Just about everybody today has a strong attachment to their smartphones. Imagine trying to live without yours, or having to wait an extra year for that ever approaching “upgrade date.” What many people don’t realize, is that your phone isn’t the only thing that needs an upgrade—having a smart home may be almost as vital and definitely as cool as having a new smartphone.
Our Picks for Best Home
You know how there seems to be an app for everything? Something that can make your life so much simpler and efficient? Well that’s becoming the reality with your home thanks to home automation technology. Home security systems that act as silent sentries until an intruder is detected are now as outdated as that old flip phone somewhere under piles of junk in your closet. Now not only are you monitoring your doors and windows for unauthorized entry, you can also monitor the energy usage of your appliances, set your lights to automatically turn on and off or even schedule the access for your doggy door.
The best part is, also similar to the smartphone, smart homes have become very accessible to the average person. The amount of competition has drastically increased with the advent of tech start-ups, which means much more reasonable prices, and so many more options. From college students to soccer moms, there’s a great home security system for you and we would love to help along the way as you search for the perfect one for your smarthome.
Home Security 101
Home security systems have become the vehicle for all sorts of amazing home automation—the game has definitely changed, and with that change, can come confusion. Basically, no matter which system you go with, you will have a type of hub (this can look a lot different depending on what kind of system you choose) that all the sensors, cameras and home automation gadgets are connected via bluetooth, wifi, or good, old-fashioned wires. With modern systems all of the aspects of your security system and your home automation can be accessed on your many devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.
Once a sensor is tripped several things will happen. First, the audible alarm (it is highly recommended that you have one) will go off. Then you will usually get some sort of notification on a device (most can be set up to send you an email or a text). If you have chosen to DIY, this is where the process ends—you are responsible to determine whether its an actual emergency and what further steps to take. If you have chosen to have your system professionally monitored, at this point the call center will place a call to the proper authorities; they may call you as well, to notify you that the alarm has been tripped to determine if everything is OK.
There are a few things you should know before you buy, and they might just make this process a whole lot simpler if you make some thought-out decisions ahead of time.
Bundled vs. Customized
When it comes to choosing a home security system you have a basic choice to make right off the bat. Do you want to have a system custom designed for your home, or do you want to choose between several popular bundles? Custom designed systems are great, especially if you are planning on purchasing an extensive system that will be hard wired into your home, they will normally require set-up fees, in-home consultations and professional set-up. The bundled systems typically are shipped right to your door, and usually are designed to be installed by you. A great feature of a bundled system is the transparency in pricing as you compare similar bundles between companies.
Which type of company should I choose?
When it comes to home security, there are two basic companies. The first type of company makes money by selling you service. It’ll typically install its equipment in your home, monitor it, and charge you a monthly fee. These companies include many of the big names (think ADT) or your local mom-and-pop companies. You should know that the equipment is usually made by the same few manufactures, and the companies just slap its own label on top.
The second type of company is relatively new to the scene, but it comes with a few distinct advantages and have been instrumental in changing the face of home security. These companies make money by selling you their product. These companies offer a very wide range of equipment with a lot of great features, and leave it up to you to monitor your system, although some are compatible with third-party monitoring. The equipment is very competitively priced, allowing you to save a lot of money in the long run.
What’s best for me?
Whichever type of security system you choose, there are a couple questions you should ask yourself before you make a final decision.
- How much security is right for me? Whatever reason you have to be in the market for a new security system, it can be easy to over react at the risk of some serious buyer’s remorse. While there is a basic level of protection that makes sense for almost everyone, the “extras” are completely up to you. What is going to make you feel more safe and secure? Maybe adding those extra cameras will give you that peace of mind, but you also need to consider the possibility that they could induce paranoid camera checking every hour of the night. With security systems it’s important to realize that more is not always better. Decide ahead of time what security equipment will make your home feel safe and then stick to your plan.
- Will I be moving in the next few years? Answering that one question will go a long way to decide what type of security system is right for you. If you are settled in your forever home, getting a fancy security system with all the home automation bells and whistles might make a lot of sense and be a great investment. However, if you aren’t quite settled yet, you may want to consider a more minimal, mobile security system. The good news is, there are great options to choose from whichever life situation you find yourself in.
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Dallas
Our team found the top six local security companies and thoroughly investigated them over the process of a week. We then graded them based on three main criteria: reputability, customer service, and pricing. After countless phone calls and some major web research we compared our results with Freshome’s top home security recommendations for some national perspective.
What we found is that one company locally put all the others to shame. We also discovered that, while there are a few advantages to doing business locally, local companies are hard-pressed to compete with the sleek equipment and competitive pricing that the top national companies can offer. Whether you prefer establishing a relationship with a local company that can offer the personal approach, or getting the best deal possible from a national company, our research suggests that you would be well served to consider these companies. Locally, Dallas Security Systems won top honors by a wide margin. Nationally, we recommend Frontpoint and Protect America. If you are looking to DIY, then Lowe’s Iris and Piper NV both have some very unique and amazing systems to take your home to the next level.
Best National Companies
- Frontpoint: If you want great customer service and low prices, Frontpoint may be the company for you. It offers free shipping to your door on your choice of its three upgradable bundled home security systems and its wireless systems are simple enough to install on your own. The only negative remark we have to make is the required 36-month contract.
- Protect America: Of our three top companies, Protect America has the most options as it gives you a choice of five bundles that can either be installed professionally or on your own. Also a nice bonus is that you don’t have to pay anything up front for the equipment. Unfortunately, the 36-month contract is not optional.
- SimpliSafe: One thing we loved about SimpliSafe is that it doesn’t require a contract. It’s also one of the most affordable companies with security systems starting at $230 with professional monitoring for an additional $15 a month.
Dallas’ Best Local Home Security Companies
Dallas Security Systems
Even with the little things (like having an actual person answer the phone when you call the office to the big time deal breakers) Dallas Security System passed all of our tests with flying colors — leaving no doubt in our mind as to who we would recommend you call first. It has built a rock-solid reputation of being a company that puts its customers first and works hard to keep costs low.
Professionalism is at the heart of the business that former Dallas Police Department Officers Bill Monroe and Dale Meadows founded in 1978. Monroe and Meadows were asked by burglary victims how to secure premises better. They began installing alarm systems in their spare time. Business became so good that that they started to do security installations full-time.
Today, Dallas Security Systems has many options for your home or business needs. Emergency 24-hour service, scheduled service calls, and in-house employee installations are just some of the perks available to the average customer.
You won’t have to worry about any faulty installations as employees at Dallas Security Systems go through extensive background checks and receive thorough training from equipment manufacturers. Outside electrical contractors are used to run high voltage wiring if needed.
If you have a problem, same day service is available if the request is called in by 12 noon. Next day service is on hand for requests received after 12 noon. If the service call is considered an emergency, employees will be there the same day to make the repair.
Fort Knox Security Services
While it was not our first choice, Fort Knox Security is still a solid second choice with its competitive prices and good customer service. It’s a regional company that does business in Dallas/Ft.Worth as well as a few other major cities in Texas.
Leading security industry professionals have described Fort Knox Security as ahead of the game. The company has changed over time from just being a burglar alarm company to having more varied products.
Fort Knox’s Smart Home Automation System includes home security features that can easily be controlled by a smartphone, tablet, or computer. You have plenty of choices with important features such as arming or disarming an alarm, viewing or recording live video footage from the security camera, and the ability to lock keyless doors remotely.
Business owners wanting to protect their locations should seriously consider using what Fort Knox Security has to offer clients. Live video is available to monitor exactly what is happening while you are away. E-mail or text notifications can be used to alert you that your business has failed to open or close. There is even a feature ready to inform you if the temperature changes in a critical area of your business.
Fort Knox has been protecting Texas homes and families for over a decade, but their security consultants have an average of almost 20 years of experience each. They can provide information on monthly rates and are available for a free quote.
Best DIY Security Systems
- Lowe’s Iris: Due to its incredible array of options and great price point, Iris wins our top recommendation for those who are looking to DIY. Iris’ sleek, modern gadgets can help you simplify your life with almost endless possibilities. You can do things like schedule your pet’s access to their wirelessly controlled doggy door and set your thermostat to automatically dial down the AC when you leave and turn it back up when you are nearing home, just to name a few. Another great option you have is to have this system monitored professionally as it is compatible with several third-party security companies.
- Piper NV: Piper NV is a great choice for those who value simplicity and mobility. Its system comes with a multifunctional unit that is about the size of a large mason jar. But don’t let its size fool you—this unit has great features like wirelessly streaming security cameras and motion sensors. Upgrading your residence? Well, you can upgrade your security system with additional accessories thanks to its built-in Z-Wave compatibility.
Local companies that didn’t make the cut
- Smith Monitoring
- ProtectUS Security
- American Defense Systems
Preventing False Alarms
The real problem with monitored alarms is the propensity for false alarms. With over 90 percent of all alarms not being actual emergencies, the Police Department has to do something to combat the waste of time and resources that this represents—not to mention the fact that it keeps officers from responding to actual emergencies. The City of Dallas addresses this problem by charging a fee for false alarms in a 12-month period.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- The first three false alarms are free.
- The fourth, fifth, and sixth false alarms each cost $50.
- The seventh and eighth false alarms will set you back $75.
- The ninth and successive false alarms all cost $100.
No one wants to have the alarm system that “cried wolf,” so thankfully there are some easy steps you can take to prevent false alarms in your home. Some are as simple as changing the batteries in your equipment and making sure that all your windows and doors are properly secured before turning on your alarm system. For more ideas to protect yourself from false alarms and needless fees check out the information below. At the end of the day, we all need to do our part to make sure we aren’t part of the problem when it comes to false alarms.
How to Register Your Alarm System in Dallas
The City of Dallas requires residents to pay a $50 annual fee to register any home alarm system that is audible and/or monitored. You can download the permit application form here. From there you can either mail it and the application fee or you can drop it off at the Special Collections Section during business hours if you need your permit immediately. Fort Worth also requires a $50 permit. Their process is a little easier as you can directly apply online. Both cities require you to pay this fee every year, and the City of Dallas will send you a reminder 30 days before your registration is up.
Unlike many cities who charge you a fee if you don’t have your alarm properly registered, the City of Dallas takes a different stance. If you don’t have a valid permit on file, they simply will not respond to your alarm. If you live in Irving or Fort Worth you aren’t off the hook either as they take the same stance. Bottom line, getting a permit will ensure that you aren’t paying all that money for a monitored system just to have the police completely ignore your alarm’s distress calls.
Is a home security system a good investment?
We are here to tell you that home security is no longer just a luxury for the especially rich or a necessity for the extremely paranoid. We assert that a home security system is a great investment for almost everyone.
Whether you live in an expensive house with a lot of valuable possessions, or an area that may be considered “higher risk” by some or anywhere in between, recent studies have shown that your home is at risk. There are a few things you can do to lower your risk, but at the end of the day, no matter where you live, a home security system is a smart precaution.
More than just a precaution, however, a home security system is a great deterrent that actually works. A study done by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology shows that 50 percent of all criminals will immediately leave after an alarm is triggered, and 80 percent won’t even stay long enough to try and disable it. While this isn’t a 100% guarantee, those are great odds to have on your side when it comes to protecting your possessions and, more importantly, your family.
While the protection of a home security system is a great reason to invest in one, there are other, more positive reasons to purchase. The home automation goodies are not just great time savers and fun gadgets, there are some great tools that can help save on things like energy costs with smart thermostats or scheduling lights to turn on or off at specific times. You may also be able to find some savings on your taxes and home insurance just by owning a security system.
Is there anything I can do to lower my home’s risk of being targeted?
Owning a home security system is a great place to start when it comes to lowering your home’s risk of being targeted. Those little yard signs actually do help in swaying criminals to choose another house. There are also some other great preemptive actions you can take.
DIY vs. Professional Monitoring
DIY doesn’t actually refer to whether you choose to install your security system yourself, what it really is referring to is your choice to handle the monitoring of your security system yourself. Professional monitoring is going to cost you monthly, but it does add some peace of mind knowing that should the alarm be tripped, the authorities will be on the way, even if you aren’t around. However, if you feel comfortable handling the duties yourself, DIY is a great way to save a few bucks on the monthly monitoring fee.
The Bottom Line
The home security business has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and you can reap the benefits. It no longer is simply just about an alarm system, home security is so much more. Your family deserves protection and your home deserves an upgrade, that’s why we recommend taking the leap. Make the right choice for your situation and utilize our research to choose the best company for you.