Back in the day, the words “home security” referred to chunky, outmoded control panels and violent intruder alarms. But today’s systems are far more than that. They’re about integrating your abode with the most powerful (and affordable) technologies that protect your home on all fronts — not just against burglary. We’re talking about connected appliances that cut down on energy costs, sensors that email you if your pipes leak, and automated cameras that stream directly to your phone.
Our Picks for Best Home
Whether you’ve just settled into a new location, or have been investing in your dream home for years, you owe it to yourself to check out what today’s security systems have to offer. The technology isn’t a gimmick, and the applications are almost limitless. No matter your type of home, living situation, style, or budget, there’s a home security system for you.
What You Need to Know About Home Security Systems
At its most simple design, a home security system is comprised of door and windows sensors that are connected to a control panel. If one of the sensors is triggered, the alarm will sound. More advanced systems include a variety of features, such as motion-activated video recording and glass-break sensors.
Traditional systems, often referred to as landline systems, are wired into a home’s phone or internet line. Newer systems use devices that are connected to the control panel wirelessly. They also use cellular technology to notify the call center of any break-in attempts or emergencies. A cellular system is safer and more reliable because it is not dependent on your phone/internet connection and can’t be disabled by the average crook.
Monitoring: Professional vs DIY
You might think “DIY” means “self-install,” but it’s actually a term that refers to the entity monitoring your system. Companies such as Frontpoint, ADT, and most local companies require professional monitoring (you know, the headphone-wearing agents you see on the commercials). For a monthly fee, a 24/7 call center will monitor the status of your home and alert both you and the authorities if something goes awry.
DIY systems, in comparison, are not monitored by security companies; you are responsible for monitoring your own home via your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Therefore, you must call the police yourself in the case of an emergency. DIY systems tend to be cheaper because there are no monthly fees or contracts for a first-response service. (Consider the Lowe’s Iris system, which runs about $160.) However, you should be aware that the Kansas City Police Department “always recommends professionally monitored systems” because “it’s a better support system.” You might think you handle stress well, but in the heat of the moment things can get hazy. Getting a phone call from a calm individual after your alarm goes off can make a huge difference in your safety.
Shopping for a Security System
Generally speaking, home security systems are sold one of two ways: bundles and customized systems.
Bundles offer an appetizing price that can be quoted online or over the phone. They’re easy to purchase and oftentimes don’t require a professional installation. The one downside is that buying a bundle usually means you’re going to have to sign a 3-year monitoring contract. Some companies, like Frontpoint, have equipment packages that are super easy to relocate. Others, Like ADT, might require you to pay for a disassembly and reinstallation once you move. So if you think you might be moving in the near future, make sure you get a definitive answer about relocation fees when completing a quote.
But what if you have a very unique (or crazy large) home, or want only certain types of devices, like video surveillance cameras? In these cases, custom-built systems are the way to go. They often require a survey of your home before you actually see any pricing, but despite the difficult of entry, the customization aspect means you’re getting exactly what you want, and only what you want. Another bonus to getting a custom built system is that most companies offer don’t require a lengthy contract. So once you buy the equipment, you can choose who you which monitoring service you prefer.
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Kansas City
The Freshome team hand-picked 10 Kansas City-based home security companies to be evaluated, tested, and scored based on several different factors (like pricing, reliability, and customer service). The companies we’ve chosen to share had the highest scores across all four categories — that means they’re the most likely to offer you the best service in the area.
The bottom line is this: If you want a straightforward, easy solution, Frontpoint and Protect America have the most affordable bundles and transparent prices. SimpliSafe also offers customized systems with their standard bundles, giving customers ever more control than its competitors.
If you prefer local companies with close customer service, Kansas City’s finest home security companies are Atronic Alarms, Inc. and Scharig Alarm Systems. These two companies provide the best customer service, equipment, and pricing in the area and have the highest reputations for their services.
If professional home security systems aren’t to your preference, we’ve tested out several DIY home security options for you. Lowe’s Iris and the Piper NV are outstanding DIY home security systems that will help protect your home and bring home automation to life. These systems allow you to customize your security and automation to your liking so that your home be at the forefront of home security.
The Best Home Security Companies Based in Kansas City
Atronic Alarms offers an award-winning system to protect the assets most valuable to its customers. As one of the largest locally-owned and operated security providers in the Kansas City area, Atronic Alarms has customization down to a science. Whether you need a fire system, home invasion system, cameras, remote video systems, etc., you’ll find what you need with this company founded in 1982.
The team at Atronic Alarms takes pride in the fact that it has the lowest false-alarm rates in the industry. In 2009, the Nationally Acclaimed Police Dispatch Quality Award was given to the company for its work in outstanding false alarm strategies. Worried about your house burning down? Fire protection can also be added to any system for no additional charge. Be sure to let your homeowner’s insurance provider know, as many will provide discounts for homeowners who use security and fire systems. Business owners can also protect their employees and assets with a number of security packages from Atronic Alarms. Between access control, video surveillance, monitoring, and more, business owners can protect commercialized assets near or far, seven days a week.
Still unsure if you need a system? Call for a free in-home security evaluation to see if your home is really as safe as you think.
If you pick a security system based on any criteria, consider making the decision based on experience and reliability. Since 1994, Scharig Alarm Systems technicians have sold and installed more than 14,000 security systems across Kansas City. More impressively, the company has consistently held an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau as well. Whether you are in need of a commercial or home security system, Scharig Alarm Systems offers a wide range of options that works best for its customers.
Choose from a variety of products, including Honeywell Total Connect, which grants customers the ability to control house security remotely via PC or a smartphone. This tool allows you to ensure all is well — check in on the babysitter, or adjust the thermostat remotely if you’re out of town, and much more with this Honeywell product. With a simple phone call, discover how Scharig Alarm Systems can take over your current system and lower your monthly bill. Or, just look into an entirely brand-new system that doesn’t require a long-term contract. Call center staff are on alert every day throughout the year to let you know if something isn’t right, whether it be flooding, low battery notifications, medical or fire emergencies, and more.
Unlike many other security companies, Scharig Alarm Systems charges nothing for activation or installation. Rates also start as low as $30 a month.
Best Bundled Options
Frontpoint: Frontpoint offers completely wireless security systems that protect your home through sensors. They’re easy to install, easy to access, and can be monitored from laptops and phones without additional or hidden fees. It has three basic bundle plans that are listed online, but you must call for a quote.
Protect America: Protect America offers three packages with prices that depend on the monitoring solution: either landline, broadband, or cellular. Prices are locked in so you never have to worry about your monthly payments changing during your contract. And if you wish to self-install the system, there’s an option to remove the installation fee.
SimpliSafe: SimpliSafe offers four wireless packages and two additional options: refurbished systems and custom builds. There are no contracts for their standalone security kits, and you’re allowed to return the system for a full refund within 60 days.
Best DIY Options
Lowe’s Iris: Iris from Lowe’s is an affordable start to home automation and includes home security. A free plan allows you to control all your devices from your Iris app on your phone, but they also offer a premium plan for $9.99 a month for additional services and additional users. If you wish to add more devices to your Iris system, Lowe’s offers compatible devices so that you can customize Iris to your home.
Piper NV: Piper NV is a wireless security camera and home automation system that offers three security modes: home, away, and vacation. It relies on a powerful siren and notifies you when the security mode is breached. There is no contract, and they sell several optional accessories to keep your home protected.
Local companies that didn’t make the cut
Several local companies offered great security systems and services, but just didn’t make the cut. While all the options maintained relatively positive reputations, some only provided installations, not the equipment or monitoring service. Others also weren’t very competitive with their pricing.
- Kenton Brothers Inc.
- Elevated Electronics
- Kansas City Security Systems
Preventing False Alarms
About 97 percent of Kansas City’s security alarms are false alarms — which is right in line with the national average. Due to this high volume, Kansas City requires alarm users to obtain a permit for their alarm systems. If you do not obtain an alarm permit, police response on an alarm activation will be denied. Once you’ve obtained the permit, you must renew it each year. Here are a few tricks you can implement to keep false alarms in your own home to a minimum.
Following these steps will help you avoid false alarms and make sure your home security system works at its best. If you feel that the false alarms are due to faulty equipment (rather than user error), make sure to contact your security company to have the system checked out.
How to Obtain an Alarm Permit in Kansas City
To obtain an alarm permit, you must submit an alarm permit application and a $46 permit fee in the form of a money order or check. If you choose to pay by credit card, you may do so over the phone by calling 816-889-1493 or by mailing the credit card number with the permit. These can be mailed and made payable to the Board of Police Commissioners at:
Kansas City Police Department
Kansas City, MO 64106
You must also pay a renewal fee each year that is determined by how many false alarms occur during the permit year. For residential permits, there is no renewal fee if there were two or fewer false alarms. Any more than two requires a $156 per permit year fee plus an additional $52 per false alarm fee. For more information about obtaining an alarm permit in Kansas City, or to find information about alarm classes, check out Kansas City’s official alarm permit page.
What options are available if I live in an apartment?
Apartments aren’t safe from break-ins; in fact, sometimes they are more vulnerable. Access is easy, there are plenty of targets, and the numerous halls and staircases make for a quick getaway. If your landlord allows you to install a security system, choose a wireless system or package that is suited for apartments. If you move frequently, consider a DIY system that can be transported easily. Check out The 5 Best DIY Home Security Systems for more ideas.
If your landlord won’t allow security installations, ensure that all doors and windows have safe and sturdy locks on them. Here are a few lock options that can help you protect your apartment.
Door lock options:
- Swing lock: There are easy to install and acts as a backup to the door’s primary lock.
- Portable lock: A portable lock works in tandem with the door’s primary lock and requires no drilling.
- Grade 1 Deadbolt: It lasts longer and is harder to defeat than Grade 2 or 3 locks.
Also, make sure sliding doors are reinforced to prevent or limit the door’s movement so that entering from the balcony isn’t an easy option. Even if you are on the second or third floor of the complex, balconies still make easy access points to an apartment, so make sure that your sliding doors are protected.
Is a home security system enough?
Home security is more than just a system. It’s how your home and property appears to outsiders. Home security systems become a waste if your home appears ripe for criminal pickings. There are several things you can do to help your security system.
By following these simple steps, you can maximize your home security by not psychologically inviting potential burglars to ignore your home security system. According to Police Officer Andy Hamil of the Kansas City Police Department, you should “make (your home) a psychological deterrent. If someone wants to get in, and they’ve entered despite many deterrents outside, you want to make it as difficult for them as possible.” This means keeping keys, phones, and small electronic devices put away instead of left on the kitchen counter or by the front door. Don’t place valuable electronics, such as TV systems or gaming systems, in view from the outside.
Most burglars mean to get in and get out quickly — if they can’t find what they plan to steal near their chosen entrance, they are less likely to search through the house where they may run into you.
Can you have too much home security?
While every precaution you take to protect your home can be helpful, if it becomes a deterrent to your or a loved one’s lifestyle, then it’s too much. You should avoid hobbling yourself around your home because you live in fear of a break-in or natural emergency.
Additionally, the Police Officer Hamil suggests that you should avoid taking additional precautions to a home security system that “makes (your) neighborhood look dangerous, such as bars over the window.” Often the visual cues from your property determine how a passerby views and makes decisions for the property and neighborhood. Negative cues from precautions meant to protect your home can provide the opposite of safety because the casual passerby will stay away and leave your property unwatched, which is an opportunity burglars look for in potential burglary sites.
The Bottom Line
Whether you live in a spacious home in the country, a city apartment, or in the suburbs, there is a security solution for you. And the best part is that, no matter your budget, there’s a price point that fits.f Don’t just feel safe at home; take advantage of what technology has to offer and enjoy your home to its fullest extent.