5-Point Checklist to Pick Your Home Security Company

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 by under Monitoring, Security, Smart Home, Top Tips

There are dozens of home security providers on the market, all vying for your business. When evaluating your options, it’s easy to just go with the lowest-price point; however, that decision may not always be in your best interest.

Below, we offer five additional criteria to consider when vetting security vendors to guarantee you’re safe and satisfied in the end.

1. High-Quality Technology

Your security system is only as good as the technology behind it. Choose a security company that works with reputable manufacturers. Interlogix (formerly GE), Honeywell, 2Gig and Alarm.com offer some of the best home security products on the market.

In evaluating technologies, opt also for a cellular system over a wired one. These systems don't rely on your telephone line—which burglars frequently just cut—to transmit emergency signals, making them more reliable. If you prefer to use a landline, back up your system with wireless technology.

2. 24/7 Monitoring

When your security alarm goes off, the police aren't immediately notified—a monitoring station is, which then contacts fire and police officials if an actual threat is present. Because every second matters when an emergency strikes, a 24/7 monitoring service is critical.

In addition to having personnel on hand around-the-clock, ask the vendor what backup and disaster recovery plans they have in place. Solid security providers can guarantee uptime even in wake of a power outage or telephone service interruption, and will be UL approved for safety and reliability.

3. Quick & Knowledgeable Support

Should something go wrong with your security system (e.g. camera/sensor breaks, information isn’t being transmitted properly, etc.), how quickly will the provider be able to offer support and maintenance? Evaluate service level agreements to make sure your home won’t go unarmed for long, and that all promises are spelled out in writing with actions to expect if the provider fails to deliver.

In addition, inquire about fees associated with ongoing maintenance and onsite visits; these aren’t automatically a part of your monthly bill. Be aware of these costs when comparing prices across vendors.

Choose also the provider that offers knowledgeable, customized support. Can the salesperson offer you specific recommendations based on your unique security needs, home layout and lifestyle? Do they go above and beyond to make sure you're satisfied? If the answer is "yes," it's usually a good indication that the rest of the organization is equally as educated.

4. Clear Contracts & Agreements

Don't get swindled into an agreement that doesn't have your best interests at heart. Keep your eye out for marketing gimmicks that promise low-cost or free services, but then tack on additional fees or raise costs once you sign on. Ask upfront if the rates you are being offered are fixed for the contract agreement, or if they will go up (and if so, by how much).

When reviewing your contract, pay particular attention to the cancellation terms, length of commitment (3 years is standard), automatic renewals and ability to transfer services to another property.

5. Well-Rounded, Innovative Provider

The best security companies will have solutions available to guard against intrusion, fire and environmental hazards. They will also have convenience features available, such as interactive services and basic home automation capabilities. While you might not need all these capabilities today, security needs often change over time, so it’s best to pick a provider with a well-rounded arsenal.

It's the companies that stay on top of the latest innovations today that will be able to evolve and keep your system relevant into the future.

What additional criteria do you use to evaluate home security providers? Share your tips below.

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