Soon-to-be homeowner. Help me choose an alarm system
March 3, 2014 11:58 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I have just gone under contract on a home in Atlanta, Georgia. It's in a safe neighborhood, ITP (Briarlake area) but plan on having a security system installed ASAP.

It's confusing choosing a system that's not just fancy and has an iphone app, but a company that is reputable and will leave me feeling secure whether we're home or not. The companies that seem to be reviewed well are AMSA, Front Point, North Star and LifeShield. Does anyone have any experience with these companies? Can you make any recommendations or provide opinions on what we should be wary of and how to choose the right equipment and monitoring systems? Thanks!
posted by rbf1138 to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into an alarm deal that ties in with your "bundle?" Either through Comcast or AT&T U-verse.

We live in Brookhaven in an apartment complex and have decided to forego the alarm.

We had an alarm system in Nashville, and although we cancelled, paid and moved, they still call my MIL when the alarm gets tripped, although it's been 8 years now.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:05 PM on March 3, 2014

I use ADT because that's what my home came with.
The biggest PITA is that because it's an older system, I needed to keep a land line up and running at all times.
Land line cost + alarm cost = too much, but I enjoyed the peace of mind, and that's what this sometimes boils down to, to be honest.

I believe these days that they have systems that use cell towers instead of wires.
I would definitely check into that if you don't plan on having a land line.

Also, when you get a system, TEST IT REGULARLY with the company per their instructions.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 12:40 PM on March 3, 2014

Ooh we live not far from you and are still trying to figure this out also! We liked what we heard from Bulldog Home Security but have yet to bite the bullet and make an appointment, ugh. Will be watching this thread anxiously!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 1:10 PM on March 3, 2014

We have Frontpoint. We got it a few months ago. So far we like it fine. We picked it because we are sort of DIY people and liked that we could install it ourselves rather than having to go through a third party contractor. They've been really responsive and we like that we can control everything through an Android app. So far we've had only false alarms, but they seem to be on top of things.
posted by town of cats at 1:10 PM on March 3, 2014

My dad has used SimpliSafe, and he seems to like it. I like the fact that you don't have to physically install anything in the walls, even though you're not renting, it still seems nice not to have an outdated alarm system in your wall at some point!
posted by needlegrrl at 1:18 PM on March 3, 2014

SimpliSafe doesn't require a landline or contract. Time will tell if their service is solid. One hopes this isn't a service that gets tested.
posted by GPF at 1:33 PM on March 3, 2014

ADT/Brinks/ whatever their name is now, has worked well for me the past 10 years. I have on occasion set the alarm off, and when they call, usually in less than 5 minutes, they have done nothing more than ask me my safe word, and thanked me. This is key. One word, right or wrong and they can reset, or in the case of the latter, send further help if needed. I have motion detectors pointed up so that the cat doesn't set them off. As mentioned above the tech is old, and requires a land line. I am investigating the ATT plan which requires a broadband connection, offers some utility with a smartphone, costs about the same as ADT, but I can drop the land line and the $25.00/month (and most of the annoying robo calls.)

Don't forget to tell your insurance company you have a monitored alarm. You can save 15% or 20% on your homeowners.
posted by Gungho at 2:10 PM on March 3, 2014

I have LifeShield. I like that the system is essentially portable (all wireless) and runs over internet rather than a landline. You have to buy all the equipment up front I think (I actually don't know, my ex initially set it all up) and install yourself but I actually like that you can expand the system over time as your needs change. It's never been tested in terms of the alarm going off and them calling me, so I don't know what that is like or how quick their response is.

I really like the phone app and online system monitoring. I currently have my house on the market and it's easy to set up temporary access codes for the showings as well as monitor whether they showed up or not. Even if the alarm isn't set it still tracks every time a door opens or closes.
posted by misskaz at 2:21 PM on March 3, 2014

It might help to know what it is about a home security system that would help you feel secure while you are away that, say, strong homeowner's insurance would not. Do you have irreplaceable things that would interest a burglar?
posted by Blasdelb at 6:06 AM on March 4, 2014

We live nearby and use Bulldog, as do some of our neighbors. With the smaller firms like Bulldog, you pay upfront for the equipment and install, but the monthly monitoring fees are fairly low. The equipment is standard and you own it outright, so you can switch monitoring companies at any time. They appear to make their money on the initial install and contract the monitoring to a shared call center. We've had a quick response from the call center the few times that we have set off the alarm.
The larger companies we looked at tended to use proprietary equipment with free or discounted install and then make their money on higher monthly fees and longer-term contracts. If you left them, you would have to replace at least some of the equipment.
The larger issue is the DeKalb County Police Department. Alarm calls are low on their priority list. Until you are incorporated into Lakeside or City of Briarcliff, don't expect a speedy response from them for anything other than a 911 call.
posted by sardonista at 11:42 AM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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