Whether you own your home or rent a month-to-month studio, your home base is your haven, your landing pad — it’s essentially an extension of you. We all take care of our space in different ways, from cleaning to renovating to deliberating over the perfect end table. But one top priority everyone can agree on is peace of mind: for your personal safety, your treasured possessions, and your loved ones.
Our Picks for Best Home
So what’s the lowdown on how to design that peace of mind? Two words: home security. It’s not as exciting as a redecorating project, but going through the brass tacks of total home protection ensures that the lifestyle you’ve worked for and enjoy is backed up by more than just a simple door lock. Luckily our team has the nitty-gritty on the home security industry and how it can safeguard your home, belongings, and loved ones without breaking your stride.
Home Security Basics
Not only does your home hold your stuff and house your loved ones, but it involves a host of complex energy systems that affect your finances and overall home maintenance. Home security isn’t just about blaring an alarm when a would-be burglar tries to make it past the citadel (though that’s certainly a key aspect of home protection), it’s about making sure there’s a whole network of functional systems watching your back and ensuring that your house is using energy safely and efficiently. The companies we checked out and outlined here get that, and have created full-coverage systems to account for the various complexities inherent in maintaining a home.
From physical wires to Wifi to Bluetooth, the framework of home security can take a lot of different forms. Plus, innovation in home automation means a lot of companies enable you to control your pad from your phone. You could be locking doors, controlling lights, turning off stovetops, and activating/deactivating alarms (to name a few) from anywhere.
Shopping for a System
Home security packages boils down to three types: bundled, custom, and build-it-yourself. Within both of those categories, there’s the ability to monitor your system on a DIY basis, meaning you install the system and monitor it yourself (with alerts going to your cell phone or other tech devices), or to have it professionally monitored. For DIY systems you can opt to install it yourself, but pay for professional monitoring. In this scenario, Frontpoint is a key player as they provide top-notch cell monitoring with remote access control of energy systems. These more affordable and easily-installed systems offered by companies like SimpliSafe and Piper NV vibe well with the university student life.
With a bundled system, you’re likely to get everything — equipment and monitoring — at a flat rate, but most companies will tie you into a contract. For custom-built options, you can often get a month-month service agreement, but designing the system is bound to be a little more involved and has a longer quote process.
For specific valuables like paintings, jewelry or a safe, there are item-specific alarm systems called asset protection devices that activate an alarm or notify you if someone’s tried to tamper with it.
What to Ask Yourself
Every home and lifestyle is naturally going to have different preferences — your personal brand is just as important as the brand you ultimately go with. Most home security companies are more than happy to customize their existing packages to fit your needs, or give you the add-ons you require.
So zoom in on you. What would work best for your life, your home, your people, and your stuff? Not to mention what would be logically fit into your financial reality. If you’re renting and aren’t quite sure what the next two years hold, a DIY system is the most dynamic choice. They’re relatively simple to both install and move (as they aren’t hardwired into the home), and you won’t be tied into a contract if you opt to go for the self-monitoring option. But if you find yourself more anchored (i.e., you own a home), a more extensively wired system may be your ideal scenario. Considering the wide range of preferences you’re likely to have, we’ve cultivated a collection of favorites.
Our Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Austin
If you’re going to to choose a big-brand home security company, it’s going to come down to either Protect America, Frontpoint, or SimpliSafe. All three lead the pack in terms of highly-acclaimed customer service, equipment quality, and overall reputation. Protect America’s headquarters and call center happen to be Austin-based, so Austinites can rest easy knowing there’s not only this tried-and-true national brand, but a lineup of local companies ready to customize barriers to home intrusion.
Dyezz Surveillance shone a little brighter than the rest when we got down to determining the players that grew out of Austin proper. Created in the wake of 9/11, Dyezz has been dedicated to its fellow Austinites’ peace of mind since it was a startup operating out of founder John Dyess’ garage. Running his company with a diehard love of his city and dedication to keeping it distinctly Austin, Dyess comes at the home security business with an especially keen understanding of what it takes to protect what you love. Keep Austin weird, and keep Austin safe — it’s the Dyezz motto that has inspired them since they opened and it has helped them become one of the most reputable and trusted home security presences in town.
Best Bundled Options
- Frontpoint: FrontPoint offers three upgradable packages, but each requires a minimum 36-month monitoring contract. A clean, updated and professional site makes the quote process a breeze. All-wireless equipment can be shipped directly and requires no professional installation.
- Protect America: This Austin-based national powerhouse offers a free lifetime warranty on all equipment. Protect America can back up their service lineup: five upgradable packages, no initial payment for equipment, no installation fees, and a mandatory 36-month monitoring commitment.
- SimpliSafe: SimpliSafe sticks to the basics and makes it easy on you: no yearly contract, no middlemen, and no landline required. Four packages to choose from, all-wireless equipment, and a reasonable $230 for their standalone security kits. It’s all only made better by the fact that the units actually talk to you when you’re setting them up. No Ikea-esque installation here.
Austin’s Best Local Home Security Companies
Dyezz Surveillance strives to provide you peace of mind while you’re at home and when you’re away. Rewarded with an A+ from the BBB, Dyezz has provided competitive prices and outstanding security and home automation systems to the Greater Austin area since 2001. Dyezz specializes in video surveillance systems, burglar and fire alarms, and access control systems. Their website has the information to answer all of your questions and even offers a live online chat for you to speak one on one with a specialist.
Dyezz provides equipment from trusted manufacturers like GE, Honeywell, and Optex. It offers some of the most advanced alarm systems which frankly, can be quite confusing especially if you’re looking to purchase your first security system. The team at Dyezz encourages you to let them help explain the systems and assist you in choosing a system best catered to your lifestyle. Ensuring their customers are confident and familiar with their systems is a main priority at Dyezz.
The company also offers some of the highest level surveillance cameras in all of Texas. It provides equipment from Flir Security, the leader in breakthrough thermal imaging technology. Dyezz offers all sorts of video surveillance from explosion-proof cameras to basic HD cameras. Choosing a more advanced system may seem expensive on the surface, but by investing in a newer more cutting edge CCTV, you can monitor a larger area of your home more effectively saving you money from purchasing numerous cameras.
When it comes to home automation, Dyezz can cover pretty much all of your requirements. If you’re one for new gadgets, you’ll love its newest 2GIG Go Control system. The Go Control system enables you to manage your thermostat, lighting, locks, appliances, alarm arming and more at the touch of a button. Just think of how much time you could save getting the kids ready in the morning and how nice it would be to come home to a cool house in the summer without having the AC on blast all day. These may seem like luxuries, but Dyezz offers home security and convenience for every family and budget. Chat online or give them a call to discover what kind of security system would best suite you.
Fort Knox Security Services has protected its fellow Texans’ homes for more than a decade with a team of security consultants each averaging about 20 years of experience. These guys have invested thousands of hours meeting with homeowners to provide individualized security. That’s only a portion of the comfort Fort Knox will provide. You’ll enjoy peace of mind from your reliable security system, CSAA five diamond central station monitoring, and incredible savings from not having to pay any installation or activation fees.
If you have an existing system or equipment of your own, your savings will be even greater. Specialists at Fort Knox Security Services with reprogram your existing system at no cost to you. You are even eligible to upgrade to interactive services including your ability to arm/disarm your system and receive text/email notifications on your smart device. Monitoring begins at only $18 a month for both new and existing systems.
Do you remember watching the Jetsons on TV and wishing you could live in a smart home and drive hover cars? The hover cars may still be a work in progress, but with Fort Knox Security Services you can have a smart home of your own! They offer three home automation packages for varying Jetson-style homes. Even if you choose the most basic package to start, it can support additional features like smart thermostats, garage door sensors, image sensors, added cameras, and more. Every feature can be accessed through your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Fort Knox Security Services makes it easy for you to save money. They include free system check-ups, repairs on minor devices, back-up battery replacement and more. They even have a tab on their website for specials and coupons so make sure you refer to this before purchasing a full price system. If you want even more savings, refer a friend within the first 60 days of service and earn a $150 credit to your account (credits will be lowered to $75 after 60 days). Go ahead and start investigating the current offers or give the team at Fort Knox a call to schedule a meeting with one of their experienced consultants.
Best DIY Security Systems
- Lowes Iris: Pulling out all the stops when it comes to connected accessories and optional professional monitoring, Iris is the most tricked-out DIY system on the market. They offer three different kits (with different accessory options) ranging in price from $129 to $249, and each only takes an hour to install.
- Piper NV: Sleek and compact, Piper NV’s all-in-one security tower is tailor-made for a studio apartment, dorm or any minimalist-driven home. Its relatively small size — comparable to a large jar — belies the host of powerful security tools in its arsenal: an immersive-view, streaming-ready camera, plus detectors for motion, sound, light, temperature and humidity.
Local companies that didn’t make the cut
We found these brands to be a few strides behind Dyezz and Fort Knox in overall reputation:
- TriStar Security Systems
- Central Security
- Smith Monitoring
- Champion Security
- True Protection
Preventing False Alarms
Austin law enforcement fields thousands — yes, thousands — of false alarm calls annually. These unnecessary responses result in wasted manpower and resources, all of which could be used in response to real emergencies. As such, the city has instituted a fine structure for false alarm occurrence over a 12-month period:
- Between 3-6 false alarms: $50
- Between 5-8 false alarms: $75
- More than 8 false alarms: $100
Preventing false alarms is inevitably part of managing a home security system. When you find a system that works for you, maintaining it to ensure it only activates when it’s supposed to doesn’t much extra effort. Simply installing new batteries on a routine basis can be a major deterrent to false alarms, as can making sure doors and windows are fully shut before arming the system (keeping wind from activating the sensors).
Consider what you’ll be doing for your community and local police force by keeping emergency responses dispatched to actual emergencies. In a lot of cases, the better the equipment, the lower the risk of false alarm activation. That’s where a company like Protect America with its lifetime equipment warranty could be a huge asset, as you’d have total insurance on the package you choose.
How to Register Your Alarm System in Austin
The city of Austin requires you to register your security system. Luckily, the cost is relatively low and the permit is valid for a full year. Residential permits cost $30; business permits cost $50. It’s a good idea to get one, as the fine for operating a system without a permit totals $200 and is subject to Class C misdemeanor charges.
What does the typical burglar look for when identifying a target?
The most important thing to a would-be thief is the ability to accomplish the task quickly, efficiently, and without being seen. Therefore, qualities like landscaping (large bushes) they can hide in, a lack of security system signage, and the absence of passersby are all invitations to meddle. If it appears that it would take them more than a few minutes to get in and out, many thieves will bail for an easier target. Plant your security sign in a noticeable place and keep shrubbery trimmed and neat.
If I’ve never experienced a break-in and live in a safe neighborhood, how much do I actually need a home security system?
Studies have found that on average across the US, approximately every 13 seconds a US home experiences a break-in — that means two million homes a year. While these statistics take into account a wide variety of metropolitan areas, and you may very well be at low risk for a break-in, installing a home security system makes you, your family and your home far less vulnerable to future risk. (You just never know.)
In a lot of instances, even just having a security system established doesn’t just deter would-be burglars — it can also drive down homeowner and renter insurance costs, often saving you up to 20 percent depending on your insurance company and plan. Be sure to check with your provider.
If I lose power, will my alarm system still work?
All the battery-powered systems we’ve reviewed include a backup battery that kicks in should a loss of power occur. Some companies, such as Dyezz Surveillance, are equipped to notify you with a low battery signal so that you can prepare yourself before the fact. That’s even better.
I’m thinking about choosing a large national home security brand. Does it matter how far away their monitoring center is from me?
If you’re going for a system with professional monitoring, we recommend you select a company whose monitoring center is less than 250 miles from your home base. It’s the best way to guarantee top-notch coverage and protection.
The Bottom Line
You know how important your home (and everything in it) is to you, and now you have a host of options for keeping it safe and running the way it should. We’ve narrowed it down to the top contenders — all you need to do is match it to the framework of your lifestyle.