The Best Home Security Systems in Charlotte
Crime rates in the Queen City are about average for a city its size, and most property crimes here aren’t robbery-related. But home break-ins are a risk in any city, and the right home security system can help you stay vigilant and sleep soundly.
For this review, we took a deeper look at the three standout providers that won our praises in a nationwide review of home security providers. We consider them from a Charlottean’s perspective, and with Charlotte’s unique property crime profile in mind. They’re all solid choices, but the right pick for you will shine in the arena you care about most.
The 3 Best Home Security Systems in Charlotte
Charlotte Home Security System Reviews
We looked at eight of the biggest providers in the country for our nationwide review of home security providers, all of which met key security requirements (protection against intrusion and environmental emergencies, plus adequate surveillance and life safety features). Their differences became clear after we ordered, installed, and tested each for eight months. In the end, we found three truly exceptional top picks. ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint all went above and beyond by providing an exceptional user experience, consistently helpful customer service, and cutting-edge tech that made testers feel truly safe at home.
ADT is a home security giant — its signs alone are a serious deterrent. But beyond the big name, we were impressed by ADT’s customizability and helpful customer service that make a heavy-hitting corporation (millions more people subscribe to ADT than any other provider) feel accessible and personal.
ADT’s tech is pretty much equal to our other two picks, offering different kinds of video cameras to choose from and remote control over police notification. Our tester was particularly pleased with how the representative helped him build his unique package of features and gear — you can expect to know exactly what each piece of your setup is for and why you need it. The most basic package will cost you $37 per month, but that’ll increase with high-end additions, like futuristic home automation features (if home automation’s your top priority, we recommend you check out Vivint).
A professional will come to install your ADT package for you, and our experience there was somewhat lukewarm — though our tester appreciated cherry-on-top considerations, like a cheat sheet the technician wrote to help explain the system.
If you already know you want a home security system, ADT is a safe bet with a long legacy. But you’ll have to sign a three-year contract after just three days of trying it out.
Vivint’s customizability and easy-to-use tech make it the perfect system for anyone interested in automating their home. The mobile app makes every function — arming and disarming the system, turning your lights on or off — simple and intuitive to adjust from afar. In fact, our tester reported hardly even using the base system (a slick, modern wall-mounted tablet). The app’s mobile alerts came in handy too, reminding him to close his basement sliding door when he left it open by accident.
We like that Vivint lets customers pick and choose the gadgetry and features they want a la carte — flexibility most providers don't offer. If you want to control your garage doors from afar, for instance, but don't see the need to automate your light switches; you simply say so. A professional installs that equipment, and the person who installed our tester’s system got nothing but glowing compliments from our tester. He even reported that the tech felt more like a houseguest. Case in point: The pro dropped a charge from our tester’s bill after figuring out one camera wasn’t actually needed for full coverage.
With Vivint, the one downside we found was its rigidity when it comes to contracts. You can buy all your equipment up front and enter a month-to-month plan, but if you can’t foot that bill right away, you’re looking at a five-year contract with only three days to test the system. If you’re not totally sure you want to buy a security system yet, check out Frontpoint for maximum flexibility.
Frontpoint excels in an area that’s undeniably paramount in home security: customer service. We felt that Frontpoint really took care of us from start to finish. Its website offers a wealth of helpful resources, we never felt pressure to commit when we were on the phone with a rep, and our tester’s DIY system setup went smoothly and felt intuitive. Even its contracts are realistic and flexible.
If you go with Frontpoint, you’ll choose among three service tiers; your features and monthly fees will range from $35 to $50 accordingly. The lowest level plan offers basic monitoring, while the middle tier adds on some home automation features. The only plan that offers video coverage — a must, according to our testers — is the highest-priced plan. So if you go with something more basic, we recommend purchasing a separate video camera.
What sealed the deal about Frontpoint’s exceptional customer experience was its long trial period (30 days!) and flexible contracts, which can either be one or three years long. If you’re in the decision-making process, it’s a great opportunity to test the waters without fully diving into home security.
Compare the Best Home Security Systems in Charlotte
Other Charlotte Home Security Companies to Consider
We looked into local alternatives to the nationwide providers we recommend, and cross-checked for high ratings across Google, Yelp, and Angie’s List. These five Charlotte home security providers got high reviews consistently:
Charlotte Home Security False Alarm Policy
Ninety-eight percent of home alarm calls to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) are due to false alarms. When the police respond to fake emergencies, it wastes time and money — most cities enforce fees to make up for it and encourage behaviors that reduce false alarms. In Charlotte, the Alarm Ordinance means a few things for people who own home security systems:
- You have to register your system with the city. Anyone with an “electronic burglar alarm system” in Charlotte and the surrounding area has to register their system, then renew that registration yearly. Registration docs are available online, but your company may supply you with the paperwork when they install your system (at least one of our top picks, Frontpoint, does).
- After your first two false alarms, you’ll face fines. You get a free pass for the first two false alarms (per year), then you’ll pay $50 for the next three, $100 for the two after that, and $250 each time for the next two. Once you hit 10 false alarms, you’re looking at paying $500 each time
- You can repeal those fines if you feel they’re unwarranted. If the police department determines there was no emergency, but you disagree, you can email an appeal within 30 days of receiving your fine notification.
Charlotte Crime Rate
Property crime rates in Charlotte are higher than the national average, at roughly 42 per 1,000 residents (as opposed to the national median of 25). Keep in mind, though, that property crime encompasses a lot more than just home break-ins. In 2017, residential burglaries made up just 12 percent of Charlotte’s property crimes — the most common was theft from an automobile, which made up 34 percent. Good news: Property crime in Charlotte is on the decline as a whole — it decreased by 5.3 percent in 2017. Plus, NeighborhoodScout’s data analysis found that Charlotte’s crime rates are average for a city its size.
While it’s rare to actually be a victim of a break-in, it’s good to know what to expect if you find yourself in that position. One crucial piece to that is police response time. In a February 2018 investigation, the Defenders at WCNC found that police response times differ in Charlotte depending on where you live in the city. If you live in the North Division, where police response times are slowest, you may wait eight and a half minutes for a response to an urgent call. The fastest are in the Eastway Division, where emergency calls get a police response within just five minutes. In the investigation, police cited construction as a principal cause for the northward slowdown.
The slowest response times have historically been to rural, unincorporated areas outside Charlotte, which CMPD has served since 1996. Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte recently reached a deal to let Huntersville, Cornelius, and Pineville police serve areas just outside their limits, rather than paying to have Charlotte’s force travel there — hopefully those wait times will be shorter from here on out.