How to choose a home security company
Home security systems range from the very basic to the highly complex.
A basic security system runs anywhere from $100 - $600 and often includes a controller, contacted exterior doors, motion detector and a siren. For an additional cost, you can also add smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, or cameras with remote viewing software that will allow you to check on your property while away. There are even alarms available for the opening of liquor, gun or medicine cabinets. Monthly contract fees run $20 - $50 depending on the level of service options, such as monitoring.
Home security systems provide you with a sense of security, but they can also save you some cash. Homeowners can typically save up to 20 percent on homeowner’s insurance when an alarm system is installed.
How to choose a home security company:
- Assess your needs. “Everybody uses their home differently,” says Jim Boots, director of residential sales for Protection One. “Who lives in the home? Do you have elderly parents? Do you travel a lot? Do you have pets?” These will affect your choices. Ask the monitoring company what their precise process is when they receive an alarm. Knowing their procedures — and their safeguards against false alarms — can save you costly fees if police are dispatched unnecessarily.
- Make sure you’re willing to use the system all the time. No security system is effective if it’s not regularly armed.
- Check Angie’s List for top-rated alarm companies. Ask the companies you interview if they and their products are certified by a respected independent organization, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
- Ask your potential supplier to visit your home and recommend specifically how to best protect it. It’s not something done best over the phone.
- Most security services rely on landline telephone service, but some now are activated through cellular and internet providers. Be sure your security system is tailored to fit your needs based on the type of service you have. Ask if the company charges extra for wireless monitoring.
- Find out what kinds of backup methods are in place if phone lines are cut or the power goes out.
- Ask the monitoring company what their precise process is when they receive an alarm. Knowing their procedures — and their safeguards against false alarms — can save you costly fees if police are dispatched unnecessarily.Assess your needs. “Everybody uses their home differently,” says Jim Boots, director of residential sales for Protection One. “Who lives in the home? Do you have elderly parents? Do you travel a lot? Do you have pets?” These will affect your choices. Keep in mind which portions of your house might be most important to keep secure. If you don’t want motion sensors or video cameras in every hallway or the garage, consider adding just a few in vital areas.
- Get a written, detailed quote covering things like installation, equipment, monitoring fees and warranties.
- If you sign up for monitoring services, you will likely be asked to sign a contract, which will typically last one to five years. Read any contract carefully and ask for clarification if it’s confusing. Ask if you can transfer the service if you move before the contract expires.
- Find out if you will own the monitoring equipment or simply rent it.
- Basic systems should not take longer than one day to install, but some new phone systems require additional equipment. Determine how invasive the installation process is – will it be wireless or hardwired? If the company makes a mess, who cleans up?
- Don’t let just anyone install a security system in your home. Insist that your company conducts background checks on its installers and offers them necessary and ongoing training. Determine what kinds of vehicles, uniforms installer use, and require ID before you let them inside.
With additional information provided by the Angie's List Magazine staff.