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My Canadian Experience
Security Systems


I thought it might be relevant to talk about home security systems.  As I do take off for a few days from time to time, and obviously the house would be empty while I was away, I felt I should look at options.

The first one I have checked out is from ADT http://www.adt.ca/en The company that visited me was an ADT dealer called D.S.S.I.

As you can see from the above picture they are offering a keypad system with 2-way voice. They provide free installation but there is a one off activation fee of $149.00 and in my case an additional $75.00 for alarming an extra outside door and a further $50.00 upgrade charge for a wireless smoke detector alarm. So this comes to $290.41 incl. tax. The monthly monitoring charge is $39.99 a month or $479.00 a year plus tax.

Essentially they give you alarm points on all your outside doors (3 doors free). In my case it was an interesting decision. I have a  fourth door from my basement to the outside so the question was do I alarm that door or the door out of the basement and into the house.  I decided to alarm the door from the house into the basement.  Part of that decision was due to the fact that someone could break into the basement through the windows but as there is very little of value there they'd almost certainly want to go up the stairs into the house.

They also give you a motion detector for your central area which means anyone breaking in through a window on the main level would be spotted as it works on line of sight within a 40 foot radius.  So if properly placed it would sense anyone coming into the living room, through the dining room, from the office and also through the back door, basement door, back door and front door.

The alarm runs on battery backup so is not affected by power outages... unless we were off for a whole day which is very unlikely.  When a low battery warning comes on they replace the batteries at no extra charge.

There is a voice control on the system also. So... when I leave the house I hit two buttons and that alarms the house but say I forgot something and rushed back in to get the item and wasn't quick enough the alarm would go off.  The system works that ADT would call you with something like "Mr McIntyre, are you OK?" and if I say yes all is fine they would ask for my password.  When I speak the password they know all is ok.  Should I give an incorrect password then they would automatically call the police.

This also means that the police won't be called out in error.  This is important in Canada as you can get charged for false call outs with alarms systems.  I'm told that in Chatham-Kent area I can have a false alarm twice a year but if a third goes out I get billed for the call.  Were I to get a fourth I also get billed and a warning letter is sent to me.  Were I to get a fifth then I'd also get billed but I would also lose the alarms call out service for 12 months. I'm told that in Toronto you are charged for every false call. So I guess this system will be different depending on what area you live in.

The system allows you to also alarm the doors while you are inside the house but not activate the motion sensor so you can walk freely around the house.

There is also built into this system a fire alarm detector which is placed on the top floor. Should this go off the system will call the fire brigade for you.  Also there is a special 911 service so if you got heart pains or something then you just hit the button on your control panel and they will call the 911 service for you. As part of that service they will also keep a record of any medical information.  This means as the ambulance is on route to you they can be fed with your medical information such as being a diabetic or other issues that could affect your treatment.

I might add that the new Ontario Fire Code requires you to have a working smoke alarm on every storey of your home. If you donít you could risk a $50,000 fine, and your personal safety.

You get a free 7 day trial on the system where you are taught how to use it and they will test the system with you to ensure you know what to do. They also say that you can get between 10 and 20% off your house insurance although she did say that it was normally around 10% in the Chatham area.

They also provide you with 4 decals to use in the house and also a garden sign.  These are meant to show anyone that is considering breaking into the house that your home is security enabled. They told me that I really shouldn't put the garden sign out as these are often stolen :-)  Instead I was recommended to take the sign off the pole and screw it to the garage door.

Given the complexity of this system I thought it might have been an easy option to also monitor the temperature in your house.  I'm thinking here that in the winter your heating system might fail and that would mean frozen pipes.  So if they could also monitor that it would be an extra feature.

So.. there is this system.  I'm told the company has been in business for around 125 years.

So now I went to the actual ADT corporate company and they sent out a representative to tell me what they could offer :-)

In actual fact this was quite interesting as the system they showed me was different to what the dealer offered. It appears that the dealer was offering a Lynx system which they say is now obsolete although still works. The new system is apparently upgradeable whereas the older system is not. On talking to the rep I was also told they could include heat monitoring for the house which was not an offer I was given from the dealer (which is not to say they don't offer it but it never came up in the conversation). They also could offer a water monitoring system as well (which I didn't need).  So.. if you had a sump pump in your basement this would monitor for any water coming in.

They also told me I could arrange for the monitoring system to have up to 17 codes so for example I could give a code to my cleaning lady meaning she could still come in at set times each day with her own code.

The actual one off setup cost is $484.42 whereas the Dealer system is $290.44 so an extra $193.98. The monthly cost is actually $2.00 cheaper per month and as that is on a 3 year contract that saves me $72.00 plus they give me 2 months free saving me another $76.00 so all in all this is around $48.00 more than the dealer BUT they do also include in their price a heat monitoring service and a key fob which would have been an extra with the dealer. So I guess that means it's about break even between the two services as to cost but I am getting extra services and a more up to date system.


This is the keypad system closed and open


And here is Terry Jones their representative doing me a quote

One other interesting fact from my perspective anyway is that by dealing with ADT direct they don't require a credit check and they also don't require 3 names for security listing. So as a person without a credit history this is a big advantage. Another small point I discovered is that when a company does a credit check on you your rating actually goes down a bit as a result.

This representative also mentioned that I should alarm the outside basement door rather than the one at the top of the stairs.  He also said that while the smoke alarm system would be placed on the first floor he said I should purchase a cheap system for the main floor and the basement to comply with the Ontario fire code. This would just be a standalone battery operated system.

We also talked about competition and he actually said that his biggest competition were their own dealers. He made a point about talking about smaller companies saying that most of them used call centers to do their monitoring whereas they have 7 dedicated monitoring centers themselves, 2 in Canada and 5 in the USA. As he put it would you want someone in a call center selling products and services and also doing an alarm monitoring service at the same time?

I also mentioned earlier above the false alarm fee. Well I got a copy of this for this general area so thought I'd include it for information.  You would of course need to check the situation in your own area.

Also, just as a matter of interest, I checked with my own insurance company to find they offer 5% discount so not the 10% that had been indicated by the dealer.  I should also mention that the chap with ADT didn't even mention this to me.

I might add at this point that due to me getting my permanent landed status I am now able to apply for a credit card.  I was told by the bank that I likely still needed to show 2 years tax records to get one from the bank but should be able to get one no problem from folk like Capital One or the store cards like Sears.

My air conditioning stopped working this week and I was going to hunt up someone to fix it on the Monday when a chap dropped off a lawnmower for me on the Sunday and happened to mention that my air duct was full of ice.  As it happened the chap's full time job was fixing heating and air conditioning systems so he offered to take a look for me.  And when he did he found the motor was burnt out.  So he managed to get a new one and installed it pretty well then and there and all got fixed. The motor was around $230.00 and he charged me another $45.00 to replace it which was a great price. He also got me a new belt as the existing one was fell worn. So... I am now working fine again and as I type this the house is getting cooler and I can tell it's working better than ever :-)


Allan Flynn (on the left) installing the new motor

In actual fact I do know I am much more productive when the house is cool so this air conditioning is a necessity.

On the following Monday, 24th July, I received my Permanent Landed Card in the mail.

I understand that this needs to be renewed every five years... a bit like a passport.  It is after all also a travel document.

And my new Health Card arrived which means I am all up to date with all my paperwork :-)


Saw this butterfly or moth, when I was in Toronto


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