and bad things about almost any company, bottom line is that you're happy!


Steve said:
I've had the box activated for a couple of days and they've already had enough changes to upgrade the firmware. That's pretty cool stuff.
That could be good or bad - were they bug fixes or new features? I would not feel too good if they are fixing bugs daily.

You can find both good and bad things about almost any company, bottom line is that you're happy!
To honest I don't know if it's bug fixes or not. But given that this product is so new, and was just launched late last year, I'm not too worried that they are working hard on either fixing bugs or enhancing features.

I work in IT and we have support patches that we roll out as well to our end users, some of them are critical, some of them are feature fixes, and some are just to eliminate future potential problems.

It makes me feel good that in this early stage of the product that they're so active and pro-active in making product updates.

With my Monitorics service and the service provider previous to that the only changes they ever made was sending me quarterly post-cards telling me my monthly rate was going up. In the entire 10 years of my ownership there was not one technical change or enhancement to my alarm systems prior to uControl.


Active Member

If you feel secure with the service you're getting for whatever price I would consider myself lucky and it's a worthwhile investment :D

Regardless of how many backup systems you have the most important thing is will someone physically respond? It's my opinion that if someone won't get there in less than 5 minutes it's all a waste of time. I live in the country and rely on my cell phone and neighbors in the event of an alarm. The Sheriff takes 30 minutes to get here so monitoring is useless. The M1G can dial any numbers you want to announce an alarm. I have my underground service protected into the home, but a terribly smart thief could go down the road and tear out the closest telco pedestal I suppose. I have CCTV and a hidden/secure DVR so I can at least look at the culprit when I get home or via the web (if I ever get it connected).

Depending on our environment we each need to do whatever it takes to make us feel basically secure.... three years goes by pretty quickly :D

Good luck,



Thanks John. I live in a large metropolitan area and I think responding to burglar alarms is probably not the highest priority on the local police's list.

However, I do really like the ability to text message / email my neighbors who can respond faster.

I've talked to my neighbors about what they should do in the event of an alarm notice - they should try to call me or my wife, observe from their house to see if there's any suspicious activity, record the license plate of any unfamiliar cars, and try to contact the police with their additional info if they feel that there's a robbery/burglary in progress to expedite the arrival of police help.

Fortunately my neighbor who is a former chief of police has some pull still so I think he could get help pretty fast, even faster than the call center.

I trust my neighbors to be far more interested in neighborhood security than the police, although ultimately only the police can really confront the perpetrator and arrest him/her.