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      February 23, 2020

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Protect America vs iSmart Alarm

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 iSmart Alarm.

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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

2020

DIY Home Security Reviews

4 stars
Protect America

PROTECT AMERICA

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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 stars
iSmart Alarm

iSMART ALARM

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Features:

Equipment packages start at $249.95

No contracts or monthly fees

No monitoring services available

If you're looking for a high-tech home security system that is legitimately do-it-yourself, you may like what iSmartAlarm has to offer. Created in 2012 in Silicon Valley and a regular darling of publications like CNET and PC Mag, this company has a laser-sharp focus on using technology to its utmost when protecting homes and families.

This is most evident in their approach to monitoring: completely DIY via smartphone app, with notifications of alerts and alarms sent to you by text, email, phone call, and push notifications. The advantages are many - you can control your system from anywhere you can use your phone, there's no middleman to deal with (which also eliminates false alarm calls to the police or EMS), and, most appealing, you don't pay any monthly fees. Ever. Once you buy the equipment, it's yours.

But, that same advantage may also be a drawback for customers who have a need for third-party, round-the-clock monitoring. Most of iSmartAlarm's competitors offer it, even those companies that also have a do-it-yourself monitoring option. If you have users in the home who aren't comfortable with using a smartphone (such as elderly, young children, and so on), you might be looking elsewhere for your home security system. Also, because the system is completely dependent on your home's power and internet connection, you'll be out of luck if either one goes down because of a storm or service outage. Sometimes, technology is not our friend!

On the other hand, because there are no monitoring fees, you're only on the hook for the purchase price of the equipment. What will that run you? Take a look and some of the packages and bundles offered by iSmartHome:

  • Plus Package: 1 CubeOne hub, 3 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 remote tag, and iSmartAlarm window decals for $199.99
  • Deluxe Package: includes one CubeOne hub, 4 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags, and iSmartAlarm window stickers for $249.95
  • Pan & Tilt Smart Home Video Bundle: 1 CubeOne hub, 2 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 HD iCamera KEEP, 2 remote tags, and 4 window decals for $349.99
  • Shield Package: the most comprehensive package available, this includes i CubeOne hub, 8 contact sensors, 7 motion sensors, 3 remote tags, and window decals for $613.90

Every package is expandable; you can buy individual components and add them to your home security system as needed. All equipment sold by iSmartAlarm comes with a one-year warranty. Unfortunately, the company does not appear to offer any kind of customer satisfaction guarantee, though they do allow customers to return equipment within the first 30 days if it is unused.

iSmartAlarm is the home security system of choice for many technologically-savvy individuals who don't want to pay monthly fees for monitoring. But, for those who want a company with a longer history, third-party monitoring of systems, or a reassuring customer satisfaction guarantee, they'll likely have better luck with one of the other services in our review.

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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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