Remember moving into your first home? Saving spare change for only the best furnishings? Do you remember shopping for your very own alarm system? Okay, so maybe that wasn’t of great concern during the decorating process, but as crime rates continue to reach new heights and home security becomes ever more affordable, purchasing a home security system should be a priority for homeowners and renters alike.
Our Picks for Best Home
Don’t let your grandpa’s tacky beige door-alarm deter you from buying a security system of your own. Modern technology has modified the once clunky and obnoxious security boxes to create discrete and effective security. Make shopping for a safety system a priority over choosing the right paint color. Burglars won’t stop in their tracks when they see the “wet paint sign,” but an effective security system could mean the safety of you and your loved ones.
Burglary isn’t the only concern rendering home security. Worried about your teenager and his friends constantly trudging in and out of your house unannounced? Select security systems offer alerts notifying homeowners of incidents such as “liquor cabinet opened” or “gun safe unlocked.”
We are here to ensure that no matter your needs, there is a home security system that’s right for you. We’ve done the homework and have narrowed the top companies you should consider for your home.
Understanding Home Security
With a home security system, your house is secured with various sensors that communicate with the control panel, or the “brain” of the system. These sensors can be motion detectors set off by a large heat source (an intruder). Fortunately, more advanced sensors are able to identify the nocturnal house pet wandering the home, thus reducing the possibility of false alarms. Other detectors include contact sensors triggered by opening windows and doors while the alarm is set.
When the control panel receives alarms from the motion or contact detectors, the sirens in your home are set off. If you have a monitored system in your home, you may receive a phone call from your local call center inquiring about the safety of you and your home. In addition, operators may alert the police depending on the situation. Monitored systems often mandate a landline, broadband, or cell connection in addition to a monthly fee. Fees range from $15-$50 depending on the company and bundle. A stand-alone system differs not only in cost, but it offers only a siren and flashing lights as protection against intruders.
Choosing your system
Before adding the first system you see to your shopping cart, let’s evaluate your current living situation. Is this a permanent home? If you plan on picking up your roots and relocating, a DIY system may be a more suitable option for you. DIY systems are less costly, don’t require contracts, and are not hardwired. A common issue many residents face when selecting the DIY option is that many companies require some sort of contract. These contracts are often binding for a few years and negate the desire for a portable system.
While shopping for a system, you may hear a security consultant trying to sell you on a “smart home”. A smart home is simply a house with automation that supports routine and automatic heating and air conditioning, lighting, water sprinkling, and even food preparation appliances. That’s right, now you can start preparing dinner from your smartphone!
Getting carried away by the high tech add ons is easy to do when shopping for a system. When it comes to home security systems, we recommend purchasing at least the basics: a siren alarm and sensors for all windows and doors.
Things to consider
WIth the exception of house automation, many system appliances complete the same function as competing brands. Comparing prices of these devices is often the most deciding factor for choosing a home security system.
Excited about the smart home technology? We are too! Before purchasing all the latest gadgets, we would like to remind you of your needs. What would make you feel the most safe in your own home? Would having the ability to heat up kitchen appliances make you more or less comfortable when away from home? Many fear the thought of leaving the oven on when the house is unoccupied. Would controlling your kitchen devices from your phone reinforce these concerns or pacify you with the reaffirmation that you are in control even when away from home?
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Orlando
Our team hand selected nine security companies based in the Orlando area. We rated these companies based upon three critical factors: customer service, reputability, and affordability. Then we compared them to Freshome’s recommended home security systems. This is what we learned:
If you want an easy, quick solution, we suggest going with Frontpoint or Protect America. These larger companies offer inexpensive package deals and generally handle the latest mobile apps for home automation. However, if you don’t want to be tied down with a 36-month monitoring contract, Orlando’s local options are the way to go. Finally, for students and temporary renters, you may be better off selecting a cheaper DIY system like Lowe’s Iris or Piper NV.
Orlando’s Best Local Home Security Companies
Global Alarms provides customers with full ownership of their security systems and some of the lowest equipment prices around. Plus, it offers contract and no-contract system agreements.There are also no credit checks, which makes Global Alarms a good option for individuals with poor credit or who haven’t had time to build it up.
Along with your basic intrusion protection (door and window sensors), Global Alarms also specializes in fire protection and medical emergency response systems and provides these monitoring services for an additional low monthly fee. Also, if you’re interested in adding cameras to your security system, the website provides information on what Surveillance and IP cameras are available, what the differences are, and which models are more discreet. Cameras allow you to have evidence in case of a break in and Global Alarms provides 24-hour camera monitoring and 24-hour watch service so that you won’t have to spend hours keeping up with your cameras or going through your camera feed.
Some systems also include Total Connect, which allows you to connect and control your system via your smartphone, tablet, or PC — anytime and anywhere. With Total Connect, you can turn off a false alarm, check on your kids or pets when you’re away, or unlock the door if a house member forgets a key. You may also be interested in adding intercom products to your home, which provide you with the additional safety of being able to talk to anyone outside of your door, while you’re inside. Customers get a 30-day trial for all products, and professional installation is included in the price provided for the security system. Consultations are free and monitoring plans start at $30 a month.
With over 30 years of service, Rampart is a trusted name in home security with a mission is to provide customers with reliable, trustworthy assistance. Unlike competitors, Rampart’s equipment is custom-designed and created by the company, giving them greater inside knowledge into how it works and how to fix any potential issues. That said, Rampart guarantees you won’t experience issues with messy installations, slow monitoring station response, or inability to resolve concerns.
Rampart provides free, on-site security evaluations to help you choose the right system and security products for your home — without pushing you towards more expensive options. The products available include several home security options—from alarms to video surveillance cameras—and home automation options, giving you the ability to control different features of your home and enjoy comfort as well as safety. Along with these products, Rampart also provides fire monitoring and intercom systems like Global Alarms. While their systems may not be the cheapest, the company does offer additional security components at lower costs, so that you end up saving money if you have a larger home.
Rampart is also able to monitor and service non-Rampart systems, so working with an existing system is a piece of cake. Likewise, Rampart equipment is non-proprietary, so if you choose to switch to another provider, the equipment will still work. Remember: You own the equipment and won’t be threatened to have it taken away or disabled if you ever decide to switch companies.
A minimum contract of one year is required for all services, but that puts the contract at 2 years less than other companies that lock you into a 36-month contract. Customers get a professional installation free of charge, and the option for Total Connect is available so that you can control your system and home automation functions via your smartphone, tablet, or PC. Landline monitoring begins at $20 a month and cellular monitoring begins at $33 a month.
Best Bundled Options
Frontpoint: Frontpoint offers customers a 30-day risk-free trial. A quote is necessary for determining pricing and the three packages offered require at least a 36-month monitoring contract. DIY installation is easy for the wireless equipment from this top ranking brand.
Protect America: Protect America offers five package deals starting at $20 a month. The most basic package includes a Simon XT control panel, 3 door/window sensors, 1 motion detector, as well as window decals and a yard sign. Installation is DIY and guaranteed to only take a few minutes.
SimpliSafe: SimpliSafe takes the lead as the most affordable home security system with package prices starting at $230. SimpliSafe offers refurbished systems allowing you to save an additional 25-30 percent (refurbished systems do account for the 3 year warranty). There are four packages offered but specials are frequent so keep an eye out!
Best DIY Security Systems
Lowe’s Iris: Iris is a highly affordable security system focusing on home automation and energy conservation. It is compatible with professional monitoring systems and highly customizable. The basic plan is free while the premium plan sells for $10 a month with the first two months free.
Piper NV: Piper NV lets you purchase your security system as a bundle or individual accessories upfront with no monthly fees or contracts. There is a one year limited warranty on appliances in addition to a 30-day money back guarantee.
Local companies that didn’t make the cut
- ACS Fire and Security
- Southeast Wiring Solutions
- Modern Security Systems
- High Security Alarm Systems Inc.
- Safeguard America
Preventing False Alarms
The Orlando Police Department recognizes that false alarms are likely to occur with residential security systems; however, false alarms are costly. Every false alarm occupies about 20 minutes of a police officer’s time. Considering that responses to home alarms typically involve two officers, false alarms account for approximately $1.5 billion in police time every year. Combined with the loss of time the police could apply to actual emergencies, it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that fines for false alarms have increased. Considering a 12-month period in Orlando, there is no fine for the first three false alarms. If four to six false alarms arise during this time, there is a $50 fee per alarm. Seven or more false alarms result in a $100 fine for each alarm.
In an effort to prevent false alarms and save the Orlando Police Department time and money, there are many precautions that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of setting off your alarm system accidentally. Freshome’s 7 Simple Ways to Prevent False Alarms is an excellent place to start.
How to Register Your Alarm System in Orlando
Since 1999, the City of Orlando Alarm Ordinance has required all active alarm systems to be registered with the Orlando Police Department. Registration is free and can be completed online through the City of Orlando’s False Alarm Reduction Program.You must make sure to renew your registration every year to avoid fines. For every police dispatch to an unregistered alarm system, a $50 fine will follow. This fine can be waived if the resident registers his or her system within ten days of the initial dispatch request.
What’s better a landline or cellular connection?
While cellular connections may tack on a few bucks to the monthly fee, they are more secure for security systems. Cell phones erase the possibility of cut wires or power failures and cannot be detected by intruders from outside the home. The range cell phones offer also make them a better candidate for home security connections.
Is buying a security system worth it?
Can you put a price on peace of mind? Initial investments for security systems can seem costly but it is important to remember that is exactly what it is, an investment. Equipment and installation costs are a one time fee. With basic plans starting at $20, home security is highly affordable and offers protection to you and your valuables as well as deterring unwanted persons and relieving you of the worries of home intrusion.
How much security should I buy?
We ask you to consider the amount of security that would make you feel most safe in your home. Would having cameras in every room and bathroom of your home make you feel more safe while away or would you be continuously checking your monitor for out of place household objects? We suggest starting off with a basic package and purchasing add-on appliances as you find them necessary.
Will my security system work if the power goes out?
This depends on the type of security system you have installed.
Traditional Phone Lines. backup power sources allow your system to communicate with your monitoring center while phone lines continue to work for the provided time of the backup power source.
Cellular Radio. Like a cell phone, this wireless security system is unaffected by power failures. Your system will continue to operate for a few hours on backup batteries.
Broadband (the internet). Broadband connections are highly susceptible to power outages. A backup battery is included for these systems; however, if a internet failure occurs simultaneously, communication with monitoring centers may be jeopardized. Ask your home security company if they offer solutions for broadband communication in the event of a power and internet outage.
The Bottom Line
With affordable, effective systems available to homeowners and renters, shopping for a security system should be a top priority. Security systems ward off burglars, ensure you and your family peace of mind, and provide abundant savings on renters insurance. Don’t forget about the convenience Smart homes offer. With home automation technology, you can save yourself time and worry less. Review our thoroughly chosen options and select a security plan that best suites your needs.