Wednesday 28 October 2020

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I am looking for a company to maintain/service my alarm system can you help me?

We suggest you search the NSI Approved Company Directory for an approved installer in your area of the country. You need to type in your postcode and select the type of service you require.  For example, you might choose “intruder electronic security system installer” if applicable.  Or, if you are seeking an NSI Fire approved installer, you should select “Fire Detection and Prevention…..?” We suggest you get at least 3 quotations. This way you can choose from a selection, but remember that the cheapest is not always the best, even though all approved companies are equal in NSI’s eyes.

How can I check that my installer  is NSI approved?

Find NSI approved companies in your area via ‘Find a Company‘ and search for ‘Intruder Alarm/CCTV/Access Control’ to make sure the company you are using holds NSI NACOSS Gold or Systems Silver approval.

Alternatively you are welcome to call us on 01628 637512.

Is it better to have a wired alarm system or a wire-free system?

It might have been the case a few years ago to opt for a wired system, but with new technology, wire-free systems have moved on. Each has its own individual advantages.  The choice is yours.  At NSI, we inspect companies to ensure their work complies with industry standards and so we do not favour different types of systems, only that they comply.

Can I print a list of NSI approved companies in my area?

Yes – put your location in the search box in the top right hand corner of the Home Page for a list of the approved contractors in your area.

Why has my insurer insisted I contract an NSI approved company?

This is because insurers know that NSI rigorously inspects the work of its approved companies against industry Standards, thus lessening risk.

Why should I choose an NSI approved company?

Before we accept a company they must be able to prove that it has been trading successfully and with this in mind, we also examine each applicant company’s accounts.  We also ensure that company personnel, including engineers that may visit your premises, are security vetted.

What is the purpose of the risk assessment that my prospective installer has carried out on my property?

This is carried out to ensure that the design of the alarm system is suitable for your needs, taking into considerations your property, the risks, and your own individual requirements.

What actually is a monitored alarm system?

By this we mean an electronic intruder or fire alarm system that is supported by an Approved remote monitoring or alarm receiving centre (ARC) which provides twenty-four hour monitoring throughout the year.

What is an unmonitored or audible-only system?

This is a security alarm system where only local internal and external sounders are activated.

What is a speech dialler?

A speech dialler on a security alarm system makes possible communication of alarm information to a standard or mobile telephone.  This could be by speech or text.  A speech dialler can be used on a monitored or audible only alarm system and can be used with most modern intruder alarm control panels.

Why has my installer urged me to take up a maintenance agreement?

The maintenance visit shows that your alarm system is functioning properly. Audible alarm systems should be checked once per annum while a system that signals to an approved alarm receiving centre needs to be serviced or maintained twice a year.  An NSI approved installer must provide a 24 hour emergency number for access to a duty engineer.

Obtaining Police Response

In order to obtain police response in the UK, please be aware you need to use the services of a company holding approval as an installer and maintainer of intruder and hold-up alarm systems.

NSI NACOSS Gold and Systems Silver approved companies employ the services of NSI approved ARCs (Alarm Receiving Centres) to provide 24/7 monitoring and alert the relevant police authority when they believe security has been breached at an alarmed premises (domestic or commercial).

If my alarm is monitored – will the monitoring also be to NSI standard?

If your alarm is installed by an NSI approved installer, then the monitoring of your alarm will be handled by an NSI approved ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre).

ARCs are permanently manned, highly secure, resilient, air-locked environments that have their own standby power and back-up facilities that provide you with 24/7 monitoring of your alarm signals. NSI expects NSI approved alarm installers to use ARCs that meet all NSI requirements, so that you are assured of NSI standards being applied to your home security. For specific details refer to your installer’s Terms and Conditions.

NSI’s Gold certification of ARCs is unique in the market place and demands strict adherence to NSI’s criteria for approval. These include BS EN ISO 9001 – which is an internationally recognized standard for quality management systems, a bespoke NSI Quality Schedule, and all relevant industry standards and codes of practice applicable to ARCs.

How will my maintenance and monitoring contract be set up?

Your installer maintenance and monitoring agreement will include ARC services arranged by your installer. The ARC service may be provided by the same company as provided your alarm installation, or as likely, an approved sub-contracted specialist ARC service provider.

You are free to choose an alternative ARC service if you prefer. However you would then have to arrange the monitoring contract yourself. If you do so, the monitoring service provider will probably want evidence that your alarm system is properly maintained (to prevent false alarms).

What should I look for in my maintenance contract?

Installers offer different types of maintenance packages with/without call-out charges included and usually excluding replacement parts and equipment. Take care to check the terms and conditions of the proposed maintenance contract and options offered.

Can I obtain copies of the industry standards my contractor should comply with?

British and European technical standards are copyrighted.  If you would like to buy a copy then please go to:

How reliable is the signaling to the monitoring centre?

Your installer can offer you a choice of alarm transmission systems (ATS) to pass alarm and fault signals to the ARC. ‘Dual path’ signaling to the ARC is more reliable than ‘single path’ and insurers generally prefer it (because it is unlikely that both paths will fail at the same time). Your installer can explain all the available options to you.

Dual path ATS solutions usually have an all-inclusive package for transmitting data so there are no ‘pay-as-you-go’ individual call charges.

A typical dual path system includes a cable connection to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and a radio connection to the mobile network.

There are different technologies available: cable connection could support for example serial or fast format or Internet Protocol (IP) communications.

Similarly the radio connection might use GSM (cellular phone technology) or GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) transmissions. Some radio solutions connect to a single provider whereas other solutions might include a roaming SIM to enable connection to the best available service.

What is the Grade of the ATS (alarm transmission system) and why is it important?

Higher graded ATSs mean that any faults are reported quicker to the ARC. Although you might have a Grade 2 alarm system, you can choose a Grade 2 ATS or a Grade 3 or 4 ATS.

What is the simplest solution I might consider?

A single path solution involves the use of a digital communicator with a cable connection to your PSTN (telephone line). The communicator makes telephone calls to the ARC including additional calls to the ARC if it fails to connect first time. It also makes a daily test call the ARC to confirm good working order. These individual call charges appear on your telephone bill.

If the ARC uses a premium rate number to receive data that increases your costs, your installer should inform you in writing as part of the contract.

If there ever is a signaling fault – how would I know?

ATS path faults are reported to the ARC who will inform you either directly or via your installer. Your installer can clarify this.

If there is a fault in your local line the onus is on you to contact your communications provider to resolve the problem. Your installer may be able to offer suggestions but you hold the contract with the provider.

My alarm system has a back-up power battery. What is the life of the battery and how will I know it should be replaced to keep my premises safe?

Battery life is notoriously difficult to assess, even more guarantee. Whilst some manufacturers indicate batteries may last longer, environmental conditions including temperature at your premises and also prior to installation are amongst factors influencing battery life.

Many installers will change batteries after a defined period of time, say 3 or 4 years, to minimize the chances of a failing battery causing alarm system malfunction. Your installer typically tests batteries as part of every routine maintenance visit and will change batteries earlier if it is necessary to do so. Replacement battery costs, as with other replacement parts, maybe charged over and above your maintenance contract.

I’ve heard that the traditional telephone line service to my premises will be discontinued in the near future and replaced with IP (Internet Protocol) voice services over broadband. Will this affect my alarm system and what should I do about it?

There is a national programme underway to upgrade all services away from PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to IP voice services between now and 2025, and your alarm system may well be affected when your line is upgraded.

As with any changes to telephony/broadband services, you should contact your installer/maintenance company before your line is upgraded to check if your alarm system requires any adaptation or re-programming to ensure compatibility with the new IP network.

NSI approval gives you confidence in the integrity of the alarm system maintenance and 24/7 monitoring process.

I am not sure if I am paying the right price for my system.  How can I check?

You will find out by getting at least three quotations from installers on our list within your geographic area.  Remember that cheapest is not necessarily best.  Each company may have a different idea about the design of your future alarm system. You need to also consider the cost of your maintenance/service visits and if your maintenance/service contract will include an emergency call-out. This might be advantageous to you in your annual budgeting.

What happens if I have a power cut?

All systems have a main back-up battery. This battery ensures the system remains operational during power outages and in modern systems can power the system for at least 12 hours.  When the power is restored, the battery is designed to recharge the system and it should continue to work as normal.

What happens if I make a mistake in setting the alarm?

Today, alarm systems are user-friendly and designed for ease of operation. Your alarm installer will make sure that you receive the correct training in setting and un-setting your system.

I have heard about an NSI Certificate of Compliance.  What exactly is the point of my system receiving an NSI Certificate of Compliance?

This is the Certificate awarded to your intruder system or fire alarm system by your NSI installer.  The NSI Certificate of Compliance will certify that your security or fire alarm system has been installed to the relevant industry standards by an NSI approved installer.

When should I receive my NSI Certificate of Compliance?

You will get this, after you have signed your satisfaction certificate and when you have paid for your system.

What if I have a fault with my system?

Providing your system is kept under a preventative maintenance contract then the NSI approved company will be happy to investigate any faults or false alarms that may arise from your system.

What should I look out for with my maintenance agreement?

As well as the cost, you will need to know the notice you require should you decide to close your maintenance contract.  You should also read the contract to see if it is what you want.  For example, are you clear what is included?  Generally speaking, a service/maintenance contract is purely for the purpose of checking the correct functioning of the alarm system and does not include upgrade of equipment, repair or parts.  So you need to check this out.

Will I own my security system?

Most security alarm systems are bought outright, but there are still companies that offer lease agreements.  You would need to check this out at the time of getting your quotation.

CCTV Systems

What can I expect when looking for a CCTV system?

There are many different cameras each designed for different applications, e.g. black and white, colour, day and night, wide angled, high and medium resolution. To avoid disappointment it is very important at the consultation stage to ensure that you get what you want and that your requirements are clearly specified in your quotation.  Very often you have to pay more than you might think to get good quality images.

Where can cameras be fitted?

Care does need to be taken that privacy is not invaded. Cameras can be fitted internally on brackets or externally in weatherproof housings.

My neighbour is using a hidden camera.  Is this allowed?

You will need to check out Data Protection legislation - visit to see the current legislation requirements

How do I manage the pictures taken on my CCTV on my Digital recorder?

With Digital CCTV technology you don’t have to re-play yards of tape to search for an incident. You can search simply by entering a date and time or pointing to a specific time band on a monitor screen.  Carrying out this exercise should not interrupt the normal recording.

Find NSI approved companies in your area via 'Find a Company' and search for 'Intruder Alarm/CCTV/Access Control' to make sure the company you are using holds NSI NACOSS Gold or Systems Silver approval.