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      November 14, 2018

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Protect America vs Iris

Best Home Security Systems

To help you find the Best DIY Home Security Systems, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Protect America and Iris.

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Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home, no matter how big or small the residence. In the United States, there are over two million burglaries every calendar year, with losses averaging at least $2,000 per crime. Home security systems are the most popular, reputable way to deter would-be criminals and to catch them in the act.

However, many consumers are turning away from traditional home security systems which often involve lengthy service contracts, not to mention the installation of equipment and wiring that can leave unsightly holes in the walls - and that might not even be allowed by a landlord for those who are renting an apartment or house.

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Best Reviews

2018

DIY Home Security Reviews

4 stars
Protect America

PROTECT AMERICA Visit Site

Features:

FREE Equipment on all plans

Monitoring plans start at $19.99

Protect America has been around for a long time: more than twenty years and 400,000 customers later, their DIY Home Security Systems have kept pace with all of advances in technology that customers want.

Protect America offers three main home security packages:

  • Copper. This package comes with 3 Door/Window Sensors and a Motion Detector. The equipment is FREE and the monthly monitoring fee starts at $19.99.
  • Silver. This package comes with 9 Door/Window Sensors and 1 Motion Detector. The equipment is FREE and the monthly monitoring fee starts at $37.99.
  • Platinum. This package comes with 14 Door/Window Sensors and a Motion Detector. The equipment is FREE and the monthly monitoring fee starts at $42.99.

Did you notice that small detail on the monitoring costs, "starts at"? Unlike most of the DIY Home Security Systems we reviewed, Protect America does not automatically include broadband or cellular coverage of your system. No matter which package you select - Copper, Silver, or Platinum - the lowest monthly monitoring price only applies to systems that use a standard telephone landline. If you're like most people, you may not even have a landline in your house or apartment. That means you'll have to pay higher monthly costs to run your system. For the Copper package, you'll spend $41.99/month for broadband or cellular, $49.99 for Silver, and $54.99 for Platinum. Considering that you're obligated to sign a 3-year contract, that can be a pretty hefty financial commitment.

So, what if you want to add features, like smart lights or a monitored smoke detector? Protect America does offer those as extra equipment - but if you want to know what it'll cost, you'll have to contact them for a free quote. Compared with most of the other DIY Home Security Systems on the market, we would have preferred to see more upfront information about equipment costs and any extra charges (if any) for adding them to the initial equipment packages.

We also were left wondering about other aspects of Protect America's systems. Would we need a touchscreen control panel - which doesn't seem to be included in the initial packages? How are the systems installed? At first, we didn't see any helpful information on the website that would be useful for first-time customers to know exactly how to place the sensors or other equipment. Only when we dug around to find the Support section of the site did we come across that kind of help, including a live chat option (in very small print).

Of course, Protect America has a long history of satisfied customers that shouldn't be ignored. But, we'd like to see them be a little more competitive with other companies offering DIY Home Security Systems, especially when it comes to letting their potential customers know exactly what to expect with the process and the equipment they offer.

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3.5 stars
Iris

IRIS Visit Site

Features:

$14.95/month for all-inclusive professional monitoring plan

Free self-monitoring

90-day money back guarantee

Integrates with many third-party technologies such as Nest and Google

No contract

On the market for several years, Iris by Lowe's has had some challenges with reputation. Their original DIY home security products didn't offer any kind of professional monitoring, and users found their equipment to be buggy at best. However, over the last year or so, Iris has undergone numerous upgrades to try and keep up with the competition. So, how are they doing in that regard?

First and foremost, Iris by Lowe's now has options for professional monitoring - and they're priced much lower than comparable services offered by competitors. You'll have three options:

  • Basic: the most DIY plan, putting you in charge of monitoring your system and receiving notifications when alerts get triggered. You can manage components remotely, and it's up to you to contact authorities in the case of an emergency. The good news? It's completely free of charge. However, not all Iris systems/components may be included with the Basic plan.
  • Premium: for $9.99/month, you get access to additional features, such as 3GB storage of any video cameras in the system, a notification list for up to 6 individuals to receive alerts/alarm notifications, and other components for a more automated home experience.
  • Professional Monitoring: if you want the peace of mind of knowing that someone else is keeping an eye on you and your home, you'll want the $14.95/month plan. This plan includes all of the features of the Basic and Premium set-up while including full-service monitoring of burglary, smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide events. You also get 4G Cellular Backup service, should your system be disrupted due to an outage of your WiFi.

Compared with other services on the market, we were impressed by the pricing and intrigued by the possibilities. However, the Iris by Lowe's site doesn't make it easy to know what you'll need. When we clicked on the button to shop starter kits, we were taken to a dizzying array of possibilities. What do we need to get started? Is it included in this set or that one? It was hard to figure it out at a glance. At a bare minimum, expect to need the Iris Smart Hub ($69.99) and perhaps the Iris Security Pack ($109.00), which includes 2 Door/Window Sensors, Motion Detector, and Keypad. You can also look at the list of Iris Compatible Products (under the Products tab at the top of the site) and sort through the options according to Category, Use, Room, or Brand.

On a positive note, we really liked what we found on the Solutions tab: a sortable list of life situations that Iris can help manage, along with all of the necessary components and a rating as to the simplicity or difficulty of the set-up. For example, if you want to keep an eye on the kids when they get home from school, you can set up Iris to let you know that the door has been unlocked (or their key fob is present); the motion-activated camera can send real-time images to your smartphone, and there's even a smart plug for the TV so that they don't watch too many shows when they should be doing homework. Other configurations included Hands Off The Jewelry Box (or Cabinets), No More Smelly Cat (!), and Guest Room Perfection.

Iris is also one of the only DIY home security systems we found that has a specific plan for taking care of elderly or other family members who need extra supervision. Known as the Care system and included with the $9.99 Premium Plan (as well as the $14.99 Professional Monitoring Plan), this feature allows users to receive notifications when a loved one's routine changes: from refrigerator sensors to determine if the person has eaten that day to doors left open, movement sensors to see if he or she was up during the night, even medicine cabinet reminders to make sure that any needed medicines were taken. You can also purchase a Care Pendant, which features a large button that the wearer can press to alert others to a fall or other need for help.

Another plus for the Iris by Lowe's do-it-yourself approach to home security is that they are constantly expanding the third-party products that work with the Iris system. From Nest thermostats to Google Home, chances are good that you'll be able to use with your Iris home security system.

The biggest drawback with the system? It may be a little too DIY. We found numerous customers who struggled to get their system set up the way they needed it to be; while the installation of components typically goes off smoothly, there were more than a few who complained that it seemed to require a computer hacker just to get all of the components synced up and working properly with respect to the technology.

Fortunately, if you decide that your do-it-yourself home security project was more than you could manage, Iris by Lowe's does offer a 90-day money back guarantee.

In short, the low-cost professional monitoring options and integration with third-party technology make the Iris system attractive - but for non-techie homeowners and renters, the Iris home security system may be frustrating. And yet, Lowe's has brought the Iris system leaps and bounds from where it was in the past, and we expect good things to come as they continue to evolve their DIY home security options for even less technologically-savvy users in the future.

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Continued from above

Instead, customers are opting to use DIY home security systems, which gives them the convenience of setting up their protection equipment exactly the way they choose and taking it with them when they move to a new home.

Of course, every good DIY home security system should be paired with common-sense protective measures, such as using top-rated deadbolts on all entry doors and making sure all doors and windows are secure before leaving home or going to bed in the evening. Home protection experts strongly prefer security systems that include 24/7 monitoring as well, for added coverage and peace of mind particularly when people are at home. Using live monitoring has been demonstrated to greatly reduce the likelihood of burglary or invasion, as most criminals want to avoid being caught red-handed.

An added perk to taking the DIY approach to home security is saving money. These systems tend to be less expensive to purchase and set up, and yet they are usually eligible for the same premium discounts on homeowners insurance: up to 20%.

When considering the various do-it-yourself home security systems on the market, what should you keep in mind? Each company differs when it comes to the type of equipment they sell and service, the ease of installation, and whether or not they offer live monitoring of your system. Keep the following criteria in mind:

  • Equipment Costs. What does the company include with its home security packages? How many sensors will you need, and what will you be charged to get the level of coverage you want? What will you have to spend to get any additional equipment that you need for your particular living arrangements?
  • Monitoring Service. Will your DIY home security system include any kind of monitoring, or is that left as your responsibility through online apps and other features? If 24/7 live monitoring is available, how much will it cost per month? If there's a break-in or other emergency at your home, will the service contact local authorities on your behalf?
  • Reputation. What do other customers have to say about the business, the equipment, and/or the service received? How easy is it to get help, either with your do-it-yourself installation or with the service? Can you expect a satisfaction guarantee or refund if you are unhappy with the home security service?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best DIY Home Security Systems available today. We hope these reviews help you find the best do-it-yourself home security system that will keep you and your family safe for years to come!

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