So you moved into a house with an existing home security system. Great — home security should always be a top priority. There’s just one problem: The old owners had a contract for monitoring, and you don’t.
So what are you going to do? Can you have an existing home security system monitored or do you have to start over from scratch?
Is it possible to have your existing security system monitored?
The short answer here is yes, you often can, and there are plenty of reasons you might want to go this route.
Using a system that’s already in place can save you the headache of removing wires, cameras and other accoutrement that come with an existing system. What’s more, it can save you installation and equipment fees. So what do you need to do to start utilizing an existing security system? You have a few choices on how to proceed.
Option 1: Reactivate the existing system.
You may already know the name of the company (was there a sign in the yard when you moved in? Maybe a few stickers on the windows?) that installed your system. If not, contact the old owners to find out who installed their system.
Your next step is to call the monitoring company and explain your situation. They’ll likely send out a tech to examine the system, make sure it’s up-to-date and get you back online. If the system is still active for some reason, they can also help you change the codes. The final step is to start paying the company’s monitoring fees.
Pros: Monitoring companies take the burden off homeowners by offering 24/7 service, so even while you’re on vacation, they’re responding to alerts. Everything has been installed for you already, so you’re probably avoiding installation fees and setup headaches. Half the job has already been done.
Cons: Reviving monitoring by a company does mean paying for their services, which can be costly and come with a contract that will keep you locked in for months or even years at a time. Don’t automatically just go with that company because they installed the system for the previous owners. Do your own research to find out if you can get a better or more flexible deal elsewhere. You aren’t totally locked in just because there’s something already installed in the house.
Option 2: Monitor it yourself.
What if the system wasn’t install by a company at all? The former owners could have set up a DIY home security system, monitoring alerts on their own from their smartphones. Or maybe you want to take that existing system and monitor it yourself to keep costs down. The good news is that you might be able to do this too.
If you’re handy, or know someone who is, many home security systems can be switched over to personal monitoring with universal apps such as Alfred for Android or AtHome for Apple products. (Note: Some universal apps do charge fees, but they don’t require a specific company’s equipment be installed.) Tech savvy folks offer up their tips for how they’ve done this on Reddit, or you can watch how-tos and tutorials on YouTube.
If you would like to make an older wired system work in conjunction with more up-to-date smart home devices, there are products out there to make that happen too. Gadgets like the Samsung Smart Home Hub or Konnected serve as a brain for the home and can help integrate home security options such as alarmed door locking into the smart home world, so you can power them remotely. Installation for kits like these is about as complicated as installing a new thermostat.
Pros: Going the DIY route will prevent you from being locked into a contract and it saves you money on monitoring fees.
Cons: Reconfiguring a system isn’t impossible, but if you’re not tech savvy, it might be tough to do. Plus, self-monitoring can be a lot for a homeowner to handle—especially if you’re travelling and suddenly get an alert that someone’s breaking into your home. Monitoring companies take that burden off a homeowner’s shoulders.
Option 3: Install a totally new security system
Wait a second, what if you don’t really like that old system or you’re not keen on the company that installed it, but you also don’t want to monitor it yourself? There’s always the option of starting over.
Pros: Installing a new system means you get to make choices about home security priorities, which may be different from those made by the former owners. You’ll also have a more updated system, with newer technology. Bonus: If you do want to monitor the system yourself, you can do so without having to figure out a switchover.
Cons: Let’s face it: If the old system works, you may not want to sink money into starting over. New equipment and installation can be costly.
So, what should you do?
In the end, what happens with your existing home security system is up to you. If your new home already has a system installed, you have options and the key is to figure out which one of those is the right one for you.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.