What comes to mind when you think of home security? Probably a door alarm, a smoke detector, and maybe even a video feed of your entryway. But home security systems nowadays don’t just protect your valuables and improve your family’s safety — they can also make your household run more smoothly.
Our Picks for Best Home
Imagine being able to keep an eye on your kids when you hire a brand new babysitter. Or checking to make sure your dog isn’t digging holes in the backyard from the comfort of your couch. Or even automating your thermostat to warm up the house right before you get home from work. Home security systems enable all of these improvements, and can be custom tailored to reduce stress and increase safety in your home.
There are tons of security providers to choose from, and so many options to consider, that shopping for security may seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re here — to show you how home security systems work, clarify the shopping process, and offer recommendations based on many hours of research. Let’s get started.
The Basics of Home Security Systems
Security systems work through a series of interconnected sensors, control panels, and optional gadgets like cameras and thermometers. Depending on the provider you choose, they will communicate through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or physical wires. If any of your sensors detects an anomaly, it will trip your alarm, and your siren will go off.
If you decide to go with a DIY setup, your security system’s work is done once the alarm sounds. You’ll be responsible for notifying the appropriate emergency services and making sure everyone in your household is safe. We’ll discuss some of the benefits to a DIY system later on, but the main reason people choose this type of setup is cost.
If you opt for a professionally monitored system, your alarm will signal a staffed call center, and your phone will ring. If you don’t immediately confirm a false alarm, the police and/or fire department will be dispatched to your home. This type of system provides an additional level of security in the event that your alarm goes off when you’re away from your phone or in a situation where you can’t call for help.
Shopping for a System
Once you decide whether to go DIY or professionally monitored, you’ll need to choose which package is right for you. You’ll generally see two options — bundled and custom-built. With a bundled package, you’ll have transparent pricing, while custom-built will require a discussion with an agent about your home and your individual security needs. In general, bundled options will require a longer contract than custom systems.
Something to keep in mind is that most of the equipment used for home security is exactly the same, brand to brand. So if a company is trying to charge you more for sensors and control panels, they probably aren’t offering any additional value. Finding the lowest equipment cost is a great way to save money without sacrificing your safety.
Before You Start
Home security is right for almost everyone, but there are a few things to consider before you decide what type of system will best fit into your life. Are you in your forever home and ready to hardwire the house for a high-tech system? Or are you renting a small space and just looking for a notification if your door is opened by an unauthorized user?
One of the best ways to prepare for home security shopping is to figure out how long you’d like your system in place for. If you’re sure about what you want, and don’t plan to move in the near future, you might want to sign a long-term contract and lock in a low price. But if you don’t know what the future looks like, or just not sure what security you need, a DIY system with no commitment required could be your best bet. Typically you’ll get a better value when you commit to a longer contract, but the best deal is the one that’s right for you.
And if the idea of multiple cameras and sensors makes you uncomfortable, skip the extras and go for the basics. Home security should make you feel safer, not more paranoid.
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Miami
We started our research with six of Miami’s local security providers. We created a matrix of details to score each company on, and then we tallied the scores and ranked our picks. We considered a variety of factors in four different categories: Customer Service, Equipment, Reputability, and Cost. Two of the six contenders truly impressed us: Smart Security Camera and Omega Security.
For this review, we dove deep into locally operated companies, but we’ve done plenty of research into national brands, too. We’ll recap all of our results below, but if you’re interested in learning more about the big name brands, take a look at Freshome’s guide to national home security systems.
Miami’s local security providers offer good pricing that’s in line with the national brands. It may still be more convenient to go with a big name company, although the local companies we looked into offer some great customization options. We recommend getting a quote from a couple of the national brands, and one or two of our top picks for Miami.
Miami’s Best Local Home Security Companies:
Since 2004, Smart Security Camera has been providing reliable service all over the South Florida area to commercial, business, and residential locations with many satisfied customers. Every situation is different, so you’ll have to call to get a quote. Ours came in at $40 a month.
Smart Security Camera’s surveyors are readily available to visit your home and provide free trusted guidance for choosing the best security system to fit your home’s unique security needs and your budget — without any hidden fees or push towards more expensive options. You’ll also have less to worry about with an easy-to-use security system, free installation, routine check-ups every 6-to-12 months to keep your system working properly, an extended warranty, and security specialists available to answer your questions or help out with any issues.
Smart Security Camera delivers high-quality, durable equipment that will stay in place without falling, and quick assistance and replacement for any defective equipment, so that you don’t have to worry about wasting your money or your home being unprotected for long.
With Smart Security Camera, you can choose from various security options — from standard door alarms to Internet security — and home automation options, which in addition to giving you control of your home, can also save you on energy and money. All of these options can be accessed and monitored through your mobile or tablet device, putting you in control of the security of your home and your loved ones even when you’re not around. Alarm systems are designed to produce sounds loud enough to startle criminals and alert the surrounding area. They also come with a life-time warranty and one theft and one false alarm guarantee. Most importantly, with mobile access, if anyone accidentally sets off an alarm, you’ll have the ability to disable it and avoid a false alarm.
Omega Security believes in giving homeowners a peace of mind and total control of their home and security. If you plan on moving in the future, its systems include a free system relocation add-on so that you can take your security system with you to your new home — without having to worry about buying an entirely new system. After your initial term, if your system is outdated or obsolete, they will also provide brand new up-to-date equipment for free.
With stellar customer reviews and a 20-year track record of success for providing services in the South Florida area to business and residential properties, Omega Security specialists are readily available to help you choose the right security equipment for your home. They provide state of the art, easy-to-use security equipment with a 1-year warranty.
Best National Bundled Options:
FrontPoint: With high customer satisfaction ratings and three customizable package options, FrontPoint is a great option for home security. Cellular connection comes standard, and you can install all of the equipment yourself. Call to find out which package is right for you, and how much service will cost in your area.
Protect America: If you know you’ll need security for a while, Protect America could be a great deal. You’ll pay $0 upfront for equipment if you lock into a 36-month contract. Plus, all of your sensors and control panels come with peel-and-stick backing, so you don’t have to worry about a labor intensive installation. Five upgradeable packages mean you should be able to find the exact level of protection you need. Call for a monthly quote.
SimpliSafe: With SimpliSafe, you can have it both ways — DIY or professionally monitored. Buy a kit for $200, and it’s up to you if you want to add on a call center plan starting at $15 a month. If you know you need security but aren’t sure you’re ready for a contract, SimpliSafe is a great pick.
Best National DIY Security Systems
Lowe’s Iris: A smart-home enthusiast’s dream, Lowe’s Iris offers tons of gadgets to help your home run more smoothly. You can get pinged when your pup uses the doggy door, or find out if your pipes are at risk of freezing. Iris is a great option if you need just a little security, or a whole lot, since sensors are sold a la carte. Prices start at $15 for older generation sensors, with a more comprehensive system costing around $200.
Piper NV: The perfect solution for those who don’t want to deal with a variety of sensors and control panels. Piper NV is a self contained, compact tower jam packed with features to keep your home safe. Up-front costs start at $279, and you won’t owe a monthly fee.
Local Companies that Didn’t Make the Cut
Aside from our two favorites, we researched four other locally operated companies who didn’t quite make the cut. We disqualified the following providers for various reasons. Some never returned our requests for a quote, and others had questionable customer service records:
- Guardian Electronics, Inc.
- Helios Security Systems
- Sounds & Security Systems, Inc.
- Alarm Depot
How Do I Register My Alarm in Miami?
To be in compliance with the Miami Police Department, you’ll need to register your alarm annually, along with a $25 fee. The form is easy to fill out, and if you haven’t had any false alarms, your annual fee drops to $15 after the first year.
It may seem like a pain to register and pay every year, but the cost of your registration helps keep Miami safe:
“The false alarm reduction program establishes alarm monitoring and reporting procedures, and alarm user education requirements, thereby ensuring alarm company compliance with the State of Florida licensing requirements to conduct criminal history background checks on all of their employees engaged in the sale, installation, monitoring or maintenance of alarm systems. These program components are designed to protect and educate the consumer and to ensure a higher quality of alarm system installations, thereby contributing to the overall reduction of false alarms. It also allows police to respond to citizens who are in need of actual police assistance.” – Miami Police Department
Can I Prevent False Alarms?
False alarms are a big hassle for emergency services. Between 94 and 98 percent of all security alarms aren’t being set off due to legitimate danger. If your professionally monitored alarm rings and you aren’t there to immediately disarm it, you could be wasting the police and fire departments’ time.
As long as your alarm is properly registered, your first false alarm fee will be waived. After that, you’ll be ticketed accordingly:
- Second occurrence: $50
- Third: $100
- Fourth and above: $200 each
Occasionally, something may trigger a false alarm in your home, but it’s important to make sure it’s not a regular occurrence. Take a look at our guide to make sure your alarm isn’t crying wolf.
Is a Home Security System Worth the Cost?
Home security is available at a variety of price points. With a couple hundred dollars up-front or a monthly fee starting at $15, you can get a decent system that will improve the safety of your valuables and your family. That fee also buys you peace of mind, which you can’t put a price on. Hopefully, you’re never in a scenario where your alarm system is necessary. But if you are, you’ll be thankful you paid for the precaution of home security.
Additionally, your insurance company will usually give you a discount if you install a security system, and you may be eligible for a small tax break.
How Can I Avoid Being a Target?
Everyone is at risk of being a victim of burglary or home invasion. But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless in preventing a crime. Aside from always setting your alarm system, there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your home is targeted.
Check out our guide for some tips that will help keep you safe:
Is a Cellular Setup Better Than a Landline?
If it’s not feasible to have a landline connection with a cellular backup, you should choose a cellular plan. While unlikely, it is possible that your power could go out during an emergency. In fact, determined thieves will occasionally attempt to cut your phone line hoping to render your security system useless.
If you live somewhere where cell service is unreliable, a landline connection may be your only option. But in most scenarios, cellular is your best bet.
What if I Rent or Plan to Move Soon?
DIY security systems aren’t perfect in every scenario, but they’re great if you’re living in a temporary space and don’t want to sign a contract. You can easily transport your DIY system to a new home, and you won’t be locked into security that might not be a good fit for the long haul.
The Bottom Line
With so many features and options, shopping for home security can be overwhelming. But we hope this guide has illuminated the process and will help in your search. Start by thinking about what type of security will make you feel safe, and then add on gadgets that will save you time and money. From smartphone controlled thermostats to camera-equipped entrances, there are security features that are right for everyone. Go ahead and start looking, and keep in mind our top picks for security services in Miami: