What Are the Differences Between UL and Non-UL Alarm Monitoring?

Alarm Monitoring

Alarm systems for homes and businesses rely on a monitoring station to detect when the alarm is triggered. The system is relayed to the station which then takes action, be it warning the customer or alerting safety personnel. Underwriters Laboratories alarm monitoring certification means that the station meets a set of standards created by UL to assure a level of quality and diligence at that station.

Certification Requirements

In order for a monitoring station to receive UL certification, the company that runs it must allow an on-site inspection. This inspection focuses on the equipment used to monitor alarms, the safety of the facility itself, the location of the monitoring station inside the facility, the station’s staff and power supply. Some criteria for approval include having fire-proof walls, a secure power room with a backup generator and at least two personnel on duty at all times. One of the more important prerequisites of certification is that the monitoring station must serve no other purpose than to monitor alarms. The station is not allowed to run an answering service in the same station as this may leave personnel occupied when an alarm is detected. As well, the station must have a minimum of two fire-rated security doors, not be on the ground floor and may not have any outside windows. These and many other items are given on the inspector’s specific checklist. Once these items are all checked during one inspection, the station receives UL certification.

Non-UL Approved Monitoring

Some stations may still use UL-approved products and be just as attentive as UL-approved stations but not be certified. For example, the monitoring station may have outside windows or may also answer phone calls at the same station. Some companies may also choose to forgo UL certification due to the cost of inspection and renewal fees, which can total upward of a few thousand dollars per year.


A monitoring station that has not been UL-certified isn’t inherently less attentive or qualified than a UL-certified one; but since the only distinction between them is the lack of certification, there is no way to immediately tell which companies may meet standards but are merely not inspected and which fall well short. Not having UL approval alone does not mean the company is unreliable; and if you have a present service that fits your needs but is not certified, a certified one may not be necessary. Many companies may not have UL-approved monitoring stations but still maintain a high level of quality. However, UL certification is an easy gauge to tell which monitoring stations meet a specific standard, whereas non-approved stations, while possibly perfectly capable, are unknown commodities.

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