Q: We don’t have a land phone line at our cottage, but we’d like to install one of those alarm systems that will notify us if the inside temperature drops below a certain level. How exactly do these systems work? Do we need to have a land phone line installed? Thanks. – Cynthia, via e-mail
An alarm system is a great idea, and relatively inexpensive, considering the job it does. Companies such as Sensaphone and Protected Home offer everything from very basic models that alert you to problems like dropping temps or a flooding basement to deluxe units that let you, with a simple phone call, turn up the heat before you arrive at your cabin. Protected Home, a Division of Control Products, Inc., sells a number of Freeze Alarm models, but all current units require a dedicated phone line. In 2011, the company will offer a model that comes with a cellular phone built into it. Sensaphone does sell a remote satellite monitoring system called the SAT4D, which eliminates the need for a phone line. However, according to a Sensaphone sales agent, it’s designed more for commercial use, and this is reflected in its $1,600 price. So yes, you do currently need a phone line for most alarm systems to work. A land line is less complicated, but there may be cost savings with a dedicated cell phone. Obviously, you would need cell service in your cabin area, and you would need to keep the cell phone plugged in (and attached to a battery back up). If you have a cell plan, you may want to ask your provider if it has any deals for adding an additional phone. Check out www.protectedhome.com or www.sensaphone.com to compare available models and see more product specs.