These days, good home security goes way beyond a loud alarm that scares the 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? Make sure they aren’t throwing wild parties for their friends.
Our Picks for Best Home
On top of that, home securities systems also monitor your safety with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Some systems even let you sync up your TV and audio system to run all over the house.
So how do you know what kind of home security system is right for your home? That’s where we come in! Freshome evaluated and ranked the top seven home security companies in Rochester. Whether you rent or own, have tenure or live on a student’s income, there’s no reason you can’t protect your home and belongings with our selected home security systems.
Home Security Basics
At its core, home security is simple. Somebody breaks into your house, the system notifies you (or the monitoring company) and the police. If there’s a fire, the system alerts the fire department. But there’s a little bit more consumers have to consider before purchasing a system.
Should You Get Professional Monitoring or DIY Monitoring?
How much do you want to be involved when keeping tabs on your home security. Would you rather do it yourself (DIY) or have professionals handle it?
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 Rochester-area security companies we evaluated ranged in price from $12 to $49 per month for cellular monitoring.
But maybe you do want to have a hand in controlling your home security — then DIY monitoring is the way to go. 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 get notification that your alarm’s been tripped. But the silver lining to that is 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 many people would be the bundled security package. The bundle works a lot like getting cable. Companies have two or three levels of preset 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. Beyond that, premium packages allow consumers to 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. However, a 36-month contract is often required to buy a bundle.
If you have a larger house, or maybe more precious belongings that make your particular needs unique, then customization may be the way to go. Since each situation is different, most companies will send over a rep to assess your home and provide an accurate quote. With the help of an industry expert, you can then make an educated decision about what features your custom home security system will need. Be aware, most custom pricing is impossible to determine without a quote from the company. Still, many home security companies with custom packaging offer month-to-month contracts instead of those binding 36-month contracts 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? DIY means you have to be on top of your own monitoring, but will that work if you’re working a full-time job and have kids? There’s no sense in adding another chore to the list if your life is already a handful.
- What benefits does a professionally monitored system have? 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 your provider and ask.
- How much security do I actually need? When you start your search for home security systems, maybe consider only what will make your home more secure — no more, no less. Maybe that means cameras in every room, or just a simple set of door sensors, window sensors, and audible alarm. (The latter is Freshome’s suggested minimum.)
Freshome’s Top Picks for the Best Home Security System in Rochester
The Freshome team took a look at the seven leading home security companies in the Rochester area, and determined the three best based on some important factors: Customer service, equipment, reputability, and monthly costs. Then we measured their standing against Freshome’s recommended home security systems. Of the seven companies, three stood out as the best.
If you prefer to choose the local option, then we highly recommend you check out Doyle Security Systems, Casco Security Systems, and DTN Security. All three met our criteria based on customer support availability, customer feedback, and affordability.
If you going with a national company is more your speed, Freshome’s pick for best bundled options are Frontpoint, Protect America, and SimpliSafe. The standout DIY kits are Lowe’s Iris and Piper NV.
Best Bundled Options
- Frontpoint: Frontpoint delivers its DIY cellular system right to your front door. It has an affordable option and incredible customer service, and unlike other DIY packages, Frontpoint is professionally monitored. Frontpoint offers three packages and requires a 36-month monitoring contract. Contact for a quote.
- Protect America: Protect America offers five security packages, unlike many of its competitors who only offer three. Protect America requires a 36-month monitoring contract and offers DIY wireless setup — but there is no upfront cost.
- SimpliSafe: At only $14.99 a month, SimpliSafe may be the most ideal choice for your wallet. It offers four packages with no contract required upon installation.
Rochester’s Best Local Home Security Companies
Headquartered in Rochester, Doyle Security Systems serves more than 25,000 customers in the Upstate New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania area. Founded in 1919, the company is now owned by the fourth generation of the Doyle family, and is poised to be passed into the hands of the fifth generation.
As a provider of integrated security-management products, Doyle Security Systems offers intrusion and fire alarm systems and monitoring, video surveillance, home automation and medical monitoring. Several bundles are offered, with basic monitoring starting at $25 a month, including live two-way voice communication. Additional options include remote arming/disarming, alerts, glass-break detectors, door/window contacts and more. The 24-hour Emergency Response Center, staffed by highly trained emergency response operators, is located in Western New York.
Customers say that both the sales staff and the technicians as friendly and top-notch. Reviewers also describe the technicians as “fabulous” and going out of their way to make sure the systems are properly installed and working.
With roots tracing back to 20th century private detective work, Doyle Security Systems has been growing primarily through acquisitions. It’s been recognized with numerous awards, including Best Places to Work from Buffalo Business First, Central Station of the Year from Central Station Alarm Association and ETHIE Award from Rochester Business Ethics Foundation.
Locally owned since 1974, Casco Security Systems has expanded and grown to become one of the largest privately owned security companies in Upstate New York. If offers more than 200 brands of equipment from leading manufacturers, as well as servicing pre-existing equipment, both in the residential and commercial markets.
Residential burglar alarm services include installation and 24/7 monitoring at a state-of-the-art monitoring center in Rochester. You can activate and deactivate the systems through your computer, mobile device or smart phone. The alarm is easy to manage through touch-screen keypads, and the system includes cellular backup, panic buttons and motion detectors that are immune to pets.
Other services include video surveillance, medical-alert systems, and monitoring of systems such as sump pumps, generators and furnaces. If you need peace of mind while you’re away on vacation or business travel, you can view your home via a private, password-protected website — from any mobile device or computer.
Named an ethics award finalist by the Rochester Business Ethics Foundation, Casco Security Systems has been recognized for its good corporate citizenship. Through membership in the PSA Security Network, Casco can also oversee installation and monitoring across the United States.
Established in Rochester in 1972, locally owned DTN Security offers state-of-the-art security systems for both residential and commercial customers. Homeowners will have peace of mind knowing that many well-known local businesses as well as government agencies including the military have entrusted their security needs to DTN.
Wired and wireless Honeywell systems are available, with landline-system monitoring starting as low as $18.95. The wireless option costs under $30 a month. In addition to offering a free home security survey and free estimates, DTN Security promises to match any competitor’s prices — not to mention installation is free.
Other services include security for pets, cars and boats; medical alerts; weather protection; and home automation complete with mobile-phone monitoring. With Honeywell’s Lynx Touch system, you can control not only your security system but also the lights and thermostats — as well as see surveillance video — from any any wireless-enabled device. The system also includes remote video surveillance.
The company, which has deep roots in the local community, has many longtime customers and is known for its innovation, highly trained and knowledgeable staff as well as reliable and prompt service. Customers describe DTN security as a business with high integrity that goes above the beyond the call of duty.
Best DIY Security Systems
- Lowe’s Iris: Lowe’s Iris is the epitome of DIY, with a fully customizable system. Lowe’s offers starter packs if you’re not feeling adventurous, but for the Tony Starks out there, you can build your setup from scratch. Iris is compatible with professional monitoring for a low monthly fee.
- Piper NV: If you don’t have much space, then 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
Of the seven local home security companies we evaluated, three of them just didn’t live up to Freshome’s standards. Some had really awful websites that made it impossible to determine what systems they actually offered. Others got bad reviews from former customers. Some didn’t have enough information out there. Then there were those who simply didn’t respond to our questions when we phoned and emailed.
- Keystone Security Systems
- Omni Security
- Synacom Networks, Inc.
Preventing False Alarms & Registering Your System
False alarms place an economic burden on police and fire departments across the country, so much so that most cities have enacted ordinances that penalize residents who have false alarms. So how can you prevent wasting all that money on false alarms, while also saving the time and resources spent by first responders? It’s pretty simple, actually. The Rochester Police Department suggests each person living in your house gets trained 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. Follow Freshome’s seven methods for preventing false alarms, and save yourself a real hassle.
To register with the City of Rochester, just visit the city page and download an alarm application. It costs $20 to register. If you are unlucky enough to have a false alarm within the 12-month period the permit covers, then the fine will be tacked on to your $20 renewal fee. For one “avoidable alarm,” as they refer to them, it will cost an extra $5 per year. For two, add $30. Three will cost you $50. Four false alarms adds $90. If you have more than four false alarms in a year, you will have to pay the standard renewal fee of $20, plus $90 for the four false alarms, and $50 per any additional one after that.
Is a home security system worth it?
To put it simply: 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 Rochester, 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
Feeling secure is certainly subjective and varies from person to person. But when you add a home security system to your living situation, you may feel as though you have one less thing to worry about. There are all sorts of systems out there to suit your needs and they are at various price points to fit any budget — from student to professional. So if you’re looking to feel a little more secure at night, when you’re at work, or when you’re on vacation, please consider our recommendations.