HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS BUYERS GUIDE – 2018
Your home should be a safe place – a place where you feel protected. Unfortunately, burglaries, break-ins, and other emergencies are more common than you might think. Law enforcement agencies report over 8 million property crimes every year. Obviously, the smart money goes with a home security system.
But which system is right for you? There are a lot of home security systems on the market. That can make it difficult for you to find the one that’s right for your family.
To help you narrow down your choices, we created a checklist of things you should look for to find the best home security system. These are also the main categories we evaluate when conducting our home security reviews.
- Shopping Experience
- Equipment & Set-up
- Cost & Value
- Monitoring Service & Reputation
In addition to passing our home security system reviews with flying colors, the best home security systems on our recommended list have committed to providing their best price promise exclusively through our InHomeSafetyGuide.org website.
You won’t find better pricing anywhere else. It’s something extra special we managed to do for you. Being the most trusted online resource for home safety systems helped us acquire that special pricing commitment from our providers.
First impressions still reign supreme. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a first date with a sweetheart, or simply shopping for a needed product. What makes the huge difference is whether the other person is friendly and helpful, or sullen and pushy. The same goes whether it’s a bricks-and-mortar store or an online website.
The first contact with a provider sets the tone for what follows. When shopping for a home security system, consider these things – in addition to friendliness and helpfulness.
- Does the provider have a comfortable array of product choices?
- Does the product pricing look reasonable?
- Does the provider make it easy to get a free, online quote?
- Do you have the option of purchasing either by phone or online?
- Are FAQs, how-to videos, and other useful information available on their website?
- Can you use email, online chat, and telephone to get in touch?
- Is it easy to reach technical support?
- Is the provider patient and understanding?
- Or, does the provider use high-pressure sales tactics?
Updated 6/1/2018 – Exclusive Deals & Discounts available to InHome site visitors
We believe in transparency – On occasion, a provider we have reviewed has discounted pricing for InHome visitors. Only after our Top 4 providers are selected do we allow providers to offer purchase links and guaranteed pricing to our site visitors – we have been doing this since our inception in 2012. About 30% of the time, InHome receives a nominal commission if a purchase through our links – it helps us support our website. First and foremost, we ensure all rankings and reviews are accurate and unbiased. For more information about how we rank, review and certify each provider, visit our How We Rank page.
Equipment & Setup
In the past, home alarm systems were generally controlled by a numbered keypad that was mounted up on a wall somewhere in your house. They’re still around. However, with today’s high-tech approaches, now we’re seeing a lot of touch screens and smartphones also being used as command centers.
Most people will be fine with a company’s starter kit, which includes a central hub, entry sensors, motion detectors, and a siren. Here are some other things to look for when choosing a system.
- Keypads, either traditional or touchscreen options
- Sirens and alarms
- Base stations
- Entry sensors
- Motion sensors
- Glass break and garage door sensors
- Freeze sensors and water sensors
- Video and picture-taking sensors
- Video cameras
- Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
- Home automation equipment, Z-wave & IFTTT Support
- App for your smartphone
Not every provider offers all this equipment, so look carefully at the equipment that’s available before you make a decision.
After looking over the equipment list, the question is inevitably going to arise – “do I have to install all this myself?” Well – yes – unless the provider offers professional installation. Some do; some don’t. Professional installation will ensure that the setup is flawless, and performing perfectly before the technician leaves your house.
On the other hand, if you have a little bit of the “geek” in you, a do-it-yourself installation (DIY) can be educational, easy and fun – especially the wireless ones. Wi-Fi routers and batteries make short work of those endless wires and cables.
InHomeSafetyGuide Top Tip!
Batteries are usually overlooked when talking about home security hardware.
Unless your security equipment is hardwired throughout the home, it’s a good idea to ask the service provider how long the battery will last, and how much it will cost to replace the battery.
Lithium batteries can be expensive, and often need to be special ordered. Standard (AA, AAA, 9V) batteries are normally much easier to deal with.
Wireless high-tech has also brought to us home automation, more popular than ever. When purchasing a home security system, you definitely want to consider the ability to expand your system with home automated products. Some of the most technologically advanced systems offer:
- Nest Learning type thermostats
- Z-Wave Integration
- IFTTT Integration
- Smart light bulbs
- Smart dimmers
- Smart locks like August Locks
- Integration with Amazon Echo and Google Home
Cost & Value
It has to fit into one’s budget, right! We can’t spend money like Uncle Sam – that bad boy gets to print it, we don’t. Cost usually turns on two factors. One, will you be signing a contract, or will it be month-to-month? Two, will the system be professionally installed, or will you do it yourself?
Here are some additional questions to get the most “bang for your buck”
- Do you have to buy the equipment, or is it included in the plan?
- How much does additional equipment cost?
- How much is the monthly fee?
- Is there an activation fee?
- Are there fees associated with canceling service?
Contract: Traditional home security companies have always required a service contract. The main advantage of signing up for a service contract is to save on the initial upfront cost of the hardware. Since you’re obligated to pay for a minimum of 1-3 years of service, companies can amortize the cost of the equipment into your monthly subscription fee. Also, if you own your home and know you’re going to be there for the long-haul, being locked in for a few years wouldn’t matter much.
- Cheaper equipment fees
- 1-3 year minimum contract
- A credit check may be required
- Minimal up-front costs
No Contract: As more people are turning to do-it-yourself (DIY) home safety systems, some companies are offering no-contract 24/7 home security monitoring to their customers. Although there’s an upfront cost for the hardware (which you will own instead of lease), the monthly subscription fees are a lot less than that of a traditional security company. If you currently rent, not having an annual service contract can make a lot of sense.
- Month to month subscription – cancel anytime
- No credit checks
- Less expensive monthly payments
- Must pay for equipment, but you own the hardware
It largely depends on your current living situation of whether to go with a traditional contract home security company or a do-it-yourself (DIY) no-contract option. Either way, all the home security system reviews on InHomeSafetyGuide provide further details on the home security provider offerings so you can size up the best fit for your needs.
Monitoring Service & Reputation
No home security system is complete without stellar monitoring services. After all, the ability to monitor your property is the whole reason why you’re considering a home safety system in the first place!
When looking for the best home security system, you should ask:
- How long has the company been around?
- How are their customer reviews?
- Are negative customer reviews promptly addressed?
- What is their rating with BBB?
- Have other respected companies featured them?
- Is the customer care center accredited by CSAA 5 Diamond Certified & UL-Certified.
- Do they have a lot of online resources?
- Can you count on fast response times?
- How easy is it to get to a company executive?
- Are professional monitoring services included with their plans?