The Best Home Security Systems in Houston
Houston is renowned for its diverse cultural scene, dynamic businesses, and sweltering summer weather. But as with all large cities, the crime rate in Houston is higher than the national average, especially when it comes to property crime. Fortunately, there are plenty of security companies well-versed in keeping your home safe.
Three home security providers — ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint — stand out for their comprehensive support. We dig into each of the three below. If you’re looking to comparison shop, we’ve also rounded up a list of the most highly-rated local home security providers in the Houston area.
The 3 Best Home Security Systems in Houston
Houston Home Security System Reviews
We evaluated Houston home security systems with the same criteria we used for our national home security review, evaluating popular providers on the level of protection they offered. Each of our three top picks provides 24/7 protection, with comprehensive equipment offerings that range from window sensors, cameras, and panic buttons to environmental protection like fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
Our picks also performed well during customer service calls and installation: we wanted patient, helpful service that extended beyond just the sale. We also favored companies that offered extra features like automation and mobile services, which can help you manage your home security system remotely. As a final step, we spent eight months testing our picks to make sure they worked just as well after months of use as they did on day one.
Over 60% of potential home intruders are deterred by a visible security logo — and if we had to pick one company with enough name recognition to serve as a consistent burglar deterrent, it would be ADT. The company has been in business for over a century and has the largest customer base on our list, with more than 6 million subscribers.
Plans start at $37, but it’s easy to customize your package according to your security needs. You can discuss your plan and get a quote with a representative over the phone or online. ADT’s offerings are on par with our other top picks: you can choose between keyboard or touchscreen control panels, motion-activated cameras, and remote live feeds viewable from mobile devices.
If you know you’ll be away from home for awhile, you can sign up for higher-end home automation options, which are available with plans $49.99 and up. These include “vacation mode,” which can regulate temperature and turn lights off and on to suggest you’re still home, plus features that can be set to automatically trigger in the case of specific emergencies — you can set doors to unlock automatically in case of a fire, for example. automate doors to unlock.
These automation features are pricier than regular service, but if you have a large home or spend a lot of time away, the extra peace of mind may be worth it. Live video monitoring is available starting at $57.99, and if you download the free ADT Pulse app (which boasts a 4.7 out of 5 star rating on the Apple App store), you’ll be able to monitor and control your system remotely.
ADT also offers a separate app called MyADT for account management. However, we weren’t very impressed with this app, which has limited functionality compared to ADT Pulse, and has a mediocre 2.1 star rating on the Apple store. There’s no harm in trying it out, but we think it’s easier to manage your account online or on the phone with customer service.
ADT’s customer service reputation isn’t quite as strong as providers like Frontpoint: ADT has more customer complaints on its various Better Business Bureau profiles than our other picks. But given the fact that they also have far and away the most customers, we weren’t overly worried about this. The reps that we spoke with online and over the phone were uniformly polite and knowledgeable.
If you love smart devices, we’d suggest looking into Vivint, which stands out for its user-friendly app. Our testers weren’t alone in loving it: on the Apple App Store, Vivint boasts an impressive 4.5 out of 5 star rating. The app allows for easy remote control over your home automation system, and Vivint’s a la carte equipment pricing makes it easy to choose your favorite smart features without wasting money on features you don’t need. You can start automating your home at a lower price than ADT ($39.99 versus ADT’s $49.99), and like ADT, the app is free no matter your plan’s price.
The app allows you to control your systems, activate smart locks, view and record live camera footage, and customize situational operations. Our tester was so taken with it that he reported barely using his main control panel. You can also use the app for other smart home functions. This includes remotely adjusting the temperature on your thermostat, opening your garage door, or turning off the lights off after you’ve already left the house — features that may be especially appealing for Houstonians dealing with stressful commutes.
This high-tech convenience does come at a price. Most providers rent you their equipment, but Vivint requires you to purchase all of it outright. Unlike ADT and Frontpoint, there’s also no DIY installation option. You’ll have to schedule an appointment with a service tech to get everything up and running. If you’ve purchased your equipment, you’ll be able to start a month-to-month contract — otherwise, you’ll be locked into a 5-year contract with a mere 3-day trial period. Vivint may be more of a commitment than the other contenders, but if you know that the mobile app and smart technology is what’s best for your needs, it may be worth the investment.
Frontpoint has only been around since 2007, but we were impressed with both its excellent tech offerings and stellar customer service. If you prefer guided support every step of the way, Frontpoint is our pick.
We were impressed from the first phone call, when the Frontpoint representative asked detailed questions about our home layout, gave thoughtful suggestions for our security concerns, and didn’t try to push a sale at all when told her we wanted to shop around more. This high level of care continued into the DIY installation process: we received a pre-labelled setup kit with a link to a personalized mobile website, which walked us through the 15-minute installation process step by step. If you decide to take a break at any time, the website will pick up where you left off, or automatically display a helpline if you get stuck. The only beef we had with Frontpoint was its so-so app: ADT and Vivint both have all-inclusive, well-designed apps for remote home automation. Frontpoint’s app isn’t quite as impressive, with only 3 out of 5 stars in the Apple App store. All the same, if home automation isn’t a huge priority for you and you care more about great customer service, Frontpoint has a lot to offer.
Frontpoint’s services are tiered according to how intensely you want your home secured. The lowest tier, Protection, offers basic monitoring, while the second, Interactive, includes home automation and mobile access. The highest-level security plan, Ultimate, comes equipped with live, night-enabled video monitoring and motion-triggered photos. If you live in a quiet Houston suburb, you may prefer a lower-tier plan, but if you’re settled in the bustling heart of Montrose, it may be a better idea to invest in Ultimate. With Frontpoint’s exceptional hands-on service, they’re your best bet if you’re unsure of where to start with a home security system.
Compare the Best Home Security Systems in Houston
Other Houston Home Security Companies to Consider
Our three featured home security providers are nationally recognized and offer a comprehensive range of services. But don’t discount the little guys: we recommend comparing local providers as well to see which prices and protection features best suit your needs. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 local home security providers in Houston based on consumer reviews from Angie’s List and Yelp:
Houston Home Security False Alarm Policy
False alarms are a major headache for the city of Houston. In 2014, the Houston Police Department responded to 77,000 alarm calls. Of those, 74,000 — 96 percent — were false alarms. Those calls don’t just waste valuable public resources: They also cost taxpayers a lot of money. In 2014, the city spent an estimated $10,113,000 responding to them.
Due to this expense, Houston has cracked down on false alarms. You are now required to register your alarm system annually with the city. Fees currently range from $38-$50, but starting February 2019, permits will be $50 across the board. You can fill out the yearly application here.
The good news? Compared to other major cities, Houston is still pretty lenient. For your first three false alarm occurrences, you’ll just receive a warning — but after that, you’ll be fined $50-$100 for each subsequent false alarm.
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.
Houston Crime Rate
As one of the largest cities in the country, it’s no surprise that Houston has a relatively higher crime rate: Neighborhood Scout ranks it as safer than only 4% of all US cities. And while the national average is roughly 33 crimes per square mile, Houston comes in at 204 crimes per square mile.
Property crime — which includes break-ins, burglary, theft, or vandalism — is much more common in Houston than violent crime (four times more common, to be exact). But that doesn’t mean you should stay up every night worrying. Crime rates in Houston vary widely between neighborhoods — you’re much less likely to experience property crime in a suburb like the Woodlands than you are in the Houston Heights or other downtown neighborhoods. It’s always a good idea to get familiar with your area to learn what you should expect, and how to stay safe — you can do so by checking the Houston Police Department’s crime stats, or exploring the Houston crime map on Neighborhood Scout.