Can I use VoIP with my Alarm System?March 18th, 2020
Is your business or home switching to VoIP or a digital telephone service? With so many options available as alternatives to traditional phone lines, it can be a smart and cost-effective decision to make a change. Before you do, consider how this change may negatively impact your security or life safety systems.
What is VoIP?
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a popular phone service that is often less expensive than a traditional phone line and uses the internet to transmit data. Since VoIP is dependent on your modem its performance can be negatively impacted by network overloads such as high volume of calls or high internet usage.
Not all VoIP is created equal. If you choose a cheap VoIP you may experience echo, frequency shifts or timing errors in your phone calls.
If your voice quality is suffering, just imagine how it is impacting the quality of your alarm signal. These signals are detailed and specific allowing the central monitoring station to receive accurate data about your location and the issue. If there are interruptions or scrambling of your alarm signal during transmission the monitoring station will not receive the signal or may not be able to interpret it.
According to Amy Grimes from Select Security’s Service Coordination department, communication issues with VoIP systems is a common issue that they encounter daily. The best way to avoid this issue is to discuss your options with your security company prior to making any changes in your phone service provider.
There are some VoIP services that are more reliable and may be able to reliably communicate with your central monitoring station. However, most carriers disclose that their services provide the means for voice communication and that alarm systems and other devices may not work with their system. And even if it works now, they may implement updates to their services that could cause the signal to be disrupted in the future. Due to these issues, we highly recommend using a more consistent and reliable means of communicating alarm signals. And if you do make the switch to VoIP, be sure to verify your alarm signal with the monitoring station.
If you are considering making a change to your business phone system it is important to consider local code requirements when making any decision that impacts your alarm system, especially your fire alarm. Local codes often dictate how an alarm communicates with the monitoring center. They usually have minimum requirements for battery backups being installed as well. These codes are in place to ensure that the alarm system is functioning properly. Your local security professionals handle this for you, we work with local government agencies to make sure your alarm system meets code.
Since VoIP depends on your Internet, it is impacted by power outages. This means you will need a battery back up on your VoIP equipment in order to maintain open communication between your alarm system and the central monitoring station.
Your alarm system or life safety system most likely has a battery back up to make sure that you aren’t left vulnerable for any reason. But a sounding alarm is just noise unless the monitoring station receives the alarm data and can respond as necessary.
Using a landline is one alternative however, it can be inefficient to pay for landline solely to connect to your security system. And your landline is susceptible to phone network outages and being physically cut by intruders to disable communication.
Dedicated Cellular Communicator
A great alternative for many residences and businesses is an alarm system that communicates through a dedicated cellular communicator. This eliminates the need for any phone line to be directly connected to your alarm system.
These devices can be used as a backup communicator if the landline or VoIP line fails, or it can be used as the primary mode of communication between your security system and the monitoring station.
What if you already switched to VoIP?
We highly recommend that you contact your security provider to schedule a service appointment to properly test your alarm and life safety system.
There are options available to upgrade your security system to a newer communication solution that will reliably send alarm signals to the central station. This allows you to take advantage of the cost savings of VoIP while maintaining or possibly improving the reliability of your security system.
Select Security is committed to providing reliable security and life safety solutions to your business or home. If you are looking to make a change to your phone service we would be happy to discuss the compatibility of your options with your existing security system or provide you with upgrade options to increase communication signals and give you even more features to make your life easier.