Gone are the old days when “home security” meant obnoxious control panels and annoying intruder alarms that were both expensive and difficult to program. Today, it’s much more than burglar protection; it’s about using technology to evaluate all your home’s vital signs, no matter where you are. From connected thermostats that save energy costs to leak sensors in your basement, the smart home is a pretty amazing tool that can bring you true peace of mind.
So whether you’ve purchased a new home, need to update your current system, or are just adding more protection to your dream home, we can help. No matter your living or home situation, we’ve found that there’s a home security system for you.
Intro to Home Security Systems
Our Picks for Best Home
The simplest of home security systems use door and window sensors connected to a control panel — old fashioned but still useful. If a sensor is triggered, an alarm will sound, and you can investigate and call the police. We recommend any system you install have door and window monitors and that audible alarm.
Most of today’s systems are more than that basic design — they’re made up of advanced technology that can monitor environmental factors and that connect all the sensors and monitors to your smartphone, which has replaced the old-fashioned control panel for many systems. They even have home automation technology that’ll bring all your electronic controls into one place. Control the temperature, the lights, and many other devices all on your phone or check in on the cameras pointing at the back door.
The Different Monitoring Solutions
Standard monitoring solutions use your phone or internet service to contact a first responder system (like 911) or a call center, if an alarm goes off. This is considered a landline system. Newer systems use cellular technology to notify the call center. The cellular technology operates regardless if the internet or phone line is down and is more reliable during natural disasters. Plus, you can’t disable the system by simply cutting the phone lines, like how they used to do in the movies.
Some home security companies only offer cellular, or wireless, monitoring services. However, others offer both, with cheaper rates for choosing the landline connection. When picking a security system, decide what kind of monitoring solution connection you want.
There are also DIY systems that aren’t professionally monitored at all. Instead, you’ll get the notice and need to call emergency services if they’re needed.
Choosing a Bundle or Customized System
Unless you choose a DIY system, you’ll be presented with the option of purchasing a bundle package or customizing your own security system.
Bundles are a great way to get a standard price over the phone or quoted online. They’re easy to purchase and install and often don’t have installation fees. You know exactly what services you can choose between and your price is set at the beginning. However, bundles usually come with three-year professional monitoring contracts that may not relocate with you and have extra fees if you have to relocate during the contract. Yeah, if you don’t know where you’ll be living in 2019, don’t go that route.
Customized systems are more complicated, but they’re a great way to ensure optimal security for your home, especially if you have unique security needs, a large home, or want certain types of devices or equipment. To purchase a customized system, you must first have your home surveyed by the security company to generate a quote. This survey is usually free with no obligation to sign up. Once you have your quote, you can usually decide how you want to pay for the system — pay for the equipment upfront to avoid a contract or sign a contract to avoid high upfront costs.
Our Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in New Orleans
We took a close look at eight local New Orleans home security companies — we stacked them up against the DIY options and the national juggernauts to see how their pricing, reliability, and customer service compared. The companies that scored the best provide the highest quality service for their systems with matching prices in the area.
Not everyone likes bundles or national companies: if you prefer using local companies with close customer service or customized builds, New Orlean’s offers a variety of local options. The forefront of these are Alarm Protection Services and Certified Alarms. They offer the best customer service for the most reliable systems and have the highest reputations.
If you want an easy security solution, Frontpoint and Protect America offer the most affordable bundles for your home. In addition to bundles, SimpliSafe also offers customized builds and standalone systems so that you can find the right security option for you.
Don’t want to pay for the professional monitoring (or you don’t need it) or want to skip out on long-term contracts that come with bundles and most local companies? You want a DIY security systems. Lowe’s Iris and the Piper NV bring your home to life with home automation and high tech security systems. Both allow you to customize your system — and you’ll own the equipment and can move it with you if you relocate.
Best Bundled Options
- Frontpoint: Frontpoint offers three completely wireless bundles for your security needs that can monitor your home from your laptop or phone. These bundles are listed online, but you must call for a quote. Only call if you don’t mind a long-term contract.
- Protect America: Protect America offers three bundles package. Prices depend the type: landline, broadband, or cellular. Prices are locked in on a long term monthly contract, but you can reduce upfront costs by installing the system yourself.
- SimpliSafe: SimpliSafe offers four wireless bundles, refurbished systems, and custom builds. They keep it simple: no contracts and a 60-day trial. Don’t like it? Get a full refund and walk away clean.
New Orleans’s Best Local Home Security Companies
With over 40 years of service and an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, Alarm Protection Service (APS) strives to provide its customers with easy-to-use, state-of-the-art security systems and satisfying customer service. They provide security systems, fire monitoring, and medical alert systems.
To get a quote, you must first schedule an appointment with a security specialist. From there, you’ll receive a free no-obligation, on-site consultation where a specialist will help you choose the right security system for your home and budget. You can easily choose a system with more basic features—an alarm and window and door sensors — and make additions such as video surveillance or wireless alarm monitoring. APS is also available 24/7 and can uniquely customize your monitoring to call your friends or family members for you in case of an alarm going off. Systems also come with an optional two-way voice feature, so that central station operators can speak to you directly when an alarm signal is received.
If you want to get the latest alarm technology, APS offers the Tuxedo Touch. The Tuxedo Touch is a customized security system that connects your home through a touch screen home automation system and high-end Honeywell alarms. You can also add Total Connect to your Tuxedo Touch to get remote access to your system and the home automation features via your smartphone, tablet, or computer. One of the most useful features of the system is its ability to access any cameras you’ve set up. Therefore, if you set a camera up outside your front door, you’ll be able to use your system to see exactly who is at door.
APS requires a long-term contract as part of their cellular monitoring services.
In business since 1991, Certified Alarms is the winner of the 2015 Angie’s List Super Service Award and has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau for exceptional customer service and professionalism.
Certified Alarms offers three bundle options with contracted pricing depending on your chosen monitoring solution: landline, broadband, or cellular.
One of the best parts about these bundles is that each one comes with many useful features. You can easily select the most basic bundle if you just want an alarm and door and window sensors, and get fire monitoring and carbon monoxide monitoring for free. Another plus side is that each bundle (wired or wireless) provides optional upgrades so that you can add on features from the other bundles or extra features like home automation. Each bundle also comes with a 1-year warranty and a money-back guarantee.
Monitoring rates are 24/7 and affordable. Landline monitoring starts at $24 a month and wireless monitoring starts at $30 a month.
However, with these highs, Certified Alarms has two pitfalls. After the 1-year warranty, service for systems is $80 an hour. This rate is actually pretty standard for security companies, but it can be an unwelcome surprise to customers. To help with this issue, Certified Alarms offers an optional Certified Alarms Protection Plan for your system. If you include this option with your system, you’ll get an extended warranty for your system. Therefore, if any part of your security system stops working, the company will troubleshoot, repair, and replace it for free for as long as the protection plan lasts.
The second issue is with the contract. Once you’re locked into a contract, you won’t be able to cancel your service until the contracted year is up. Therefore, even if you no longer need the service or are moving, you’ll still have to pay the amount for the remaining year. We want you to have an enjoyable and secure experience, so we recommend speaking to one of Certified Alarm’s security specialists about this issue before making a decision.
Best DIY Security Systems
- Lowe’s Iris: Lowe’s home automation and security system, Iris, is a standalone system with optional compatible devices, all of which can be controlled from your Iris app on your Android or Iphone. Lowe’s offers a free plan for the app and a premium plan for $10 a month if you want additional services and users.
- Piper NV: Piper NV is a standalone wireless security camera and home automation system with three modes of security protection: home, away, and vacation. There is no contract and no professional monitoring option, but your NV system will notify you if the selected protection mode is breached. Additional accessories are available to further customize your home automation and security system.
Preventing False Alarms
False alarms are a major problem in New Orleans and across the country. In 2015, New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) spent “12,000 man hours every year responding to false alarms at an annual cost of $400,000 to taxpayers.” The NOPD estimates that “the reduction of false alarms will save the equivalent of six full-time officers to respond to actual crimes more quickly.”
Avoid causing false alarms with these steps:
Alarm Registration in New Orleans
Unlike most cities, New Orleans does not have an alarm registration process. They do hope to implement one in the future, and in the meantime are relying on their new false alarm fine system. The system, approved by the city council last June, works like this:
- First false alarm violations receive a written warning and no fee.
- Second violations incur a $75 fee, which can be waived.
- Third violations incur a $150 fee.
- Fourth violations incur a $150 fee and NOPD will stop responding to any alarm activations.
What is home automation?
Home automation allows you to control devices in your home from anywhere, usually through your smartphone. It used to be the technology of expensive homes and high-tech businesses, but with recent developments it’s available for all. And the possibilities are endless — you can connect your thermostat, sprinkler system, lights, appliances, heating and cooling systems, alarm systems, and many other units or devices in your home. To read more about the benefits of home automation, check out Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home.
What should I do if I live in an apartment?
Some landlords don’t approve of installing a standard security system or don’t permit permanent installations. If this is the case, there are still options on how to protect your apartment and property.
If you move frequently, consider a standalone or DIY system. SimpliSafe systems are easily transportable. DIY systems like Lowe’s Iris and Piper NV also make great apartment security systems. Check out The 5 Best DIY Home Security Systems for more ideas.
There are several precautions that you can take, with or without a system: Ensure all doors and windows have safe locks on them, including sliding doors. Sliding doors should also be reinforced to prevent or limit the door’s movement. Consider adding an additional locks, too.
- Grade 1 Deadbolt: Longer lasting and harder to break than the cheaper Grade 2 or 3 locks that might be standard in a rental.
- Swing lock: Easy to install and acts as a backup to the door’s primary lock when you are home.
- Portable lock: works in tandem with the door’s primary lock and requires no drilling. This is great for picky landlords.
What happens if I have pets?
Unless your motion sensors are made for homes with pets, your pets can set off the motion detectors and activate false alarms. When you purchase your security system, make sure to get a pet-friendly system that can tell the difference between the small size of a pet and the large size of a human. Most companies offer them.
Do I have enough home security?
Home security is more than just an alarm system: it’s how your home appears to outsiders and being notified when there is danger. The best home security systems are useless if your home looks like an easy target or if it’s not protected against environmental dangers. To protect yourself against break-ins, there are several steps that you can take to help your security system.
The Bottom Line
There are so many options out there — take some time to imagine what’ll give you peace of mind — and how long you’re willing to be on the hook for it. Our top picks are all stand-outs for service, stability, and equipment, so there’s no way to go wrong.