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Before we can address this very important question, it is imperative that we all share a common understanding of the definition of the term "monitoring".
"Monitoring", as used in the alarm industry, is generally defined as:
The reception of alarm status signals by a central station or guard facility at a remote location for the purposes of dispatching emergency responders to the alarm location or registering the operational condition of the equipment.
Since the term "self-monitoring" implies the alarm owner or end user taking over the responsibilities, services and functionality normally provided by a central station, you must understand what you are attempting to replicate.
An Underwriters Laboratory Certified Central Station (you shouldn't be using one that isn't UL certified) has agreed to on-site inspections and compliance with standards governing:
IF you cannot meet these standards and provide a comparable level of service, then the answer to the question "Can I monitor my alarm system myself ("self-monitor")?" is an emphatic NO! In reality, there is no such thing as "self-monitoring" your own alarm system.
OK, so you can't "self-monitor", what can you do?
Many of today's alarm systems support Email Notification, Pager Dialing, Residential Dial, Voice Messaging, etc as supplemental notification formats. Depending upon the manufacturer, system model and the specific adjunct notification format, some of these features may be available out-of-the-box; others may require add-on modules.
Some spend hundreds of dollars ($200 - $800 is not uncommon) adding Email Notification, Voice Messaging and Internet Access and yet achieve only about fifty percent of the functionality, reliability and effectiveness provided by commercial monitoring services for a monthly fee about equal to the cost of a six-pack or a bottle of cheap wine.
Some points to ponder:
Our computers, cell phones and PDA's are wondrous gadgets; they are so versatile we start to believe that they can be used for almost everything. However, the very definition of alarm monitoring promises that if an emergency occurs, a call WILL be made, it WILL be answered, and help WILL be dispatched. To rely on an alternative method that cannot make that promise is not only "penny wise and pound foolish," it is potentially disastrous.
Please note: The forum neither provides monitoring services nor is it affiliated with companies providing such services. Our only interest is in providing information regarding some of the considerations involved in arriving at an educated decision regarding alarm system monitoring.