The Top 3 Home Security Companies in Chicago, IL
Welcome to Chicago Home Security Judge! We’ve spent countless hours researching over 100 home security companies, and below you will find our top 3 home security company picks in Chicago, IL.
How to Choose the Right Home Security Company
A home security system is definitely helpful for protecting your home, the people in it, and its contents. What many people may not realize, however, is that depending on the type of system you choose, your system may be able to do a lot more than secure your home. It may also protect you in the case of a fire, alert you when freezing temperatures could damage your pipes, or provide you with a sense of security, especially if you have aging parents who live alone.
Design Considerations for Any Home Security Monitoring System
The design of any home security system can include all parts of the home, including the inside and outside areas of the property. Besides audio and video monitoring, motion sensors can trigger alarms and or lights, and surveillance devices can also be attached to windows and doors so that any unwanted intrusion will trigger the alarm.
If you’re interested in a simple system that is easy to install and that won’t require that you break open walls to connect wires to phone or cable television lines, there are inexpensive options that you’ll quickly find in home improvement centers and hardware stores.
The best home security plans take the home’s construction into consideration. Newly constructed homes will have different needs and requirements than existing construction.
Important Factors to Consider Regarding the Design of Any Home Security and Surveillance System
- How and where to install features such as sound, motion, body heat and air movement detection. You would want these detection devices to be connected to any whole house hard-wired security system.
- Lifestyle is another important factor. Think about where valuables are kept in the home so they can be adequately protected. If your home has a built-in safe, you should have it wired to the home’s alarm. That way, the alarm will go off if someone tries to open the safe without knowing the pin code or combination of the safe’s lock.
- How the system is controlled is another important aspect of a fully functioning home security monitoring system. Do you want to have remote access to the security system and other features like the thermostats, lights, sprinkler system and main utility switches or valves?
Think about smoke, fire, radon and carbon monoxide detection. Depending on the type of system you have, you may need to connect these alarms to an emergency response center (911). Having that will add to the cost of running and maintaining your system.
Consider the possibility that the expense of installing a sophisticated home security system could lower the premiums on your home owners insurance. Talk to your insurance agent or someone in your home insurance company’s office to find out about possible rate decreases or other benefits.
Wireless Home Security Monitoring Systems
Wireless home security systems typically rely on battery-powered communication between transmitters and receivers. With this type of system, you can get motion sensors, fire and smoke detection devices, video surveillance cameras and display monitors and keypads.
You can easily find a wireless home security system at your local hardware or home improvement center, or you can order them online. These systems are excellent for renters or for people who don’t want to install a permanent system in the place where they are living. Of all the various types of home security systems, these are arguably the simplest and are popular with people who want something they can install on their own.
The biggest advantage to a wireless home security system is the lack of wires. The lack of wires means it won’t be necessary to open walls and to connect wires. It also means that the components aren’t permanently fixed to any location, so you can take them with you whenever or wherever you move.
- Since there is no monitoring involved, you don’t have to pay for a 24/7 service.
- The ability to buy the entire system outright on your own also means you won’t be locked into any contract or held to the terms of your contract or forced to pay a penalty if you move before the end of the term.
- With a wireless system, sensors have unique codes that are linked to different zones within or outside the home. Setting the system up is as simple as linking a code to the area using any sensor. If you move, it won’t matter whether you’re using the suitable sensor in the right room.
- Sensors can share diagnostic information and let you know about their battery reserve and that sort of thing.
- With a wireless DIY type of system, you may also be able to set the system up so that you receive a phone call when and if a sensor is triggered.
- The biggest drawback to a wireless security system is that the design’s overall limitations restrict communication distances between the individual sensors and the system’s central control area.
- Another significant drawback is one that’s likely to affect people who use these systems in apartment buildings and complexes. There are inevitably locations within the unit that will create electromagnetic interference, creating vulnerabilities within the security system.
- A wireless system doesn’t give you the ability to control system features or the temperature and lights the way a hard-wired system does.
- Since these things rely on the batteries to power the sensors, they could be somewhat expensive to use – especially if you have a lot of sensors and the sensors consume a lot of battery power. One way to avoid this problem would be using rechargeable batteries in every sensor.
- Builders and contractors don’t recommend to their customers.
- Your system isn’t connected to a call center that monitors your alarms and calls you when an alarm goes off. Call centers also notify the police or fire department if you’re away.
Hard-Wired Home Security Systems
In hard-wired home security systems, wires are installed throughout the home, including within the walls and other hidden areas. The hidden wires are typically connected to a central control panel, sensors, keypads and other hardware. Because of the wiring involved in hard-wired systems, they require AC power (or electricity) to function. They are connected to a battery-powered backup system that kicks in when there is a power failure.
The main way that hard-wired systems differ from wireless systems is the lack of a transmitter and radio receiver, the components that are the “guts” of wireless systems.
Elements of a hard-wired home security system may include:
- Central control panel center
- Additional partial control panels
- Motion detectors
- Camera switchers that make it possible to see what the camera is capturing in any place within or outside the home
- Video monitors
- Smoke and fire detectors
Advantages of Hard-Wired Security Systems
There are a lot of benefits to having a hard-wired security system. First and foremost, they are considered more reliable than wireless systems, partly because they are professionally installed, and in part, because the agreement which a homeowner signs when purchasing a hard-wired system gives them a warranty and additional maintenance and support (for an added fee.)
- Hard-wired systems don’t encounter radio problems that frequently occur with wireless systems because of the radio range limitations.
- The fact that hard-wired systems can’t be seen means that they don’t alter the aesthetic appeal of your home, but more importantly, would-be criminals won’t be aware that their actions are being monitored. The fact that wires are concealed increases the likelihood that a burglar will be caught and prosecuted for their crime.
- Wireless systems are entirely dependent on batteries. Hard-wired systems only rely on the battery power for backup during power failures.
Disadvantages of Hard-Wired Home Security Systems
- There is no getting around the fact that hard-wired home security systems are much more expensive than their wireless counterparts. The high cost of installing a hard wired home monitoring system is the main drawback of opting for a whole house interconnected security and surveilance program.
- With most hard-wired systems, you don’t own the equipment, so you wind up paying a monthly rental fee for the equipment. The fee is added onto the bill that will include other expenses such as the 24/7 monitoring.
- Hard-wired systems are not portable at all. If you install a wired security system in your home and then have to move, you have no way of knowing whether or not you’ll recoup the expense when you sell your home.
- In existing home construction, there are sometimes installation problems because of the difficulty in trying to pull wires into the walls of remote and inaccessible places.
All in all, despite the sophisticated technology that exists for wireless systems, they aren’t able to provide homeowners with the degree of control and protection that they get from hard-wired systems.
Remote Access Security Systems
Remote access systems are designed to give the homeowner the ability to control all of the features of the home’s system from a computer, smartphone or tablet app – regardless of where they are. Many systems offer a feature whereby homeowners can call their home, enter a pin code and receive a status report on the various components of the home’s system.
Another feature that is available with many remote access systems is the ability to program the system to call the homeowner when or if any sensor or alarm is triggered.
Remote access features that are offered through most home security system companies may include some of all of the following:
- Some companies offer remote access systems that can track of indoor and outdoor temperatures and send you and the control center the data.
- Some systems can provide homeowners with alerts for sensors that go beyond the programmed settings.
- Keeping track of the date and time of any alarm triggers and reporting them to the homeowner.
- Providing homeowners with status reports for all sensors and alarms inside and outside the home, but especially the heat, smoke, and fire detection devices.
Emergency Response Systems
The beauty of emergency response systems is the comfort they give families when an elderly parent is living alone. Most emergency response systems consist of a wearable device that has a miniature radio transmitter implanted in it. Your parent can push a button that connects the transmitter to a receiver that is hardwired to the telephone landline.
When someone presses a button, that automatically prompts the system to call the response center. Someone is available and on call at the response center 24-hours a day, seven days a week. They are trained to evaluate the situation and then contact emergency medical responders and family members.
The greatest advantage of these systems is the fact that they allow older people to remain at home and live independently. The disadvantages are first and foremost, the cost of signing up, paying to rent the equipment, and the monthly fee that people pay for the convenience of having the ability to reach emergency responders simply by pressing a button.
Temperature Monitoring Sensors
The main reason someone may want to have a temperature sensor is to connect it to water pipes — and in particular, outdoor water pipes and interior water pipes that are close to exterior walls. These sensors alert homeowners to freezing temperatures in the hopes of helping them avoid the problems associated with burst pipes.
Smoke and Fire Detection Devices
There are two types of devices that should be installed in every home. One is designed to detect smoldering fires that produce a lot of smoke. The other kind is quick to detect the flames. By having both types of alarms in your home, there is a much greater chance of evacuating every family member, pet or other people inside the house safely.
The devices that detect flames do so by sensing the rising temperature in the home. Many smoke detectors run on battery power alone. These systems use a 9-volt battery that you can purchase at hardware, home improvement, drugstores, and even supermarkets.
The heat sensor component is often hard-wired, meaning it runs on the home’s AC power. There are available options to have a thermal detection device that has a battery backup power source so that you aren’t left without any monitoring in a power failure situation. The advantage of having devices that are hard-wired to the home’s overall security system is that all of the smoke or heat sensors will go off simultaneously.
Things to Consider Before Signing Up For or Buying a Home Security System
- If you’re moving into a brand new home, talk to neighbors who have home security systems to find out about their experience with the company the builder may want you to use.
- If you’re moving into an existing home that already has a security system, talk to the current homeowners to find out about the company, how efficient the system is, and don’t be afraid to ask about cost.
- Another good way to get a sense about a home security company is to look the company up online. People may review a business if it’s listed on Google+. If the company has a presence on other social media platforms, you may be able to see feedback from customers.
- Check out sites like Home Advisor where you can see reviews for free. If you have to buy a membership to find out whether the company is well-rated, there’s good cause for being suspicious about the reviews.
- Check to see if the company lists its status with the BBB on its websites. Businesses that have outstanding reputations with the BBB are more likely to display their rating proudly.
- Go over the terms of any contract to find out what type of guarantee the company offers for their service and the equipment. Find out whether you have to pay extra to get ongoing support.
The more sophisticated the system, the more expensive it is likely to be. On the other hand, having the ability to turn the heat up or down, turn the air conditioning on and off or vary the temperature when no one is home may save you money in the long run through lower utility bills.
Find out about the company’s licensure and insurance. You don’t want someone mucking with wiring inside your walls unless they are are properly trained, licensed and insured.