DIY Home Security Reviews
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DIY Home Security Reviews
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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:
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.
GetSafe offers one of the most straightforward approaches to DIY Home Security. Created by a group of veterans in the home security industry, this provider is the only one in our review that is controlled solely through a smartphone app and/or key fob: no control panel to navigate.
If you're already familiar with GetSafe, you may recognize that they've made some changes; previously, they offered a self-monitoring option for a lower monthly cost, but that plan is no longer being advertised on the site. (Interestingly, on the site's Service Availability page, it says that customers in Maryland and Rhode Island can only use GetSafe with a self-monitoring plan, but there are no details as to how to access that service. If you live in one of those two states, you'll want to contact the company directly.)
Their current pricing structure is extremely easy to understand: 24/7 monitoring costs $35 per month, no matter what plan you choose or how many sensors and devices you have connected. If you prefer not to have a contract, you can pay for your equipment upfront; the required Starter kit sells for $249 and includes the Smart Hub controller, 1 Door/Window sensor, 1 Motion Detector, 1 Alarm Siren, plus window stickers. If you choose to sign a one-year contract, your Starter Kit is free, and with a 3-year contract, you'll also get a $250 credit towards that can be used to purchase additional equipment like a Nest thermostat, extra window or door sensors, and many other add-ons.
All GetSafe systems are controlled by a Smart Hub, which uses your home WiFi - backed up by AT&T Cellular coverage - to control all components of your system. We continue to be impressed by the number of devices - from motion-detecting cameras to smoke detectors, flood sensors, sirens and more - that can be used with the GetSafe system, which supports up to 32 individual users and up to a staggering 64 total security devices.
And, customer reports indicate that setting up the GetSafe system is exactly as easy as described:
If you have any issues, GetSafe's customer service representatives are standing by to help you make any necessary tweaks and get your system up and running properly. You've got a 30-day trial period to make sure that your DIY installation is functioning the way you want and your home security system is meeting your needs.
We also found a lot of praise for GetSafe's service: the sales team is very non-pushy, so you won't be getting dozens of auto-dialed calls trying to sell you equipment you don't need. But, more importantly, you can expect to get very quick notification from the round-the-clock monitoring service if any part of your home security system is triggered.
GetSafe makes it easy and relatively affordable to protect your home, with no tricks in the fine print, and a fantastic no-contract-required option for those who want that kind of flexibility.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
Started in 2002 by paramedic Chris Johnson, LiveWatch was created to address communication and response time problems commonly seen with home security systems. The company's mission is to provide a simple, affordable, personalized and reliable DIY Home Security package for every customer.
LiveWatch offers four service plans. Each plan comes with round-the-clock monitoring using their proprietary ASAPer (think "ASAP-er", as in "more ASAP than the competition") system that responds to alarms up to 10 times faster than the competition, alerting you and allowing you to respond immediately from a smartphone or computer.
There are two equipment packages to choose from: Plug & Protect Basic and Plug & Protect Complete. The Complete set comes with two wireless door sensors, one wireless motion sensor, a keychain remote, plus yard signs and stickers, along with LiveWatch's more advanced control panel, the IQ Gen 2. Add extra sensors or remotes as needed, for an extra charge. The only difference between the Complete and Basic equipment package is the XTi-5 Control Panel that comes with the Basic: it's a little less high-tech, but still light years beyond traditional home security systems that don't use a touchscreen interface.
Here's what you get with each LiveWatch plan:
One plus is that your monthly monitoring covers an unlimited number of sensors and devices. In other words, if you decide to add on a carbon monoxide detector, flood sensor, or garage door sensor, it's all covered within your package. However, you'll need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find those add-on devices under the Resources heading; we thought it would make more sense to have those products offered during the check-out process instead of having to hunt them down. Especially for first-time buyers of DIY Home Security Systems, customers might not even be aware that those options exist.
What about contracts? LiveWatch winds up in the middle of the pack: although they don't have a lengthy multi-year obligation like some companies require, LiveWatch does have an initial 12-month contract to begin service which switches to a month-to-month plan after that first year. But, LiveWatch also allows you to cancel your plan at any time with no termination fee, so we were left thinking that the 12-month obligation might not actually be much of a requirement after all. You can also get a 100% refund if you return your equipment within that first year.
We had a solid experience with LiveWatch's customer service department: helpful and knowledgeable without being pushy.
So, why does this provider of DIY Home Security not rank higher in the list? Customer reviews are definitely mixed. On the one hand, we found many positive reviews praising both the system capabilities and the responsiveness of the monitoring company, which is great. However, we also found complaints saying that LiveWatch ran a credit check - without the customers' authorization - that affected their credit history. Another big question mark that emerged was LiveWatch's warranty: we found several instances where customers were able to get a lifetime warranty on their equipment, but only if they specifically asked for it. If they're willing to offer that coverage, why not do so as a matter of course, rather than only giving it to those who somehow find out that it's available?
For all of these reasons, LiveWatch winds up in the middle of the pack when it comes to DIY Home Security Systems: good coverage, solid equipment, but somewhat sketchy practices when it comes to customer service.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
DIY Home Security
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.
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:
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!
DIY Home Security Systems In The News
Not too long ago, installing a home security system meant hiring a professional and paying hundreds-and sometimes even thousands-of dollars for a system that would become obsolete in just a few years. ...
Published: Sat, 07 Jul 2018 18:16:00 GMT
The Ooma Home Security kit is very bare-bones - you get the hub ... the SimpliSafe Essentials kit is our runner-up pick for best DIY smart security system. In addition to having one of the louder sire...
Published: Thu, 19 Jul 2018 14:23:00 GMT
Nest cameras cost $199 and up, and kits include hard drives and cameras at a variety of price points. Google "DIY home security system" and you'll quickly realize that virtually every company that mak...
Published: Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:08:00 GMT
We created an alarm that would rouse me if my blood glucose levels ... More than 725 people worldwide have now built various types of DIY closed-loop systems, and the growing community has continued t...
Published: Fri, 20 Jul 2018 01:59:00 GMT
Scout Alarm is a company that really strips down the DIY security system to its most essential elements, and doesn't really leave much room to spare for extra frills or add-on equipment we've seen fro...
Published: Wed, 18 Jul 2018 15:27:00 GMT
The iSmartAlarm family of smart home security products have been named CNET's Best DIY Home Security System 3 years in a row. iSmartAlarm products have won national and international awards including ...
Published: Tue, 10 Jul 2018 05:45:00 GMT
Alarm's systems are more expensive than other surveillance system DIY alternatives. However, what is important to note is the comprehensiveness of the service that the company provides: smart integrat...
Published: Thu, 12 Jul 2018 01:04:00 GMT
These kits-and professionally installed and monitored systems-seem the same on the surface, but you'll be missing out on a ton of helpful features if you opt for the DIY. Modern home security systems ...
Published: Mon, 09 Jul 2018 15:21:00 GMT
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