Home Technologies: Warranty and Maintenance

Learn what to look for and what to avoid when choosing home control systems.

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Be sure to check on the warranty and maintenance contracts that are available when you purchase a home integration system. There are many components to these systems including hardware, software and installation. Each may carry its own warranty, so discuss this at length with the company you plan to hire to do your project before you sign any contracts.

Some companies offer a two- or three-year warranty and a monthly maintenance plan, but it can vary. For example, if you choose to go with a large security company, you may pay less in upfront costs but more in the way for a monthly monitoring plan. "A service contract is very good to buy," says Joe Corona of Corona Integrated Systems. "You are dealing with many variables and when dealing with electronics, there are software updates all the time. A service contract covers guys coming in to update and check on the system. It offers peace of mind."

Some security companies offer their own products that they sell, install and maintain in your home. This may be all you need to feel secure. But if later on you want to add on to the system with products such as lighting upgrades, automatic window shades or audio/video components, among other things, you may be stuck.

"Be careful if you choose proprietary products," says Michael Pope, owner of Audio Video Interiors. "They are cheaper to buy in to initially, but they make their money on the monthly costs. You can’t call any other company to come and work on it if it stops working or you want to add on to it." There are some proprietary security systems that can link with other products in your home. It’s important to discuss this early on in the process with the professionals you are considering hiring to do the job.

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