The 5 Best Home Security Systems
By Jess Bolluyt, The Cheat Sheet
There are plenty of gadgets that you may be considering purchasing from your home, from smart home devices like smart lightbulbs or locks to security tech like cameras and home alarm systems. But figuring out the best device to purchase can be a difficult process, especially when it comes to bigger purchases like a home security system. So it’s a great idea to turn to trusted reviewers to compare your options and determine which home security systems are the best ones to consider.
A home security system can keep your house and your family safe and secure, with sensors that identify broken locks, open doors and windows, or unexpected movement, and even features like smoke and carbon monoxide detection, environmental monitoring, or home automation to make your house both safer and smarter. Whether you’re a homeowner, a renter, or simply a parent hoping to keep your family safer, there are plenty of choices, and Erin Raub reports for Consumer Affairs that you need to weigh factors like cost, contract, installation, monitoring options, and add-on features when you’re weighing your many options.
You also have to choose among the different types of security systems. Do you need a system that offers basic protection, with 24/7 monitoring and police and fire contact? Or do you need one with advanced security, which incorporates not only police and fire protection, but also monitoring for carbon monoxide, gas leaks, medical alerts, and environmental hazards? Or do you want a system that bundles in home automation capabilities? Figuring out what levels of surveillance you need will help you decide what you’re looking for. But you still need a reliable way to know which brands are worth considering, and which ones are better eliminated.
Reviews.com dedicated 600 hours to finding the best home security systems, surveying consumers to understand their needs, scrutinizing studies and expert opinions, and both collaborating with law enforcement and going through the entire quote process with several home security providers. The group determined that, at the very least, each home security system worth considering should include a control panel, a selection of wireless sensors, an alarm, and 24/7 professional monitoring services (for which you pay a setup cost and a monthly subscription fee).
Reviews.com found that all the top brands offer “practically equivalent” devices and features, and many use the same equipment manufacturers, like GE, Honeywell, or 2GIG. The major differences between brands are the way these technologies are packaged and priced. Looking for brands with good reputations, a national presence, the option for professional monitoring, wireless and cellular monitoring connectivity, and the ability to add home automation features, the publication went through several rounds of elimination to determine which home security systems were the best to recommend. Here are the five security systems that you should consider if you’re hoping to make your home smarter and safer.
1. Frontpoint Security
Frontpoint offers three upgradable packages, which each require a minimum 36-month monitoring contract. Frontpoint has a stellar reputation, which probably explains why it routinely tops lists of the best home security systems. FrontPoint’s cheapest offering with cellular monitoring costs $44.99 per month, with an equipment cost of $99, for a yearly cost of $638.88. Consumer Affairs reviews indicate that customers appreciate the way Frontpoint customizes a security system for each home, and that, in addition to intrusion, all Frontpoint monitoring plans also include protection against fire, flood, freeze, carbon monoxide, and medical emergencies.
2. Protect America
Protect America offers upgradable packages, which require a minimum 36-month monitoring contract. However, the company doesn’t require you to pay upfront for equipment. Protect America’s cheapest offering with cellular monitoring costs $41.99 per month, for a yearly cost of $533.88. Top Ten Reviews reports that in addition to the lack of upfront equipment costs, which can help you out if a big down payment would prevent you from installing a home security system, another benefit is that Protect America offers a lifetime warranty on all of its devices.
3. Link Interactive
Link Interactive offers three standalone security packages that can be equipped with cellular monitoring if you sign a 36-month contract. The cheapest such offering costs $34.99 per month, with an upfront equipment cost of $134, for a yearly cost of $553.88. A review from Consumers Advocate indicates that in addition to Link Interactive’s pre-configured home security packages, do-it-yourself systems are also available, which gives you another option for a personalized and cost-effective home security system.
LiveWatch offers two equipment bundles that are easy to install and can be equipped with a number of different monitoring plans. The company offers numerous add-on options, and customers are only required to sign a 12-month contract (which can be a benefit for the commitment-phobic). LiveWatch’s cheapest offering with cellular monitoring costs $19.95 per month, with an equipment cost of $99, for a yearly cost of $358.35. According to Top Ten Reviews, LiveWatch offers an “unrivaled” selection of security equipment from brand-name manufacturers, and if you want to customize a home security system to your needs and priorities, LiveWatch is the go-to option.
SimpliSafe offers what Reviews.com characterizes as the most affordable standalone security kits in the business. It also doesn’t require customers to sign any contracts. The company’s cheapest offering with cellular monitoring costs $14.99 per month, with $259.95 in equipment costs, for a yearly cost of $439.83. PC Mag named SimpliSafe’s do-it-yourself home security system as an ideal solution for homeowners on a budget, noting that while the system lacks support for third-party devices, it offers an optional paid monitoring service and is very easy for you to install yourself, without paying or waiting around for a professional installation.
Honorable Mentions: Vivint and ADT
Reviews.com also shared which security companies almost made the cut. Vivint offers the best home automation technology in the field — and so is worth considering if those features are important to you — but didn’t make the cut because it’s also the most expensive home security company. Vivint’s $800 iPanel is $500 more than the average touchscreen control panel. However, Reviews.com notes that if you have the money to spend, Vivint won’t disappoint.
Another honorable mention went to ADT, which was cut because even though it’s the most popular home security provider, it’s also the subject of the highest number of complaints. While that fact is likely related to its enormous customer base, the company’s service comes with a few other drawbacks, including ADT’s choice to provide minimal upfront installation and its requirement of a professional installation, which can add extra costs and inconvenience.