Have you ever been on vacation or out of town on business and thought, “Did I close the garage door?” Or, “Did I leave a key for the dog sitter outside?” Even if you did close all the doors and remember to leave the key out, wouldn’t it be nice to know for sure? There’s now an app for that. And, that app (or whole house security system) can do way more than that too.
Our Picks for Best Home
Contemporary home security is way more than a clunky off-white alarm box beeping every time someone steps foot in or out of your house. It’s not so much security alone these days, but entire home automation that allows you to have full control of the security of your home from anywhere in the world.
It’s time to get excited about home security and the convenience and safety it offers. We’ve done the research and are here to share the basics of home security and offer suggestions for finding the most suitable security system for you, your loved ones, and your belongings.
Home Security: Understanding the Basics
Home security systems are pretty simple. They’ve all got a control panel that’s the brain of the operation. It’s connected to the sensors (and appliances if you go for a smart home system) throughout the house. You can add as many monitors, contacts, sensors, and cameras to your home as you’d like. Really, the only limit will be your price range. No matter what type of system you get it’s the control panel that will sound the alarm when a sensor or monitor is triggered.
The police, however, will only show up at your door if your system is monitored. (Don’t worry about the police showing up out of the blue, though; you will generally receive a call from your monitoring center before receiving an at home visit.) Security monitoring is an additional monthly cost ranging from $15 to $50; if you choose not to add monitoring your system can sound an audible alarm, turn a light on, or even text you with an update.
That alternative to a monitored system is also called a DIY system. But the choice between the two doesn’t have to be so black and white — many DIY systems are compatible with monitoring and it’s easy to start with an unmonitored DIY system and connect to a professional monitoring system when you decide that’s a feature you want to add. Most people who opt for DIY systems do so for their affordability; DIY systems are great for renters and students who may be in a temporary living situation, too. They don’t require a big consultation or any permanent installation. And, there’s no way to tell if a system is monitored or not, so the deterrent factor is the same for both systems.
Choosing Your System
Home security systems are sold in three ways: as DIY equipment parts, as package deals, or as custom built systems. DIY systems can work if you have the time to put your own package together, but you’ll be on your own for that process. With a custom built system, you’ll have the help of a professional agent, who’ll scout your home and help design your system, but you won’t know how much it’ll cost until they’re done. Bundles are somewhere in the middle — they are pre-built packages that don’t take any time on your part to put together, but also aren’t set up for your house and your house alone. They do come with upfront price tags, so it’s easy to shop around. Most of the larger security companies — that is, the ones who offer bundled systems — have very similar equipment. A lot of times, it’s even exactly the same stuff. Therefore, picking your company based on price, and not on the equipment, is totally fair game.
How to Pick a System
Before you purchase a home security system (or even pick one out), consider your lifestyle, plans for the near future, and what might work best for you. If you plan on relocating in the near future, you’ll probably fair better with a DIY system; they do not require a contract, are easy to install, and shouldn’t upset your landlord. On the other hand, if you are in the home you plan on marking with your children’s height changes, you may want to consider going with a bundled or custom plan that includes a contract for professional monitoring.
Then, once you’ve got the basics covered — are you going to spring for new technology?
If you’re new to home automation, it is easy to get caught up in the posh new gadgets and end up emptying out your wallet all in the name of simplifying your life. We recommend that you focus on your needs and start with the basics. As you browse smart home technology, weigh the benefits of the purchase. Do you really need a device that will turn on your toaster before you get home? Or would you become more concerned with having a hot kitchen appliance on in an empty home actually make you feel less safe on the whole? These gadgets amaze us, but so far we’ve found that it’s to start with the basics, then purchase these add ons as you feel fit (and one at a time).
Our Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Los Angeles
Best Bundled Options
These guys are national players that’ll have the packages and the prices right up front. Pick one and you’ll get a standard set of equipment that’s not likely to dazzle you, but it’ll certainly do the job.
- Frontpoint: Frontpoint is recognized for their highly affordable packages and unlike most security companies, professional monitoring is included. Installation is DIY and the supplies are delivered to your home at no cost.
- Protect America: With packages starting at $20 a month and free start up equipment, Protect America’s five bundle options are extremely affordable. We suggest its basic Copper Package for those looking for basic and affordable security.
- SimpliSafe: Simplisafe has received many awards — and podcast endorsements — for its services in recent years. There are no contracts or lock-in fees, which makes Simplisafe great for students and renters. Simplisafe also offers a three-year warranty on equipment.
Best DIY Security Systems
Choose these if you’d like to keep subscription fees low, or add that monitoring service in after the fact. You’ll get to build your own system that fits your needs.
- Lowes Iris: Iris offers customizable home security compatible with professional monitoring for little to no monthly cost. This DIY system primarily focuses on conserving energy and providing convenience through home automation. Two packages are offered and the first two months are free.
- Piper NV: You can purchase as many wireless accessories as you like, but the traditional Piper NV is a one-piece security system that includes a 180 degree camera, siren, motion and sounds detector, and two way audio system. This all-in-one device works best in smaller living spaces.
Los Angeles’ Best Local Home Security Companies
When it comes to getting a custom package, it’ll be a local company that’ll do the job. To find the top picks, we looked at six home security companies in Los Angeles. We scored them on their customer service, affordability, and reputability before comparing them to our top home security recommendations. We also took into consideration customer reviews, how long it took to reach a human on the phone, and Angie’s List scores. We found Metrowest Security Systems and Diversified Alarm Service to be the all-around best home security systems in Los Angeles.
Metrowest Security Systems
Metrowest Security Systems is a family-owned and operated security system that has been in business for more than 30 years. It focuses on offering custom security systems to business and residential customers.
The company emphasizes top quality security systems that work and ensure client safety. Its portfolio includes medical alarm systems, home and business security systems, camera surveillance, Fire & Life Safety monitoring, and 24/7 central monitoring.
Metrowest is a great company for simplistic, custom security systems. It doesn’t offer fancy bells and whistles like home automation or a smartphone app, but its central monitoring station works around the clock and all of its technicians are certified and licensed.
A cool custom feature offered by Metrowest is pre-wiring for new residential and business constructions. This allows the home design to account for all the electrical wiring for a new build, and can minimize the appearance of wires throughout your home. The company can even determine where to place Life & Safety systems like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure your asset, and your family, are protected.
Metrowest is a local provider that been servicing the Los Angeles and Southern California areas for more than three decades. It’s a great security solution if you’re looking for a basic, high-quality custom security system. Each quote is custom, so you’ll have to call for yours.
Diversified Alarm Service
Diversified Alarm Service is another family-owned and operated security company based out of Los Angeles. Founded by Daniel and Noreen Johnson, the company seeks to offer the highest quality security and access systems in the area.
Daniel Johnson’s father and brother dedicated their careers to law enforcement. Johnson stated the experience encouraged and informed the custom security systems he creates, because he has unique insight into how criminals think, and thus how to protect homes and commercial spaces.
Diversified Alarm Systems prioritizes client safety, and offers high quality security hardware, including Honeywell, Napco, GE, and Silent Night systems. Custom systems include sensor monitors, glass-break sensors, and medical emergency alarms that come together to form simple, yet powerful, security solutions.
The company is also one of the only locally owned companies in Los Angeles to offer access systems for commercial spaces. These systems function to permit access to a building or office by keycard or sensor, to offer convenience and security for commercial property access.
By focusing on the basics, Diversified Alarm Service offers the highest quality alarm and security systems. The company offers custom, comprehensive solutions to customers, with a UL-certified monitoring station and well-known system infrastructure. The company is a great option for the Los Angeles resident who wants to support a local company, and get a simple, robust system.
All quotes are custom. We encourage you to call for yours.
Local companies that didn’t make the cut
We conducted in-depth research on the following security companies, but they didn’t make the cut for reasons including poor customer service, confusing contracts and pricing, and constant negative reviews:
- Sterling Security
- San Marino Security Systems
- L.A. Security Cameras
- APS Security Systems
If you prefer buying from a more recognized national company, we encourage you to consider Frontpoint and Protect America. These security brands made their way to the top of our list for their effective systems, low cost, and sincere customer support. Frontpoint and Protect America also offer a range of bundle options to fit all homeowners needs. And of course if you have the time, there is always the DIY option. No contracts, no installation fees, and it’s yours to move when you do. We recommend Lowe’s Iris or Piper NV for doing-it-yourself.
How to Register Your Alarm System in Los Angeles
All alarm subscribers, that is those with monitored systems, in Los Angeles are obliged to hold an alarm permit. Alarm permits are no joke; operating a security system without a permit is a misdemeanor in the city of Los Angeles and can result in a fine up to $1,000 and/or a year in county jail. Register and renew your permit at the Office of Finance; permits are $37 and must be renewed annually for an another $30. (Mark your calendars, too — a $15 late fee is tacked on to the renewal fee if you miss your deadline.)
Residential security systems that aren’t monitored don’t require a permit. That’s because the police won’t get called when the alarm is triggered — you will.
Once you have your home security system in place and have registered your system, you are allowed two unproven alarm calls each year, but these and all other false alarms will result in a fee. If you file more than two false alarms in a 365-day span, verification will be required before the police physically respond to your request.
Preventing False Alarms
For every false alarm in the county, approximately 45 minutes of police time is wasted. And, nearly every time, a homeowner is fined. Fortunately, for the LAPD and homeowners, the number of false alarms has dramatically decreased in recent years due to Crywolf, the computer tracking system implemented in 2009. Alarm subscribers attend an online “alarm school” through Crywolf, learn a bit about preventing false alarms, and then they get one alarm fee waived a year.
Save the LAPD time and yourself money by using Freshome’s False Alarm Prevention Techniques:
Will my pet set off the alarm off?
Guard dogs are an effective addition to increasing the overall security of your home; unfortunately, your system might mistake your canine hero for an actual threat. Most detectors are triggered by temperatures of objects of a certain size but some systems can accommodate pets and their walking around the house ways. Ask your security company about these pet-friendly monitors.
Do I need professional monitoring to ensure me and my belongings are safe?
Not necessarily. There’s no way to tell from the outside if your home receives 24/7 monitoring or not. For this and many other reasons, it is crucial to not discuss your home security levels with anyone. Signs in the front yard displaying your home security brand are often enough to ward off potential intruders. However, if you do experience unwanted activity around your home, professional monitoring can be used as evidence for police investigations.
How can I prevent my home from being burglarized again?
If your home has been subjected to burglary before chances are burglars see your home as an easy target — most burglaries happen on homes that look unmonitored. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent new and recurring break-ins:
If the power goes out will my alarm system still be effective?
Most security system connections have a backup battery or power source that’ll kick in in the event of a power failure. Broadband connections are the most susceptible to power and internet loss and if they go out, that’ll often result in a failed connection to your monitoring center. A cellular connection is more stable. An added bonus of connecting to cellular lines is that there are no wires to be cut or unplugged.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re a student, renter, or homeowner, there is an affordable security system out there for you. Pick your plan, choose your monitoring level, then get to resting easy knowing you’re safe.