With year-round sunny weather and a gorgeous natural landscape, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore Tucson. The last thing you should be thinking about when you’re out and about is whether or not you locked the door. Luckily, there are nifty home automation systems that allow you to lock your door with one touch of your phone, no matter where you are.
Our Picks for Best Home
The smart homes of the future are a reality in the here and now, and they’re all about making your life a bit easier and safer. Home security companies have upped their game in recent years, and they now offer a whole legion of high-tech gadgets and devices to provide top-notch protection for you, your family, and your belongings. What’s more—technology has driven the prices of these systems down, meaning you’re all but guaranteed to find something that fits within your budget.
The only potential hiccup? There’s a lot available on the market so choosing the best home security system for you can feel like a mildly terrifying endeavor. This is where Freshome steps in. We’ve analyzed dozens of reviews, interviewed experts, and pored over consumer reports to bring you the absolute best home security systems for your lifestyle and needs.
So which home security company ended up on top? Read on to find out.
Home Security: The Basics
The hows of home security are actually pretty simple. Basically, a central control panel is connected via WiFi, Bluetooth, or hardwiring to a variety of detection devices. When those devices pick up on a threat—like a broken window or smoke—the control panel alerts either you, a monitoring station, or the police (or sometimes all three).
Professional vs. DIY Monitoring
The two major categories of home security systems are professional monitoring and DIY. A professionally monitored system is linked to a call center that will alert you and first responders whenever an intruder or fire is detected. You don’t have to do a thing—they’ve contacted the police for you.
To qualify for a professional monitoring service, you must have an internet connection, cellular service, or a landline. We recommend choosing a professional monitoring company that uses cellular service—you don’t want to be up the creek with no paddle should your internet connection or landline go out. Cellular monitoring will typically cost you between $35 to $60 monthly.
If you’re comfortable calling the authorities yourself or you plan to move around a lot, the DIY system may be your better option. The system will alert you—and only you—about an alarm triggering and it’s up to you to decide if you want to notify the police or fire department. These systems are usually easy to set-up with no monthly fees; all you have to do is buy the equipment.
Bundled security or custom package?
Home security companies usually offer two types of packages: bundled and custom.
Bundled options are all about ease. There are tiered levels of packaging, each with a set price point. Basic packages usually include just the essentials—door and window sensors, keypads, and landline monitoring. The more premium packages include more sophisticated gadgetry and often offer cellular monitoring. In addition to the provider making all the decisions for you, bundled packages are great because you know exactly how much you’re paying from the get-go.
Custom packages are exactly what they sound like: tailor made systems designed to fit the nooks and crannies of your casa. The home security company will typically send an agent out to assess your home (though it’s sometimes done over the phone) and then they’ll recommend a comprehensive plan for your system. This individual touch ensures thorough protection plans—think about this if you’ve settled into your forever home. Just be prepared to take on a bit more cost as it’s almost impossible to determine pricing without receiving a personal quote.
One last thing: bundled packages often require a 36-month contract while custom are month-to-month. Consider how long you’re going to be in your current home before making a decision.
Your Lifestyle, Your Security System
It’s super important to assess the individual needs of you and your family when purchasing a home security system.
We recommend first assessing the practicalities of your situation. Are you a renter or student? Your best bet is probably a DIY option. And if you’re planning to move, you probably don’t want to sign a 36-month contract.
The next thing to really think about is your own personality. What is it going to take for you to have peace of mind? Do you need a security camera and motion detector in every room? For some people, that’s what they need to rest easy at night, but for others that level of security may become more cumbersome than beneficial. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with.
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Tucson
To find the best options in Tucson, we evaluated nine local home security companies on four factors: customer service, reputability, cost, and equipment. Then, we compared them against our top national home security systems and the best DIY kids. There were three local companies, three national companies, and two kits that stood heads taller than the rest.
If you prefer the intimacy of a local provider, then we recommend you go with either Central Alarm, Tucson Alarm, or Young Alarm. If you’re comfortable going national, the best bundled options are Frontpoint, Protect America, and SimpliSafe. Our top picks for DIY kits are Lowe’s Iris and Piper NV.
Tucson’s Best Local Home Security Companies
There’s a reason Central Alarm has been in business for a quarter shy of a century, low monitoring rates combined with top of the line digital monitoring products makes Central Alarm one of the most recommended security companies in Arizona. Although they have been providing the utmost residential security systems to their Tucson neighbors since 1939, the business is by no means out-of-date. Central Alarm keeps current with the newest and most reliable security appliances to provide trustworthy systems for its Tucson residents.
The team at Central Alarm recognizes your pet as a member of your family. They also understand that your furry friend is also the top offender of false alarms as well. You shouldn’t have to crate your pup while you’re at work to prevent unwanted police arrivals. Central Alarm offers pet friendly security sensors to protect you and all members of your family.
Have an old security system but looking for a new provider? Central Alarm security specialists can work with your existing systems to save you the expense of purchasing entirely new equipment. They can also further develop upon your old gear to provide a system catered to your lifestyle. Their competitive prices are a strong attraction for homeowners. Monitoring is available for only $26 per month and phone lines are not required.
Maintaining an A+ rating from BBB, UL listed, and celebrating 75 years in business, Central Alarm has a lot to be proud of. The professionals at Central have all undergone full background checks so you can rest assured your home is in trusted hands. You may have to undergo a hold before reaching an operator, but the employees at Central Alarm are eager to answer your questions.
Tucson Alarm allows for a fully automated home system. They offer everything from home automation to fire and heat detection to CCTV. They also have an in-house CSAA Five Diamond certified central station providing you 24/7 monitoring. Speaking of which, cellular monitoring is offered for only $30 per month.
As an authorized dealer of Honeywell, you can be sure that your security specialists at Tucson Alarm are installing the highest level of security equipment to your home. If you’re concerned about power failures impeding on your system’s effectiveness, don’t be. All systems include coverage of backup batteries and wireless technology to keep you and your family safe in any emergency.
It’s easy to feel safe in your home when you are there. You’re in control of the locks and monitoring who comes in and out. When you’re out of town, you may feel nervous leaving your house in the care of the neighbors or simply depending on automatic lights to deter intruders. With Tucson Alarm’s newest surveillance cameras, you can check in on your home from anywhere in the world using your smart phone, ipad, or computer. That’s not the only thing you can manage from your device, you can also adjust your thermostat, lighting, door locks, and small appliances all while sipping pina coladas in the Caribbean.
The Tucson Alarm team wants you to rest knowing your home is well protected. Not only that, but they want to make your fast paced life a little simpler as well with their home automation appliances.
Providing reliable home security systems to its Tucson neighbors for over 25, Young Alarm has certainly become a viable local option. If you’ve moved frequently or are unsure about your future plans, you’ll be pleased to discover that alarm monitoring is available for all makes and models and repairs are free. Young Alarm will also warranty your equipment even if they didn’t install it. Unlike most alarm companies, Young Alarm allows month to month contracts.
Landline monitoring begins at $30 per month while cellular monitoring starts at $40. Cellular monitoring may be a bit pricier, but when you choose to connect to a cellular device, you can upgrade to many convenient automations. For only $6.50 a month, you can purchase Honeywell’s Total Connect remote on your smart device to arm and disarm your security system from anywhere in the world. If you’re away on vacation and hired a dog sitter or someone to housesit, controlling the alarm system yourself is much safer than providing a garage code or extra key to someone else. Plus, for $10 more you can watch live viewing of your home from one surveillance camera. Any additional cameras each cost $7 more per month. Other home automation features like controlling your thermostat and door locks costs an additional $10 per month. These supplementary monitoring features may seem to add up in price, but keep in mind that all repairs are included in the monitoring fee.
Best Bundled Options
- Frontpoint: Frontpoint boasts exceptional customer service and affordable prices—two big wins in our book. Plus, they’re a kit you’ll install yourself that’s professionally monitored. They ship the easy-to-install equipment to your home and you still get the benefit of their licensed monitoring center. Note: Frontpoint requires a 36-month contract.
- Protect America: You’ve got five security packages to choose from with Protect America. They too require a 36-month monitoring contract, but there are no upfront costs for the system itself.
- SimpliSafe: At $15 per month, you get the benefit of professional monitoring with the price of a DIY system. Security systems start around $230 and they’re also quite flexible—there are four different packages offered with no contracts required.
Best DIY Security Systems
- Lowe’s Iris: Lowe’s Iris is the essential DIY kit, with a fully customizable system. You can pick and choose what you need and then build out your setup so it’s fine-tuned to your needs. Iris is also compatible with professional monitoring for a low monthly fee.
- Piper NV: The Piper NV system is small but mighty. A single standalone tower, it has a 180-degree camera, motion and sound sensor, and audible alarm. This is a great option for students or frequent movers.
Local companies that didn’t make the cut
The other six local companies we evaluated simply weren’t up to our standards. Some had overly confusing websites while others never picked up their phone. Being able to ask questions about your system is huge, so those companies immediately got the axe.
- FDC Security
- U.S. Alarm Brokers
- Accura Systems
- Moore Security Solutions
- Sentry Security Systems
- Volta Systems
Preventing False Alarms & Registering Your System
Trust us, you don’t want to be the boy who cried wolf. The Tucson Police Department used to get 21,000 false alarm calls a year, taking officers away from the work of stopping actual crimes and wasting tax dollars. In fact, it got so bad at one point that Sergeant Chris Andreacola said they had to stop responding to triggered alarm systems all together. “That’s just the nature of how many officers we have and how much work to do out there,” he said. Bad news for everybody.
The good news is that the city of Tucson has whittled that number down to 4,500 thanks to a false alarm registration fee and ordinance. They now charge you with a penalty of $100 after your first false alarm if you’re registered and $200 if your system is unregistered. So, definitely register that thing.
You can do that by mailing this filled-out registration application along with a $20 check or money order payable to the City of Tucson. You’ll need to renew it every year, but it’s worth it to avoid those doubled charges for a false alarm.
Tucson also offers an alarm awareness class that goes into more depth on how to avoid false alarms. But we’ll give you a few tips now: Make sure everyone in your home is familiar with how to use the home security system and always make sure doors and windows are locked before arming it. A cracked window has been known to set alarm systems off. And, of course, remember to check on your equipment and regularly change batteries on your devices. For a full checklist see Freshome’s Home Security 101: Preventing False Alarms below.
Is a home security system worth it?
The quick answer: Yes.
The still-quick-but-not-as-quick answer: Definitely yes. The Neighborhood Scout reports that your chance of being a victim of property theft is 1 in 16 in Tucson. That’s higher than the state average of 1 in 21. And even the mere sight of a security system is enough to deter potential burglars.
According to a 2012 study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, about 60 percent of incarcerated burglars said that if they saw an alarm system in place that they would seek a new target altogether. So no matter which home security company you go with, you’re getting that boost of protection just by virtue of having a home security plan at all.
What kind of security do I actually need?
Intrusion, surveillance, environmental, and life are the four main categories of security.
Intrusion and surveillance often get mistaken as synonymous, but there are a few differences. While both are in place to protect your property from being stolen and prevent violent intrusion, intrusion systems typically consist of a door and glass-break sensors, while surveillance includes devices such as security cameras and motion detectors.
Environmental security devices are your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. No one is immune to these threats so having monitors installed gives you the best chance of preventing the damage caused by these unpredictable elements.
Lastly, life protection is often mistaken as something only the elderly need, but people of any age can benefit from a medical pendant or bracelet. In the case of an emergency or sudden accident, you can press the panic button should you not be able to reach the phone—that can make all the difference in those situations.
The Bottom Line
A home security system is meant to impart a feeling of safety to you and your family, not cause you to break out in stress hives. So it’s important to find the system that gives you peace of mind but doesn’t overwhelm you. Whether that’s a self-contained tower or a surveillance camera in each room, find out what it is you need in order to feel safe and get it set it up.