Best Home Security Systems in Atlanta
We dove headfirst to find out how Atlanta’s best home security companies compare with Frontpoint, our national home security pick. After evaluating each one on a bunch of factors, like pricing and customer service, we found four great home security companies that can hold their own against the big dogs. But in the end, EMC Security won our hearts thanks to its competitive pricing, personal touch, and no-contract policy.
The Best Home Security Systems in Atlanta
Northstar Security Inc.
EMC aced almost all of our evaluations, particularly in terms of cost. EMC had the lowest prices we could find, starting at just $17 per month for landline monitoring, and $24 for cellular. Not only are those prices great, but they come with no contract, so you can cancel at any time if you move or decide to terminate service. (Note that if you live in an apartment, you’ll have to pay your first year upfront, but if you cancel early, you’ll be refunded the balance.) In sum, we’re naming it our top pick for home security in Atlanta
While EMC does have some negative reviews online, they followed up personally with every disatisfied customer, and seemed to remedy the problem in nearly every complaint. Many customers who left one-star Yelp reviews revised them to a higher rating after hearing from EMC’s customer service department. No business can please every customer, so we think that phenomenal follow-up is more important than a perfect rating.
The EMC customer service representatives we spoke to on the phone were the most informed of the bunch, and were incredibly transparent with their pricing and policies. While most companies we called couldn’t provide all their pricing information over the phone, EMC told us exactly what it would cost to get up and running, to the cent. They even gave us a couple of tips to save money on upfront security costs. That nothing-to-hide attitude earned our respect and highest ranking.
AMSA (Alarm Monitoring Service of Atlanta)
AMSA has a solid 4.5 stars on Google, 4 stars on Yelp, and A+ Better Business Bureau rating. They also won a Super Service Award from Angie’s List. We were impressed that they seemed to address every online customer complaint, although their responses were not as personalized as EMC.
Pricing for AMSA starts at $19 per month for a landline system, and $30 for cellular. Their systems are custom-built, so they couldn’t provide us with setup costs over the phone. However, we were connected with a sales representative immediately, so hold times won’t be an issue if you choose service with AMSA.
AMSA can reprogram most security systems to be compatible with their professional monitoring, and they offer a free app for home automation. We also like their one-year warranty on all parts and labor. Many other companies only guarantee their systems for 90 days.
Northstar Security Inc.
Northstar’s website leaves a lot to be desired in terms of modernity and ease-of-use, but its knowledgeable and friendly phone representatives more than make up for it. When you call Northstar, a real person picks up the phone right off the bat. That’s practically unheard of in the home security industry, and it’s reassuring should you ever run into complications with your service.
While they offer all of the standard home security equipment, services, and automation, Northstar’s specialty seems to be video monitoring. Customers rave about the ease of use and high quality of video feeds set up by Northstar. Take this convincing quote from a satisfied Yelper:
“I was home alone, someone rang my doorbell at midnight… I grab my laptop and playback the saved footage and freak out – I can see, plain as day, 3 teens getting out of their car and making their way to the back of my house… I was able to give copies of this footage to the police. A few weeks later, the police call us to let us know that they were able to use the footage to ID the vehicle and then ID the owner and put one of the perps in jail… We felt a little like superheros, especially because these guys had been implicated in several other crimes in our neighborhood.”
Northstar services start at $17 for a landline system, and $25 for a wireless system. The company doesn’t require contracts, so you can cancel at any time. And since systems are custom-built, we couldn’t get a quote for equipment and installation. If you’re desperate to know exactly how much a new system will cost, you’ll need to call and schedule an on-site consultation.
Ackerman’s pricing is a tad higher than the competition, but still a great deal, starting at $20 per month for a landline system, and $28 for a cellular system. It offers a range of home automation options with smartphone integration, and can usually work with existing equipment if you previously had a security system in your home.
One of Ackerman’s best features could also be a detriment, depending on what you’re looking for. All its systems are custom-built, so there are no pre-bundled packages. On one hand, you’ll get the exact level of security you want. That means you won’t be paying for features you don’t need, and you can customize the exact level of security and automation that you want. However, it also means that pricing is less-than-transparent. While a sales representative offered to send an agent to my home for a free consultation, he couldn’t answer any questions about how much I’d end up paying upfront and month-to-month. Some customers note that they weren’t sure how much service would cost until it was time to sign on the dotted line.
While Ackerman maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, their Yelp reviews suggest a lot of unhappy customers. Difficulty canceling service is a common complaint, as well as surprise $90 fees for service visits. One customer noted, troublingly, that when their alarm system was triggered, there was no response from the monitoring center. Ackerman, for their part, says they respond to all calls within 30-60 seconds.
While a low 1.5 star Yelp rating almost disqualified Ackerman from our list of recommendations, they do have a bevy of happy customers on Google. With a whopping 566 Google reviews, they maintain a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. With that high of a score, it seems like your chances of being a satisfied customer are pretty high.
Atlanta’s Crime Rates and Trends
Crime rates in Atlanta are well above the national average. In fact, Atlanta ranks in the bottom two percent of safest cities in America. For every 1,000 residents, 75 are the victims of a crime in any given year, and 62 of those incidents are property-related. The national average is only 26.
It’s important to protect your home with a security system no matter where you live. After all, a burglary or home invasion can happen anywhere. Due to the high crime rate in Atlanta, residents should be extra vigilant.
Atlanta City Policies
False alarms are a major drain on public resources in the city of Atlanta. 95 percent of alarms that require automatic police response are false alarms. While most of those are canceled en-route, it still takes about 20-30 minutes of the responding officers’ time. With 65,000 false alarms in 2012, that added up to a lot of wasted time and money.
Since then, Atlanta has implemented a false alarm ordinance in an attempt to curb those high numbers. Residents must register their alarms by visiting http://www.crywolf.us/atlantaga/ or calling 1-855-725-7102. Registering is free, but if you skip it, you can be ticketed $150.
“Our police officers take every alarm call seriously. In many cases, however, the call ends up being nothing more than a false alarm caused by accident or human error. This new program will allow our officers to spend more time responding to true emergencies.”
If your alarm goes off when there isn’t a real emergency, you get one free pass. If it happens again, you’ll be hit with a $50 ticket, and fines will escalate for each subsequent false alarm.
If you ensure your alarm system is in working order, and take care to keep doors and windows closed and locked, (especially those vulnerable to swinging open in the wind), false alarms won’t happen often.
The Bottom Line
Frontpoint Frontpoint is our top pick for nationwide providers. See if it's available in your Atlanta neighborhood.
EMC is the best home security company in Atlanta, bar none. It’s cellular monitoring is cheaper than all the competition, plus it doesn’t require a contract. The only drawback is that apartment dwellers have to pay a full year of monitoring upfront. But, if you have to leave, EMC will refund the remainder of your balance to you.