These days, a good home security goes way beyond a loud alarm that scares burglars away. We’re in the era of full home automation. Forget to lock your doors? New systems let you turn the deadbolt remotely. Leave the kids in charge of the house while you’re on vacation? You have a way make sure they aren’t throwing parties. On top of that, home securities systems also monitor your safety with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; some systems even can even sync up with your TV and audio system.
Our Picks for Best Home
Freshome has evaluated and ranked top home security companies in Raleigh, which, as one third of the Research Triangle, has a diverse population of students and professors, researchers and professionals. Whether you rent or own, have tenure or live on a student’s income, there’s a home security system that’s right for you.
Home Security Basics
Home security is pretty straightforward, but how do you know if you’re buying too much — or worse, not enough? The answer varies and depends on your particular living situation. Do you need a system that just functions as a basic alarm, notifying you and 911 if the system is set off? Or do you need more features, like cameras in every room? Having a wishlist of security needs will help you not be overwhelmed in an onslaught of options.
Should You Get Professional Monitoring or DIY Monitoring?
How much do you want to be involved when keeping tabs on your home security? Professionally monitored alarm systems are connected to call centers that contact first responders in the event the alarm goes off. To have professional monitoring, you have to have a phone landline, internet connection, or cellular service. The Raleigh-area security companies we evaluated ranged in price from $25 to $35 per month for cellular monitoring.
With DIY monitoring, your home security system isn’t connected to a call center. Instead, you have to contact the police or fire department when you are notified that your alarm’s been tripped. The silver lining: you save money on the monthly fee you would pay for professionally monitored systems. All you have to do is buy the gear, set it up to your internet router, and you’re ready to go. Just be sure you have reliable internet service.
Do You Need Bundled Security or a Custom Package?
Leading home security companies will likely have two options for consumers: Bundled or custom packages.
The quickest route for most is a bundled security package, and it works a lot like getting cable. Companies have two or three pre-set packages that increase in price as you add more features. The most basic packages give you the minimum: Door and window sensors, keypads, and landline monitoring. Premium packages add more security with internet or cellular monitoring. The best part of choosing a bundle is that the monthly cost is generally set in the contract. The worst: a 36-month contract is often required.
If you have a larger house, or maybe more precious belongings that make your particular needs unique, then customization is the way to go. Most companies will send over a rep to assess your home and provide a quote. This rep can also help you decide what features your custom home security system will have. Most custom pricing is impossible to determine without getting a quote first, but many custom home security packages have month-to-month contracts instead of the binding three-year commitments you see with bundles.
Before You Buy
Before you submit your order, take a step back and ask yourself a few questions:
- What does my lifestyle require? If you rent and there’s only 10 months left on your lease, it wouldn’t make much sense to sign a 36-month contract.
- Do I have the time for DIY? Doing it yourself means you have to be on top of your own monitoring. Will that fit into a full-time job or time with your kids? Don’t add another chore if your life is already a handful.
- What are the perks? If you’re a homeowner, a professionally monitored system may increase the value of your property and even give you a break on homeowner’s insurance. Be sure to call and ask.
- How much security do I actually need? We suggest a minimum of door sensors, window sensors, and an audible alarm — enough to make your home secure, no more and no less. That might be plenty, or your might be drawn to a full-blown camera system. You’re the judge and the jury on that decision.
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Raleigh
We took a look at the seven leading home security companies in the Raleigh area and ranked them on customer service, equipment, reputability, and monthly costs. Then we measured their standings against our top nationwide home security systems. Of the seven companies, four stood out as the best.
If you prefer to choose a local option, we recommend Sentry Watch, CPI Security Systems, Security Force, Inc., and Iwatch Security. All four met our criteria based on the availability of their customer support representatives (you actually reach a human!), their reputation based on customer feedback, and their affordability.
If you prefer a national provider, Freshome’s pick for best bundled options are Frontpoint, Protect America, and SimpliSafe. Standout DIY kits include Lowe’s Iris and Piper NV.
Best Bundled Options
- Frontpoint: Frontpoint delivers their cellular system right to your front door — then you install it yourself (aka no installation fees). They are an affordable option with incredible customer service, and unlike other self-install options, Frontpoint is professionally monitored. Freshpoint offers three packages and requires a 36-month monitoring contract. Contact them for a quote.
- Protect America: Protect America offers five security packages, unlike many of their competitors who only offer three. Protect America requires a 36-month monitoring contract and they offer DIY installation — although their most affordable package doesn’t include a cellular option.
- SimpliSafe: At only $14.99 a month, SimpliSafe is the best choice for your bank account. They offer four packages with no contract required upon installation; and once you fork over the cost of the system, the system is yours to keep.
Raleigh’s Best Local Home Security Companies
Sentry Watch has provided the ultimate home security in Raleigh for more than 43 years. The local company earned an A+ with BBB and its monitoring center has been approved and listed as “five diamond” by the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL). Sentry Watch delivers remarkable security for your home by supporting the most recent technologies.
They offer Honeywell wireless systems, fire alarm systems, and total connect services which allows you to control your home security system remotely from any smart device. These total connect services also provide responses to the arming of your system and can let you know if any off-limit areas, like medicine and liquor cabinets, have been messed with. Now you can really be the parent with eyes in the back of your head!
With Sentry Watch’s Z-Wave technology, you can reduce your electric bill and be a bit greener by controlling the lights, thermostat, and locks of your home from your remote device. Going out of town for the weekend? You can even set up scheduled times for your lights to switch on and off to create the image that you are home. Sentry Watch’s newest burglary finding device, the Whip connects to your system and the service valve of your air conditioner. Your security system will be triggered when the pressure in the refrigerant line of the air conditioner drops below a certain level as the result of a thief cutting the copper refrigerant line.
Sentry Watch’s state-of-the-art home security technologies set them apart from competing companies. Give them a call to find or create a security package most fitted to your lifestyle and budget.
Security Force, Inc.
Stationed just outside the Research Triangle Park is one of Raleigh’s most renowned security companies, Security Force Inc. (SFI). For just $35 a month your home can be protected by “the Force”. SFI was accredited an A+ rating from the BBB and is affiliated with several instate chambers of commerce. SFI is a GE Home Technology Partner of Choice and offers products from manufactures including Sony, Creston, Samsung, and Dirt Devil.
In addition to monitoring home entry points, SFI systems can detect smoke, heat, freezing temperatures, carbon monoxide, and high water levels. Do you have a person living with you that is elderly or suffers from a medical condition? SFI offers sensors to detect any activity in the house and can dispatch appropriate medical professionals in the event of an emergency.
The monitoring team at Security Force Inc. undergoes thorough training in crisis management so they are prepared to dispatch the appropriate medical, fire, or police persons at any time of day. Before sending professionals to your home, operators use audio verification at the location of the alarm. The voice response feature prevents false alarms by requiring a code to be provided in order to cancel an alarm.
The team at Security Force Inc. prioritizes in customer service; your technician will always guide you step-by-step through your new system to make sure you are comfortable with all components. The employees at SFI are eager to provide you with the utmost safety and respond to any of your concerns and questions. Give them a call today to schedule an appointment.
Iwatch Security may be the newest security company in the Triangle, but they certainly don’t lack practice. Their management team has over 25 years of experience with security systems and instalments. Customer reviews praise Iwatch Security for their efficiency and honesty compared to other security businesses. At Iwatch Security, your rates are locked in from day one so you don’t have to worry about an increase in your monitoring bill. Basic monitoring starts at only $15 a month while cellular monitoring costs a slight bit more at $25 a month.
These guys have the technology you want; they provide camera systems, remote video viewing, cellular monitoring, and state of the art GE and Honeywell security system equipment. Many companies reclaim security equipment when you stop using their service; however, when you purchase equipment from Iwatch, it’s yours for the keeping. The team at Iwatch is focused on your safety, even if you move, these guys want you to have the proper equipment for your future home.
Iwatch installers chiefly recommend pairing GE security equipment with monitoring from their central station. Their 24/7 monitoring station was awarded with a 5 Diamond Certification from the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA).
The team at Iwatch will meet with you in person to assess your home and engineer a security package fitted for you at a price you can afford. This quote is free so why not give Iwatch a call and determine the cost of safety for your home.
Best DIY Security Systems
- Lowe’s Iris: Lowe’s Iris is the epitome of DIY with a fully customizable system, but it offers starter packs if you need some guidance. For the Tony Starks out there, however, you can build your setup from scratch. Iris is also compatible with professional monitoring for a monthly fee.
- Piper NV: If you don’t have much space, the Piper NV system is for you. It’s a single standalone tower with a 180-degree camera, motion and sound sensor, and audible alarm.
Local companies that didn’t make the cut
- Neuwave Systems
- Burroughs Systems, Inc.
- Triangle Sound and Security
Preventing False Alarms
In 2004, the City of Raleigh enacted their false alarm ordinance, which penalizes residents in the event an alarm goes off without any incident requiring police or fire departments. If you have a false alarm, you get a written warning for the first time. But the fines increase with each incident. The second alarm costs $50; the third, fourth, and fifth are $100; the sixth and seventh are $200; and the eighth and ninth are $300. Any false alarm after that will cost $500 a pop.
Freaked out? Don’t worry: it’s pretty simple to avoid a false alarm. The Raleigh Police Department suggests each person living in your house gets training on how to use the home security system. This includes bypassing the motion detector, what they should do if an alarm occurs, and how to cancel it if no police or fire department attention is needed.
Additionally, you should always remember to lock your doors and windows before arming the system, be sure to have equipment inspected on a routine basis, and keep up with your alarm’s maintenance (in other words, make sure you have fresh batteries). To simplify things, Freshome has built this simple Home Security 101 Checklist to help you prevent false alarms.
The City of Raleigh does not require their residents to register their home security systems.
Is a home security system worth it?
Yes. Not only does a home security system give you peace of mind, a it will also significantly decrease the chances of your house being robbed. According to a 2012 study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 60 percent of convicted burglars surveyed said that the mere presence of an alarm system would force them to seek a new target altogether. Those are some pretty good odds.
How much security do I actually need?
To best answer that question, ask yourself, “How much do I want?” Freshome recommends that you choose a system with an audible alarm, door sensors, and window sensors at minimum. Anything more depends on how much space you have to cover. The larger your home, the more security you will need. And if you choose a professionally monitored package, then you should also add smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to give you more peace of mind.
The Bottom Line
The feeling of security is super subjective and depends on you, your belongs, and your home. Home security systems can be tailored to fit your needs exactly. It all comes down to what makes you feel safe — and how much you’re willing to pay.