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Independent Dealers

In the security industry, an independent dealer is another name for a trained security professional.  In most cases, independent dealers can provide risk assessments, recommend and sell security systems and monitoring solutions and install the systems.  Hard-wired (electrical) security systems require professional installation, which can be done either by a licensed security professional or, in some cases, a certified electrician.   Part of the installation process involves setting up the system so that it can communicate with a central station who is responsible for monitoring the alarm signal and dispatching help.  Many state alarm associations provide an online list of independent dealers that service customers locally.

Authorized Dealers

An authorized dealer is always authorized by an umbrella company; for instance some security professionals are authorized dealers for security companies, like ADT or Monitronics.  Both companies require their dealers to undergo extensive training; they also insist upon exclusivity from their dealers.  For instance a small security company that wants to provide and install security products at the local level, must choose which larger company they wish to represent (and likewise whose products that want to carry), since they will not be able to represent more than one.  In exchange for their allegiance, they will benefit by being able to market a familiar brand name to their customers.

When finding the best system for your lifestyle and budget, one strategy is to first research the product that you want to purchase and then find a dealer who is authorized to install the system.  On the other hand, some security systems can only be installed by authorized dealers who are certified to install and connect the system to its corresponding central station.

Licensed Security Professionals

Most states require that security professionals who install security equipment be licensed. For instance, in the State of New York, professionals who install security (or fire alarm) systems must complete 81 hours of “qualifying education,” pass a national exam and pay a fee. Similarly, in the State of Iowa, security professionals must pass the national exam and pay $300 to become licensed, which license must be renewed every two years. A large part of the state-wide licensing effort is focused on the elimination of false alarms, which have been proven to be quite costly at the local levels.  If the security system is hard-wired, then the security professional must also be a licensed electrician.

It’s important to be aware of these distinctions when purchasing security systems online and it’s a good idea to ask the advice of a local licensed security professional before committing to any one system; some systems, for instance, can only be monitored by certain companies who accept specific types of signal transmissions.  Many wireless security systems and most automated security systems are monitored exclusively by the company that produces the equipment.

Monitors of security systems do not have to be licensed (according to state regulations), but depending on the company, they will have to undergo training.  ADT monitoring professionals undergo a comprehensive three part training program that focuses on the proper response to an incoming alarm

Certification and Listed Central Stations

Monitoring companies, otherwise known as central stations, can be certified by a national organization, like Underwriter’s Laboratories. Certified companies are “listed” and “UL approved.”  Many municipalities prefer that you install systems that are UL approved because they are known to comply to standards that limit false alarms. Some insurance companies also prefer and/or give breaks only to security systems that are UL approved.

One important thing to keep in mind is that even if an alarm system is manufactured by a listed company, the system itself is not deigned certified unless it is not only monitored, but also installed and maintained by the same listed company - as opposed to being sub-contracted to a third party, which is often the case in smaller towns.

Independent companies are locally owned and operated with their own sales staff, technicians, installers and monitoring station.  They too can become UL certified provided that they comply with national standards.  Smaller central stations may not offer the full range of monitoring services (from fire prevention to video surveillance), but that doesn’t mean that the services they do offer are any less reliable than a bigger company might be.

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