The Best Home Security Systems in Columbus
Columbus has a lot to feel good about in 2018: It’s Ohio’s fastest-growing city, residents enjoy some of the shortest commutes in the country, and Forbes recently dubbed it the 11th best city in the country for “business and careers.” However, despite all that positive momentum, it still has one of the highest property crime rates in the country, at nearly twice the national average.
With that in mind, a quality home security system can go a long way in providing some peace of mind while you’re away from your house. To find the best home security systems in Columbus, we spent eight months testing eight of the most well-respected nationwide companies. Whether you’re looking to keep an eye on a campus rental during the summer semester or protect your German Village townhouse while you’re at work, these companies all offer a variety of plans to fit any situation.
The best home security system for you will depend on your priorities. Some people just want some door sensors connected to a monitoring service while they’re away from work; others are looking for full home automation capabilities like smart thermostats and light controls. We’ll dive into each company’s strengths and weaknesses below, but we’d still recommend comparing quotes from all three (plus some local providers) to find the best deal.
The 3 Best Home Security Systems in Columbus
Columbus Home Security System Reviews
To find the best home security systems for Columbus residents, we used the same criteria as in our review on the best nationwide home security systems. We started our search by compiling a list of providers that offered 24/7 professional monitoring services, along with four essential levels of protection:
- Intrusion (door, window, and glass-break sensors)
- Environmental (carbon monoxide, fire, and flood sensors)
- Surveillance (indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras)
- Safety (life alert and panic buttons)
From there, we signed up for all eight contenders and installed them into our homes to see how they fared in the real world. We graded each company in three key areas: customer service, technology, and user-friendly equipment.
When it comes to home security systems, great customer service reps are a must. You rely on them to guide you through purchasing any equipment you’ll need, choosing the right plan, and answering any questions that come up during setup. We wanted reps that were patient, helpful, and happy to answer our questions without pushing us towards a sale. After customer service, we looked for technology that impressed us right out of the box, with HD cameras that produced crystal clear images, window and door sensors that alerted us to any intrusions, and sleek command centers that controlled the entire system. Finally, we wanted this technology to be as easy to use as it was cutting edge, so we evaluated each company on how easy its system was to incorporate into our daily lives.
Everyone recognizes that iconic blue shield sprouting up in a front lawn, and that’s kind of the point: Would-be burglars and home invaders know exactly what the ADT logo means. And that counts for a lot — one study estimates that 60% of potential intruders are scared off by a security sign or sticker.
And ADT has earned its reputation: Its equipment is as impressive as anything we saw, with video cameras, motion sensors, and a command center that all have an ease of use that belie the advanced technology behind them. We also liked how ADT, like Vivint, doesn’t force you into purchasing specific equipment with its packages. You can choose one camera or fifteen, sensors on every window or none at all. Whatever fits your home security needs the best, ADT makes it work.
Home automation features are only available through the “Control” and “Video” plans, ADT’s two most expensive packages, but they’re worth checking out if you’re after more than basic security. Once you buy the necessary equipment, you can control almost any aspect of your home’s utilities through the ADT Pulse app. Forget to lock the back door in the morning? Want to turn down the thermostat while you’re at work? No problem — you can do it all from anywhere with internet access.
If you’re thinking of choosing ADT, be aware that you’ll have to make a heavy financial commitment right away. ADT only offers a three-day trial period on its products, and you’ll have to purchase all of your equipment upfront. After that, you’re locked into a three-year contract, paying a monthly bill for their monitoring services. If you’re still on the fence about what equipment you need, Frontpoint’s 30-day trial period may better suit your needs.
With state-of-the-art technology that’s as intuitive to operate as it is functional, we liked Vivint best for those looking to affordably turn their house into a fully automated smart home without sacrificing any must-have home security features.
Vivint offers equipment for every conceivable home automation situation, and it’s all controlled using a sleek command center or its mobile app. Our testers loved being able to arm or disarm their system through their phone, communicate with their pets while they were at work through the video system, or dial up the thermostat while they were on there way home. Best of all, you can program these settings to do the same thing every day, a big time and energy saver over the long run. Vivint’s equipment is just as sleek as ADT’s, but at a better price: Vivint’s home automation services start $39.99 without live video feed, compared to ADT’s $49.99 home automation package.
Vivint’s contracts also offer more flexibility than ADT’s, but be prepared to make a hefty initial investment. If you’re willing to purchase all of Vivin’t expensive equipment upfront — a charge that can swing upward of $500 — you can go for a month-to-month contract, which can be canceled at any time. If it’s not in your budget to make that kind of lump payment, you can divide up your equipment costs into your monthly bill, although you’ll have to lock into a four- or five-year contract.
It was clear from our first phone calls that Frontpoint prioritized customer satisfaction. While other companies immediately started us off on a sales track, Frontpoint allowed our questions to direct the conversation, without ever trying to steer it towards a purchase. When we told Frontpoint reps we needed some more time to look around, they were always understanding and didn’t try to keep us on the line with awkward sales pitches. And when we were finally ready to commit to a package, our reps asked detailed questions about the layout of every room in our house, making sure that we would get exactly the right equipment for our needs.
That commitment to customer service is especially important when you consider that Frontpoint offers no professional installation. Since you’ll have to set up your system yourself, it’s much more likely that you’ll need to call in with questions. Fortunately, our testers found installation to be surprisingly simple. A web page personalized for your specific equipment walks you through every step of the process. When you’re done, all you have to do is call the customer service number to activate it. All in all, it only took our testers about half an hour to set up the entire system.
The biggest downside to choosing Frontpoint, aside from the DIY installation, is that video surveillance is only available with its most expensive package. Without remote video monitoring, it’s impossible to tell what’s tripping your sensors, making false alarm fines from the police much more likely. If the top package isn’t in your budget, you can always supplement your system with a standalone security camera, which typically start around $200.
Compare the Best Home Security Systems in Columbus
Other Columbus Home Security Companies to Consider
While we only considered nationwide providers for our review of the best home security systems in Columbus, it’s always a good idea to compare quotes from a few different companies. Smaller providers may not have the reputation and ratings of nationwide companies, but they’re often able to provide better quality control. We used customer reviews from Yelp and Angie’s List to find five great local providers in the Cowtown area; all of these are worth checking out as you begin your search for a home security system.
Columbus Home Security False Alarm Policy
The city of Columbus has some of the strictest laws surrounding false alarms in the state. And for good reason: In 2016, Columbus police received about 48,000 alarm calls, about 34,000 of which failed to produce evidence of a crime. And since police are required to respond to each call as if it’s the real deal, this presents a staggering drain on the city’s time and resources.
In June 2017, Columbus enacted new, harsher penalties to deal with these rampant false alarms. Homeowners with security systems are required to pay $45 to register them with Columbus police, plus a $25 renewal fee every year after that. Once you register, the first false alarm won’t cost you anything. After that, things get expensive fast: Fines range anywhere from $50 to $1,000 depending on how many offenses you’ve had, whether it’s a residential or business property, and if the owner is registered. The city can also force repeat alarm offenders to go through training on how to properly use their system.
If you think you’re in danger of having a lot of false alarms — if you live on campus and hear a lot of loud noises, for instance — you might consider upgrading to a system that provides live video monitoring. That way, you can check your property to see if the alert is real before the police are summoned.
Columbus Crime Rate
While Columbus has enjoyed considerable growth and prosperity over the last decade, it still has some concerning crime statistics. Property crime still reaches alarming heights, with 1 in 24 residents having been a victim last year — nearly twice the national average of 1 in 40.
With all that in mind, a quality home security system can go a long way in assuaging some of these concerns. One survey of Oregon burglars found that they were significantly less likely to break into a home if there was a security system present, especially a camera. Our top picks are a great place to start comparing quotes to find one that matches your priorities and preferred equipment an affordable price.