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      November 24, 2020

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  1. Protect America
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  3. SimpliSafe

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Best Home Security Systems

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

5 stars
Frontpoint

FRONTPOINT

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Features:

Monitoring plans start at $34.99

Geo-services not found with other providers

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Frontpoint continues to lead the pack when it comes to home security systems with DIY installation. With a low-pressure approach to sales, a month-long money-back guarantee, and a 100% cellular connection (which means you don't need a landline phone or internet connection for it to work), this company works hard to earn and keep your business.

One of the top features that sets Frontpoint apart from the competition is their Geo-Services, which uses your phone's location to activate various system components. You start by setting up a "geo-fence", or an area around your office or home. If you leave that area (with your phone, of course - but who doesn't keep their phone close at all times?), you can set up your system to change your thermostat until you return, or to notify you if you forgot to arm it before you left home.

There are three plans to choose from with Frontpoint, all of which include round-the-clock monitoring through top-ranked, third-party provider Rapid Response:

  • Protection. Their basic plan, covering you for intrusion, fire, environmental hazards and life safety conditions, costs $34.99 per month.
  • Interactive. This is the plan you'll need to start with if you want those geo-services, along with other advanced features like crash-and-smash protection and sensor history. This will cost you $44.99 per month.
  • Ultimate. Take all of the features from Protection and Interactive, then add on video capability, motion-triggered alerts, night vision and light/smart lock control. You'll pay $49.99 per month.

While some of the home security systems on the market, particularly the ones with DIY installation, don't charge activation fees, you'll pay a charge from $99 to almost $200 for the start-up fees with Frontpoint. All plans require a 3-year commitment, and you then have to choose an equipment package to outfit your home security system.

For example, the Pro Package includes one keypad panel, three door/window sensors, one motion sensor, one glass break sensor, and one keychain remote. You can add on other equipment, either when you place your initial order or after you have the system set up. Available add-ons run the gamut from Cameras and Sensors to Home Automation and other accessories.

Where Frontpoint really shines is when it comes to customer service. From an A+ rating with the BBB to the Angie's List Super Service Award, and with countless reviews from satisfied customers, it's easy to see that Frontpoint has been able to not only make a name for itself but also maintain that high standard. They're absolutely committed to their customers, also as evidenced by that 30-day risk-free guarantee and their low-key approach to sales - no pushy tactics designed to get you to buy anything you don't actually need.

Although the competition is stiff, Frontpoint receives our top rating when it comes to home security systems with easy DIY installation, easy-to-understand pricing, and top-notch service and monitoring.

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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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4 stars
Link Interactive

LINK INTERACTIVE

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Features:

Monitoring plans from $30.99 to $40.99 per month

100% cellular monitoring

Contracts ranging from 1-3 years

30-day money back guarantee

3-year warranty on all equipment

While do-it-yourself home security systems may all start to sound alike, the service provided by Utah-based Link Interactive stands out in three ways.

First, they are one of the only systems on the market that is 100% cellular. You can connect your system to your home WiFi, and any alerts or alarms will be sent through both pathways - whichever one is fastest at the moment the system is triggered. But, if you live in an area where the WiFi is not the most reliable, knowing that your system will function and send through the same 4G LTE network as your cell phone if needed may give you peace of mind.

Next, Link Interactive offers two main control panel options that both offer two-way voice connection with the monitoring service. In other words, if an alarm goes off, the central station can talk to you through the panel to make sure you're safe and to call an ambulance or police department if you fail to respond.

Finally, all of the components sent by Link come preprogrammed. While that may not sound very do-it-yourself, this could be a lifesaver if you're good at the installation part and not so handy with the technological side of setting up a home security system. If you later add components to your system - maybe you start with basic sensors and motion detectors and then install video cameras a few months later - you can easily get them integrated into the new system through the equipment's serial numbers.

There are three options for monitoring with Link Interactive's systems:

  • Standard: for $30.99/month, you'll get the basics covered, including intrusion/fire/crash & smash alarms and life safety (smoke, fire, carbon monoxide)
  • Gold: for $35.99/month, you keep all the features in the Standard plan, plus today's top home automation options via online dashboard or mobile app (such as lights, thermostats, locks, and energy management)
  • Elite: for $40.99/month, you can add HD video monitoring to your coverage, including motion-activated, scheduled, and on-demand options

So, what are the drawbacks, if any, of using Link Interactive for your DIY home security needs? While this may not be an issue for you, many customers don't like to be locked into a contract; Link requires a minimum contract of a year, and their monthly monitoring costs are based on a three-year obligation. Also, you may find their equipment to be on the spendy side: $450 for their top touchscreen panel, the IQ2, plus 3 door/window sensors and a motion sensor, just to get started. It's not going to be cheap to get your equipment, but we were offered a discount once we built a package on the site - though we had to enter all of our information, including address and cellular coverage preference, before we got to the end.

On the other hand, Link Interactive gets extremely high marks from customers when it comes to the company's attention to detail. The representative we spoke with was friendly, knowledgeable, and was also based in the US. Many people compliment Link for being very on-the-ball with responding to any glitches with installation or integration of components, and the company's 65+ year history in the business includes an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

If you like to do-it-yourself when it comes to installation but want a little more hand-holding on the technology side, Link Interactive may be a good choice for your home security system. Just be prepared for it to cost you a little extra, especially when it comes to buying the equipment - but know that you're covered by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on the service and a 3-year warranty on the components.

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3 stars
SimpliSafe

SIMPLISAFE

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Features:

$229.99 for equipment starter kit

No contract

Monitoring plans cost $14.99-$24.99/month

"Perfect Fit" money-back guarantee

Frequently promoted by big names like CNET Magazine and Dave Ramsey, SimpliSafe offers home security systems with do-it-yourself installation. What makes them popular with a get-out-of-debt guru like Ramsey? That's easy: there's no required contract, and monitoring service fees are some of the lowest available, starting at just $14.99 per month.

As with all of the DIY systems in our review, you'll have to pay for your equipment: the intro package includes a little less than some of SimpliSafe's competitors, with just a base station and keypad, one door sensor, one remote sensor, and one keychain remote. This will set you back $229.99. Unless you have a small apartment/home, you'll probably need much more than that to get your home protection up and running; larger packages add the following:

  • Compact: for $244.99, you get one extra entry sensor (total of 2)
  • Economy: for $259.99, you get two extra entry sensors (total of 3)
  • Economy Plus: for $304.99, you get a total of 4 entry sensors and 2 motion sensors
  • Starter Plus: for $304.99, you get the Economy package plus a 105 dB siren

The trend continues, with additional sensors and features as you go up in price through the packages: Lookout, Classic, Master, and Ultimate. Of course, you can also use the Build My System tool to put together the exact components you want for your particular situation.

You may even be able to save more money if you're willing to use "pre-owned" equipment: SimpliSafe is the only DIY home security company to offer refurbished equipment for purchase. Your savings could be as much as 30% compared with brand-new components.

What about monitoring? SimpliSafe keeps things, well, simple:

  • Standard, which includes basic round-the clock protection via cellular or WiFi connection for $14.99 per month.
  • Interactive, which adds the functionality of controlling and monitoring your system via smartphone or computer. You'll get text/email alerts if anything sets off your alarms. They also mention a "Secret! Alerts" if you have sensors on private rooms, safes, drawers, medicine cabinets, and so on, but there were no additional details as to how you'd set it up or which sensors would be needed. This is $24.99 per month.

New customers will appreciate that SimpliSafe components come with a 3-year warranty, and the company offers a stellar 60-day satisfaction guarantee that allows for returns for any reason within that period.

However, SimpliSafe has a significant number of issues that may give you pause. First, you may have noticed that you'll have to pay extra just to use an app to control your system. With most of the DIY home security systems on the market, that functionality is included as part of keeping up-to-date with technology. It will then come as no surprise that SimpliSafe does not currently offer any integration with smart home products, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Nest thermostats. For the truly DIY-and-tech-savvy customer, this is a glaring omission.

And, we found more than a few reviews that described being awakened by false alarms more than once - but not hearing from the monitoring service for up to five minutes. Customers also had difficulties in getting timely responses from SimpliSafe's customer service department when they needed help with their installation or when components weren't working as expected. One of the most common issues was with respect to the cellular connection, trying to switch providers in order to work with the more reliable network in their service area.

Given how expensive the SimpliSafe equipment can be, we're glad that they offer a 60-day return window. If you like what this company has to offer, you'll have two months to put it to the test before deciding if they're the home security company for your needs.

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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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