Top-rated local home security companies

Homes with alarm systems are generally less likely to be burglarized than homes without security. But the quality of your system has a lot to do with who sells and installs it.

A local survey by {A href="" target="_blank"}Checkbook magazine found many local homeowners are less-than-pleased with their results.

"The biggest complaint is just inconvenience." said Checkbook President Robert Krughoff. "Both inconvenience in the installation itself, in where and how things are installed, and then, inconvenience of having false alarms."

Krughoff and his staff collected feedback from local alarm customers from throughout the Puget Sound region, then conducted an undercover check of the 10 companies named in the customer reviews. Not surprisingly, they found drastic differences in price.

Checkbook got telephone quotes ranging from a low of $99 to a high of more than $4,400 to install the same components. The quotes for three years of monitoring service with the new installation ranged from a low of $900 to a high of more than $1,400.

"So it makes sense to re-shop for the monitoring every few years just to see if you can get a better deal because otherwise you may be throwing away $300 or $400 a year on monitoring," Krughoff said.

Checkbook asked local customers to rate their alarm installers for doing the work properly, starting and completing work on time, and letting you know in advance about cost and service options. Researchers also check for consumer complaints to the state attorney general's office.

Of the ten companies in the survey, only three got top ratings for overall quality: Alarmguard Security Systems in Puyallup, Froula Alarm Systems in Tukwila and Puget Sound Alarm/Guard Assurance in Shoreline.

Checkbook's bottom line: Whether you're upgrading your old security system or getting a brand new setup, it pays to shop around.