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Home security systems have become increasingly popular in recent years, as people seek to protect their homes and families from potential threats. With a wide variety of options available on the market, choosing the right system for your needs can be overwhelming. We can help you take the stress out of the decision-making process and ultimately select a home security setup that's perfect wherever you live.
Let's get started. As you already know, a home security system is a network of electronic devices designed to secure your home against theft, vandalism, and other possible dangers. A typical system may include sensors, cameras, alarms, and monitoring services.
Tuesday, June 6th
Cove is a provider of effective and affordable home security that has quickly made a name for itself in the industry, earning accolades such as the Best Home Security System designation from US News and World Report. Despite being a newcomer, Cove has already established itself as a top choice for those seeking quality home security solutions - especially if you like the DIY approach that doesn't require professional installation.
Answer a few questions to set up your system
To begin with Cove, simply fill out their questionnaire to receive their recommendations. The questionnaire will ask whether you're setting up a security system for your home or business, if you currently have an alarm system, and other details such as if you have pets, to determine if you require pet-sensitive sensors. You can access the questionnaire by clicking on the "See what it costs" box located towards the top of the Cove website.
Extremely flexible equipment choices
After filling out the questionnaire on Cove's website, the recommended security system that matches your needs will be displayed. The best part is that the system can be customized to your liking: you can add or subtract any element. For example, you can add an extra camera to expand your coverage or remove entry sensors from your upstairs windows. Cove's flexibility in allowing customers to create their own unique package is a great benefit, unlike other providers that only offer pre-made packages.
Professional monitoring for less than $30/month
Next, you'll select monitoring: Cove Basic or Cove Plus. Both plans include 24/7 monitoring of alarms and environmental alerts via ATT 4G LTE connections, 24-hour battery backup, smash-and-grab protection, and hourly automated system checks. The Basic plan costs $17.99/month and comes with a one-year warranty on Cove equipment. Upgrading to the Plus plan for $27.99/month has additional benefits such as lifetime warranty coverage, guaranteed pricing, and a $5 monthly credit towards new equipment purchases that can be accumulated over time. You should be aware that the Plus plan is required for camera integration and smartphone/Alexa/Google Home control with your Cove system.
No contracts. Really!
Cove offers the convenience of no contracts, which is a huge perk for anyone looking for flexible home security solutions. The only major upfront cost is for the equipment, which is much more affordable than many of Cove's competitors. To give you an idea, we calculated the cost of fully protecting a two-story home with multiple door/window sensors and remote controls for a household of six adults. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the entire package cost less than $400 - there was a holiday promo in place that saved us 40% and got us an indoor HD camera for free but Cove almost always has some kind of discount running that will keep your prices low. Also, the first month of monitoring is included on all packages.
Helps you avoid the costs of false alarms
Cove's TripleTouch Alarm Response is a unique feature of their home security systems. In the event of a triggered alarm, you'll receive an immediate text message and the LiveAssist function will activate on your in-home control panel, both attempting to contact you to verify the alarm. If Cove is unable to reach you through these methods, they'll call your phone. If they're still unable to get in touch with you or if you confirm that there's an emergency, Cove will contact emergency services. This innovative approach reduces the incidence of false alarm calls, which is especially beneficial if you live in an area where you're charged a fee for first responder visits.
60-day, risk-free trial
As far as we can tell, there is no downside to Cove's home security systems. They offer a risk-free trial period of 60 days, during which you can test the equipment and return it for a full refund if you're not satisfied. Cove even covers the return shipping fees.
Over 4,000 five-star reviews
Even as a newer home security company, Cove has earned a solid reputation in the industry already. More than 4,200 clients have given Cove a five-star rating, praising its knowledgeable support, easy setup, and accurate security coverage. Looking at the most recent comments on Trustpilot alone, it's easy to see that most people enthusiastically recommend Cove's home security systems: the customer service is on point and pleasant when helping clients get things figured out, or when there's a problem to solve with the equipment.
Much fewer complaints than rivals
Although the company's BBB rating has dropped from an "A" to a "B" since our last review, due to having about 150 complaints filed over the last three years, that's almost nothing compared with home security providers whose complaints register in the thousands - just over the last year alone. The discontented customers here mainly complained about difficulty setting up their Cove home security systems or equipment that didn't work as expected.
#1 choice for home security systems
Cove has emerged as one of the top choices for home security systems. Their openness about equipment and monitoring pricing, without any mandatory contracts, is commendable. Furthermore, the company appears to be making strides to improve their already decent customer service, and we anticipate positive feedback from future clients. With the added comfort of a 60-day risk-free trial, why not give Cove a chance? This is our #1 pick among today's most popular home security options.
Alarm Relay may not be a household name, but it has been providing home security services for over 50 years in the US, Puerto Rico, and parts of Canada. It's a little surprising that not many people have heard of them, given that the Better Business Bureau has given them an "A+" rating and accreditation without any complaints. This isn't always the case in the home security industry, and it speaks to the reliability of Alarm Relay's services.
Just the basics
If you're in the market for a home security system that's loaded with fancy features and gadgets, Alarm Relay might not be the provider for you. However, if you want a reliable security system with all the essential components and trustworthy monitoring, then Alarm Relay is definitely worth considering. They may not have all the latest and greatest technology, but they provide a solid, no-frills option for basic home security.
When you check out the Alarm Relay website's equipment section, you'll notice what they have available and what they don't. If you take a look at the Sensors section, you'll find different options for detecting floods, smoke, and carbon monoxide, as well as entry point sensors for doors and windows. Alarm Relay also has various indoor and outdoor cameras and video doorbells available under Cameras. You can add as many components as you want to your cart, but remember to choose a monitoring plan as well.
Smart home features have been added recently
Since our last review, Alarm Relay has upgraded its offerings to include smart home controls through its smartphone app. You can control any Z-Wave home automation devices, like thermostats and door locks, plus view any cameras you have in your Alarm Relay System. You'll have to choose one of the top two tiers of service to access those features, but lucky for you all of the packages here are affordably priced.
Extremely affordable professional monitoring
What do we mean by affordable? See for yourself:
You'll have to pay for a year at a time
Those prices quoted by Alarm Relay represent the average monthly cost, but payment is required on a yearly basis. It's important to note that the cost increases slightly every year for the first three years, but then remains fixed after the fourth year. Still, that's the total term of your contract with Alarm Relay: just the year-by-year service.
Can work with equipment you already have
Unlike other home security systems that require you to buy their equipment, Alarm Relay is flexible and can work with what you already have at home. You can contact them through their site or by phone and provide details about your property, and they will guide you through the installation process. If you're starting from scratch, Alarm Relay can still help you determine the best security setup that suits your needs. They're always ready to offer assistance and get you protected quickly.
Very positive reputation
Alarm Relay has garnered a lot of positive feedback from satisfied customers, including many who have been using their home security systems for more than ten years. Even those who have switched from a well-known security brand regret not choosing Alarm Relay earlier, given their excellent protection and lower prices. Although there have been a few complaints, they were dealt with professionally and amiably by Alarm Relay representatives, and nothing stood out as a cause for concern. It's tough to argue with the fact that almost 95% of their clients give them a 4- or 5-star rating on Trustpilot.
Best for the basics of trustworthy home security
If you're after a basic home security system without too many fancy extras, we highly recommend Alarm Relay. With the ability to commit to just a year at a time, this provider stands out for its willingness to work with any existing security equipment you may already have in place. Although you won't find the most advanced features or technology with Alarm Relay, you can count on affordable protection and reliable service. Alarm Relay should definitely be on your list of options to consider among home security system providers.
Xfinity is a brand of Comcast, a large telecommunications and media conglomerate based in the United States. Xfinity offers a range of services including cable TV, internet, home phone, and home security systems. They have been in the home security market for several years, and their system is marketed as a comprehensive package that integrates smoothly with their other services.
Professional monitoring or DIY, your pick
There are two ways you can use Xfinity for home security: self-protection and professional monitoring. Self-protection gives you live video and 24/7 recording on up to 6 active cameras and/or video doorbells. You can build out your system further with many popular smart home devices, like locks and thermostats. You'll pay just $10/month for self-protection, plus the cost of any equipment you choose. Even the gear is affordably-priced: you'll pay just $60 for an indoor camera, for example. Most equipment is offered at a per-month price too: $9/month for 24 months on a camera/smart lock combo, $5/month for 24 months for a smart lock, and so on. There's no contract on the $10/month self-monitoring service.
No contracts? No joke.
Or, if you want a more traditional, professionally-monitored home security setup, you can choose between Xfinity's Pro Protection and Pro Protection Plus (say THAT ten times fast). Both packages include 24/7 monitoring, real-time alerts, battery backup, and the ability to control your system through your TV using your Xfinity Voice Remote. The Plus package gives you the capability of reviewing up to a week of uninterrupted recorded video and motion clips via cloud store, and to easily search footage by people, vehicle, or pet. Neither plan has a term contract, which is a breath of fresh air among home security companies who lock you in for up to five years at a time.
Monthly fees of $50 or less
Depending on where you live, your monthly fees for Pro Protection or Plus will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 to $50 per month: in one area we entered, we were quoted $30 for the lower tier and $40 for the higher one, and in another it was priced at $40 and $50, respectively.
Equipment isn't super-expensive
As with the self-protection package, the professionally-monitored home security systems have equipment costs separate from the monitoring. You can opt to pay for your equipment outright or spread the fees over 24 months. Xfinity's Base Home System costs $360 or 24 monthly payments of $15, Complete sells for $480 or $20 x 24 months, and the Ultimate goes for $600 or $25 x 24 months. But, you can also build out your own plan with various configurations of equipment as desired.
Not available everywhere
The primary disadvantage of the Xfinity Home Security System is its restricted service area. Unless Xfinity Internet is available in your location, you won't be able to subscribe to their service. For instance, in a suburb of a mid-size metropolitan area we tested, we were directed to their affiliate, Spectrum, which unfortunately doesn't provide any home security systems with their TV/Internet/Phone bundles. In another metro area that isn't serviced by Xfinity, we were told that our address was invalid and we weren't even passed along to a partner provider. This could potentially exclude a significant number of potential customers. The jury is also still out as to whether or not you have to be an Xfinity internet customer to use their home security systems: in some places it says yes and in others it says no, so keep that in mind.
No concerns about reputation
It can be tricky getting a finger on the pulse of customer sentiment specific to Xfinity's home security systems: most feedback is a mix of comments on the broad range of products in the Xfinity portfolio (like internet or TV), or even for parent company Comcast (which, fortunately, has an "A+" and accreditation from the BBB). Still, in the places we were able to find security system-specific feedback, it was almost always positive. Customers really appreciate not being locked into a contract unless they've chosen to pay for their equipment in installments, and even if you pay for your gear upfront you're still not spending thousands of dollars.
Excellent choice - if you can get it
If Xfinity is available in your area, you're in luck. Their contract-free home security system is competitively priced and equipped with all the latest features. We have no problem recommending Xfinity as a provider to consider. However, if Xfinity is not available, you'll need to explore the other home security systems we reviewed to find a suitable option for your needs.
Link Interactive is a home security provider that has been in business since 1952. The company offers a range of security products and services, including home automation, home security cameras, and smart home devices. Link Interactive's services are available throughout the US, and the company prides itself on providing high-quality customer service and support. The company is a division of Mountain Alarm Fire & Security, based in Utah.
3 levels of monitoring
There are three options for monitoring with Link Interactive's systems:
Contracts of 1-3 years, depending on your setup
However, be aware that those prices may reflect a three-year contract, and there's no way to cancel and get any kind of a refund early. If you own your home security equipment outright, you can choose a monitoring contract of anywhere from 1-3 years, but the shorter the contract, the higher your monitoring fees may be. Link Interactive doesn't really spell that out until you get a quote specific to your residence. The same goes for equipment costs: you can go through the online store and get an idea of what things cost for example, door/window sensors are $24 each), but Link doesn't offer package previews. Like many home security providers, this company wants you to reach out for a quote before they tell you what the bottom line will be.
You could save with a code
Watch out for any discounts that might be in place, if you decide to submit your information for a quote. At the time of this review, there was a code featured on the homepage offering up to 50% off the cost of a new system, up to $500. That could make your Link Interactive home security protection a lot more affordable. Also, if you already have a home security system and you're looking to make a change, be sure to reach out to Link and see how it can be integrated into their monitoring.
On another plus side, you won't have to pay any installation or activation fees here. Yes, you have to install your home security system yourself, but Link Interactive's components come preprogrammed, which is convenient for those who may struggle with the technical side of setting up a home security system. This feature can be a huge help if you're good at installation but not so much with technology. Even if you add new components to your system later on, like video cameras, they can be easily integrated into the system using the serial numbers of the equipment.
30-day refund policy
All home security systems here come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you get your Link Interactive system set up and don't like it for any reason, you can get a refund after you return the equipment.
Link Interactive receives excellent reviews from customers for their attention to detail. The company's representatives are knowledgeable, friendly, and based in the US. Many customers appreciate the provider's responsiveness to any issues with installation or integration of components. And, the Better Business Bureau gives Link Interactive's parent company an "A+" and accreditation.
Decent choice for home security systems
If you prefer DIY installation but need help with the technical aspects of a home security system, Link Interactive could be a great option. Keep in mind that it may be pricier, especially when it comes to equipment costs. However, you can take comfort in the fact that the service comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a 3-year warranty on components.
Guardian Protection has been in the home security systems market for nearly 70 years and has provided peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of customers. The company has received several awards for the excellent service of its monitoring center, including the prestigious Angie's List Super Service Award.
Professional install required
All of Guardian Protection's home security systems provide the ability to arm and disarm remotely through an internet-connected device like a smartphone, tablet, or computer. You'll also receive email or text alerts when the alarm goes off or a sensor is triggered. However, professional installation by a Guardian technician is required for all packages, regardless of which one you select.
Many equipment packages on offer
Speaking of packages, there are nine ready-made options offered here, all named according to what features might be most desirable for your home environment:
Easy to choose
Guardian's website makes it easy to choose packages that you think might be a good fit and compare up to three of them side-by-side. As you'd expect from the name, The Works is the one to consider if you want Guardian's top-of-the-line package. It includes a long list of features, from the basics like five door/window sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, and a video doorbell, plus plenty of extras ranging from a medical pendant to smart home features like thermostats and garage door openers.
No pricing specifics unless you reach out for a quote
Unfortunately, the Guardian website is not very transparent about their pricing, which is a downside compared to some rival home security system providers who are more upfront about their equipment costs, installation fees, and monthly charges. Like those more traditional competitors, Guardian requires you to contact a sales representative to evaluate your security requirements and receive advice on equipment and monitoring options. Based on customer feedback, it seems reasonable to expect that Guardian will charge a minimum of $99 for installation and at least $34.95/month for monitoring. However, the overall cost of equipment and monthly charges will vary depending on factors such as your location, any promotions or discounts offered by the sales representative, and other factors that are discussed during the sales process.
Contracts of three to five years?
We also found customers referring to fairly lengthy contracts with Guardian Protection, anywhere from three to five years. You'll want to get that information nailed down before you sign anything, because some of those client comments said they felt tricked into a contract by signing once during the sales process and having their signature automatically applied to other areas of the agreement.
Good overall reputation
Guardian Protection has an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, and a much lower number of complaints than many of its rivals within the home security system industry: just 54 filed with the BBB in the most recent 12-month period. Feedback via Trustpilot tracks with that as well: out of 2,000+ ratings, Guardian Protection has an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars, with over 75% giving the company a perfect score.
A few notes of discontent
We think it's important to point out that the BBB referenced a settlement in Arizona regarding non-disclosure of early termination fees - and maybe that's why the state no longer shows up as a service area for these home security systems. And, for the customers who went to the BBB or to Trustpilot to complain, their remarks typically center around those contract issues - so it's important to read ALL of the fine print and double-check anything you sign as part of the sign-up process, if you choose a Guardian Protection home security system.
Still recommended but could increase pricing transparency
Guardian Protection has a great reputation for providing quality service, and so we've continued to rate them at 3.5 stars. However, to be competitive with the top home security system providers, they need to be more transparent about their costs and expand their coverage area to reach a wider range of customers. If you do have Guardian available in your area, we also recommend that you pay very close attention to the details of your home security system package, especially with respect to contract length and early termination fees.
CPI Security, founded in 1991, is a Charlotte, North Carolina-based company that started with only 10 employees and 300 customers. Today, it has grown to become one of the top 10 largest security providers in the country with over 750 employees. Throughout its history, CPI has been recognized with numerous awards for excellence, including the SDM Dealer of the Year award twice, Central Station of the Year, and the Marvel Award. The company has achieved fast alarm response times and consistently ranks among the top 10 electronic security businesses.
Skip this company if you don't leave in the Southeast
Before we get too far in, it's important to know that CPI's home security services are only available in select areas of the southeastern United States, including the major metropolitan areas of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Asheville, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta, and Knoxville. If you reside outside of these regions, you won't have access to their services.
Clients love these home security systems
CPI has built a strong reputation for itself within that service area. With over 30 years of service, it has earned accreditation and an "A+" rating from the BBB. Additionally, CPI has increased its average rating to 4.7 out of 5 stars based on nearly 2,000 reviews on Trustpilot, with 75% of those being a perfect five-star score. Clients have nothing but love for the customer support received from CPI and the overall performance of their home security systems. A big part of that satisfaction comes from CPI's "No False Alarm" guarantee, which pays fines for any system malfunctions or errors on their part, as long as the customer provides a copy of the alarm fine.
Pricing information is too hidden
However, CPI could do a lot more to let prospective customers know what to expect before making that call to a salesperson. In today's home security system marketplace, having to call for a quote is going to be an instant turn-off for a lot of people who are wary of getting signed up for pushy texts and calls from eager representatives. They don't provide any information upfront - about equipment pricing, monitoring fees, or contracts - and it was even harder this time around to sleuth that out.
We went deep into the Terms and Conditions to find this: "For homeowners with approved credit, a minimum equipment investment of $499 and additional equipment may be paid in installments over 39 months at a 0% annual percentage rate through the CPI Smart Pay program." If you're having CPI take over an existing system, the T&C also says that you'll need to make a minimum equipment investment of $549, on top of whatever equipment you already have.
Need more info on monitoring fees and contract lengths
And, poking around among user feedback, we feel fairly confident in saying that you should expect your monthly monitoring fees here to be at least $29.99 per month. As for contract lengths, we've seen reports ranging anywhere from 3-5 years, but there wasn't anything on the CPI Security website to confirm it. You'll want to read the terms of your contract very carefully, should you opt to use one of these home security systems.
Not a bad company but won't work for everyone
Although CPI Security has a good reputation and has won many awards, it's not the best choice for everyone. Unfortunately, they only provide services in a limited area of the US. On top of that, their equipment can be expensive and they might have long contracts with monitoring fees that are more costly than other companies. Because of this, CPI Security just doesn't make it anywhere near the top of our list of recommended home security providers.
ADT is one of the most recognizable names in the home security systems industry, and with over 140 years of experience providing security in various forms, it's not hard to understand why.
Multiple monitoring centers = better protection
ADT's 24/7 monitoring centers, located in six different locations across the US, are a significant advantage of the company's size. This ensures uninterrupted coverage even in the event of a natural disaster or other incidents. Smaller companies, who rely on a single location for their monitoring services, may not offer this level of reliability.
Some of the most expensive home security systems
But, you should expect to pay handsomely for any home security system you choose through ADT: their monthly prices (which include your equipment and monitoring fees) are some of the most expensive in the industry, and you'll have to call to finalize a package and quote for your specific living arrangements. Here's a rough idea of what you can expect, so you can be a little more prepared for that phone call:
You'll need an in-person visit
Once you reach out to ADT, they'll set up an appointment to have a trained security advisor/installer come to your home, so that your home security system is designed specifically for your home, family, and lifestyle. That visit will include taking measurements and getting a recommendation for the equipment that will best match your property and your preferred budget.
6-month money-back guarantee... sort of
ADT provides a 6-month money-back guarantee, which states that customers may receive a refund of installation costs and any paid monitoring fees if the company is unable to resolve service- or installation-related issues. However, there are certain restrictions that apply, such as the requirement to fully remove all equipment before processing the refund, and the condition that system-related problems must not have been caused by the customer.
Reputation leaves a lot to be desired
You would think that with millions of customers, ADT's popularity would translate into lots of positive feedback for their home security systems. While it's true that the company has an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, ADT received over 3,000 complaints there just in the year leading up to this evaluation. Jumping over to Trustpilot, we also saw that 89% of people who left feedback there gave ADT the lowest possible rating of one star.
The biggest complaint is customer service: issues included systems being inactive for 10 years (while the customer was still being billed every month; no one on ADT's side ever noticed that the system wasn't sending data), lots of promises during the sales process that aren't backed up once the home security system is installed, no warranty coverage on equipment, and significant declines in service when smaller home security companies are acquired by ADT.
A big name in security with disappointing results
We still give ADT a "just average" three-star rating: it is a big name in home security, and for some people that might be pretty compelling compared with lesser-known or newer providers. But, unless ADT starts trending better with respect to customer feedback, it's going to be hard for their home security systems to ever move up in our rankings.
Brinks Home is a home security company that provides 24/7 professional monitoring, smart home automation, and customizable security solutions to protect homes and families. The company has a strong reputation in the industry, with a focus on providing high-quality customer service and reliable security systems.
Wide range of home security products
Brinks Home offers a range of security products and services, including home security cameras, doorbell cameras, smart locks, and environmental sensors. They also offer a mobile app that allows customers to control their security system from anywhere, as well as receive alerts and notifications. Brinks Home has been in the security industry for over 150 years and has earned a number of awards for their services and products.
They don't want to tell you anything upfront
You could say that Brinks Home locks down its pricing information just as tightly as they promise to lock down your property: there is absolutely zero pricing information available without reaching out for a quote. We tried everything; digging through the FAQs, reaching out via live chat (who merely redirected us to asking for a quote online), you name it. That's really frustrating when there are competitors who tell you from the get-go what you can expect to pay for both your equipment and your monitoring, and how long you'll have to be in a contract.
Definitely pushing you to call for a quote
So, that makes it pretty irrelevant when Brinks Home cheerfully says that customers can cancel anytime if they choose a Nest Secure plan - when they don't tell you what that means. Or they say that monitoring starts at $29.99 per month but they don't reveal how long you'll be locked in or what features are included (and excluded) at that price point. It's almost painfully obvious that they want to funnel you to a salesperson who can talk you into signing up for a Brinks home security system. We definitely don't love that.
A few pieces of info in advance
So, here's what you can know upfront: these home security systems are designed to be DIY-installed, but if you decide you need professional help, Brinks will connect you with a pro in their network (so one more hoop to jump through to get up and running, in other words). You don't need a landline for a Brinks Home security system: all of them use cellular/Wi-Fi connections. And if you're not on that aforementioned Nest Secure plan, you will be responsible for the full term of your contract if you try to cancel before it's finished.
Thousands of complaints
Okay, so we've established that Brinks Home won't pull back the curtain until you reach out for a quote, and that there's no sense in rounding up ideas on what other customers have paid because it could change at any time (because who would know, when it's not displayed on the Brinks website). We can still take a look at what the overall experience has been for those who bit the bullet and signed up with Brinks Home - and what we see there is honestly disappointing. The company has a "meh" rating of "B" from the Better Business Bureau, with over 3,000 complaints filed there in the last year. Oh, and then there was this: "Due to the volume of complaints filed against this business, BBB only publishes the details for 5% of the total complaints filed." Alrighty then!
Not getting any better
Customers going to Trustpilot to vent give the same feedback: out of 6,800+ ratings, while 54% give Brinks Home a perfect score, nearly 30% give this home security system a bottom-of-the-pile one-star rating. Why? The BBB puts it succinctly, saying that Brinks Home has a "pattern of complaints concerning difficulty canceling a contract, poor customer service, delayed repairs to monitoring equipment, and billing concerns" - and that was back in spring of 2022. Has it improved since then? Not if you look at the most recent feedback at Trustpilot: within a few weeks of this review, comments described all of those same issues.
It's not working, guys
Brinks Home acts like it's the only player in the home security system industry, almost like they're being mysterious and intriguing in the hope of getting your business. It's not working. For a company that's been in business over 100 years, they sure don't seem to understand that today's customer needs to know what they're getting in advance, even if it's just a ballpark with packages and "starting at" pricing. We could overlook that if Brinks Home had a stellar reputation for client satisfaction but nope, they don't. Try looking at our higher-ranked home security options before choosing a system from Brinks Home.
Since 2006, SimpliSafe has been a popular provider of true do-it-yourself home security, including installation and monitoring. Over one million customers in both the US and UK have put their trust in this company for their home protection needs.
Budget-friendly home security
SimpliSafe offers multiple options to build out a customized home security system. For those on a tight budget, they have a Refurbished section that can help you save money. Otherwise, you can either select individual components or choose from one of their six pre-made equipment packages:
Four different monitoring options
SimpliSafe offers four monitoring choices that include unmonitored, self-monitored with camera recording, standard, and interactive. All of these options give you the ability to arm and disarm the system remotely, receive push notifications, and get alerts for alarms, errors, and camera activity. Additionally, regardless of the number of components you have in your SimpliSafe home security system, you can expect to pay the same monthly monitoring fees.
Unmonitored for truly DIY home security
SimpliSafe's unmonitored option is perfect for those on a tight budget or who value their privacy. You only pay for the equipment and don't have to worry about anyone else watching your property. However, it's important to note that you won't have access to emergency services or text/email notifications, and your activity log will only cover the last seven days. While this might be a bit too bare-bones for most homeowners looking for a home security system, it could be a great choice for keeping an eye on a second home or other property that's frequently unoccupied.
Unmonitored + video
For those who don't want to opt for professional monitoring, SimpliSafe has another alternative. You can pay a monthly fee of $9.99 and use up to five video cameras with limitless recording, unrestricted access to your system's history and timeline, smart home component integration options, and alerts and notifications via all channels like email, text, and push. However, you will still be accountable for monitoring your security system since no one else will do it for you.
2 professionally-monitored plans
But, if you're in the market for a home security system, chances are you're looking for professional monitoring. SimpliSafe offers 24/7 monitoring in two plans: Standard for $17.99/month and Interactive for $27.99/month. The Standard plan covers the basics of monitoring but doesn't include SMS/email notifications, reminders to arm your system, or smart home integrations. The Interactive plan, on the other hand, includes all available notifications and services, and allows you to record on up to 10 cameras in your security system.
Unique benefits with these home security systems
If you opt for the Interactive monitoring tier with SimpliSafe, you'll get access to two unique features that set it apart from other home security systems. The first is their Visual Verification tool, which allows their professional monitoring service to quickly confirm the legitimacy of an alarm or alert, resulting in faster dispatch of first responders. Additionally, you can set up Secret Alerts for specific areas in your home, such as a room or cabinet, and receive silent notifications when they're accessed. You can use this feature to catch anyone snooping around where they shouldn't be, like your kids getting into your secret stash of treats.
SimpliSafe offers a risk-free trial for all levels of monitoring and equipment. You can try them out for 60 days and cancel for any reason within that time. You can also take advantage of a 7-day trial of their professional monitoring services, if you're on the fence between paying the pros and doing it yourself. And, all equipment in SimpliSafe's home security packages is backed by a one-year warranty.
Quality of service has definitely dropped
When you first look at SimpliSafe's reputation, you might think that this is the world's best home security option: an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, plus nearly 10,000 five-star reviews on Trustpilot are pretty compelling. But, if you dig into this company's feedback in more recent weeks and months, it doesn't look so good after all. Some customers report having to replace literally every piece of equipment in their home security package - over the first year and a half of use.
Complaints keep rolling in
There are also numerous complaints about cameras that don't function properly, unreliable system performance, keypads that stop performing after the first battery change, and technical glitches with software updates. And that doesn't even cover the problems people have with SimpliSafe's customer service. "Don't call us, we'll call you" seems to be the norm - but then no one from the company ever reaches out to fix the issue.
Not a top pick now
We don't want to write SimpliSafe off completely - after all, it was one of our highest-rated home security providers for many years. But, we have to recommend caution if you decide to give this company a try, based on the overwhelming majority of negative feedback coming from recent customer ratings.
For many years, Frontpoint was our top choice for home security systems. As the first company to provide DIY equipment installation combined with professional monitoring, it's no wonder that it quickly made its mark in the industry.
Choose a security package
Frontpoint offers three pre-built packages for you to choose from:
Those packages weren't quite as impressive as the last time: previous kits came with more equipment and were usually priced a little more favorably. For example, all three sets included a video doorbell, but now it's only standard with The Family Lookout. But, you can always build your own system from scratch or add equipment a la carte before you check out (or later down the road).
Customize or extend your home security system
Frontpoint is highly praised for its flexibility in allowing customers to integrate a variety of home automation equipment, including components from third-party sellers and brands. You can create a customized security system by browsing through Frontpoint's offerings and considering what you already have, such as a Nest thermostat or other smart home devices.
Wide range of available equipment
It's hard to find any type of home security equipment that Frontpoint doesn't offer. Their dropdown categories include a wide range of options such as Home Automation, Accessories, Cameras, Intrusion, Best Sellers, and Hazard Sensors. While you may not find dozens of choices in each category, Frontpoint allows you to easily incorporate equipment from other retailers, such as most Z-Wave home automation gear. Additionally, Frontpoint often has discounts available ranging from 20%-40% on their offerings. (Those prices we mentioned earlier reflect a promo of 40% off at the time of this evaluation.)
Monitoring isn't cheap
Be aware that Frontpoint's monitoring fees are relatively high, starting at $49.99 per month. While you can only have up to four cameras on the system, you can add as many other components as you need. Frontpoint offers a $5/month discount for customers who choose automatic payments from their checking or savings account.
Comes with ID protection
Among the home security providers we evaluated, Frontpoint is the only one that offers identity theft protection as part of its monitoring fees. The service is called ID Protect, and it's provided by Allstate. If you're already paying $20 or more a month for a similar service like LifeLock, you might consider switching to Frontpoint's ID Protect as a way to offset their higher-than-most monitoring fees.
Not no-contract anymore
Frontpoint was our #1 choice for home security for many years. Why not now? A few things have changed since our last evaluation, and not for the better. First, the home security company's reputation with the Better Bureau went down from an "A+" to an "A" : not exactly something to lose sleep over, but it got us wondering if there was anything we needed to look into among the 270+ complaints filed with the BBB in the previous year. Sure enough, we started seeing multiple references to "three-year contract" , "hard to cancel" , and so on. Wait, what? One of our reasons for highly recommending Frontpoint for home security previously was a lack of a contract.
3-year contract and stiff cancellation fees
Digging in a little further, we opened up the PDF of Terms and Conditions in the Subscriber Agreement, found just before clicking to pay for a home security system (and not openly on the Frontpoint website as far as we could see). And there it was: "This agreement is non-cancellable for an initial term of 36 months, except for the 30-day risk-free trial period... after the 30-day trial period, any early termination will be subject to an early termination fee equal to 80% of all money due... for the remaining term of this agreement." *gulp* That's not quite so user-friendly anymore, is it?
Almost nothing but one-star ratings recently
It gets worse. Frontpoint has an overall rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, with nearly 10,000 five-star ratings alone. However, it looks like the overwhelming majority of those high ratings were given to Frontpoint years and years ago. Scroll through the ratings from the last few months and you'll see a sea of red representing reviews with the lowest possible score. Clients rant about trying to cancel multiple times, being billed well after cancellation, having trouble reaching a live support agent when there's an issue, the list goes on and on.
30-day trial still in place
The only reason we haven't dropped Frontpoint completely to the bottom of the pile is the 30-day risk-free trial. At least you still have the opportunity to see for yourself how the security system works in your home - but we're not exactly confident that you can expect an easy-peasy refund process if you decide that it's not the right setup for you.
Fall from the top
Frontpoint used to be the logical choice for home security systems: affordable, easy to use, great customer service, and no contracts. None of those seem to apply now. While there are far worse options out there, it's disappointing when an amazing service drops the way Frontpoint has. Unless something changes for the better and Frontpoint goes back to its older business model, you'll probably be happier with one of the higher-ranked home security providers in our review.
Abode is headquartered in San Francisco and was founded by a former executive of ADT. The company offers home security systems with do-it-yourself installation that prioritize seamless integration with smart home devices, enabling users to connect devices from various platforms, even if purchased elsewhere.
Keep an eye out for savings and deals
As we browsed the Abode site, we got a pop-up offering a 50% discount on our first order of a special sale bundle of equipment. We had to enter our email address to claim the deal, though. There was also a promo at the top of the site featuring a coupon code that would save us 15% on accessories when purchasing a home security kit, no email required.
Custom or pre-packaged, you decide
How do you get started here? Abode aims to simplify the process of building a customized home security system. By clicking on the "build" button, users are prompted to answer questions about their specific needs, such as whether cameras are desired, the number of accessible doors and windows, and what they want to protect. Additionally, Abode offers four pre-packaged equipment bundles for those who prefer a simpler approach. At the time of our most recent visit, those included the following:
Build-your-own process not so intuitive
How about going with a customized setup? Honestly, the Abode system builder wasn't as easy to use as we thought it would be. In the question-and-answer process, we told them we needed multiple sensors and cameras, but their recommendation only showed us the basic equipment packages. We could click to add more sensors to our cart - an improvement over last time - but why bother asking the questions if you're not going to apply the answers to our equipment package, Abode?
Professional or DIY monitoring
You've got two options for monitoring your Abode security system: self-monitoring, known as Standard, and Pro. Your best savings comes from paying for a year of service upfront: $69.99 for Standard and $149 for Pro (which jumps to $219.99/year after the first 12 months). You'll also see options for month-to-month service at checkout; on a Pro plan, we were given a cost of $23.99/month for monitoring, and self-monitored systems were $6.99/month.
Self-monitoring customers can pay for short-term professional coverage
If you opt for self-monitoring, Abode offers a unique feature where you can purchase professional monitoring for just three or seven days as needed, which is great if you're going on vacation or will be in an area with poor cell service and can't receive alerts. This is something we haven't seen with other home security services. On the other hand, DIY monitoring customers are quick to point out that the "free" alerts they got only identified that there was something detected but didn't identify which part of the system was triggered - detailed notifications require paid monitoring here.
Abode's reputation has changed a bit since our last evaluation. For example, the company previously maintained an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, but that had dropped to a disappointing "C-" at the time of this review. Fortunately (?), that was only because Abode reps had failed to respond to one of the 12 complaints filed in the previous year, which is not any indication of bad service. On the other hand, client feedback through services like Trustpilot is a little more positive than before, with 56% of customers giving this home security provider a five-star rating.
Still, the overall average for Abode there was just a "meh" 3.3 out of 5 stars. For some people these home security systems work great, but most feedback indicates that the equipment and the service itself can be a little iffy and inconsistent. For example, in early 2022, Abode released a system update that resulted in significant problems with basic functions such as keypads and mobile apps. Customers were experiencing long wait times for support from Abode, with some not receiving a response at all.
Room for improvement
Abode isn't the worst home security system on the market, but it's a far cry from the best. It's one of just a handful of options if you want the choice between self- and professionally-monitored plans with do-it-yourself installation, but even that's not quite enough to get us past the lackluster performance of the equipment and support team. We recommend that you consider the top five home security providers in our review instead of going with Abode.
Ring is credited as the trailblazer of the video doorbell technology. Also coined as the "caller ID for the front door" by the inventor's spouse, the company has a mission to enhance neighborhood safety via their home security systems.
Two packages to choose from
Like many other home security systems on the market, Ring allows you to tailor a personalized package of components. However, if you prefer a pre-made package, Ring offers two options: Alarm and Alarm Pro. The Alarm package consists of the essential components, such as the base station, keypad, four contact sensors, one motion detector, and one range extender. If you choose this package, you'll have the option to add more components, like an indoor camera, video doorbell, or two spotlight or floodlight cameras. The Alarm package starts at $139.99 and can go up to just under $1,000 for the Deluxe Pro Bundle. This package includes two wired floodlights and two video doorbells, making it an ideal choice for business owners with multiple entry points.
Choose Pro for maximum benefits
Would you like to safeguard your network while securing your home? Ring's Alarm Pro package includes an eero Wi-Fi 6 router built-in, and you can select from several equipment packages that begin at $299.99. The key benefit of the Alarm Pro package is that even if your primary internet connection goes out, your Ring security system will remain online, and it also provides security to your home network.
Professional monitoring for $20/month
You'll need the Pro package if you want professional monitoring of your Ring home security system. This is extremely affordable at just $20/month. Without that, you'll be left with a system you have to monitor yourself - but some clients prefer that, especially when using a Ring system to keep an eye on a property other than their primary home (like an Airbnb or a vacation house).
Lots of possibilities and ways to save
Whether you prefer to have just the essential components or every possible feature, Ring systems can accommodate your needs: purchase everything at once or gradually build up your home security system over time. Ring offers an array of attractive options such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, smart home devices like light dimmers and thermostats, and electronic locks, among others. If you're looking to save money, you may want to check out the Certified Refurbished section on the Ring website. Additionally, if your order is at least $49, shipping is free.
Low reviews despite popularity
We were surprised to find that despite Ring's popularity, their reviews were overwhelmingly negative. Although the company has managed to regain an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau and there were no (?!) complaints registered there, Ring still had over 200 reviews averaging a dismal 1.15 out of 5 stars at the BBB.
Thousands of negative comments from unhappy customers
Customer feedback elsewhere was equally alarming. Thousands of people rated Ring with the lowest possible rating, and only a small percentage gave them five stars. Customers complained about doorbells that stopped working in cold weather, issues with warranty repairs and replacements, billing problems, and poor customer support. And, those complaints have recurred over several years, making us think that Ring really isn't investing much in improving equipment or fixing their ongoing customer service issues.
Safety and privacy concerns
While the negative customer reviews are certainly concerning, there have also been reports of Ring security systems being hacked or accessed by unauthorized individuals. A simple search using keywords such as "Ring" and "hacked" or "Ring" and "police" will yield several instances of these incidents. While Ring has taken steps to address these concerns, it will require significant effort and tangible results before consumers can feel confident in the safety and privacy of their homes. After all, the idea of being watched or monitored without consent is a serious violation of personal privacy and security. And, just a few weeks prior to this review, Wired Magazine was reporting that Ring was in a standoff with a ransomware hacker group threatening to leak stolen customer data. Not a good sign.
Better options are available
Previously, Ring was the go-to choice for a video doorbell. However, with the expansion of the home security market, other companies now offer similar equipment with better quality and fewer privacy concerns. Ring still has a lot of work to do, and until we see notable improvements, we cannot confidently recommend Ring for your home security needs.
Vivint is a well-known home security brand with over two million customers across North America. If you've had a sales pitch from a door-to-door rep, it's likely they were from Vivint. And yes, most of the positive feedback for these security systems comes from customers who gushed about how pleasant their salespeople and installers are, and how easy they make the process of ordering the equipment.
Top smart home integrations
Vivint's popularity in the home security industry can also be partially attributed to the integration of its systems. The company's home security systems allow customers to connect all of their locks, cameras, lighting, and thermostats through a hub or smartphone app. In addition, these systems are compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Can only buy over the phone or in person with a rep
Getting a clear idea of the cost of a Vivint home security system can be difficult as they require you to purchase it through a representative either in-person or over the phone. This is a lot less convenient than other home security services in our review that allow you to purchase online and maybe even install it yourself. Furthermore, a professional installation is required for your Vivint system, which can cost you up to $200 in fees. The company's lack of transparency may leave you feeling uncertain about what you're really getting into.
Contracts and fees and minimum packages, oh my...
You'll pay for service calls after the first four months
Still too many complaints filed with the BBB
Unfortunately, even though the Better Business Bureau upgraded Vivint from an "F" to a "C" , there were still more than 2,000 complaints filed with the BBB over the last 12 months alone - not to mention the $20 million that Vivint wound up agreeing to in a 2021 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for sketchy sales tactics.
Poor performance over time
Maybe some of that could be overlooked at least a little if Vivint offered a best-in-class home security system that functioned with no problems for the full length of the service contract. But, when you look at what clients say about their experience with Vivint, you find comment after comment like "equipment barely works after three years" , "gets outdated quickly" , "hounded by collection agencies even after we paid in full" , "no longer makes house calls to fix inoperable equipment" ... are you getting the picture? Sure, they've got over 19,000 five-star reviews there - but scroll through those and you'll notice that they're all about the technician and the install, and almost never from long-term customers who have had no problems after the first year or two (or four).
Not worth the money you'll spend
Vivint's home security system is not the best option for most people. There are too many uncertainties, and you might end up paying a lot of money for something that doesn't work properly over the course of your lengthy contract. We strongly recommend that you look at other providers before committing to Vivint for your home security system.
Wyze is a relatively new company that was founded in 2017 by four former Amazon employees, Yun Zhang, Dave Crosby, Dongsheng Song, and Elana Fishman. The company started with a single product, a low-cost smart home camera, which quickly gained popularity due to its affordability and ease of use.
Making smart home technology accessible
The company's mission is to make smart home technology accessible and affordable to everyone, regardless of their budget. Wyze achieves this by using a direct-to-consumer business model and keeping its profit margins low. Since its start, Wyze expanded its product lineup to include other smart home devices, including the Wyze Home Security System. The company likes to promote its system as "superior performance, no contracts, cheaper than Netflix" .
Easy on your wallet and very expandable
At first glance, the Wyze Home Security System is a budget-friendly option that provides basic home security features at an affordable price. The system includes a hub, sensors, and a keypad, which are easy to install and operate. The Wyze system is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing for voice control and integration with other smart home devices. Another feature that gets people's attention is the fact that this system can expand to include up to 100 sensors.
The hub is the brains of the system
The Wyze hub acts as the central control unit of the system and connects to your home Wi-Fi network. The hub communicates with the sensors and keypad to provide alerts and notifications to your phone via the Wyze app. The app is user-friendly and provides a live stream of your cameras and alerts for any activity detected by the sensors.
Sensors can be customized
The Wyze sensors are small, battery-powered devices that detect motion and can be placed on doors and windows. When the sensors detect motion, they send an alert to the Wyze hub, which triggers an alert on your phone. The sensors have a range of up to 300 feet and can be customized to trigger different actions, such as turning on lights or activating sirens.
Keypad is pretty basic
The Wyze keypad allows you to arm and disarm your system using a four-digit code. The keypad also has a panic button that triggers an alarm when pressed, notifying you and triggering an alert on your phone.
Where's the sales team or support reps?
Unfortunately, right out the gate, Wyze dropped the ball: at the time of this review, their home security systems were marked as "not available" and we were invited to submit our email to be notified when they were back in stock. Curious, we turned to Wyze's live chat, only to find a bot that couldn't tell us when that might be. Clicking the button to "contact support" , all we got was an email: no toll-free number and definitely no live agent on the other end of the chat. Not exactly an auspicious beginning for a company that wants us to trust with our home security needs.
These systems have been "out of stock" for over a year
That seemed to be due to the fact that the main product in the Wyze system, the Sense Hub, was itself out of stock. The site allowed us to place an order for monitoring, sensors, literally anything else in the Wyze inventory - just not the "brains" of the entire operation. And, even more disturbing, it was the exact same thing over a year ago: the Sense Hub was unavailable.
That's okay, because this home security system's reputation won't exactly have you waiting with bated breath hoping that it will come back in stock soon: the company has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau, with 110 complaints filed there over the last year. It doesn't get any better no matter where you look, from Trustpilot to Wyze's own Facebook page: customers rant about not being able to get a refund even when equipment arrives broken, cameras constantly going offline, false alarms, you name it. It's challenging finding any homeowner with praise for their Wyze home security system.
Avoid Wyze home security systems
It's probably just as well that the Wyze hub is out of stock, because there's just no reason to waste your time or money with this home security system. Being affordable is great if you actually deliver a service of any kind, and too many customers are left feeling less-than-secure with Wyze for us to be able to recommend it even a little. You can find a great deal on a top-notch home security system among the higher-ranked providers in our review, so don't bother looking at Wyze.
Sensors are the backbone of a home security system. They detect any unusual activity in and around your home and alert the system. The most common types of sensors are door and window sensors, motion sensors, and glass-break sensors. Door and window sensors are placed on the frames of doors and windows and detect any movement when the doors or windows are opened or closed. Motion sensors detect movement within a room, while glass-break sensors detect the sound of breaking glass. Pretty self-explanatory.
Cameras are an essential component of many home security systems. They provide visual evidence of any unusual activity around your home and can help identify intruders. Most cameras are connected to the internet, allowing you to view the footage remotely from your phone or computer.
Alarms are designed to alert you and your neighbors to any potential threats. When a sensor is triggered, the alarm will sound, and a notification will be sent to your phone or monitoring service. These companies monitor your home security system 24/7, and if a sensor is triggered, they will usually contact you to verify whether there is a genuine threat. If they are unable to reach you, they will contact the authorities on your behalf.
Now that you have a solid understanding of the basics of any home security system, what other factors might have an impact on your decision? Here are some criteria to consider:
Top Consumer Reviews brings you the ultimate guide to the best home security systems on the market today. Our comprehensive review and ranking system is designed to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision and protect your loved ones both now and in the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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