Best Home Security Systems in Houston
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Houston in the fourth largest city in the country — and it has a bevy of home security companies to prove it. But which one should you choose?
We evaluated the four most prominent local operations based on a ton of factors — just like we did while reviewing national providers — to find out how each one stood up to Frontpoint, our national recommendation. In the end, Smith Thompson won our hearts with its month-to-month service agreement and incredibly low cellular monitoring payment. However, if you can’t manage $400 upfront, though, Frontpoint and Central Security Group are your next-best options.
The Best Home Security Systems in Houston
Home Security Companies
Central Security Group
Not to be confused with Smith Monitoring, Smith Thompson is a larger operation in the area with a key selling point: its low price. Cellular monitoring starts at just $17 per month. That’s not a promotional rate, and it hasn’t gone up since 1978. You’d be hard-pressed to find a rate lower than that.
There is a bit of a catch, though. First off, the equipment and installation costs $300, plus an $90 fee for the cellular module. That’s a higher initial investment than most companies, but if you can stomach the upfront cost, it will pay off in just two years. (Two years with Frontpoint starts at will cost you $940 at minimum, while two years with Smith Thompson costs only $808 at minimum.)
Keep in mind that $17 covers the bare minimum, so if you want add-ons like the ability to control your alarm from your smartphone, you’ll be looking at extra fees. And unfortunately, Smith Thompson doesn’t offer any home automation options. But if you’re just looking for a basic security alarm, you can’t beat the price. Plus, Smith Thompson was the only company we spoke to who offered no-contract plans.
We didn’t have the best experience when we tried to get a hold of Smith Thompson. We waited on hold for eight minutes, which is pretty much unheard of for a new customer looking to start service. If you needed troubleshooting, we’d expect that hold time to go up. The salesperson we spoke to was knowledgeable — though not exactly friendly. But hey, you get what you pay for, and sometimes that’s worth it.
Central Security Group
Central Security Group is based in Oklahoma, but has a separate Houston division that boasts an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, an A on Angie’s List, and a bevy of satisfied customers. And it’s easy to see why — we were impressed by its excellent customer service and knowledgeable staff. The representatives we spoke to were the most knowledgeable of the bunch, and were straightforward in answering our questions about pricing and services.
We weren’t able to get a quote for a security system installation over the phone, since its packages are custom-tailored to every customer. So despite our best efforts, we couldn’t even get a ballpark estimate out of the representative that we spoke with. What we did find out is that cellular monitoring starts at $30 a month, and the minimum contract is a 36-months. That’s the second lowest monitoring payment we saw in the area, but it’s still nowhere close to Smith Thompson’s $17 plan.
Again, the only way to know exactly how much your equipment package will cost is to have Central Security Group come out to home and perform a free consultation. It’s not as easy as getting a quote online from Frontpoint, but we’d recommend at least entertaining the idea since Central’s cellular monitoring is $5 cheaper each month.
Smith Monitoring’s reviews weren’t as impressive as some of the other companies we researched. It maintains an A+ Better Business Bureau accreditation, but only has three stars on Yelp, and a B on Angie’s List. Despite those iffy ratings, Smith Monitoring provided excellent customer service over multiple calls we made, and we were never placed on hold or asked to wait for a representative to call us back.
Smith offers a range of home automation options, and a 13 second response time, which is one of the lowest we found. Cellular monitoring starts at $40, though if you want landline service instead, your price will drop to $28. Here’s something else to keep in mind — Smith Monitoring doesn’t provide a warranty for the system it installs. So if anything goes wrong, you’ll be responsible for paying to fix it. Like most of the security companies in Houston, they also have a 36-month minimum contract.
We also should note some pricing discrepancies we found with Smith Monitoring. The first time we talked to a rep, we were told monthly rates were $28 for landline monitoring, and $30 for cellular monitoring. The next time, it was upped it to $28 and $40 respectively. The website still says that rates start at $18, so we’re not sure what to believe.
HomeStar lost points right off the bat for having a higher price point and not being accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Despite its C rating on BBB, the company has an A on Angie’s List, and an impressive perfect five-star rating on Yelp. Because of those ratings, we still decided to include HomeStar in our list of recommendations.
We had a difficult time getting some pretty basic questions answered over the phone, but a customer service representative did pick up immediately, and a technician called us back to provide some more details within a few minutes. Once we got on the line with the right person, they were knowledgeable and upfront about pricing, which we always appreciate.
Basic cellular monitoring starts at $35 a month, and you will once again have to sign that 36-month contract. That comes with the best alarm response time we found, at under 10-seconds from the moment your alarm is triggered. Plus, our quote for equipment, including professional installation and activation, was only $69. Depending on your specific needs, that low startup cost might make up for the higher monthly fee. The warranty on parts and labor lasts for a year, and service calls are $35 a pop.
Houston Crime Rates and Trends
There’s no question that Houston has problems with crime. In fact, it’s in the bottom four percent of safest cities in America. While the national average for crimes per square mile is less than 33, Houston comes in at 204.
While a home security system is a great investment no matter where you live, it’s particularly important in the city of Houston, where your chances of becoming the victim of a property crime are one in 21.
Plus, home security these days is about much more than just keeping your home safe from burglars and invaders. You can control your locks while you’re away, automate your thermostat to save money, and keep an eye on your property with the convenience of an app. That makes a home security system a smart investment for almost everyone.
Houston City Policies
False alarms are a major headache for the city of Houston. In 2014, the Houston Police Department responded to 77,000 alarm calls. A whopping 74,000 were false alarms. That’s 96 percent. Those calls don’t just waste valuable public resources — they also cost taxpayers a lot of money. An estimated $10,113,000 was spent responding to these calls.
Due to this expense, Houston has recently cracked down on false alarms. You are now required to register your alarm system with the city every year. Fees range from $38-$50, and you can fill out an application here. The city is relatively lenient if your security system triggers a false alarm. Your first three times are just a warning. After that, you’ll be fined $50-$100 for subsequent false alarms.
Keep in mind that the responsibility for registering your alarm system lies with you, and not your security company. Most companies will inform you of the need to register, but if they don’t, you can still be held liable.
The Bottom Line
Smith Thompson requires around $400 upfront for a cellular system, but it will come out cheaper than any of its competitors in just two years. If you aren’t sure that you’ll be in the your current home that long, however, Frontpoint is the next-best alternative.