The Top 3 Home Security Companies in Houston, TX
Welcome to Houston 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 Houston, TX.
If you’re not quite sure what to look for in a home security company, or what questions you should be asking, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home Security Company.
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home Security Company
Home security systems provide important protection for you, your loved ones and your property. Once you’ve decided to add a system to your home, it’s time to find the company that provides the best solution for your needs. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know to make an informed decision about your home security company so you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve made the right choice.
Installation: Professional or DIY?
Today, one of the biggest questions facing homeowners who are considering adding a home security system is whether to install the system themselves or have it professionally installed. While having a home security system installed used to mean cutting through walls or fishing wires through tiny openings, today’s home security systems offer wireless options that can make professional installation much simpler – and less costly. The advent of wireless also means there are plenty of wireless options for do-it-yourselfers who want to install their own systems and save additional costs.
The first thing to consider when deciding between a DIY installation or a professional installation is whether or not the company you’re considering supports the DIY option. While more and more companies are offering DIY as an option, many companies prefer to install components themselves. If you’re not sure which choice is right for you, here’s a quick review of the pros and cons of each:
- Worry-free installation usually backed up by an installation warranty
- Having a person on site makes it easy to have all your questions answered
- Lots of experience configuring systems for different needs
- Involves an installation fee
- Components may be owned by the security company, which means you can’t take them with you when you move
- May be wired or wireless
- No installation fee
- Wider selection of components (usually)
- You can take the equipment with you when you move
- Troubleshooting problems with equipment means contacting equipment manufacturers
- Not all security systems can work with all brands of DIY components
- You need to be comfortable determining your security needs and designing a system to meet those needs
- Today, there are also hybrid options, where you buy your equipment through a security company and set it up yourself. The company also offers maintenance and troubleshooting guidance as part of the monthly fee you pay. If having a DIY option is important to you, it’s one of the first questions you should ask when deciding which company to use.
Your Monitoring System
The central monitoring portion of a home security system provides the vital link between your home and the emergency responders you need when an emergency occurs. One of the most critical things you can ask when considering which company is right for you is if the central monitoring station is follows codes established by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent group that sets and monitors standards regarding public safety. The standards set forth by UL are comprehensive and address virtually every aspect of a monitoring center to ensure it follows stringent safety protocol so you can enjoy added peace of mind.
Here are a few more things you should know about central monitoring stations:
- Central monitoring stations do not typically have the ability to turn your system on or off. Arming and disarming the system is a feature that should remain strictly under your control.
- Some companies let you configure your system to alert the central monitoring station when your system is turned on or off. It’s a feature most often used in commercial properties, but some home security companies and systems also offer it. In most cases, the monitoring station cannot tell whether your system is armed or not, so that determination and responsibility will fall to you.
- Likewise, in most cases, the central monitoring station cannot determine if your system is malfunctioning. The monitoring station is just for receiving alarms, not for functional monitoring of individual security systems. That’s why it’s important to have your system professionally tested every year and to test it yourself periodically (just be sure to notify the monitoring station when you’re performing any testing). Be sure to test the system after major power outages or electrical storms. Some companies do offer an option that enables your system to send a daily “test code” to the station to alert the company when your system may not be functioning properly.
Landline, Broadband or Cellular: What’s the Difference?
While systems of a few years ago relied exclusively on landlines to communicate with the central monitoring station, today’s security systems come in three “flavors” – landline, broadband and cellular. Be sure to consider the pros and cons of each when deciding which type of connection you want your system to have.
- Landline systems use a traditional, landline (hardwired) telephone to communicate with the central monitoring station when alarms are triggered. The actual system components can be wireless, eliminating the need for costly and complicated installations; only the signal to the monitoring station will rely on the landline connection.
- Cellular systems use a cellular signal, or uplink, to communicate with the central monitoring station. Cellular monitoring tends to be faster than landline systems and because they don’t use phone wires, they cannot be disabled by a few snips of the wire cutters, nor are they affected by phone lines downed by storms.
- Broadband systems communicate with central monitoring by using your Internet connection. Like cell systems, broadband connections are considerably faster than landline systems and they’re less costly than cellular; however, they may not be as reliable as cellular since they still depend on wires for transmission.
Q & A: What to Consider When Choosing a Home Security Company
When you choose a home security company, you’re choosing a company you trust to protect not only your property, but you and your loved ones as well. It’s a serious decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s one that requires a fair amount of research to ensure you’re making the right decision. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled an extensive list of questions to help you decide which company is the best one for you. If it seems like a lot of questions, that’s because selecting a company is a big decision, and we want to be sure you have all the information you need to gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the best possible protection in place for your needs. You may be able to find the answers to some questions on the company website or in their marketing materials; others you’ll need to ask on the phone, in person, or by email (save the responses for easier comparison). Let’s get started:
- Does the company have a good rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website? The BBB has regional and local offices that collect and process complaints. Check and see if the company you’re considering is listed and whether or not any complaints have been filed. Just remember, BBB charges a fee for accreditation and annual monitoring of companies’ standards, and many companies choose not to be listed with the BBB. If the company you’re considering doesn’t have a listing with the BBB, don’t interpret that as being a strike against them.
- Are there online reviews? Search for the company online and see what other customers are saying. When there are several reviews, pay attention to the overall opinion from customers and then home in on individual reviews to uncover any specific problems (or advantages) you might want to ask about when interviewing the company.
- Does the company have the proper licensing requirements and comply with local building codes? Texas requires security companies to be licensed. You can check online to make sure your company is licensed; if the company doesn’t show up, be sure to ask the owner or representative if the company is licensed under another name. Also ask to see the most current license to make sure it’s up to date. When your community has requirements for security system installation (and many communities do have codes), be sure the company is aware of the codes and is able to comply with them. Also make sure they’ll get all the required permits.
- How much insurance does the company carry? You want to be sure the company carries workers’ compensation insurance in case an employee is injured on the job, and you also want to be sure there’s ample liability insurance in case your property is damaged during installation. Ask to see proof of insurance, including the policy number and the name of the company providing insurance.
- How long has the company been in business? Just because a company is relatively new, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be overlooked. After all, all companies have to start somewhere. It does mean you won’t have a lot of reviews to count on, so you’ll have to be a little more diligent in making sure the company is reliable.
- Is the company an independent operator or a branch of a larger company? Again, there are benefits on both sides; if a company is a branch, you’ll need to do due diligence on the parent company as well.
- Do they focus on security and alarm systems? Some companies offer security systems “on the side” as part of a much larger offering which may offer wiring, construction or other services. For the best security options, look for a company with significant experience and expertise in security systems.
- What is the contract length? Most contracts have a term that ranges from three to five years, but some may offer one- or two-year terms or even month-to-month deals. In general, the shorter the contract term, the higher your up-front costs. When comparing companies, be sure to compare equal contract terms to get a better idea of overall cost.
- First, ask if employees have had any special certification in electronic security. Some companies have their own training systems, while others use outside vendors like the Electronic Security Association which offers classes online as well as in person.
- Does the company subject their employees to background checks? After all, when you’re having someone examine your home for security issues, you don’t want that person to have a criminal background. Make sure the employees who install and maintain your system have all passed a criminal background check.
- How many operators does the company have on duty? Of course, you also need to know how many systems the company oversees to make sure they’re adequately staffed.
- Do they outsource any of their staffing needs? Top security companies take personal responsibility at every level of service, from answering alarms to vetting complaints or troubleshooting to providing service and maintenance.
- How many service technicians are on hand, and are they all licensed? Again, the number of technicians can only be evaluated by knowing how many customers the company serves. Licensing or, at the very least, manufacturer training is important to make sure your system is maintained and repaired when it malfunctions so your security isn’t compromised.
- Does the company evaluate its customers security needs in order to design a system based on those needs? Your home and your security needs are unique, so ideally, you want to work with a company that will review your risks and evaluate your needs so they can recommend the best components for you. Avoid companies that promote “one-size-fits-all” solutions that could wind up falling far short of your needs.
- Does the company offer an annual maintenance contract to make sure the system components are working properly? Some companies offer this service as part of their regular contract and some charge a fee on top of your regular service charge. A few may not offer it at all, so be sure to ask.
- Will I own or lease the components in my home? Can I take the equipment with me when I move? Many companies provide the equipment on a lease basis, with the lease cost included in your monthly fee. If you drop the system, the company takes the components back. Others let you own the equipment outright, which means you can take it with you even if you move. In the latter case, ask if the components they use can be used with other security systems or if they can only be reused with the same company.
- What happens if I decide to cancel my contract early? Many companies have early termination fees that are charged if you cancel before your contract term expires. Some of these fees can be exorbitant, so be sure to understand the consequences if you decide you no longer want the system or you wind up moving to an area not served by the company. Also ask about any initial period where you can cancel without an early termination fee so you can see if you like the system before the long-term contract kicks into effect.
- Does your service allow for pets in a home? Some services require pets to be relegated to one specific area of a home that doesn’t have sensors; others may offer provisions that allow pets to roam. If you have pets, be sure to ask how the company will work with you to ensure your home is protected without increasing the risk of false alarms.
- Are technicians available after hours? Some companies forward calls to an answering service after hours; if that’s the case, be sure to ask how long it typically takes for a call back from a service provider or if you have to wait until the next morning to call.
- Does the company offer remote testing capabilities so basic troubleshooting can be performed right away on the phone, or do they need to schedule a call to have someone come to your property?
- What is their average time to respond to service calls? A quick response time means greater security for your home and loved ones and greater peace of mind for you.
- Do they outsource any of their technical troubleshooting services? Like many companies today, some security companies use third-party companies to handle tech calls and attempt to troubleshoot problems over the phone. Ideally, you want a company that handles troubleshooting issues in-house.
- What happens if the electricity goes out? Major power outages are prime time for burglars; does the company have any type of backup system that “kicks in” during power outages?
- What type of warranty does the company offer? Many companies stand behind their components and their installations and offer standard repairs or replacement as part of the monthly service fee. Some companies charge extra for repairs or maintenance, so be sure to ask if these services are included before signing a contract.
Finally, take your time to review your contract thoroughly. Pricing can involve a lot of variables, so if you’re not sure about something, don’t hesitate to ask. At the same time, try not to get hung up on cost. While most consumers have a budget to stick to and no one wants to be overcharged, you also need to focus on response times; after all, if an alarm goes off, you want to be sure someone will respond as quickly as possible. Take your time, ask questions, and learn all you can about the company you choose so you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you, your property and your loved ones are being protected.