The Top 3 Home Security Companies in Austin, TX
Welcome to Austin Home Security Judge! We’ve spent countless hours researching over 100 home security companies, and below you will find our top 3 home security company picks in Austin, TX.
How to Choose the Right Home Security Company
Ensuring the safety of your family and your home are the most important factors in everyday life. While the loss of expensive/cherished items during a burglary can be devastating in and of itself, victims lose more than the items taken. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association finds that burglary victims may experience posttraumatic stress reactions: Reactions may include anxiety, nightmares and social withdrawal. These psychological after effects can disrupt daily life.
According to the most recent FBI statistics, a property crime occurs every 3.5 seconds with a home invasion burglary occurring every 15 seconds. In 2010, burglary offenses cost victims almost $5 billion; in general, the average loss per offense totals $2,119.
The statistics below offer homeowners insight into common burglary practices in America:
- Nearly 74 percent of burglary offenses occurred on residential properties.
- It takes less than 60 seconds for a burglar to find a way to enter your home.
- Generally speaking, a burglar works within two miles of his or her home.
- Desperate, non-professional burglars account for 85 percent of break-ins. Due to their desperation, these individuals are typically dangerous.
- More than half of all home invasions occur while residents are at work (between 10am and 3pm).
- Approximately 34 percent of the time burglars enter the home through the front door, 22 percent through the back door and 23 percent of the time through a first-floor window. Burglars choose these points of entry because people frequently leave them unlocked.
- Fewer than 20 percent of the homes in the U.S. have security systems; however, a survey published in the June 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine states that nearly 80 percent of homeowners who have alarm systems consider their systems an effective way to protect their homes.
Types of Home Security Systems
Home security system options ranges from the do-it-yourself home security system to the professionally installed home security systems with custom add-ons. Innovative systems offer homeowners numerous benefits, some of which include the ability to remotely control certain aspects of the home. The type of home security system you need depends on what you want your system to do for you.
The majority of security companies offer equipment warranties stipulating that they will repair or replace malfunctioning equipment for a specific amount of time after the installation/purchase date.
Some security companies offer relocation guarantees or relocation kits that enable clients to transfer their security system to their new residence.
When something triggers your security system, immediate action is essential; thus, the home security system you choose needs to effectively communicate with its monitoring center 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, when comparing home security systems, you need to investigate how each system communicates with its monitoring center. There are three monitoring options available: broadband, landline and cellular.
Landline – Although a landline system itself can be wireless, it requires an actual phone line to communicate with its monitoring center.
Cellular – Cellular systems tend to be the fastest means for contacting a monitoring center. Furthermore, cellular systems are 100 percent wireless, making them extremely reliable. Cellular systems use a cellular uplink to communicate with the monitoring center, which means the system remains active even if telephone lines are unavailable (cut).
Broadband – Broadband monitoring depends on a broadband Internet connection and can alert the monitoring center four times quicker than a landline connection will; however, a cellular monitoring system remains the most reliable form of communication.
Security System Accessories and Add-Ons
The majority of professional security companies help clients customize their home security systems.
24-hour Monitoring is Essential
The security company you choose must provide continuous monitoring services: 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
This sensor is designed to detect carbon monoxide – a toxic gas that is virtually ‘invisible.’ You cannot taste, smell or see carbon monoxide: If a leak is detected, the alarm sounds to inform you that you need to leave the home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 430 people unintentionally die due to carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States each year.
Heat Sensor/Smoke Sensor
Usually heat sensors and smoke sensors are on a single device. The heat sensor notices when there is a rapid increase in the temperature of your home; whereas, the smoke sensor can identify smoke particles in the air. Both of these sensors warn you of a potential fire.
These sensors notice if the temperature in your home falls dangerously low. With this sensor, you are notified of the drop in temperature before your water pipes freeze; thus, avoiding costly damages and saving you a substantial amount of money.
Flood sensors are usually placed in the basement. A flood sensor detects the presence of water before it floods your home or causes a considerable amount of damage.
Glass Break Sensor
This sensor has an audio microphone and is extremely sensitive to the sound frequencies emitted when glass breaks.
Personal Security/Medical Alert Devices
Some security systems have panic buttons and/or medical alert buttons on a small pendant that can be worn around the neck or placed in a pocket. Should a personal or medical emergency arise, the homeowner simply pushes the button on the pendant to inform emergency services that help is needed. According to the CDC, one in three seniors fall each year and after one fall, the chance that he or she will fall again doubles; consequently, medical alert devices can be comforting for members of the senior population and their loved ones.
Door and Window Sensors
These sensors detect when a door or window is opened.
Some people choose to place motion detectors throughout their homes. These detectors sense movement. Homeowners who have pets can still use motion detectors; however, the detector is modified to enable the pet to move through the home.
Security cameras are useful to homeowners for several reasons, a security camera:
- Allows you to see the intruder; hence, catching him or her in the act.
- Enables you to see who is at the door or check on family members in other rooms without getting up.
- Provides you a way to keep an eye your babysitter and maintenance workers, as well as verify the kids made it home from school.
- Gives you the means to check on your home while you are away.
Portable devices that you use to activate and deactivate your alarm system when you leave and enter your home. Typically, these remotes are similar to the devices used to lock/unlock vehicles. They are referred to as ‘key fobs.’
This refers to the homeowner’s ability to access his or her security system through a web-enabled device, including smartphones. The majority of security systems offering mobile access give the homeowner the ability to receive email and/or text alerts. Homeowners can also check the status of their home security system. Additionally, some security companies offer their clients a way to watch a camera feed, as well as remotely control their home’s locks, lights and thermostat.
These pads are used to activate and deactivate the alarm system. Some control pads also have a panic button and chime mode. If you do not want to arm the alarm system, but you want to know when a window or door is opened, you can use the chime mode. The chime mode is ideal for individuals with toddlers: If a window or door is opened, the system chimes.
2-Way Voice Monitoring
With this feature, homeowners can speak to a representative at the monitoring center directly through their control panel.
Mobile access gives you full control over your home. With mobile access, you can arm and disarm your security system from web-enabled devices and key fobs. Home automation options allow you to remotely control certain aspects of your home.
With home automation, homeowners can use web-enabled devices, including smartphones, to control various aspects of their home.
Common actions included in the majority of home automation systems include the ability to:
- Lock/Unlock doors.
- View which doors and windows in the home are open.
- Arm/Disarm the system.
- Monitor flood and water sensors.
- Customize notifications.
- Get real-time notifications.
- Receive security alerts.
- Access live and pre-recorded video obtained via your security cameras.
- Adjust your thermostat.
- Turn lights on/off.
- View the history of your system’s events.
- Receive notifications through email and text, as well as video alerts (to ensure the children arrive home safely from school, etc.).
Set up notifications to inform you when select locations throughout your home are accessed, for example:
- Liquor cabinet
- Medicine cabinet
- Garage door
- Jewelry armoire
Investigate Security Companies
The majority of home security companies have their own websites. This is a great place to start investigating the options available to you. The age of the business is important because a newer company may not have enough reviews to allow you to make an informed decision; however, if you personally know someone who uses a particular company and is a satisfied client, you could use that recommendation for comparison purposes. Find out what type of communication (broadband, cellular or landline) each company you are considering uses to contact its monitoring station.
Once you have a few companies in mind, it is time to look for online customer reviews, speak with your friends and family, and check each company’s rating/reviews with the Better Business Bureau.
Questions to Ask When Interviewing Home Security Companies
- Is a landline necessary for this home security system? Security companies that rely on a landline are not as desirable as those that do not. Choose a company that offers you broadband and/or cellular.
- How much does the system cost and do I have to sign a contract?
- Does the cost include installation?
- How much will I pay monthly?
- If you are taking advantage of a special offer – remember to ask how long the reduced price lasts and what your monthly bill will be after the promotion ends.
- In the event of a power outage, does the security system become disabled? You should choose a system that provides an automatic battery backup.
- What type of training do the employees receive? Are they certified?
- Can the system move with you? If it can, make sure you read the fine print. If the service can move with you, when you transfer your service, the equipment costs and installation fees should be free of charge. If you own your system’s equipment, you need to take it with you to use at your new home.
- Does the system allow remote and mobile access? This feature should not be an expensive add-on; in fact, numerous home security companies offer these benefits in their basic home security packages.
With the variety of home security companies and options available, you should be able to find a system that gives you exactly what you need (and maybe a little more) without breaking the bank.