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Alarm: 3k installation plus 1k annual fees for Redcare worth it?

(17 Posts)
chutneystunt Wed 20-Jun-18 02:14:20

Hello all

First of all we’d like an alarm with Police response - we’re quite fixed about that bit. In our immediate area we know the police response time to such linked alarms to be very good. We’re in North London btw.

We’ve been quoted by Banham around 3k installation and then 1100 per year, for a Redcare system with Police response. Redcare + GSM adds around 500 to the installation and 200 per year to the annual fees. However, a system that relies on the internet only to communicate with the alarm receiving centre (which then ultimately rings the police) is around 1600 plus around 500 to 600 a year fees. All above have Police response.

About 9 sensors altogether for the above systems including PIRs, door contacts, and the like.

Does this sound in line with other companies offering similar services?

The Redcare and Redcare plus GSM seem exorbitant but obviously one worries about powercuts or router failures affecting the internet communicator. Apparently the internet pings the alarm centre every hour but the Redcare line pings it every 20 seconds. The gsm works as a kind of cellular backup to the Redcare phone line.

We experienced a really horrible burglary last year and I can’t really think clearly about what is best to do here.

Finances are obviously an issue; but I can’t work out whether it’s worth feeling the pinch elsewhere to afford the systems, and if so, which one. Still, the Redcare amounts do make me feel a bit ill.

Also Banham have quoted 820 for night latch and two mortice locks, plus four extra keys and a fee for all locks using the same key. For the front door. One of the mortice locks will be a thumbturn on the inside. This seems an attractive package as not sure how else we’d go about getting three locks on one key; plus I’ve not seen a thumb turn mortice widely available. All in polished brass finish.

Would appreciate any and all thoughts as we’ve been dithering about this for far too long and simply have to get something done about it now. Also appreciate may have lost perspective and need expectations checked.

LondonGin Wed 20-Jun-18 03:41:46

If you’re in North London, ( I know it’s big!) but there is a really good locksmith shop called Franchi’s. One in Kentish Town. One in Islington. Maroon shop front. Get a quote from them for the door locks and keys. They can do practically anything.
I’m afraid I don’t know about alarms. It seems expensive. Are there any other companies you can get to quote?

MeMeMeow85 Wed 20-Jun-18 07:06:52

Banham’s a premium provider and I’ve had their locks installed previously and been really happy with the advice/quality/service etc. I think you can be confident of that, so the lock quote provides comfort. Also, the convenience of 1 key working on multiple locks is great!

As the Redcare alarm is a BT product, you may want to check with another provider like ADT what they would charge for installation. Not sure if you’ve been given a standard BT quote or premium Banham quote for installation.

Do you need the GSM feature? I think I’d weigh up the Redcare Classic instead.

For maintenance, we pay £300 a year to ADT for a really very basic system that doesn’t link to police (in rented house, so I only installed minimal sensors). I think you’re paying extra for physical maintenance (rather than remote maintenance which is what we’ve got at the moment).

All the best OP. Sorry to hear about your burglary

PigletJohn Wed 20-Jun-18 09:34:52

All the prices you mention are excessive, but if you are brand-sensitive you can use an expensive company.

If your nanny and your under-gardener are both provided with Bentleys then enriching Banham's is appropriate to your station in life.

However, if your starting requirement is an alarm which will be installed, maintained and monitored to the standards that will enable you to get police response (if they're not busy) to a confirmed alarm, start by looking at local companies. Your household insurers will probably have an advice booklet something like this

"Police Response

High numbers of false alarms have caused the police to progressively tighten up their criteria for responding to alarm signals, whether received from ARC’s or reported by the public.

Routine response is now only available to systems that have a police Unique Reference Number (URN). To obtain a URN, systems must be installed, maintained and monitored by an NSI or SSAIB approved alarm company/ARC.

Police response will usually also be conditional on the provision of a ‘Confirmed Activation’, i.e. obtaining two alarm signals/pieces of alarm information within a pre-set time period. Such systems need very careful design if police response is to be obtained reliably, and early on, during any break in."

And there will be a locksmith in your town or nearby that can provide the security hardware you mention. Security installers usually charge a lot because their customers are mostly multi-millionaires.

BTW unless your domestic staff will ensure your home is never unoccupied, you can pay a local security company to hold keys, and to send a guard round to open up in the event of an alarm. The police will probably require several keyholders, and attendance within 20 minutes. A trusted neighbour or friend may be willing to do it.

I am in a small town, and pay a local guarding company a small annual fee to hold keys, they charge an hourly fee for any call-outs.

Some alarm and monitoring companies will also charge for phoning a keyholder in the event of an activation. It is most often a false alarm when somebody has forgotten to lock the back door or something.

PigletJohn Wed 20-Jun-18 09:43:55

btw I also have three external doors on the same key, it's a standard request which any qualified locksmith provides. Last time I bought one I have an idea it was about £15 extra.

Be sure to ask for British Standard locks to BS 3621, although if you have plastic doors you will probably have to get something else.

bathildab Wed 20-Jun-18 15:40:29

Banham are excellent for keys/locks and wish I had used them for more.
I wouldn't touch ADT with someone else's barge pole... just google as the Guardian has had quite a lot of info on how they have been overcharging. We found them totally incompetent and still They send random bills and threaten to cut us off. I sincerely wish I had gone elsewhere. They are a huge organisation and people are constantly non responsive or on long term sick.

PigletJohn Wed 20-Jun-18 15:50:09


I wanted a "commercial" quality system, the way I chose my company (I got three quotes) was by walking round the High Street to look at the company names on the bellboxes of local banks, building societies, solicitors. Mine mostly operates in the southern half of this county. It has its own monitoring station which is also used by smaller independents in the area. I use the same company for my business premises and home.

I have an idea that Which found customer satisfaction highest with local or regional independents, rather than the big nationals.

Ariela Wed 20-Jun-18 17:25:35

I've found local independent companies better. Currently won't remain with ADT for much longer: unless you have masses of time to call their customer services any time you need an engineer, or get a bill you have to query. In my experience (2 years since they bought the independent local firm we were happy with after moving from Chubb after Rentokil bought the previous smaller very good independent company we were with), they do not call you back when they say they will, and they over charge you, and also charge you for services they do not come out and do. I've not had many correct bills! They also removed a filter from the electrical system on installing a new alarm (because they claimed our existing one was outdated and they couldn't repair, on taking it over) which meant we had an expensive bill for more electronics as there was no surge protection....despite my advising the engineer that there was a filter present for that very reason.
This may of course just be that they were overwhelmed with the additional work they gained on buying the company we were previously very happy with, and your experience with this firm may be completely different elsewhere in the country.

Shutupsidney Wed 20-Jun-18 18:10:26

We are very happy with ADT, might just be the local service levels, but they are responsive and it works.

bathildab Wed 20-Jun-18 20:41:09

Ah PigletJohn we had a lovely local company once, same engineer every time, then the batch of contracts in our area of town were sold to... ADT angry

Great to hear one person has a good experience - google Guardian and ADT and you will find many unpleasant stories. Mine was a new installation and they were deeply incompetent on many different occasions (not coming when they had promised, turning up without the right parts at least 5 times, installing faulty equipment, among other things and sent random bills bearing no relation to the work done followed up by threatening letters from a debt collection agency when we had written back querying the charges).

chutneystunt Wed 20-Jun-18 23:00:42

Thanks all very much for all your responses. A lot to consider. I think I will avoid ADT! One reason I was interested in Banham vs ADT was that I understand Banham’s engineers and locksmiths are all salaried and in-house, whereas ADT contracts out to I think freelancers, if that is the right term? But I just can’t get to grips with the annual charges. I priced up the actual system and figured out which company they are using for components from the brochure - Pyronix I’m pretty sure. Our latest quote is 4.1k including a few more alarm points, I’ve specced that to buy the same components myself would cost around 2k inc VAT so as their installation is included it didn’t seem ridiculous; but that annual charge is now 1200. Does anyone know how that might be broken down as I don’t think they’ve much leeway to be transparent with their fees. How much will BT bill Banham for Redcare + GSM for example? And does monitoring a Redcare system cost the alarm receiving centre (ARC) more than monitoring an alarm that used say the internet to communicate with the ARC?

PigletJohn, thanks for the info. The costs do seem in the order of Bentleys. Re keying, is keying three locks on one door to use the same key - mortice top and bottom and middle nightlatch - as straightforward as what you described previously?

I’ve also got a couple more qualms now I dwell on this; is one sort of introducing an element of risk by having what are essentially strangers in twice a year to ‘maintain’ the system, and on this point is there any value in going with a ‘brand’ vs a local firm (if local, might they even be more likely to case your house for the future)! and, is a burglar alarm really a sufficient deterrent: it’s been suggested to me that it might make the property look like it has something worth paying to protect. Or even if it is a deterrent is it worth 4k; and will the police response, vs bells only with no police response, actually, in real terms, impact the length of time the burglar stays in the house. As obviously they can’t tell from the outside what you have.

As you can tell, I’m seriously overthinking this! Feel free to give me some straight talking.

PigletJohn Wed 20-Jun-18 23:34:02

"locks to pass one key" is an ordinary job for a professional locksmith. If they supply business premises they may do it every day, if houses, less often, but it will be on their standard price list.

see also

If you are having Eurocylinders (not my favourite) it can be done; if you have 5-lever Chubb-type locks it is so easy I can do it myself, but I don't bother as the locksmith can do it quicker and has the parts and measuring tool to hand, and the cost is not significant.

As far as I know, there are no 5-lever locks on the market that meet the British Standard and can also by operated by a thumbturn from inside, because IIRC the BS requires that a burglar can't get in e.g. by smashing a glass panel or reaching through the letterbox with a simple tool and turning it.

If you go for a cylinder lock you can have one that is a deadlock, and one that is a nightlatch. That's very common on a wooden door, though not many people get them suited to the same key. Plastic doors use a different method.
When you buy locks like that, you usually only get two keys, and have to pay for any extras, because only the first lock is supplied with keys, and the others are modified to fit the same key.

The trade association is called "Master Locksmiths Association" or something like that. There is another whose name I forget.

DIY sheds and cobblers that cut keys are not usually locksmiths.

Ariela Wed 20-Jun-18 23:42:27

I will also say that I think our fear aggressive dog is a better deterrent than the burglar alarm. Have had some casual visitors asking for random things/ scrap, clearly looking to size up the property and the dog as definitely been an asset to their prompt departure.
We also have high wrought iron gates which we lock when we go out/overnight, and 6ft fencing/hedges plus security lights that are activated by PIR.

PigletJohn Wed 20-Jun-18 23:49:54


I don't have Redcare. My phone line comes into the house underground and is not visible outside the house. The alarm happens to be connected to an ex-directory outgoing-calls-only line I had installed for business purposes, it works even during a power cut. If I didn't have that, or if I was starting again, I would probably go for a mobile-phone type line as backup. Internet is an insecure, connectionless means of communication so I wouldn't depend on that.

My annual charge for maintenance and monitoring is £140. A new customer might pay more. I get repairs, parts, labour and two services a year which seems very cheap. I think in more than ten years I've had two smoke detectors replaced, and one magnetic door sensor switch.

PigletJohn Wed 20-Jun-18 23:54:54

I believe the security company has their employees vetted in some way, I imagine they do the criminal record check, possibly something else. I think they describe them as "bonded" and they are considered safe to allow in your home. This isn't something I've paid much attention to. My ones wear a uniform and drive liveried vans.

chutneystunt Sun 24-Jun-18 20:59:54

Many thanks for all replies. PigletJohn have you any thoughts on PIR vs DT for motion detecting?
I found a website with some info which I’ll paste at the end of this post.

The good news is I’ve managed to break down, more or less, the base cost of the equipment and monitoring to compare to the price being asked for, so can see just how much room there is for negotiating (no room with the company I’ve been discussing, who won’t budge on price, possibly due to knowing I need to order the system quickly). I did this with some help from members on another forum, some of whom have worked in the alarm industry as either engineers or ARC staff. I will post the breakdowns if they are useful to anyone?

Here is the pasted bit and the link.
Basically I suspect the PIR, though more likely to give false alarms, is also therefore less likely to miss events; whereas the DT needs only one of its two sensors to fail to miss an event completely.

From the website:

Advantages of dual technology PIR/microwave sensors:

* Lower false alarm rate if environment changes
* Sensitive to all kinds of motion
* Can be used in hot, windy, changeful sites
* Normally includes features that are only
found in the best single tech sensors
* Sensitive movement in 2 directions.
* Still have detection capability if one sensor fails.

Disadvantages of dual technology sensors

* More expensive that PIRs
* Reduces overall probability of detection
compared to PIRs in their perfect environment
* Significantly greater complexity means
quality control is even more important.

PigletJohn Sun 24-Jun-18 22:40:49


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