What if you could protect your home from intruders and control your thermostat all with the same device? Well, now you can. Home security technology has come along way in recent years and is no longer just a wall-mounted control panel with a loud alarm — yes, they still have those too, but now you can adjust your lights, lock and unlock doors, and get notified if a pipe is about to burst. This all-up home security technology is all about peace of mind. So, how do you design a home security system that’s right for you? Our team researched the basics in home security offerings and the best companies to look at to take some of the guesswork out of safeguarding your home.
Our Picks for Best Home
Home Security Basics
The expansive definition of home security doesn’t simply mean run-of-the-mill burglar alarms any more. While burglar intrusions can be at the core of homeowner and renter anx iety, total home protection also encompasses natural disaster alerts — fire, carbon monoxide, and floods — as well home automation features that you can control from your smartphone or device, such as locking doors, controlling lights, and turning off appliances. Home security systems are available in multiple options — from highly customized systems with professional monitoring to bundled packages to DIY.
Shopping for a System
It’s important to understand the needs of your family and home before you shop for a home security system. Covering your bases is one thing, but installing motion-activated lights and cameras at every entrance and window, may be security overload. You don’t want to think someone’s casing your house every time a raccoon trips a motion-sensor light. Instead, think specifically about where you prioritize protection. Thieves often look for discrete areas of the yard that could serve as hiding places — install motion-sensor lights in these areas that aren’t on your immediate radar. You can also install asset protection devices for paintings, jewelry or a safe, which sound an alarm and notify you when someone’s tampered with them.
The basic structure of home security systems boils down to bundled and custom-built options. 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-to-month service agreement, but designing the system is bound to be a little more involved, with a longer quote process.
You can also DIY your home security system, meaning you install the system and monitor it yourself (with alerts going to your smartphone or device). You still have the option of paying for professional monitoring.
What to Ask Yourself
Every homeowner is naturally going to have different preferences. Most home security companies are more than happy to customize its existing packages to fit your needs, or give you the add-ons you require to outfit the specific size and layout of your home.
If you’re renting and aren’t quite sure what the next two years hold, a DIY system would be the most dynamic choice. They’re relatively simple to both install and move (as they aren’t hardwired into the home), and if you opt to go for the self-monitoring option wouldn’t be tied to a contract. But, if you find yourself more anchored (like you own your home) a wired system with more equipment could lend more stability and peace of mind.
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Birmingham
Birmingham’s local home security companies ranked high in customer service, quality, and reputation. We looked at Angie’s List ratings, customer reviews, and scores of other data which uncovered three local companies that knocked it out of the park: On Guard Security, Central Fire Protection, and Tamburello Protective Services, Inc.
If you want to go the national, big-brand route, we found that Frontpoint and Protect America are both great choices for home security companies with highly acclaimed customer service, equipment quality, and overall reputation. Going with a local company, though can mean better coverage and response time.
Birmingham’s Best Local Home Security Companies
Since 2000, On Guard Security has provided professional security and CCTV systems at some of the most competitive prices in the area. They ranked #1 on Angie’s List eight years in a row for security systems in the Greater Birmingham area — a fact reinforced by the company’s thorough employee screening process.
Want to check in on the baby from the kitchen? On Guard Security installs both simple camera systems as well as total surveillance of your home to make your life safer and simpler. Camera systems include on site DVR recording, IP based NVR recording, and off-site secure hosted recording. If you’re familiar with security cameras, you’ll know they can cost a small fortune. Fortunately, On Guard Security offers sleek and modern cameras affordable to most homeowners. Simple internet cameras start at just $200.
If you’ve already purchased a security system for your home this next deal is just for you. When you switch your monitored system to On Guard, they will give you your first six months of monitoring for free. Monitoring is available for phone lines, cellular, and internet connections. After installation, employees will demonstrate how your system operates to ensure your fullest satisfaction. Package deals are available to meet your family’s budget and installation is free. On Guard offers security systems, fire alarms, and camera systems for your home.
There’s no need to be put off by the name; Central Fire Protection provides more than fire alarm systems. This Birmingham security company offers security alarm and video surveillance systems to protect you, your home, and your loved ones. With more than 40 years of experience, Central Fire Protection can be counted on to provide affordable and effective security and fire systems catered to your lifestyle.
Eight devoted employees make up the team at Central Fire Protection. All employees have received their National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) certification. These employees are vastly dedicated to providing the utmost customer service.
While their main focus is commercial fire alarm systems, Central Fire Protection offers a wide range of services including residential security, access control services, and fire alarm systems. Monitoring systems vary but basic security equipment costs approximately $600 with monitoring fees at $15 per month for phone lines and $25 per month for wireless radio systems. Your home will receive continuous monitoring and services 24/7. Estimates are free so call today to have a Central Fire Protection team member visit your home to provide you with a free quote.
Tamburello Protective Service provides a vast array of services to its neighbors in the Greater Birmingham area. They offer residential, commercial, and industrial security and fire alarm systems, CCTV cameras, central station monitoring, access control systems, gate operators, and the ever convenient intercom systems. Tamburello has been providing top of the line security and technical appliances since 1976.
The employees at Tamburello work diligently to provide you with the ultimate security. They are authorized dealers for GE, Honeywell, Digital Monitoring Products (DMP), and Ademco. Tamburello Protective Service also offers state of the art security cameras with 24/7 monitoring provided by it’s locally owned Central Station. Their customer service is readily available to answer any of your questions regarding alarm system packages.
Alarm monitoring is available through landlines, cellular connections, and your internet service. With Tamburello, you can even receive updates to your phone to let you know when your system has been unarmed. With remote arm and disarm packages available, you can control the security of your home from any smart device.
With 40 years of experience under its belt, Tamburello has experienced the high-tech changes to home security and has kept up with the most current equipment. In short, it’s a forward-thinking security company eager to provide you with top of the line security and convenience.
Best Bundled Options
Frontpoint: Frontpoint offers three upgradable packages, each requiring 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 national powerhouse offers a free lifetime warranty on all equipment, so it backs up its service lineup: five upgradable packages, no initial payment for equipment, no installation fees, and requires a 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 its standalone security kits.
Birmingham’s Best Local Home Security Companies
Best DIY Security Systems
Lowe’s 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. Offering three different kits with varying accessory options, Iris is priced from $129 to $249, and only takes an hour to install.
Piper NV: Sleek and compact, Piper NV’s all-in-one security tower is tailor-made for an apartment. 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
When it came to customer service, overall reputation, and providing clear pricing structures, these three local names ultimately came up short for the best home security service in Birmingham.
- Provision Home
- AAA Security
- ADS Security
Preventing False Alarms
To avoid the embarrassment, hassle, and overall waste of time (yours and that of the Birmingham police department) for false alarms, take a look at a few guidelines to maintain your system and keep it false alarm-free.
Preventing false alarms is inevitably part of managing a home security system. 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.
What does the typical burglar look for when identifying a target?
The most important thing to a would-be thief is the ability break-in quickly, efficiently, and without being seen. Therefore, having large bushes around your house they could hide in, lack of security system signage, and absence of passersby aren’t deterrents. 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.
Do I actually need a home security system?
Home security will look different for everyone depending on location and type of dwelling. But keep in mind, that approximately every 13 seconds a US home experiences a break-in. The mere existence of a security system in place can deter a would-be burglar for an easier target.
How does a home security system affect my homeowner’s or renter’s insurance?
Depending on your insurance company and plan, having a security system can often save you up to 20% on your insurance rates. Be sure to check with your provider.
Does it matter how far away a security company’s monitoring center is from me?
We recommend selecting a company whose monitoring center (if you in fact choosing to elect for professional monitoring, that is) 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 is to you, and now have a host of options for keeping it safe and running efficiently. We’ve narrowed down the top contenders for you, now all you need to do is design the system that will work for you.