Home Security Systems Reviews
Home Security Systems Reviews
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Frontpoint provides one of the best home security systems available today. Their all-cellular system is state-of-the-art, very affordable, and comes with a reliable 24-hour nationwide monitoring system. Installation is a breeze, and if you have any questions, their expert support staff is top-notch. If you're looking for a security system to protect your home now and in the future, Frontpoint is our top choice.
Protect America offers top-of-the-line home security systems at rock-bottom prices. Their customer-focused home security plans include free equipment and all-inclusive monitoring packages. Customer support is both knowledgeable and friendly. If you're in the market for a home security system, Protect America is a great choice.
ADT is a well-known provider of home security systems. They score high marks for reliability and the quality of their monitoring service. Most of us have heard of this company and trust the reliability they provide. However, the equipment and home security monitoring service are a little more expensive than some other services in our review.
Vivint incorporates the latest in technology to allow the resident to take control of their home via computer or Smart Phone, anywhere in the world. Monthly monitoring and wireless access are more expensive than other home security companies. Customer service is a strong focus at Vivint for questions but salesmen can be a bit pushy. In the end, if you're looking for home automation and wireless access to your home security, Vivint is worth a second look.
GetSafe is an excellent choice for individuals who want the convenience of a smartphone-controlled home security system without the hassle or commitments of a contract. While the $249 upfront cost to purchase the equipment may discourage some, the flexibility of being able to move one's security system from one location to another is a great option for college students, renters, snowbirds, and more. GetSafe's 100% wireless system is a strong competitor in the Home Security Systems market.
SimpliSafe provides homeowners the option to protect their families and valuables with no long-term commitment. There is a higher than usual initial charge, because the SimpliSafe home security equipment is bought outright, but their monthly monitoring fees are among the lowest we found. Still, this high-tech wireless security system provides the flexibility and systematic notifications that many people are looking for.
Guardian delivers an impressive home security system that offers some basic home automation options as well. Their home security monitoring center is state-of-the-art, and they have an excellent customer service record which is reflected in their top scores with Angie's List and the BBB. If you'd rather have a professional install your home security system rather than doing it yourself, Guardian is worth your consideration.
Alarm Force is a good value for those that have a smaller residence. Free installation and low monthly monitoring charges can bring peace of mind to those on a tight budget. The Video Relay system is a nice feature, at an extra cost. We appreciated the strong company history and Alarm Force's commitment to serving the customer.
Live Watch has a strong history of customer service but misses the mark by not providing transparent pricing. Not everyone is happy in dealing with a home security salesman. Most of us like to feel slightly educated before calling in to make any major purchases. However, Live Watch does offer a DIY home security installation process to help save money.
First Alert Professional is a home security system that is distributed through old-fashioned methods. They work with customers through a network of authorized dealers, who are free to set prices and installation costs. Unfortunately this means there is no upfront pricing on their website and the potential for pushy sales tactics when dealing with individual dealers. However they do have a good variety of home security equipment that can protect you and your family.
The Protection One website is not as forth coming as others and the availability to customers is not as nationwide as you might think. We liked the high Better Business Bureau rating but had concerns with warranty complaints.
Monitronics left us wanting more. The website and customer agents were evasive with providing specific product information including costs, installation fees and monitoring contract information. Also, with distribution occurring via local dealer relationships we knew a pushy salesmen was our next painful step in the process.
The Alarm Relay website lacks much of the information and details of those home security companies ranked higher. They suggest that their monthly monitoring costs are among the lowest, but what is included in that price appears to be very bare bones. Alarm Relay also still uses the traditional landline home security systems that lack the flexibility that so many customers wants. Alarm Relay does have a long history of doing business in the home security industry, as well as a strong Better Business Bureau rating.
Many cable companies have recently gotten into the home security space. That means when issues arise customers have to talk to a customer service representative that may or may not be located in North America. Outside of customer service concerns, Comcast's Xfinity home security package is very basic with limited equipment. As the monthly package price goes up to accommodate slightly larger spaces, the installation price goes significantly higher. We had a tough time finding the value of this home security option over those ranked higher.
CPI Security provides a more traditional home security system with hardwired equipment. The price of this home security option is higher than many other home security companies reviewed, and often leaves clients confused and unhappy when prices unexpectedly increase. We would have liked to have seen a more competitive home security model out of CPI as well as a better reputation and strong customer service practices.
Home Security Systems
Home Security Systems are more important than ever before. Crime is on the rise in many areas of the country. Over 2 million burglaries occur every year, with the average dollar loss over $2,000 - not to mention the potential harm to personal safety. Many experts point to the nation's current economic troubles and high unemployment as leading indicators for a continued rise in the crime rate.
Safeguarding your home is vitally important to the protection of your property and family. Properly placed exterior lighting and good dead bolts can help reduce your odds of being a victim - but unfortunately, an experienced criminal can generally get through nearly all locks within 60 seconds. As a result, most experts suggest investing in a home security system - preferably one that is monitored by a live service for the utmost protection.
Statistics show that the majority of criminals will choose a home without a security system and bypass those better protected. Home security systems can vary greatly in protection and cost. Some home security systems provide free equipment along with a monthly monitoring contract, while others charge hundreds of dollars for installation as well as monitoring services. The best home security systems are flexible with or without home phone line requirements.
Before reading any home security systems reviews it's important to be familiar with some important home security aspects and features. These include:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best home security systems available today. We hope these reviews will help you find the right home security system to keep you and your family safe for years to come!
Home Security Systems Terminology
There are many terms used by home security companies to describe their products. Here we have described what many of these terms mean so you can use them when looking at our home security systems reviews.
Features You Can Expect To Find In A Home Security System
Here are a few things you can expect to find in a home security system:
These panels are the 'brains' of home security systems. They are physically or remotely attached to electronic sensors and detectors throughout the house. They usually have a keypad with them to allow you to control, disable or activate your home security system.
Home security systems can use sounds to alert you to the presence of an intruder, but it's important to remember that alarms can be useful in the case of carbon monoxide, fire, flood or other disasters too. Safety systems should be installed in your home along with home security systems.
Door and Window Sensors
These home security sensors have two parts - one that goes on the door or window itself, and another on the corresponding frame. Magnets keep a charge running through the home security sensor while the door is closed. When a door or window is opened, the circuit is broken and the sensor triggers an alarm via the main control panel. Keep in mind that window sensors won't work on windows that don't open - for that, you'll need a glass break sensor to recognize the sound of a window being broken.
Motion detectors are ideally used in large areas that either aren't or can't be secured with door or window sensors (for example, a large room with many windows or a backyard). They can generally detect motion from 40 to 80 feet away and can be connected to your home alarm system or to a security camera. There are two main types of home security motion sensors: active detectors, which emit light, sound or other forms of energy and recognize when that energy is being disturbed; or passive detectors, which recognize incoming signals sent from the disturbance, such as heat or sound waves.
CCTV cameras are used for surveillance and are designed to transmit images to a specific place and a limited number of monitors. Analog or digital surveillance cameras are simply a camera attached (either by a cable or wirelessly) to a digital video recorder (DVR) that's used to record the images picked up by the camera.
IP/network cameras are similar to analog/digital cameras, but have an IP address assigned to them, allowing owners to view images on their computer through the internet, anywhere in the world.
Outdoor perimeter Protection
Fences, gates and outdoor lighting are all simple ways to deter intruders. However, there are also motion sensors and security cameras similar to the ones in your home that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Perimeter home security systems can also be used to sound alarms before an intruder crosses the border into your property (let alone into your home). Infrared, microwave and radar detectors, and buried cables are activated by someone crossing the boundary and can be placed around your yard for added protection.
These can be set up to sound a home alarm or turn on outdoor flood lights. They can also communicate with your systems within the house to alert you or your home security company of the breach. Outdoor protection can be mistakenly activated by natural factors such as trees, wind, and animals.
Homeowners today have a variety of options they can use to tailor a home security system specific to their needs.
Alarms, Cameras and Locks; How Home Security Can Help Prevent Home Invasion
The first thing anyone needs to realize in any given home security situation is an unfortunate truth: if a smart, determined, burglar wants to get into your house while you're out, they will.
But now for the good news: you can stall most, if not all burglars, long enough for them to be discouraged and move onto easier targets. How Simple. Here are three easy things to consider in order to make your home more secure.
Simply being aware of your surroundings can save you, your loved ones, and your neighbor's headaches later. Google, or your local police department, has statistics on crime in your local area.
For example, recently a Seattle woman witnessed two suspicious men emerge from a neighbor's backyard. She took down descriptions of the men, a partial license plate and called the police. While police discovered her neighbor had indeed been burglarized, the woman gave them enough of a description that police recognized the suspects from previous offenses and were able to make an arrest.
Being aware also necessitates that you're aware of your property's weaknesses. Take the time to scan your property. Look for any easy entry points a burglar could use to invade your home. Once you've done that, consider ways to prevent it. It could be as simple as taking down a lattice on the side of your house for ivy, or installing more secure window and door locks.
Don't open the door for unexpected strangers, even if they claim it's an emergency. Home invasions, where criminals force their way into your house while you or loved ones are inside, are on the rise and the perpetrators are using increasingly deceptive methods to gain access to a home.
Fortunately, the same precautions used to prevent burglaries can help to prevent home invasions. Peepholes, or windows around the front door, are a good method of identifying and judging a stranger before opening your door. Doors with solid cores, bolt locks and reinforced windows can also buy you the time needed to call the police if an invader tries to force their way in.
Finally, talk with your family about burglaries and invasions, and be sure to discuss home security plans for both situations.
Upgrade Your Home
Adding upgrades to your home can also help prevent burglaries. A solid core door and deadbolt locks can go a long way in deterring potential pilferers. Upgrade the locks on your windows, make sure you have a thick glass and prevent your windows from opening more than six inches with dowel. Even small things, like buying signs showcasing your security oriented thinking, can make a criminal reconsider a possible burglary.
Get strong outdoor lights which automatically turn on when movement is detected at night. Burglars hate being bathed in light, and besides, a sudden light coming from your home while you're away can alert a neighbor to a potential burglary in progress.
Home security systems are an excellent way to protect your home and family. The best home security companies offer affordable systems that utilize the latest in technology, including wireless systems, motion detectors, and remote access while you're away. If you're considering a home security system, make sure you choose one that has a good reputation and a budget that meets your needs.
Finally, if you're going to be gone for a long while, perhaps on a vacation, consider purchasing light timers which can turn lights on and off automatically while you're away.
Lock Up, Be Safe
Lock your doors and lock your windows. That's the easiest and most overlooked way to prevent robberies or home invasions.
The vast majority of burglaries occur through open, or unlocked, windows and doors. If you want to prevent any trespasses, closing and locking any obvious entry points into your home is a good start - even if you're only out of your home for just a few minutes.
Do you keep a spare key Do you have a nice hiding spot for it Is it under a rock (or in a fake rock) near your front door Unfortunately, that's too easy. Burglars know all the good hiding spots for spare keys. The first solution is, of course, to not lose your keys in the first place. The second solution, according to home security experts, is to give your spare keys to a trusted neighbor for safe keeping.
Burglars often discover the layout of a targeted house by posing as salesmen, delivery men, or contractors. They plan before they strike, and usually target someone they consider to be an easy victim. You can prove them wrong by planning ahead and being prepared.
How A Burglar Targets Your Home
Not all burglaries can be stopped, but most can be prevented. By knowing what a burglar is looking for in a target, you can better anticipate what home security measures you should take.
Here are four ways a burglar targets homes:
They Look For The Right House
Burglars often look for nice, out-of-the-way houses with, as retailers call it, "curb appeal". Typically they'll look for houses that are both remote, and have enough overgrown vegetation to keep their illegal activities relatively secret.
They also look for homes with easy access to the inside. Homes with windows that can be opened at ground-floor level, represent an easy mark, especially if the house doesn't have a home security system.
Homes with small compact backyards, are secluded from neighbors, or are located next to forests and woods are frequently targeted thanks to both the ease of access, and the ease of escape.
They Stake It Out
Staking out a house is no small matter to the professional burglar. In fact it can often be the most difficult part of the job.
There are a few ways crooks can learn your habits. First, there's the traditional stake out - where the burglar sits in a car, or a nearby hiding spot, in order to watch and observe the habits of whomever lives in your home.
Then there's the kind of intruder that you invite in. Not intentionally, of course, but ill-meaning contractors, such as plumbers, painters, or home renovators, can take the opportunity track you and your family's habits while working on your home. They can determine whether you have an active home security system, which can be a strong deterrent to their plans. They can also use this opportunity to make their theft all the easier by leaving doors and windows unlocked for when they return.
They Learn Your Habits
Most burglaries take place in the middle of the day when homeowners and their neighbors are away at work. But they typically don't just pick a house at random and wait for everyone to leave. Instead, during their stake-out phase, they learn the habits of a household in order to get a better understanding of what they're dealing with.
Through the stakeout they also discover ways that you get in and out of your house. Say, for example, that you have a spare set of keys hidden nearby that you, or a loved one, frequently uses. If this is used too often, burglars will see it and discover an easy way to enter your home. Burglars can also learn what sort of items you may have in your home. While a burglar may not steal your 60-inch big screen television, but they'll know you can afford it, and probably have small, more manageable possessions they can swipe.
Burglars also tend to keep track of family habits. They can easily learn what time everyone leaves the house and when they return. Some burglars may even keep track of the habits of nearby neighbors for an added touch of awareness.
The more risky burglars, and the ones more likely to get caught, will sometimes walk right up to a targeted house and knock on the door to see if anyone is home. If someone answers the door, they'll typically make up a cover, like they're landscapers looking for work. If not, they'll poke around the perimeter of the house looking for a way in. If your house isn't protected, they can easily gain entry this way.
They Steal, Then Steal Again
Unfortunately, statistics show that if you've already been the victim of a burglary, you're at a high risk of it happening again. A burglar will often hit the same home a second time after the homeowner has replaced their stolen items and have fallen back into their normal habits. Unless home security precautions are taken, it's not hard for the burglar to do, especially considering they've already hit the home once before and know the layout of the property.
Which Home Security System Sensors Are Right For You
There are a variety of home security system sensors to choose from today, many which can provide multiple functions. Here's a quick run-down of the most popular home security sensors available today, and what they can do for you.
Door and window home security sensors
Door and window home security sensors are the basic sensors of home security. These sensors protect their respective elements by using magnets, and alert the main control panel if one is disturbed. If a sensor is disturbed in an unauthorized manner - such as late at night or while you're away during vacation - they will result in an activated alarm.
Door and window sensors are ideal for homes with only a few entrances and opening windows. In large houses with many entrances, it may not be practical or cost-effective to arm every single window in the house, but in a small house these home security sensors can provide a good deal of security. Door sensors can also be programmed to sound a chime to notify owners when a door is opened, which is ideal for households with small children.
Glass break home security sensors
Unlike window sensors, glass break home security sensors are more useful for windows that don't open and close. Like their name implies, these home security sensors are capable of recognizing the sound or sensation of glass breaking. If a break-in occurs, the home security alarm is raised. If you're concerned about people breaking your windows rather than forcing them open, they can be installed along with regular magnet window sensors.
Such home security sensors don't have to be an external accessory, either. Some windows are built with thin strips of metal in them that, when broken, can also trigger a home security alarm.
Motion home security sensors
Motion sensors are usually set up inside the house as another layer of protection after door and window monitors. These home security sensors can easily monitor an entire room, and are best used at night or when the house is vacant.
But motion home security sensors can be an imperfect solution. When armed, they can go off for any detected motion, including a family member or a pet. It's best not to place these home security sensors in frequented areas of the house (for example the kitchen or bedrooms). With recent technology, some motion security sensors have logic that can differentiate between an animal and a human moving around a room. This can cut down on the number of false alarms if you have pets.
Also, remember that motion detectors aren't necessary in every room of the house. Rooms without windows or doors can only be accessed from other rooms, so it's a better idea to spend money on extra protection in those more accessible rooms instead. Some motion sensors also include glass break sensors, so check the features of the model before installing both.
Security cameras can be positioned around your house with a home security system as a way to identify intruders if they break in. They can also be useful if you like to keep tabs on your household throughout the day - to check who's at the front door, make sure the kids are playing safely, and ensure that the pool door is closed.
If you're away from home on a regular basis, you can have network cameras installed that will allow you to "see" into your house through the cameras and your computer from wherever you are.
Outdoor perimeter protection
Arming the outdoor perimeter of your property is especially beneficial if you have a large or rural property that can't be adequately covered by motion sensors or home security cameras. These home security sensors notify you when someone crosses the boundary into your property and can either sound an alarm or alert you of the trespasser.
Customize Your Home Security System
There are many ways you can customize your home security system. Here are a few options for your consideration:
Wired or Wireless
When choosing a home security system you can opt for one that is installed with wires or without. A home security system with wires is usually best to install when the house is being built. Otherwise, the home security company will have to tear through your existing walls in order to install the system. Wireless home security systems, on the other hand, can be easily installed into either new or existing homes.
For example, a wired home security camera can be tedious to install into an existing home. Since a wire needs to run from the camera proper to the recording device, it needs to be either safely secured to the walls, floors and ceilings between the two devices, or it needs to be installed within the walls, a process that can significantly increase the cost of the equipment installation. Wireless home security cameras, on the other hand, are much easier to install and move after installation. Wireless home security cameras can take high quality visual (and audio) footage.
The downside of a wireless home security camera system is that it is more susceptible to interference from microwaves, the Internet, bad weather, cell phones, and so on. This interference can result in grainy or even lost footage. Because of the cables, wired home security camera systems aren't affected by interference. Wireless cameras are also much more easily hacked by outsiders; their wired counterparts are more secure.
Monitored or Non-Monitored
Many homeowners find that they're able to set up a non-monitored home security system on their own. That's mainly because installing the desired wireless features and connecting them all to one control panel is a relatively easy task.
These systems, when activated, will produce a loud alarm with the intention of notifying the owner to a break in or to scare off the intruder. The owner (or neighbors, if the owner is out of town) is then responsible for dealing with the situation or calling the authorities if necessary.
However, there is also an option, which is to have your home security system monitored by a home security company for a monthly fee. Monitored systems give owners the peace of mind that their home is being watched at all times, whether the owners themselves are at work, having dinner, in bed, or on vacation. They can wait a predetermined amount of time to see if the alarm is deactivated by the owner (in case of accidental activation). If it isn't deactivated, the home security monitoring company will call the appropriate authorities, whether it's police, fire or medical.
Choose Your Features
There are many different features available for home security systems and there are many different ways to customize those features. Home security can range from something as cheap and simple (albeit quite unreliable) as a fence and some floodlights to an expensive high-tech, multi-device, monitored, wireless, internet-connected system. With some systems you can install the home security monitors and sensors yourself, and some home security systems require a professional installer.
Differences Between Monitored and Non-Monitored Home Security Systems
What is a non-monitored system
A non-monitored home security system is composed of whatever features you select for your home which aren't monitored by another human through a digital connection. Door and window sensors, motion detectors and surveillance cameras can all be set up as a non-monitored system, and can be installed either by you or by professionals. Non-monitored systems can be wired or wireless - technological advances allow wireless systems to be accessed remotely from your smartphone, tablet or computer to make it easier for you to keep tabs on your property when away from home.
What is a monitored system
Monitored systems have the same components as a non-monitored system, but include the added security benefit of being monitored 24/7 by a security company. If an alarm goes off, the company will give you a few seconds to rule out accidental activation. If you don't enter a code into the alarm, or if you're not home, the security team will contact the police, fire or medical departments depending on what type of alarm has gone off.
Companies charge a fee for monitoring services, and those fees will have to be paid in addition to any costs associated with the equipment you choose to have installed. Most companies provide a lease service, allowing you to not rent the security features instead of outright buying them. These rental costs are added to your monthly fee to cover the equipment.
Pros and Cons: Non-Monitored
Pros and Cons: Monitored
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