Residential Security: Retrofits & Add-Ons
Video Intercom Can be a Great Add-on Sale
Smart businesspeople understand that everyone who works for a company is a salesperson for it. A good example involves Elburn, Ill.-based RS Communications’ sale of an Aiphone video intercom.
“We were working on a home theater system for the client and we told him what else was in our bag of tricks,” recalls Fred Gaebler, RS Communications owner.
The client was a good candidate for the product because he often works in a basement office. With the Aiphone system, the client can avoid extra trips up the stairs by screening people who come to the door. He was also drawn to the product’s ability to play a message for people who come to the door when he is not home.
“He liked the fact that he could have it leave a message and people would not even know if somebody was in the house or not,” Gaebler explains.
RS Communications makes a relatively high margin on the product and Gaebler says it’s easy to install, another consideration that appeals to homeowners. When installers are at a site, it’s a perfect time to assess what else a customer might need and add a product like the Aiphone intercom, eliminating the need for a separate truck roll and giving the customer one more reason to recommend the company to a friend or relative.
The JF Series Hands-Free Color Video Intercoms from Aiphone of Bellevue, Wash., enable users to identify visitors using high-resolution video. A complete system includes one or more video door stations and one or more inside color monitor stations.
Enhanced models, which are designated by JF-2 series part numbers, record up to 50 image sequences (one frame per second, eight frames per image) and save up to 10 sequences (80 frames). They also support up to two pre-recorded voice messages or up to three user-created voice messages, which can be played for visitors.
The video intercoms are designed to be easy and intuitive to operate, requiring little time to install.
Guest Mode Function, SMS Messaging Great for Separate Quarters
Several unique features of Version 203 of DMP’s XR100/XR500 Command Processor Panel software helped San Diego-based La Mesa Electronics sell a system to a client who had a main home with a separate guest area. The guest area has a separate entrance, and the partitioned system enables the main home and guest area to be controlled separately.
“Guests can only control their system and only have access to their zones,” explains James Cobb, president of La Mesa Electronics. The panel for the main system, however, can act as a master control for the entire system.
One of the features that the client really likes is the e-mail and short message service (SMS) capability built into the system. If guests visit while the homeowner is away, the homeowner can receive SMS messages through the cellular network to advise him of system status. If the owner is expecting guests to leave at a certain time and does not receive confirmation that the system was armed, he can check with them and, if they forgot to arm it, he can arm the system by calling in through the phone line.
La Mesa Electronics does not charge any extra monthly fees for this capability, although they do charge “a bit more” than for systems with less sophisticated panels, Cobb says. This particular customer got multiple bids before choosing La Mesa and Cobb believes one of the reasons his company got the business was that competitors didn’t offer the SMS capability.
Version 203 of the XR100/XR500 Command Processor Panel software from Digital Monitoring Products (DMP) of Springfield, Mo., lets system users receive messages from the panel to cell phones or handheld cellular devices, with up to three message destinations.
The software also has guest mode functionality, supporting up to three unique protected guest systems(i.e., main and two guests). Each system can selectively arm only its protected perimeter, interior or bedroom area. Alarms and alerts are transmitted with the area account number information, enabling users and central stations to identify specific zone events.
Real-time status information from zones, doors and outputs enables the XR series panels to readily integrate with graphic display and automation software.
Vehicle Alert Becomes Part of Customerâ€™s Lifestyle
Trycon Security of Washington, Mo., sells a lot of vehicle alerts from Dakota Alert. The product is particularly well suited for homes with long driveways that cannot be seen from the home â€” a common situation in Trycon’s area.
“When we sell an alarm, we mention it,” notes Trycon owner, Rick Muench.
Although some customers just like to hear a sound to know when a vehicle is approaching, others like to add a camera so that they can see exactly who has arrived. Muench cites the example of a husband and wife who bought a vehicle alert along with a camera. The wife often works on crafts in the basement and wanted to know not only that someone had arrived, but also wanted to know whether or not it was her husband so that she would know whether she needed to go upstairs.
Another reason to sell the vehicle alerts is that they provide a positive experience on a regular basis in a way that a burglar or fire alarm cannot. “Once they get used to it, they don’t want to live without it,” Muench says. Trycon disguises the sensor that is installed at the end of the driveway as a birdhouse, which adds to the system’s appeal.
Although Trycon most often sells vehicle alerts as part of a complete security system, about 25 percent of sales are stand-alone units. The company has never tried promoting the product through mailings or special offers to existing customers, but Muench says he may consider that if business slows down as a result of economic conditions.
The Vehicle Alert System from Dakota Alert of Elk Point, S.D., includes a vehicle sensor that lets users know when a vehicle enters or leaves a driveway. The sensor’s probe detects metal objects, such as moving cars, within a 10- to 12-foot radius. The vehicle sensor probe is connected via a direct burial wire to a control box in the house that plugs into a 110-volt outlet. When a vehicle is detected, the control box sounds a whistle. The control box can run up to three probes and has a sensitivity control. Sensor probes are available with 50, 125 or 250 feet of cable.
Young Professional Likes iPhone Link
The ability to remotely control the system over the Internet helped Interface Security Systems of Earth City, Mo., sell a system based on Honeywell’s VISTA-21iP panel to a young professional man who travels a lot.
The 21iP panel can work without a phone line, instead relying on an Internet link such as DSL or a cable modem. “Part of the reason people like it is that it can go in quickly,” explains Ron Webb, systems designer for Interface Security Systems. “It plugs into a router and we can set it up ahead of time so the installer goes in, hangs the box on the wall, goes to the Internet and adds the keypad.”
This particular client chose the optional snap-in GSM radio, which Webb says was the key reason that the client bought the system. The client’s parents often come to visit â€” and like some senior citizens, they have difficulty using an alarm system. The GSM connectivity enables the client to remotely control the system for his parents when he is not at home.
“He bought it so he could use his iPhone to arm and disarm the system,” Webb explains.
The VISTA-21iP Control Panel from Honeywell Security of Louisville, Ky., has an integrated Internet communicator and optional snap-in GSM radio. The product is designed to provide faster and simpler setup with all the features and capacity of the VISTA-20P in a single system.
Honeywell’s Quad-Path technology can provide four paths of communication using a standard telco dialer, the Internet, GPS cellular and short message service (SMS), thereby increasing communications reliability. VISTA-21iP is compatible with Honeywell’s Total Connect digital communications solutions, which let consumers control their security system, receive important alerts and stay connected to their homes from a remote location via the Internet or a Web-enabled cellular device.
Video Verification Eliminates False Alarm Fines
Post Alarm Systems of Arcadia, Calif., sold a system upgrade to a customer in Los Angeles as a solution to his false alarm problems. Like many cities, Los Angeles fines homeowners who have repeated false alarms, and this client was seeking a way to help ensure that police would only be dispatched in the event of a real emergency.
The solution was to install video verification capability from RSI Video Technologies. When any of three interior motion detectors are triggered, the system automatically sends an image associated with the camera to Post Alarm’s central station, where operators assess the situation and respond appropriately.
The customer opted to buy the system upgrade not just because it could save money on fines. He also liked the idea that it would reduce nuisance phone calls to him every time the system was tripped. Now central station operators are instructed to contact him only when they see a human. That has not yet happened because the only alarm triggers operators have seen were rodents.
Although RSI offers a piggyback XTENDER product that can be added to an existing system, Post Alarm chose to put in a new VIDEOFIED panel because the customer had an older system and was due for an upgrade. The panel used in the system was designed for commercial applications, but RSI soon plans to introduce a residential version. When that product is available, Post Alarm owner Bill Post says, “We’ll push it more heavily.”
VIDEOFIED is a complete security system from RSI Technologies of White Bear Lake, Minn., that provides video verification of alarm signals and a video record of what caused the alarm. <p>
The system can integrate up to 24 cameras and is available with a range of accessories including the P-Cam integrated camera/motion sensor, door/window contacts, a keypad, a key fob, interior sirens and exterior siren/strobes.
VIDEOFIED uses regular phone lines to transmit to the central station. Ethernet or GRPS cellular network communication modules are optional.