Apartment living offers a number of security issues that you don’t necessarily have when you live in a house. This can make it a bit more difficult to find a system that will protect your valuables, you and your family.
There can often be a number of people and coming from your apartment building and you don’t know who they are, nor do the other residents such as servicemen, other resident’s visitors and so on. Also, it is quite common that you don’t know your neighbors and there can be a frequent turnover of renters, too. The fact there is more people can make it feel more secure because surely someone would notice someone breaking in and taking your possessions or worse. But many criminals can use this as a cover for their activities as people don’t know if they should be there or not.
There can also be restrictions put on you by the lease agreement as to what changes you can make to your apartment. When you are a renter you probably don’t want to install a security system that it is difficult to remove and take with you, and then have to pay for any damage.
The systems I’ve selected here require little installation and should not require any drilling into walls (or very little), but you do need to check the rules for your building before installing.
When choosing these systems I’ve spent time comparing the features of each one, with the help of spreadsheet to analyze in detail to come up with the ones I consider to be the top apartment alarm systems. I’ve researched thoroughly by reading through the reviews on Amazon, Walmart and various home security store sites. I’ve read through the product manuals and asked questions of the manufacturer’s to clarify anything I didn’t understand or couldn’t find online.
I’ve broken the system down into 3 categories to give you a choice depending on your preferences.
Monitored Home Security Systems for Apartments
These systems are monitored by a professional monitoring service 24/7. They give you the peace of mind that someone will be there when there is an emergency and can make an assessment as to the situation and dispatch emergency services.
You are called as part of the assessment process but you are not required to be on call as you are with a self-monitored system but there are on-going monitoring fees required to get this service.
Simplisafe Wireless Home Security System
The Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System is a well put together system where you can get professional monitoring for per month fee. You pay for it monthly and it can be cancelled at any time. The lowest level of monthly payment does not give you the ability to monitor your system. There is no contractual term, so is a good deal for those who want the security of round the clock monitoring.
You install the system yourself and the sensors are wireless. It communicates with the UL certified monitoring center over a cellular network (Verizon or T-mobile).
The kit includes a base station with siren, keypad, 1 motion sensor, 4 entry sensors and 1 remote control. You can add more sensors as required but this gives a good start for a smaller apartment depending on the number of entry points you have.
If you do not want to pay the monitoring fee the system can be used as a standalone alarm system and it cannot be monitored remotely.
Frontpoint Wireless Home Security System
The Frontpoint Wireless Home Security System uses quality GE components for its security system. It is professionally monitored and you can choose a 1 year or 3 year term. Monthly fees are paid for monitoring. You can easily install and set it yourself in less than a couple of hours. The lowest monitoring fee does not give you the ability to monitor your system yourself – you receive a call from the monitoring center if there is problem.
The standard kit comes with: control panel with internal alarm, 2 door/window sensors, 1 motion sensors and 1 remote control. You can add more sensors to cover possible entry points as well as add environmental sensors.
It communicates with the monitoring center over a cellular network. It has a very good reputation for customer service and reviews show they do let you know all the costs involved before you sign. The contract can be transferred if you move. You do need to pay 80% of the outstanding contract if you want to cancel it part way through the term.
Self-monitored Security Systems
Self-monitored or unmonitored security systems are where you monitor the status yourself with notifications sent to your phone and you assess the situation. (See my post on the advantages and disadvantages here.) By monitoring yourself you avoid monthly ongoing fees.
Land Line Communication Systems
Fortress Security Store S02-B Wireless Home Security Alarm Kit
The Fortress Security Store S02-B Wireless Home Security Alarm Kit is a no frills security system that phones your nominated numbers over a land line or VOIP. You can listen in to what is going on at home through the control panel by dialing in or picking the option when you are dialed.
You get a good number of sensors with this package – 1 control panel, 10 window/door contacts, 3 motion sensors, 3 key fob remotes, 1 panic button, 1 external alarm and 1 internal alarm. You may find this kit will cover your security needs in full. You can choose other kits and add environmental sensors to this one to customize it to fit your requirements. (I discuss how to determine what you need here).
If you want a system that gets the job done – of sounding the alarm and notifying you when there is a security incident – this system will do this for you. The company has a very good reputation for customer service. It is easy to install and set up.
Skylink SC-1000 Complete Wireless Alarm System
The Skylink SC-1000 Complete Wireless Alarm System is another no frills security system that sounds the alarm and notifies you by landline or VOIP when there has been a security incident at home. It plays back your recorded message when it calls.
It is straightforward to install and set up. This package comes with control panel, emergency dialer, 1 motion sensor, 2 window/door contacts, 1 keychain remote. The dialer and control panel are separate so that if the control panel is destroyed the system will still get the notification out to you.
The kit itself would be good for a small apartment but more sensors can be added if you require more coverage when you want to – when buying the system or at a later date. It is a low cost option for protecting your apartment and there are no ongoing fees.
Internet Home Security System
These are type of systems are relatively new. They communicate over the internet. There are a couple of weaknesses over more traditional systems – if the internet is down or there is a power outage they stop working. However, they offer lots of features for self-monitoring over the internet and with your smartphone.
iSmartAlarm iSA3 Preferred Package Home Security System
The iSmartAlarm iSA3 Preferred Package Home Security System is one of the new security systems using the internet to provide monitoring options. This gives you some great options for monitoring and managing your system remotely. However, it is reliant on reliable internet and power supply to be able to secure your home. There is no battery backup to keep the system running if the power is out.
This package includes the hub, 2 door/window contacts, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags. You download the iSmartAlarm app to your smartphone to program, control and monitor the system. It is relatively straightforward to set up but is more involved than the other options included on this page.
No ongoing fees or contracts required as you only need to pay for the equipment. More automation features and sensors are to be released over the coming months.
The criteria I used in making my selection are:
Portable – The system must be able to be removed easily and re-installed at a new location, so the money invested in the system is not lost if or when you move on.
Installation – The systems need to be easy to install and not require much if any drilling into the walls to keep damage to the apartment to a minimum. This is why these systems are wireless and not hardwired systems.
Batteries – The replacement of batteries should be easy to do and be readily available a reasonable price
Contract – As you may only be in your apartment for a relatively short term you do not want to be tied into a long term monitoring contract that is expensive to get out of and/or it can’t be transferred with you when you move. Therefore I did not consider any systems that required a contract term over 1 year. Also, if they required a contract for monitoring I wanted them to have no hidden charges and they told you what all the costs were before you signed on the dotted line.
Modular – They need to be able to be added to easily. You may want to add environmental sensors or have more security sensors in your current home or when you move. The current security devices should also be able to be moved to different locations in the apartment without a lot of work.
Dial Out – On the whole I looked for systems that can dial out using a cellular network, land line or VOIP as these are the more reliable ways to getting the notification out to you or the monitor center. I did include one system that uses the internet as these systems can add features not found in other self-monitored systems (but you do need to aware of the limitations).
Cellular is seen as the preferred way for systems to communicate with those monitoring the system as it is harder to tamper with than land line systems as you can’t stop a notification getting out by simply cutting the line outside. However, this may not be such a problem in an apartment depending on where the land line is.
Whereas an internet connection is regarded as the least reliable way of getting a notification out, as you are reliant on the internet service as well as there being continuous home power supply.
Wireless – The system communicates with itself wirelessly, so no wires required to be run through the walls unlike the hardwired option. In this case the sensors are battery powered and the control panel is plugged into the house supply with a battery backup in case of a power outage it will continue to work until power is restored (except for the internet option).
Remote Monitoring – The system should have the ability to be monitored by your phone with it sending out notifications to your phone and/or to the monitoring center to let you know that there has been an incident.
Good Customer Support – I wanted to see that there was at least a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty and that the company stands behind their product by quickly dealing with any issues, such as finding causes of false alarms and if necessary sending out replacements promptly without question.
Installing an apartment security system can give you more peace of mind to protect you and your belongings from all those people you don’t know moving in and out of your building. They can also reduce your insurance costs depending on the system you choose and the insurer you are with.
The systems I’ve selected have very good customer ratings; they are programmed to work out of the box with little set up. They can be installed easily and be up and running in less than a few hours. They don’t require any special technical or DIY skills. This means you don’t have to have someone come into your apartment to install it and disrupt your daily life. They require little or no drilling into walls with many being able to installed using strong double back tape to attach the sensors to the walls.
They are all portable and only one requires a contract for monitoring. With Frontpoint (the one that requires a contract for monitoring) you are only required to take out a contract for one year and it is transferrable when you move.
These systems should provide you with the same level of security you could have in your own home. The apartment security systems listed here also make a great choice for those renting houses who want to secure their belongings without breaking the terms of their lease agreement (but please check first).
Filed under: Buying Advice
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