Local Alarm vs Central Alarm Systems: What’s the Difference?

Choosing between a local alarm system and a central alarm system is important for securing your property. These two main types of systems offer different benefits and operate in distinct ways. 

Understanding their differences can help you decide which alarm system is best suited for your needs. In this blog, we will compare local alarm and central alarm systems to provide a clear understanding of their features and benefits.

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Central Alarm & Local Alarm Compared

Local and central alarm systems differ mainly in how they notify you and the authorities during an emergency. 

When triggered, a local alarm system activates an audible siren or alert within the premises but does not notify a central monitoring station or emergency services. These systems rely on someone nearby to hear the alarm and take appropriate action, such as contacting the police or fire department. 

Local alarms are often used for simplicity and cost-effectiveness, especially in smaller properties.

On the other hand, central alarm systems are connected to a central monitoring station. When an alarm is triggered, the central station receives a signal and can immediately notify emergency services, such as the fire department or police.

Central alarm system provides continuous monitoring and ensures a rapid response to emergencies, offering greater peace of mind. 

Central alarm systems often include additional features like remote monitoring, cellular connection, and integration with other security systems, making them suitable for larger properties and businesses that require comprehensive security coverage.

What’s A Local Alarm System?

Alarm Systems

A local alarm system is a security system that activates an audible or visual alert within the premises when triggered. These alarms are not connected to a central monitoring station and rely on someone nearby to hear the alarm and take appropriate action, such as contacting local authorities.


  • Cost-effective: Lower initial and ongoing costs compared to central alarm systems.
  • Simplicity: Easy to install and operate, often suitable for DIY installation.
  • No monthly fees: Does not require a subscription to a monitoring service.
  • Immediate deterrent: The loud alarm can deter intruders and alert neighbors.


  • Limited response: Relies on someone nearby to hear the alarm and contact emergency services.
  • No remote monitoring: Lacks features for remote access and monitoring.
  • Potential for false alarms: Can lead to frequent false alarms without professional monitoring.
  • Limited integration: Often does not integrate with other smart home security systems.

What’s A Central Alarm System?

Close Up Image of an Alarm System

A central alarm system is a security system connected to a central monitoring station. When the alarm is triggered, the system sends a signal to the central station, which then alerts the appropriate emergency services, such as the fire department or police. This type of system provides continuous monitoring and ensures a rapid response to emergencies.


  • Continuous monitoring: Provides 24/7 monitoring by professional services.
  • Rapid response: Central station alerts emergency services immediately, ensuring quick response times.
  • Remote monitoring: Offers remote access and monitoring via apps and internet connections.
  • Integration: Can integrate with other security systems, such as motion sensors, door alarms, and window alarms.
  • Insurance discounts: May qualify for discounts on insurance premiums due to enhanced security.


  • Higher cost: More expensive to install and maintain compared to local alarm systems.
  • Monthly fees: Requires a subscription to a monitoring service, adding to the overall cost.
  • Complex installation: Typically requires professional installation.
  • Potential for false alarms: Despite professional monitoring, false alarms can still occur and may result in fines or penalties.

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Here’s A Quick Look

FeatureLocal Alarm SystemCentral Alarm System
DefinitionAlerts within the premises onlyConnected to a central monitoring station
Alert MechanismAudible siren or visual alertNotifies central station, which alerts emergency services
Response TimeDependent on nearby individualsImmediate response by professional monitoring
CostLower initial and no monthly feesHigher initial cost with monthly monitoring fees
ReliabilityRelies on neighbors or occupantsHighly reliable with continuous monitoring
CommunicationLocalized, no external communicationUses phone line, cellular, or internet to communicate with the monitoring station
Power BackupBasic battery backupAdvanced power backup systems including battery and cellular
User ControlLimited control, typically manual operationRemote access and control via apps and internet
Best Suited ForSmall properties with minimal security needsLarger properties and businesses requiring comprehensive security

Factors To Consider

Integration with Other Systems

When choosing between local and central alarm systems, consider how well each integrates with other security and home automation systems. 

Central alarm systems often offer better integration with various security components, such as fire alarms, CO detection, and access control systems. They can create a comprehensive security network that operates seamlessly.

In contrast, local alarm systems have limited integration capabilities, which can restrict your ability to build a fully interconnected security infrastructure.


Central alarm systems typically include professional monitoring services, including regular maintenance checks and updates, to ensure efficient operation. 

On the other hand, local alarm systems require manual maintenance and monitoring, which can be time-consuming and less reliable. Ensuring your system is well-maintained can prevent false alarms and ensure a quick response during a break-in or emergency.

Installation Complexity

The complexity of installing your alarm system can impact your decision. Local alarm systems are generally easier to install. They can often be set up as a DIY project, making them a convenient option for those who prefer not to involve a security company. 

Central alarm systems, however, usually require professional installation due to their complexity and the need for proper integration with central alarm stations. It ensures that the system is correctly installed and reduces the likelihood of operational issues.


Monitoring is a significant consideration when choosing an alarm system. Central alarm systems provide continuous professional monitoring through alarm monitoring services.

If an alarm is triggered, the central station alarms can immediately alert the relevant emergency services, such as the fire department or police, ensuring a swift response. 

Local alarm systems, while they can offer remote monitoring through a security company’s app, rely heavily on the property owner or nearby individuals to respond to the alarm. It can delay response times and compromise security during critical moments.


What is the best type of alarm system?

The best type of alarm system depends on your specific needs and circumstances. A central alarm system with professional monitoring is often recommended for comprehensive security. It provides continuous surveillance and quick response times. However, a local alarm system can also be effective for smaller properties or those looking for a cost-effective solution. When choosing an alarm system, consider factors like property size, budget, and required features.

Can burglars disable ADT?

While burglars can attempt to disable any alarm system, ADT and other reputable security companies employ advanced technologies to prevent tampering. Features like cellular backup, tamper-proof devices, and redundant communication paths make it difficult for burglars to successfully disable the system. Regular updates and professional monitoring further enhance security.

What is the most secure alarm system?

The most secure alarm system includes multiple layers of protection, such as a central alarm system with professional monitoring, integrated fire and CO detection, motion sensors, door and window sensors, and remote monitoring capabilities. Systems with encryption and tamper alerts add additional security, ensuring comprehensive protection for your property.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between local and central alarm systems depends on various factors, including budget, property size, and specific security needs. 

Central alarm systems offer enhanced security through professional monitoring and quick response times, making them ideal for larger properties. Local alarm systems provide cost-effective security solutions for smaller properties. Both systems have their unique advantages, so consider your needs carefully.

Ensure peace of mind with a tailored security solution that meets your needs and budget!

Contact us today for a free consultation to find the best alarm system for your property.

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