When you compare home security systems, you probably notice that most companies lead with price. They all claim to have the best deal. So how do you decide who really has the best home security system? Do you simply go with whichever ad shows the lowest price tag? Or is there more to it?
This checklist helps you identify both the best home security system and the best home security value:
The #1 reason to get a home security system is, of course, to keep your house safe. So our checklist for the best home security system starts with a built-in cellular connection from the home to the monitoring station. This feature is paramount to your safety. Traditionally alarm systems have connected using your home phone line. There are several problems with those systems, but the worst issue is unreliability. Burglars quickly learned to cut the wired phone connection before breaking in.
Today the industry acknowledges that cellular is safer, because it is unaffected by wire cutters, weather or power outages. Cellular connections also protect households that don’t have a landline. So it’s surprising that many alarm companies still base their system on that old-fashioned landline solution. In some cases, these companies offer cellular as “back-up,” but here’s the catch: they charge extra for it! Suddenly the “great deal” they were advertising doesn’t sound so great…
If you’re considering any security solution that isn’t monitored 24/7, forget it. Monitoring is critical, especially when you’re not home, but also when you are unable to get to the phone, or unaware of the potential crisis (like when you’re fast asleep, for example, at your most vulnerable).
Today, most home security systems include professional monitoring. But don’t check off this category unless the monitoring plan covers all types of emergencies. Intrusion prevention is usually Job 1. But fire can be even more devastating to your home and family than burglary. Carbon monoxide could, in fact, be fatal. Frozen, burst pipes in your attic could cause thousands of dollars in damages. Same with a leaky hose in your laundry room.
You also want to be covered for unexpected medical emergencies. Any home security company you’re considering should automatically monitor for all factors that could threaten you or your family. Make sure you also understand the fees associated with the monitoring plan. Many companies monitor for intrusion, but add on several extra charges if you want complete protection.
#3 No Hidden FEES
Extra charges. This is really the problem with comparing home security prices based on the ads. It is very common for companies to advertise a low price, while at the same time enticing you with features that aren’t even included in that price. Obviously you want to understand all charges associated with any service, before buying. Here are a few to watch out for:
- Installation fees
- Activation fees
- Shipping fees
- Extra for built-in cellular links
- Extra for complete monitoring
- Extra for interactive features
The best home security pricing will be crystal clear, openly displayed and uncomplicated.
Lots of home security companies say they’re “interactive.” But what does that mean? It means the system is smart enough to exchange information with you. You should be able to “talk” to it and tell it what to do, entering commands and customizing features to suit your home and lifestyle. In turn, your system should tell you what you need to know. It should alert you to any security-related activity at your house, even if it’s a non-emergency. For example, it should tell you when the housekeeper showed up, or when the kids got home from school.
With advances in technology, you now have many exciting interactive features to choose from, including:
- Mobile apps for remote access and control
- Instant alerts – via text or email
- Live and recorded video monitoring and video security cameras
- Unique codes for each person who regularly accesses your home
- Home automation, such as light and thermostat control
Many home security customers consider these features essential in today’s hectic, mobile society. And, if your attic is flooding, don’t you want to know ASAP? Being informed goes a long way to enhance your peace of mind.
Great feedback from other customers tells you a lot about the quality of a product, or the way the company treats people. Existing customers will share a lot of real-life experiences. Check out your local review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Yahoo Local and Google Places. Also check the complaint sites, and note which companies get a lot of negative reviews. The best home security companies are accredited by the BBB, and score highly in the rankings assigned by security industry experts, on sites such as A Secure Life.
When it comes right down to it, ads are simply marketing-speak. If you want the best value in home security, understand the features that you need and want before you start shopping. And then ignore the price shown in the ads, and find out how much your home security system is really going to cost. We hope this checklist helps you start off on the right foot.