Hate mornings? Did you know your home could gradually increase the temperature and lighting in your bedroom to wake you up more gently? Have a cat who’s a picky eater? Sensors could alert you when she finishes her meal. Worried another Ohio winter will mean disaster for your pipes? You can set your phone to ping you when they’re getting too cold. This is the new meaning of home security, and we think you’ll like it.
Our Picks for Best Home
Home security systems are more than just door alarms and smoke detectors. They take the form of gadgets and sensors that can turn your house into a home of the future. Home security can help make you and your family safer and more comfortable, and give you peace of mind that’s more valuable than any physical object.
This guide will teach you how these various security systems work, and how to know what’s right for you. We’ve done the research for you, so you can rest easy knowing our recommendations are reliable and worth the cost.
How Home Security Works
Home security systems are made up of a variety of sensors, cameras, and other gadgets that measure things like the temperature of your refrigerator or the level of carbon monoxide in your air. These sensors connect to a control panel and communicate through WiFi, Bluetooth, or physical wires. Some of these sensors may be set up to send your phone a notification, but others are there to watch for danger. If one of your sensors detects an emergency, it will trigger your system and sound your alarm.
What happens next depends on what type of system you choose. If you opt for a professionally monitored system, your phone will ring shortly after your alarm sounds. If you don’t answer, or indicate that you need help, emergency services will be immediately dispatched to your home.
If you decide on a DIY system, once your alarm rings, you’re on your own. It’s up to you to call the police or fire department, and make sure you and your family get to safety. While a professionally monitored system offers an additional level of security, DIY is often a good option if you’re on a budget or need something more portable. It doesn’t have a subscription for the monitoring service, so once you buy your equipment, you’re good to go.
Shopping for a System
When you begin your search for home security, you’ll notice that systems are sold in two ways: bundled and custom built. Either option could be right for you — it just depends on your preference.
A bundled package will be a fixed number of sensors, control panels, and gadgets that are all sold together. Typically, you’ll see a few different bundled options, and you can usually tailor each package slightly to your specific needs. Custom built systems will be put together just for your home, depending on the type of security you’re looking for. Custom systems will require a little more legwork to set up — you’ll need to have a conversation with an agent, and potentially an in-home visit. But usually, custom systems will have shorter contract requirements than bundled packages.
Keep in mind that most home security providers are actually using the same sensors and control panels branded for their individual companies. So make sure you’re not paying more for the same exact equipment. Just because cheaper equipment from a local company might look outdated does not mean it’s going to keep you less safe.
Before you Begin
Your current living situation and plan for the future might affect what type of security system you need. Are you renting your home? Planning to move soon? A portable DIY system could be a good fit for you. If you’re in your forever home, or think that adding a permanent security setup would increase your home’s value, you might want a hard-wired custom system.
Consider how long of a contract you want. Typically, the longer the commitment, the better the value. (Your standard monitoring contract runs 36 months.) So if you know you’ll be in your home for many years to come, go ahead and lock in a low rate on a long-term plan. But if you’re not sure where you’ll be in a couple of years, choose flexibility over a lower rate.
And remember to get the right amount of security for your home. If you go overboard with cameras and monitors, your security system could end up increasing paranoia rather than peace of mind. If you’re still not sure what type of security is right for your situation, give your local police department a call — they may be able to give you suggestions, or even schedule a visit to assess your home.
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Cincinnati
We began our search for the best home security in Cincinnati with six locally operated companies. Each of them were scored on a ton of criteria — customer service, monitoring costs, responsiveness, customer reviews, and so on — and weighed against our overall top recommendations. What we determined was this: The quickest and easiest way to get started with a new home security system will be to choose a bundles option from one of our national providers. If you don’t mind spending a month or so getting quotes and comparing options, though, you might find a local company that offers no-contract monitoring for a competitive rate.
Cincinnati’s Best Local Home Security Companies
The Ron Duckson Security Systems company made our top picks for several reasons, including the fact that the Better Business Bureau accredits the company and gives it an A+ rating. The staff here take security seriously, and they are well-known throughout the community for being family-owned and operated since 1973. You won’t find pre-packaged deals here, either. Because each client has different needs — whether it be commercial security or 24-hour monitoring — you choose what is important to you.
A technician will come to you and explore your grounds to see how to best set your system up to work for you and your needs. Once installed, you may not see a technician again, but you can know that security is working overtime to protect you, your loved ones, and your assets. From keypads, to interactive systems, to alarms and notification calls, you can be sure that you have the best possible coverage for your home or business.
Hop online to get a pre-quote for a security system that may work best for what you’re seeking. And to give you an idea of what that might cost, our personalized quote for professional monitoring was around $41 a month. If you’re still unsure about going with a local company, Ron Duckson Security Systems staff like to share that more than 90 percent of new clients come from referrals. The company credits it to the personal service employees offer to customers — both new and existing.
Since 1979, DialOne Security has kept a watchful eye over the greater Cincinnati area with its security systems. Locally owned and operated, this particular security company receives glowing customer reviews — check out Yelp and Angie’s List for the comments from impressed customers.
Whether you’re seeking residential or commercial security protection, this company has what most folks are looking for when it comes to true security. Technicians service, monitor, and install security, access, fire, and camera systems to fit the needs of the customers; sub contractors are never used. Moreover, they’ll show you and your entire family how to use the system, so nobody is left in the dark when it comes to securing your most precious assets.
Once you’re ready to make the jump into having a security system installed, you will have plenty of options to choose from, including remote monitoring services. Depending on what you have installed, you can opt for monthly or quarterly payments or even lease options. Customers can also set-up an automatic payment from a debit card or checking account. For us, a personalized quote came in at around $34 a month.
This company also monitors from its world-class central station located right in Cincinnati. The operators know the city, and you can have peace of mind that help will come quicker with this specialized and localized service.
Silco Fire & Security is a family-owned and managed business that has served the Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Eastern Indiana areas for more than 50 years. All 170 employees must have a clean background check before working for this family-oriented security company where safety is the main focus.
This company not only specializes in security products and services, but also in providing high-quality fire products and services. Employees of Silco Fire & Security services all its equipment in-house, and conducts fire extinguisher inspections for more than 25,000 customers yearly. Aside from home security monitoring systems, this company offers protection against unwelcome surprises like fires. Staff here can also assist with sprinkler systems, fire pumps, and backflows as well as fire alarms and customized detection systems. For those in need of special hazard suppression systems, know that Silco has NICET-level III and IV Special Hazard System Engineers and Fire Alarm Engineers on staff to assist you with the latest technology. These systems are most frequently used in art galleries, museums, control rooms, etc. to protect high-end assets.
Because there are so many options for both fire and home safety systems, you’ll need to call for a personalized quote; ours totaled $60 monthly. Additionally, this particular company also proves its mission of protecting assets by carrying $10 million in liability insurance.
Best National Bundled Options
FrontPoint: FrontPoint offers cellular connection standard on three different upgradeable packages. All of their equipment can be self-installed, and they have high customer service ratings across the board. Give them a call to find out how much service will cost for your situation.
Protect America: With easy peel-and-stick installation and no upfront equipment cost, it’s easy to get started with Protect America. You’ll need to lock into a three-year contract, but if you know you’ll be in your home for awhile, that could end up saving you money. With five customizable packages, there’s a security option for almost everyone.
SimpliSafe: With kits starting at $200 and optional monthly plans at $15, SimpliSafe is an affordable DIY/Professionally-Monitored hybrid. You don’t need to sign a contract to get started, so it’s a great choice if you’re not sure what your future plans will be.
Best National DIY Security Systems
Lowe’s Iris: With tons of sensors, cameras, and specialty features, Lowes Iris makes it easy to turn your house into a Smart Home. Since everything’s sold a la carte, you can customize your security to your exact specifications. First generation devices start at $15.
Piper NV: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of your options, Piper NV is a great all-in-one system. It comes in a self-contained compact tower packed with sensors and cameras, and starts at $279.
Local Companies that Didn’t Make the Cut
We looked into six different local security providers, but only three made the cut. The remainder either ranked poorly in one of the categories we researched, or didn’t return our requests for a quote. The following companies were researched, but didn’t make our recommended list:
- ProAlert Security Systems
- Executive Security & Technologies
- Trident Security Solutions
How do I register my alarm in Cincinnati?
If you’re installing a home security system that dispatches emergency services when triggered, you must register with the False Alarm Reduction Unit. You’ll owe $50 biennially, and if you don’t register, the fines are steep. Not only is there an automatic $100 fine for operating an unregistered alarm, but if you have a false alarm, you’ll owe $800 for each occurrence. Registering your system helps out the Cincinnati Police Department, and it saves you money, so make sure you fill out the forms, located here.
Can I prevent false alarms?
If your alarm goes off without a legitimate cause, it’s a big drain on Cincinnati resources. Consider this info from the Cincinnati Police Department.
“In 2002, the City of Cincinnati Police Department responded to more than 30,000 alarm calls. More than 80 percent of the calls were determined to be false alarms. A typical response to an alarm involves two police officers and takes 20 to 30 minutes each.”
If your registration is current, your first two false alarm occurrences every year will be free. After that, the fines begin:
- Third Occurrence: $50 (waived if you attend alarm user awareness school)
- Fourth: $75
- Fifth: $100
- Sixth: $150
- Seventh: $200
- Eighth: $300
- Ninth: $400
- Tenth: $500
- Eleventh or more: $800 each
Accidents happen, but there’s no reason your alarm should be going off without good reason on a regular basis. Check out our guide to learn more about preventing false alarms.
Is a home security system worth the cost?
We certainly think so. If you don’t have the budget for all the bells and whistles of some security systems, there are still monitors that can help keep you safe and make your home run more efficiently. Some will even save you money, like thermostat sensors. Plus, a home security system will probably earn you a discount on your insurance premium, and you might qualify for a small tax break.
How can I avoid being a target?
Having an alarm system doesn’t just help catch burglars, it can actually deter them. Criminals don’t discriminate — they target people of all economic backgrounds. But they’re also opportunists, and can be deterred by a number of factors.
“The presence of an alarm system not only reduces your chance of being burglarized, but can minimize any loss in the event of a burglary.” – Cincinnati Police Department
Keep in mind these tips for reducing your chances of being a victim:
Is a cellular setup better than a landline?
More and more home security companies are switching to cellular as a default option, and if yours isn’t, it’s smart to upgrade. Landlines are vulnerable to power outages and clipped wires, while cell phone connections aren’t as easily disrupted.
If you don’t have a cell phone or live somewhere without a reliable connection, a landline may be your only option. If possible, a landline connection with a cellular backup is the absolute safest bet.
What if I rent or plan to move soon?
A DIY system is a great choice if you’re not ready to sign a contract, or need something that can move with you to your new home. Many DIY providers let you add optional call center monitoring, so you can have the best of both worlds.
The Bottom Line
There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a home security system, and we hope this guide has provided clarification and direction. Whether you’re looking for a simple alarm that will sound if a door is opened, or a full Smart Home setup that will help monitor your kids and pets, there’s a level of security that’s a good fit for your home. The right system will give you more than just security — it will provide peace of mind. So jump in and start shopping!