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Best Home Security System
Best Rated Security Systems
Recommended – Protect America (Best Wireless Home Security System)
One of the most affordable home security companies around is Protect America. Currently, there are no upfront fees and they offer home owners five different home security packages to choose from that start as low as $19.99 per month. Every package comes with a lifetime warranty that is included in the monthly price. This warranty will take care of replacement parts for any equipment that is defective or that becomes defective for as long as you remain a Protect America customer.
Despite the affordable price, Protect America provides their customers with superior, high-quality equipment and services. One of the newest additions to the Protect America equipment line is the new Simon XTI which is an innovative, sleek control panel that can easily be used with your smart phone. They offer home owners a wide range of home security features that include night vision cameras, window and door sensors, and motion detectors as well as offering the capability to control your home’s security system remotely. With the Protect America SMART Connect app, you will be able to control appliances, door locks, lighting, record live footage, watch live footage streams, arm or disarm your entire security system and much more. They offer several monitoring options that will fit almost every budget and can be conducted by broadband, landline, or cellular communication. Most monitoring companies don’t offer all three options.
Another popular feature offered by Protect America is the self-installation option which is very convenient for the home owner. This do-it-yourself system is easy to install and the equipment and everything you need is shipped to your door. No appointments necessary. They offer 24/7 support and video tutorials to ensure the process is simple, easy, and in working order. Protect America is available in all 50 states.
Protect America does require a 36-month contract which some people may not like, but with the affordable plans and exceptional service and quality, the majority of customers stay with the company for a minimum of 8 years. New customers have 30 days to return the equipment and cancel without being bound to the 36-month contract terms and conditions.
What We Liked
- No costs up front
- Broadband, Cellular, and Landline Monitoring offered 24/7
- Lifetime Equipment Warranty
- Low monthly costs starting at $19.99
- Plenty of home automation choices
- Simon XTi Control Panel
- Free camera with the purchase of any monitoring package (broadband and cellular only)
- Offered in all 50 states
What We Didn’t Like
- Landline monitoring cannot accommodate video streaming
#2 ADT Home Security (Best Professionally Installed Home Security System)
One of the oldest and most well-known home security companies in the industry is ADT. They have over 100 years under their belt so it would stand to reason that they know what they are doing. Getting started with ADT home security is easy. They offer new customers a low rate of just $28.99 each month in the traditional package and there is a 36-month contract that you must sign. This price is a little lower than most of the home security companies out there, but keep in mind that this package has limited features and installation on the traditional plan is NOT free. All of the plans offer homeowners a 6-month guarantee that states if you are dissatisfied for any reason they will refund and monthly fees and installation charges. If you become unhappy with ADT after the 6 months and want to cancel, there are usually high cancellation fees.
ADT does offer free installation with their ADT-monitored, video security plan. It also has a Nest Learning Thermostat. The video security plan also comes with many home automation features so you can control your garage door, door locks, thermostat, lighting and more from your smartphone using the ADT-Monitored Security Pulse app. One of the biggest issues that ADT home security seems to be having is with customer service. There are many complaints from customers about high service call charges, missed appointments and high cancellation fees. Although they have the history, the lack of good customer service may be a good reason to choose another provider.
What We Liked
- 6-month money back guarantee
- Low-cost traditional plan for new customers @ $28.99
- ADT Monitored Security Pulse App
- Free installation and Nest for video plans
What We Didn’t Like
- 36-month contract required
- Installation not free with traditional plan
- High-cost service calls
- Questionable customer service
- High cancellation fees after 6 month time period is up
#3 Vivint (Best Home Automation)
Vivint is a large, well-known North American company that provides home security services to over one million customers. There are many reasons you may want to consider Vivint for your home security needs. They are available in all 50 states so customers, even in Alaska or Hawaii can benefit from their protection services. Vivint offers several packages to choose from that can meet your individual needs. The base security package includes a touch screen control panel, 1 door or window sensor, a key fob, a motion detector, and a smoke detector. Users can use the key fob to disarm or arm the system and you won’t have to enter the home to do it.
Customers can purchase additional security equipment from Vivint including door sensors that are recessed, flood/freeze sensors, tilt sensors, panic pendants, glass break detectors, small appliance controls, and carbon monoxide detectors. The company offers some of the most advanced, high-tech equipment in the home security industry and is always looking for new, innovative ways to protect your home.
There is a lifetime warranty on all Vivint equipment, both home security and home automation. This warranty covers defective equipment as well as normal wear and tear. As long as you are a paying customer of Vivint, you will have this warranty. Another popular feature that Vivint customers can use is the Vivint Sky mobile app. This is a free download on Android and Apple devices. With this app, customers can view and record live video, control the thermostat, unlock or lock doors, arm and disarm the whole security system, and much more. It can also be integrated with Amazon Echo so it can be used via voice control.
One thing that can be a little off putting to customers is the long five-year contract that Vivint requires. This is longer than the normal 3-year contract that many home security companies require and can cause customers to pass on the service entirely, especially since Vivint requires that the homeowner pay off the remaining contract if it is canceled early.
Monthly monitoring rates with Vivint start at $39.99 per month and go up depending on the equipment you are using and the type of monitoring you want.
What We Liked
- Available in all 50 states
- Several equipment options
- Multiple home automation options
- Mobile app for remote access
- Lifetime warranty that includes normal wear and tear
What We Didn’t Like
- Higher than average monthly monitoring costs
- Minimum 5-year contract
- Questionable customer service
- Must pay out contract in the event of cancellation
#4 Frontpoint Security
Frontpoint has been around for 10 years and has changed the way home security is viewed by raising the bar in customer service quality and online reputation. Frontpoint is another home security system that has adopted the convenient and popular self-installation system that also offers a simple cellular monitoring option. This means that you don’t need to have any phone lines to make it work. The customer service that Frontpoint offers is second to none and is backed with their 30 day, risk-free trial so homeowners can see if they like the service. Their goal is to deliver quality equipment and services while maintaining an A+ customer service experience as well. They offer a variety of wireless sensors that can detect different types of trouble from breaking glass to doors being opened. They also offer flood protection, smoke detection and much more. Frontpoint’s objective is to offer whole home protection.
There are three different monitoring packages that the company offers:
- Protection monitoring
- Interactive monitoring
- Ultimate monitoring
The packages range in price from $34.99 per month to $49.99 per month. All of the plans offered are 100% cellular. The higher priced package includes additional add-ons including video surveillance monitoring and home automation choices. Installation is very easy and homeowners won’t have to worry about installation fees because there aren’t any. There is a minimum equipment requirement of $99.00 and contracts are available in either 12 or 36 month terms. The 30 day, risk-free guarantee allows homeowners to try the service without being locked into a contract and being unhappy with the service.
One of the best things about Frontpoint is that it is 100% cellular. This means that it does not require a phone line or internet system. Your security system won’t fail even if the power is out or the internet or landline fails. Customers love the easy installation of the system which will be configured for your home before it is shipped to you. After it is installed all you need to do is call the company and they will quickly activate it and ensure it is working properly.
What We Liked
- 100% cellular based – won’t fail if power/phone/internet is out
- Remote access
- 30 day risk free guarantee
- Email and test alerts
- Multiple home automation options
- Multiple add-ons and sensor options
- Full protection against fire, intrusion, medical emergencies
- DIY installation
- Superior customer service
What We Didn’t Like
- Upfront fees range starting at $99 and up depending on the package you choose
- Only offers a three year warranty on equipment which is low compared to most companies lifetime warranty
- Only 10 years in the business which is still considered new compared to some companies
SimpliSafe has been in business since 2006. It offers customers the popular, DIY installation that is very convenient for homeowners that work a lot or have trouble being home for appointments.
The company’s goal is to offer its customers no-contract home security systems that are affordable and wireless as well. Installation is very easy for the homeowner and is a great option for those who rent their homes or apartments due to the non-intrusive installation process.
Monitoring packages start at a surprisingly low $14.99 per month and go up depending on the kind of plan you are interested in. They have a package to fit every budget. They even offer month-to-month monitoring plans and don’t require the customer to sign up for any type of long term contract. Although there are some equipment costs, customers can try the alarm system package of their choice for 60 days and get a refund if they are not happy. They also offer a three year warranty on their equipment which is low compared to other companies.
One of the things to think about when considering SimpliSafe is the upfront equipment costs which can reach as high as $600.00 or more depending on the equipment you choose.
What We Liked
- No long term contracts
- Low monitoring costs starting at $14.99
- 60 day money back guarantee
- DIY installation
- Easy to install and can be moved if you relocate
What We Didn’t Like
- High upfront costs
- No option for professional installation
- 3 year warranty which is low by industry standard
The founder of LiveWatch home security, Chris Johnson, takes a new approach to home automation and security by offering customers an efficient and simple, self-installation system that responds quickly and gets customers the help they need during a time when every second counts. The contracts that LiveWatch offers are short in duration and can be cancelled at any time without incurring costly cancellation fees. The upfront costs are higher than some companies but one popular feature is that the customer can return the equipment for a full refund for up to 365 days after they purchase. They offer standard packages but you can also custom create an equipment set up as well that can fit your needs perfectly if you choose.
Upfront costs for equipment typically run about $99.00 which isn’t exceptionally high but higher than some companies that offer no upfront fees. Monitoring packages run anywhere from $34.95 to $49.95 depending on which plan you are interested in. The company signs up its customers for a 12 month plan but cancelling is easy and the equipment and service can be moved to a different location with no charges and minimal issues.
What We Liked
- No early cancellation fees
- Packages can be customized as needed
- Risk-free cancel anytime policy
- Affordable monthly monitoring packages ranging from $34.95 to $49.95
- DIY installation option
What We Didn’t Like
- Upfront costs
- $19.95 activation fee
- No professional installation option
#777 1st Security
This family-owned and operated home security company has over 20 years in the industry. Their focus is on enabling their customers to create business or home security packages that fit their specific needs. They offer customers a choice of DIY installation or professional installation. There is an installation fee that includes equipment and activation that can run anywhere from $99.00 to $199.00. There are many features that you will receive when you purchase a home security system from 1st Security. These include an all wireless smart monitoring that costs $19.99, notifications that will let you know what is going on around your home or business in real time, A home automation option, mobile app access so you can remotely control and monitor your security system and home automation and much more. 1st Security offers their customers 30 days to see if the system is a good fit for their needs. The people-monitored services ensure that a live person contacts you in the event of an emergency rather than a computer system.
There is also a 24-hour, round the clock service fleet that includes emergency dispatch specialists to give customers peace of mind. The systems that 1st Security offers are customized to protect the vulnerable areas of your home and protect them from having a break-in occur. Rather than just relying on sensors to alert you when a door is opened or a window is broken, there are securing devices they offer that can keep unwanted intruders from breaking in in the first place. New customers will need to have credit approval for the standard monitoring agreement but they also offer an alternate program that doesn’t require a credit check. You will need to do additional research to find out what the cancellation policy is for 1st Security as well as the contract length. These are things you should do before you enter into any contract.
What We Liked
- DIY option
- Professional installation available if desired
- 30 day satisfaction guarantee
- 24 hour service fleet
- Home automation options available
What We Didn’t Like
- Is not offered in all 50 states
- Upfront fees range from $99.00 to $199.00
- Undisclosed contract terms and length
- Undisclosed cancellation policy terms
AlarmForce has been around for over 25 years and continues to have a great reputation with customers. They protect over 250,000 customers across the United States with a two-way security system that is live. The flat monthly monitoring fee is $29.99 and there is a free equipment warranty on all equipment. AlarmForce is considered one of the most affordable home security options available and have no upfront costs unless you want a customized security package. Customers will be happy to know that the monthly monitoring charges are capped at $29.99.
They offer backup cellular monitoring in the event you don’t have power, and there are many home automation options available so you can control cameras, door locks, lighting and much more. If you move to a new location, no need to worry, AlarmForce doesn’t charge you to move your system to the new location. There is not a lot of information available about contract lengths and cancellation policies so be sure to get that information cleared up before you sign up for anything.
What We Liked
- No upfront costs for standard security system
- Free equipment warranty
- Home automation options
- Flat fee monthly monitoring for standard package
- No pressure sales
What We Didn’t Like
- Insufficient information on contract length and cancellation policies
- Limited availability Nationwide
- Standard equipment is not up to bar with top companies in the industry
LifeShield has three objectives when it comes to home security systems which are to reduce the cost of ownership for the customer, eliminate the middleman and improve the efficiency of the system. With the four layers of backup protection that the company offers burglars find it very difficult to defeat this security system. This company offers customers some of the most innovative equipment available. This equipment includes glass breaking sensors, wireless cameras and much more. Users can also arm and disarm the security system from their smart devices via the app. LifeShield offers customers a lot of free services as well, which is a welcome change. Users can get fire protection, remote monitoring and more. They state that they respond the fastest in the event of an emergency so you can rest assured that they are going to respond quickly and get you the help you need.
Customers can choose to have their system professionally involved or they can do it themselves with the DIY option. There is no landline required for the service to work. You will have access 24/7 professional home monitoring in the event you should have an emergency of any kind. Monthly monitoring fees range from $29.99 to $49.99 each month.
What We Liked
- DIY and professional installation choices
- Low cost set up, in many cases, free
- Low monthly fees
- Free equipment
What We Didn’t Like
- Long contract and credit check required
- Early cancellation fees apply for early termination
- Moving fees may apply to move service
Best Rated Home Security System Equipment
Each company offers a range of home security equipment, however, here are the essential components every home security system should have:
This is the brain of the home security system and it communicates with both the security sensors and the central monitoring station (the 24/7 hour monitoring center). Most systems today are wireless and cellular where the communication with the sensors occurs over the same technology as your wireless network. The communication with the central monitoring station is over cellular communication.
These type of sensors are placed on all entrances and windows on your first floor. If you have a lot of windows these sensors can become expensive and it is a best practice to use a glass break sensor to cover
Motion sensors are great for covering a large area like a living room or family room. They can sensor motion up to 40ft. Dogs less than 40lbs don’t typically trigger an alarm but its best to keep pets out of the area when the alarm system is enabled.
Chances are you already have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. You can incorporate these with your home security system.
There are a lot of other sensors that you can use to monitor your home that includes freeze sensors, heat sensors, carbon monoxide detectors, garage door sensors, and flood sensors to name a few. When you call a home security company a consultant will work with you to determine the proper coverage for your home. If you have specific needs you can mention it on the call. Most companies carry these other sensors.
Homeowner’s Insurance Discounts
Each insurance company is different but most of them will reward you for taking steps to secure your home and your personal property. You might be able to save 5% for an unmonitored home security system installation but the savings really add up when you add 24/7 monitoring services. Some insurance companies will provide you with a 20% discount for installing a monitored home security solution. Having a home security system is a deterrent, furthermore having one that is monitored all day and night adds another layer of protection.
Best Home Security System Monitoring
Home security systems have two types of monitoring: internal and external. Most security system components communicate with each other wirelessly using the same 802.11 standards of home networking. As long as your home is conducive to a wireless network, you shouldn’t have any issue with the wireless sensors communicating back to the control panel. Home security systems can be hard wired too, but this is less common. A hard wire installation was more popular back in the 90’s. Another benefit of having all of the components communicating wirelessly is that you can take the system with you when you move.
The communication from the control panel to the central monitoring station determines the type of monitoring technology that is being used. There are three main options which include landline, broadband, and cellular. Landline uses your existing telephone service from the phone company. This type of monitoring is the most stable as far as communication but is the least secure as the telephone line can be cut from outside the home. If a burglar is determined to break into your home, cutting the lines of cable, phone and Internet is the first step they will take. Broadband monitoring is susceptible to the same cutting of the lines as a landline.
Best Security Systems Pre-Purchase Considerations
There are several things that you want to think about before you choose a particular home security system. How you answer the following questions can help steer you towards the right company for yours and your family’s security needs. Think about the points below and get a clearer picture of what you want and need out of a security system.
Home Security System Monitoring Communication
There are three ways that a security system can communicate:
The system uses a landline to communicate with the center that monitors the home. Every time an alarm is triggered the company will call the landline.
Cellular connections are considered better than landline because they won’t go down if the phone lines area cut. It works via a cellular uplink that is responsible for the communication. Cellular is also faster than landline connections, making it a more popular choice.
Signals are sent to the monitoring center via the broadband connection whenever the alarm is triggered. Broadband connections can notify needed authorities as much as 4 times faster. It is a less expensive cost but it is not as reliable as cellular.
DIY VS Professional Installation Home Alarm Systems
The kind of installation your security system requires will affect the cost significantly. For those companies that offer DIY installation, there is usually a dramatic reduction in the cost. There are two different kinds of installs available: DIY and Professional Install.
There are some pros and cons to each of them. DIY install is recommended if the system is easy to set up, such as with peel and stick sensors that have been pre-programmed to match up with the different areas of your home that they will be applied.
Many people are not comfortable installing a system of such importance on their own, even if the company states that installation is easy. For this reason, many opt for professional installation despite the higher cost. Below we have listed the differences between Professional Installation and DIY Installs.
DIY Security System Installation
- Takes roughly an hour or two to set up
- Allows the homeowner to become very familiar with the system they have chosen and how that system works.
- DIY installation doesn’t require any appointments; do it on your own timetable.
- There are no installation fees
- Can be easily moved to another home should you move
- Requires very little to no running of cables, mounting or drilling
- Can be a challenge for those who are not DIY savvy
- Provides a sales pitch free experience
- Could involve having to contact tech support if there is any problem that arises during the self-install
- Worry can arise about the system being installed properly
Professional Security System Installation
- Requires an installation fee or activation fee although there can be specials
- Provides the opportunity for the homeowner to ask the installer questions.
- Security that the system is installed properly
- The opportunity for the installer to demonstrate how the system works so there are no questions
- Needs an appointment although most home security companies try to get installers out asap from the time you call to order it.
- Requires some drilling and running of cables or lines
- Involves having to have a stranger in the home
- Can take as long as 4 hours including demonstration and set up.
Local VS National Home Security Companies
There are some things that are better purchased local such as clothing, food and even furnishings. When it comes to home security systems, it is highly recommended that the homeowner purchase from national companies that are recognized and that have a strong reputation. National companies almost always strictly focus on home security only which gives them large amount of specific experience.
There are some good questions that you should ask a company if you have decided to go with a local company. Ask these questions before you sign anything with the local company.
- Is cellular monitoring available?
- Where is the monitoring for the equipment handled? Are they redundant?
- What is the monitoring company’s response rate?
- What warranty or extended service plans are offered?
- What kind of features does the company offer? (video surveillance, etc)
- Do you offer DIY installation if desired?
- Is there 24/7 tech support?
- Do they offer different packages available?
- Do they run any installation specials?
- If you move, can the system come with you?
24/7 Monthly Home Alarm Monitoring
There are two aspects of the home security system: the system itself and the monthly monitoring that you can get. There are so many options on the market these days that you may be tempted to just get a system with no monitoring. Although it will have a smaller cost, what you won’t have is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the monitoring company has your back should there be problems such as fire, medical, or burglary.
Monthly monitoring will range in cost. It will vary from company to company according to the features and technologies that you choose. The basis of the service is the same no matter what company you choose; you pay for a company to respond to the alarm in case of an emergency. This peace of mind that someone is always watching out for you can bring so much peace of mind that many people feel it is worth it no matter what the cost. There are several benefits to having this monthly monitoring.
Emergency Response Plans
The majority of professional monitoring companies offer customization of the emergency response plan that can be tailored to your preferences and needs. This involves deciding who is called first in the event of an emergency and other decision.
A monitoring agent is trained to help people through emergencies such as a break in or medical emergency. This can be invaluable for those with latch key kids or elderly parents living in the home.
Medical Alert Help
Medical pendants or watches can be purchased that signal an agent that someone is having a medical crisis so emergency medical personnel can be dispatched.
This benefit is very good if you are ever the victim of a home invasion. You enter a code into the system that indicates you need immediate help and cannot be contacted.
Is a DIY Home Security System Worth the Money?
So is a home security system right for you? So many people worry about wasting money or they have the mentality of ‘it will never happen to me’ but this is a potentially dangerous mentality to have. It is not paranoid to have a home security system with monitoring in place to protect your home and family. Things like yard signs and window stickers deter burglars from trying to break in a large amount of the time.
In addition, the home alarm’s siren can scare them away and reduces the amount of time the burglar is at the home if they don’t deter them from coming in altogether. Statistics show that having a home security system installed is far and above worth the investment for the peace of mind factor alone. You will have the knowledge that your home is protected by a system that will reduce the chances of your home ever being broken into.
If you’re still not sure about whether you want to invest in a home security system take a look at these unsettling statistics.
- Every 15 seconds a burglary occurs
- There is a 30% increase in the chance of a burglary in homes with no security system
- Only 72.4% of the burglaries that occur are reported to the authorities
These statistics only cover burglaries. Add in the statistics that involve fires and medical emergencies and it’s very easy to see the benefits of having a home security system.
Before Signing a Contract Home Security Company Contract
Now that you have decided a home security system is for you, there are a few things you want to make sure of before you sign any contracts. The following points protect you from getting hooked up with a less than reputable company or spending money you didn’t think you were going to spend.
- If the home security system company you are considering going with says that they ONLY work with their licensed monitoring system you need to move on to another one. Make sure that you will have access to the programming features and all access codes to your system and that you are able to go with the monitoring system of your choice when your current contract is over.
- Make sure the security system comes with a contract and a guarantee on labor and parts. You can also inquire about extended warranties. It may add a couple of hundred to your costs but it is worth it to know that the parts, labors and fees are covered should you need them.
- Find out the specifics of the contract before you sign up with a company. How long do they require service before you can move the system? Is there a way of cancelling the contract if needed? What happens in the event of a financial emergency that requires you to pause your monitoring system for a period of time? Are the monthly fees locked in for your protection or can they be increased with no notice? What do the costs revert to once the contract is over?
- What equipment is yours to keep once your contract runs out? Are you just leasing the equipment or are you buying it? What is their response time in regards to technical problems that affect the workings of the system? Do they offer system checks to make sure everything is working properly?
- Does the company have references? How do they act when you ask for previous customers that have their service? If they have references to give you, call them and find out what kind of service and response time the monitoring company has.
- Get a risk assessment to determine what kinds of security issues you will want to cover in your system and monitoring. These risk assessments should be free of charge and they should send someone out to the home, not attempt to do it over the phone by asking questions. If they will not send a person out to the home for the inspection, choose another company.
- Does the installer take the time to explain the workings of the home security system and the features you have purchased to you and the members of your family? Do they rush through the explanations or take the time to answer questions and make sure you understand everything?
- Get your quote in writing and make sure it includes all the equipment you’ve chosen, the monthly monitoring fees, warranties, set up, installation and any other charges they have told you about. Getting this quote in writing protects you from surprise charges and fees.
The right home security system can make a huge difference in the peace of mind that is in your home. It is especially important to have this protection and peace of mind when there are children in the home. The three home security companies we reviewed above are excellent choices that offer the homeowner a variety of packages, equipment choices and monitoring choices to fit all kinds of needs and preferences. When you have your system set up and working, you will be amazed at how much better you feel about the safety of your family and home.
How to Reduce False Home Alarms
Not only can false alarms be irritating, but they can also be costly if they result in false alarm fees and use taxpayer dollars. False alarms are disruptive to neighbors and to pets, and they unnecessarily redirect law enforcement resources by taking officers off other crime prevention initiatives.
Worse yet, you might start to feel ambivalent about using your alarm if you’ve experienced false alarms in the past. We want you to feel safe and secure while using your home security system and suggest the following ways to avoid dealing with false alarms.
Completely Shut and Lock Windows and Doors
Many false alarms are triggered by a door or window that hasn’t been completely shut, or by a door that isn’t locked while the alarm is activated. In bad weather, a gust of air can push open windows and doors that don’t have a tight connection with the sensor and set off the alarm.
It only takes a few inches of movement to activate the system. Additionally, neighbors and friends can enter unlocked doors, unwittingly setting off an alarm that’s been set. Be sure to double-check all windows, doors, and locks before you leave the house.
Know Your Passcodes
Amazingly, many alarms are triggered by a homeowner entering an incorrect keypad passcode. Make sure that the passcode you choose is one that you can remember easily and one that every member of the household can remember. Be sure to inform everyone who uses the security system of the new passcode if you change it.
Be Aware of Stray Objects
Stray objects can include anything from pets to curtains blowing near a heat register. Motion detectors can get a bad rap if homeowners feel they activate too easily, but in reality, they are an incredibly helpful home security component when the surrounding room is set up properly. And don’t forget to store those remaining party balloons in a place where they won’t activate your sensor!