Top Three Picks for Home Security in Columbus, Ohio
Home security systems safeguard your home against intruders, keeping your family safe while you cheer on the Buckeyes, sleep, and go about your day. In Columbus, Ohio, you need a home security system that will protect you all from high violent crime and property crime rates. We’ve done the research for you and recommend ADT Security, Frontpoint, and Vivint as our top three picks for Columbus.
Crime Rates in Columbus, Ohio
According to Neighborhood Scout, Columbus, Ohio is only safer than 7% of U.S. cities. That’s not surprising given its size, but it’s still shocking that people here have a 1 in 22 chance of falling victim to a violent or property crime.
Looking only at violent crime, you have a one in 195 chance of becoming a victim. The rate of murder here is more than triple the national rate while the rate of rape and robbery is more than double. Looking only at property crime, you have a 1 in 25 chance of becoming a victim. The rate of burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft is significantly higher in Columbus compared to the U.S. rate.
In Columbus, car thieves are known to steal cars off the streets, out of yards, off driveways, and out of garages. If you own a car, invest in a reliable outdoor security camera and garage door sensor. Frontpoint’s garage door tilt sensor sends you a notification if the garage door has been left open longer than usual. You can quickly lower the door before anyone gets any ideas. Vivint sells a similar device that lets you remotely check the status of your garage door through the Vivint Smart Hub or Vivint Sky app.
If you want people to know that you’re serious about home security, add outdoor security cameras to your home. Not only will they scare off potential car thieves, but they’ll scare off intruders in general. Vivint, ADT, and Frontpoint all sell state-of-the-art cameras, but Frontpoint’s are the most affordable. Their outdoor security camera costs just $199 and offers night vision, Wi-Fi connectivity, and easy self-installation.
Protecting Your Home from The Elements in Columbus, Ohio
Columbus offers a combination humid continental climate and humid subtropical climate. You’ll find hot, humid summers paired with cold, dry winters. In July, the average temperature is 85°F. Temperatures rise above 90°F an average of 15 days each year. Things cool up in January with an average low temperature of 23°F and a high of 37°F. Approximately 27 days each year never reach a temperature higher than 32°F. Along with temperature extremes, a year in Columbus, Ohio also features severe thunderstorms, large hail storm, and occasional tornadoes, floods, blizzards, and ice storms.
Here’s how Vivint, ADT, and Frontpoint can help you suit up your home against the elements:
- Vivint – The Vivint Element Thermostat uses AI technology to learn your family’s behavior and the city’s climate. It’ll adjust the temperature in your home automatically when it’s time for bed or the first hot summer days hit. You can also adjust the thermostat remotely using your mobile device, a Google Home mini, or Alexa. This device will help you cut back on your energy bill.Vivint also sells a flood/freeze sensor that detects flooding starting a ¼-inch of water and alerts you if temperatures rise above 100 °F or fall below 40 °F. This dual functionality can’t be beat. Basement approaching freezing? Vivint will send you a notification, giving you time to set up a space heater before your pipes freeze.
- Frontpoint – If your home is subject to yearly flooding, Frontpoint can help you out too. Frontpoint’s wireless flood sensor sends out a notification via text or email whenever it detects water. Offering 3-5 times more range than its competitors, this water sensor is the best out there. It’s corrosion-proof and has a long-lasting 8-10-year battery life too.Extreme weather in Columbus can cause power outages, but it won’t cause your Frontpoint system to lose power. Frontpoint fully relies on cell towers and has a 24-hour back-up battery for reliable operation. Vivint offers the same. Frontpoint’s system will even notify you when power returns so that you know when to return home if you left.
- ADT – ADT sells a smart thermostat like Vivint’s along with flood sensors that work like Frontpoint’s. This company’s upper-tier monitoring plans and equipment can compete with our other two picks in terms of environmental protection, but their lower-tier hardwired systems can’t.ADT’s hardwired systems rely on landlines to communicate with the ADT monitoring center. If the phone line goes out, the system won’t work. This is scary, especially if you need to leave your home during the storm. If only the power goes out, ADT still won’t do too much good. Their back-up battery only lasts for a few hours, so you’ll need multiple back-ups to keep the system running during a longer-term outage.
What Security Company is Right for Me?
ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint bring a lot to the table. That’s why they’re our top three picks for the City of Columbus. But which one is right for you? To help you decide, consider the city’s crime rates, your weather concerns, and the following factors:
Do You Rent or Own?
The 38.22% of renters in Columbus—especially the college students living off-campus—should go with Frontpoint. Their system is easy to install yourself and doesn’t require drilling any holes in the walls. Best of all, when it’s time to switch apartments, move after graduation, or upgrade to a house, you can bring your system with you for free. ADT and Vivint both require professional installation and charge you when you move.
Are You Tech Savvy or Not So Much?
In 2013, the Intelligent Community Forum named Columbus, Ohio the most intelligent city in the United States. If you’ve got tech smarts, Vivint is the company for you. With their equipment, you can transform your home into the smart home fortress of your dreams. You can even sync up the Vivint system with your other smart home technology like Google or Alexa devices for hands-free operation.
Smart in other ways? Frontpoint or ADT’s more basic system might be best for you. ADT’s lower-tier packages only include the basics, so you can focus on mastering those devices before adding in anything else. Frontpoint’s system is extremely user friendly and comes backed by their stellar customer service team.
What’s Your Neighborhood Like?
To see how your Columbus neighborhood fares in terms of crime, visit the LexisNexis Community Crime Map. Input your address to view specific crime data from your neighborhood. All the information comes directly from the Columbus Division of Police. Filter by crime type and date to what’s been going on near your home. See a lot of crime? A home security system should be in your future. If your budget it tight, don’t fret. ADT only charges $19.99 per month for monitoring if you bring your own equipment.
Live in an area with less crime like Mount Air or Havens Corners? Home security systems do more than just protect your home against crime. ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint all offer state-of-the-art environmental protection equipment and smart home automation devices. You can outfit your home with smoke alarms, a smart thermostat, flood/freeze sensors, and more.
Don’t Overlook Your Local Options
The City of Columbus is home to several local home security companies. A local company might not have the large selection of equipment or services that ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint have, but they’re closer to home and know the area better. Here are three local companies with high ratings and good reviews on Google:
- All Secured Security Services, LLC
- Sterling Protective Services Inc.
- Security Cameras of Columbus
You can get some of the same local perks with ADT too since ADT authorizes other companies to provide their equipment and services. There are several authorized ADT dealers in Columbus. Just be careful about which dealer you go with as the reviews are mixed.
Fees Associated with Owning an Alarm System in Columbus
Cost is a huge factor to consider as you choose what home security company and equipment you want. Along with the cost of monthly monitoring and equipment fees, you also need to consider the other costs associated with owning an alarm system in Columbus like license fees and false alarm fees.
Monthly Monitoring Fees
- Vivint – Vivint’s monthly monitoring fees start at $29.99 for the Smart Protect Plan, rise to $39.99 per month for the Smart Protect + Control, and cap at $49.99 for the Smart Complete plan. If you just want to protect your home from fire, theft, and CO poisoning without extra features like home automation or cameras, Smart Protect is a great place to start.
- ADT – ADT’s plans start at $28.99 per month for the most basic Traditional package and rise to $36.99 per month for basic coverage plus home automation, mobile access, and text/email notifications. Their upper-tier Video Package costs $58.99 per month and gives you live monitoring of your home from the ADT Pulse app. It’s the most expensive plan of our top three picks.
- Frontpoint – Frontpoint’s basic Protection Plan starts at $34.99 per month while their Interactive plan starts at $44.99 and gives you access to the app, more customization options, and video recording. Their highest tier Ultimate Plan starts at $49.99 and gives you complete control over your system. It also includes indoor and outdoor camera monitoring plus smart home automation capabilities.
- Vivint -Vivint’s four starter packages for equipment cost from around $700 to $1800. Have a high credit score? You might qualify for their Monthly Flex Pay program, which spreads the cost of equipment out over your five-year contract. Basic equipment includes a touchscreen panel and six smart sensors/detectors—door/window, motion, glass break, flood/freeze, smoke, and carbon monoxide.
- ADT – The cost of equipment is built into the monthly monitoring costs, but you do need to pay a $125 activation fee to cover startup costs. Basic equipment includes a control panel, door and window sensors, a keychain remote, a backup battery, a yard sign, window decal, and a high-decibel siren.
- Frontpoint – Homeowners who sign on for a three-year contract save the most on Frontpoint’s equipment bundles. If that’s you, basic equipment starts at $130.95 for the two lower-tier packages and at $534.88 for their Ultimate Plan. You can also buy pieces individually to slowly build up your system. Basic equipment includes a central hub and keypad, door/window sensors, and glass break sensors.
According to the city’s Code of Ordinances, home security system owners must pay for an alarm user license. Residential alarm users under the age of 70 must pay $45 for a new license and a $25 renewal fee each year ($50 if it’s paid late). Those over the age of 70 must only pay $15 for a new license and a $0 renewal fee each year. Alarm users of any age that lose their license from having excessive false alarms must also pay a $35 reinstatement fee.
False Alarm Fees
False alarms occur when your alarm activates, police arrive, and there’s no real emergency. They’re usually caused by pets or alarm user error. False alarm fees are determined based on the licensed/unlicensed status of the alarm system as well as the dispatch type. The fees are as follows:
|Dispatch Type||License Type||FA #1||FA #2||FA #3-4||FA #5-6||FA #7-8||FA #9-10||FA #11+|
|Panic or Hold Up||Licensed||$50||$75||$125||$225||$350||$500||$800|
|Panic or Hold Up||Unlicensed||$150||$250||$350||$450||$550||$800||$800|
|False Alarm Cancelation||Licensed||$0||$0||$0||$0||$25||$40||$70|
|False Alarm Cancelation||Unlicensed||$0||$25||$50||$75||$100||$100||$100|
As you can see, you face much higher false alarm fees if your fail to obtain or renew your alarm user license. Plus, cancelled false alarms cost a whole lot more.
To avoid hefty false alarm fees, pay for an alarm user license and choose your home security company wisely. Here’s how ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint help users minimize false alarms.
- Vivint – Vivint’s professional installers ensure each component is installed and working properly. The technician spends a few hours in your home, so you can ask questions, ensuring you understand how to operate the system. Plus, Vivint’s motion detectors don’t detect pets weighing up to 33 to 55 pounds.
- ADT – Similar to Vivint, ADT requires professional installation to ensure each part works like it should. The company’s motion detectors are adjustable, so the installer can adjust the sensitivity based on the size of your pet, ignoring weights up to 50 pounds.
- Frontpoint – Frontpoint’s system is 100% self-installation, which is a slight disadvantage when it comes to false alarms. However, the company boasts an excellent customer service team who can guide you through self-installation. You just need to be more diligent about where you install the equipment because you’re making these decisions yourself. Frontpoint’s pet-friendly motion detectors won’t detect pets weighing 40 pounds.
Emergency Responders in Columbus, Ohio
Columbus Division of Police
Approximately 1,900 officers and 300 civilian employees serve the City of Columbus as members of the Columbus Division of Police. These officers work out of 20 substations across the city, serving approximately 800,000 residents. A Community Liaison Officer (CLO) works out of each precinct. These officers are specially trained in crime prevention and addressing community concerns. If you have questions about crime in your neighborhood, reach out to your local CLO.
Along with utilizing Community Liaison Officers, the Columbus Division of Police enacts other community engagement and outreach initiatives designed to keep residents secure and informed. Here are just a few:
Internet Purchase Exchange Zones
If you sell or buy stuff through online yard sales or Craigslist, you need to be smart about it. Arranging meet-ups at your home could put you and your family at risk. That’s why the City of Columbus Department of Public Safety has created five Internet Purchase Exchange Zones in the city. The zones, located at five substations, are monitored by city-owned video surveillance cameras.
Block Watch Program
Police officers don’t see everything that goes on in your neighborhood. Block Watch groups help fill in the gap. A block watch group is a group of neighbors committed to looking out for one another and reporting suspicious activity in the neighborhood to the police. They’re officially recognized groups that work directly with a Community Liaison. If you’re interested in starting a Block Watch program, contact the Community Liaison at 614-645-4002.
Police officers here also take to the streets on bicycle for a friendlier approach to community policing. Approximately 150 officers are trained to patrol on bike. Their main goal is to build connections between community members and the Division of Police. Have a crime concern? Go up to one of these patrol officers. They’re there to help you and your community.
Campus Walking Crew
Off-campus and on-campus security for students attending The Ohio State University is a big priority for the Division of Police. Campus Walking Crew officers partner with The Ohio State University and the Ohio State University Police Division to address safety issues. Together, all three groups brainstorm ways to keep students safer in the off-campus housing areas. The Campus Walking Crew also builds relationships with fraternities, sororities, student government, and the Office of Student Conduct and Off-Campus Student Services. The police presence on-campus keeps campus and the nearby off-campus areas safer for students and Columbus residents alike.
Columbus Division of Fire
Police aren’t the only ones responding to your home security alarms. The Columbus Division of Fire responds when your home fire alarm or CO alarm activates or there’s a medical emergency in the home. More specifically, the Emergency Services Bureau of the CDF provides all emergency medical services and fire suppression services.
Approximately 1,575 uniformed firefighter-EMT personnel work for the CDF. They work out of 33 fire station houses spread across the city. In total, the Columbus Division of Fire manages 34 fire engines, 39 medics, 9 tiller ladders, 7 platform ladders, 3 bomb squads, 5 heavy rescue units, 14 fire boats, 1 HAZMAT unit, 2 rescue support unites, 1 incident support unit, 1 command unit, 1 dive & response team, and 1 bariatric unit.
In 2017, the department received about 450 daily calls for service for a grand total of 164,156 total calls for service for the year. Of those, 128,893 required EMS & rescue responses, 2,194 were for gas leaks, and 8,204 were false alarms. False alarm calls happen when a home fire alarm system activates and initiates a fire department response even though there wasn’t an actual emergency. These calls waste the Columbus Division of Fire resources and slow down response times to true emergencies.
False alarms are not counted if the homeowner or security company calls within ten minutes to cancel the call for help. Frontpoint, Vivint, and ADT all offer monitored smoke alarms that communicate with the company’s mobile app. If you receive a notification that your smoke alarm is going off while you’re away, you can use the app to access camera footage of your home. Visually verify whether a true emergency is taking place and then act accordingly. Cancelling the false alarm call will not only save the Division of Fire money, but it will also save you a lot of money too.