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      July 10, 2020

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Alarm Relay vs CPI Security

Best Home Security Systems

To help you find the Best Home Security Systems, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Alarm Relay and CPI Security.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Home Security Systems, please Click Here

Where can you find the best home security system? Today's marketplace gives you more options than ever, with packages ranging from budget-friendly, basic home monitoring with equipment you install yourself, to technician-installed systems that include smoke and flood detectors.

Before you determine which home security system is right for your needs, it's important to understand why you should have one. Although crime rates have been dropping in some areas, there are still nearly 2 million break-ins nationwide every year, resulting in losses of at least $2,000 on average. And, even if a burglary doesn't lead to a big financial loss, there's no way to put a monetary value on the peace of mind that vanishes when you find out that an intruder was inside your home.

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Best Reviews

2020

Home Security Systems Reviews

2.5 stars
Alarm Relay

ALARM RELAY

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Features:

Low monthly monitoring fees starting at $8.95

Compatible with equipment you may already have installed

Strong reputation

Alarm Relay is one of the most confusing home security systems on the market, in our opinion. Customers are instantly attracted to the low monthly monitoring costs of just $8.95 - an incredibly low price for a service that usually costs at least $30 per month. And, looking at both the "A+" rating from the BBB and hundreds of reviews from satisfied customers, your impression will probably be a favorable one.

What do you get?

What's the catch? The Alarm Relay site makes it really hard to find out what exactly you get for that $8.95/month fee. Digging around, you'll discover a few things. First, that monthly fee is actually billed annually. So, figure on spending $107.40 right out of the gate for your first year of service. There's also a one-time administrative fee of $35, so that Alarm Relay can program your system.

Home security monitoring

What system? Great question. In order to use the Alarm Relay service, you must have an active alarm system connected to a landline. if you moved into a home with equipment already installed, this could be the ideal setup - to use the sensors and other components already in place without having to use the original monitoring company. Or, if you found a great deal on a used system from Honeywell, DSC, GE or one of the other manufacturers supported by Alarm Relay, you could use Alarm Relay as your monitoring system.

If you're not confident that you can install or set up your equipment, Alarm Relay can refer you to a third-party contractor in your area who can help. Naturally, fees will vary based on the partner you select.

Optional services available

The $8.95/month fee covers standard burglary and fire signals, restorals, and a monthly communications test, as well as trouble signals like low battery power and AC loss. There are optional services, like weekly or daily communications testing, but you'll have to speak to a sales team representative to get more information on what Alarm Relay offers.

Confusing home security equipment offerings

It took some surfing around, but eventually we found where Alarm Relay offers equipment for purchase. Sifting through the packages and individual components felt overwhelming. What would we need? How would we get the right equipment for our needs? Even on the front page, Alarm Relay advertised a simple plug-and-play, DIY alarm system, but when we clicked on the button for more information, it took us to two security systems that were definitely NOT simple or DIY.

While Alarm Relay may be the absolute best deal with respect to price and reputation, their website makes it hard to understand how their service works - especially for a consumer who may be brand-new to shopping for a home security system. If you already have equipment in your home and are just looking for the absolute lowest monitoring price, you might like what this provider has to offer. Otherwise, you might feel more comfortable getting your home security system from a provider that holds your hand just a little bit more as you get everything set up for the first time.

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2.5 stars
CPI Security

CPI SECURITY

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Features:

Technician-installed home security systems customized to your needs

100% wireless - no need for landline

24/7 monitoring starting at $29.99/month

"No False Alarm" guarantee

Equipment costs start at $499: pay in full or 0% interest over 39 or 60 months

CPI is a trusted name among providers offering home security systems. In business for nearly three decades, the company is well-known for its excellent customer service - including a "No False Alarm" guarantee that will credit your account if a system malfunction ever results in a fine from your local authorities.

3 home security packages

There are three main packages you can get from CPI:

  • inTouch Essentials: secures your main entry points with 3 door/window sensors and 1 motion detector. This package includes a wireless control panel and the inTouch app for controlling your system with your smartphone.
  • inTouch Essentials Plus: This mid-range package includes the same 3 door/window sensors and motion detector as the Essentials tier, but also gives you a doorbell camera and a SmartHub instead of a wireless control panel.
  • inTouch Edge: The top-tier package offered by CPI adds an outdoor camera and touchscreen/keyless door lock, above and beyond what you get in the first two plans.

Customizable

Keep in mind that all of these packages are 100% customizable to your home's needs. Maybe you need sensors for 10 doors and windows, or you want an outdoor camera for both the front and the backyard. No problem! Your CPI sales representative will create a package and plan that addresses all of your areas of concern and desired coverage.

3-5 year contracts

When choosing among the packages and plans offered by CPI, it's important to know that you'll be obligated to a monitoring agreement of either 39 or 60 months, unless you decide to purchase your security equipment upfront. Equipment prices start at $499, increasing as you add features and devices beyond the basic package. Given that many of CPI's competitors give you the equipment for free with a contract, rather than spreading it out over 3-5 years, that makes their home security systems some of the most expensive on the market. On a more positive note, you'll get your equipment at a 0% interest rate when you choose one of the two contract lengths, so at least you won't be paying more than the original price.

Talk with a rep

What will your individual package cost? The only way to find out is by speaking with a sales representative. CPI tells you in their FAQ that monthly monitoring starts at a minimum charge of $29.99, with higher fees as you add more sensors and detectors in your package. Even the live chat doesn't connect you with an online rep - it's more of a glorified "contact us" form that gives CPI your phone number so that someone can call you.

3 security monitoring plans

Because you'll be speaking with a sales representative, the pricing and packages CPI offers you may vary. But, as a general guideline, here's a ballpark of what you can expect:

  • Basic Security: $29.99/month for monitoring
  • Basic Security + Smart Home: $39.99/month for monitoring
  • Basic Security + Smart Home + Video: $49.99/month for monitoring

At the time of our most recent evaluation of CPI's home security systems, there was also a promo in place offering a free inTouch Doorbell Camera and Outdoor HD Camera as part of your smart home security package. That could be a good deal if you were already planning on installing one of the top two tiers of monitoring, but it wouldn't be a bargain if you were only looking for the most basic coverage.

Limited service area

CPI has a limited service area. Unless you live in the southeastern part of the United States (the greater metro areas of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Asheville, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta or Knoxville, to be exact), you won't be able to use this company's home security systems.

Strong reputation

If you do live within their service area, you may appreciate CPI's strong reputation, as demonstrated by accreditation and an "A+" rating from the BBB over nearly 30 years of service, plus an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars over more than 200 independently-verified customer reviews.

While we give CPI high marks for having a strong reputation, we can't get past the fact that their home security systems are only available to a small fraction of potential customers in the US. And, with high equipment costs, lengthy contracts, and monitoring fees that are more expensive than some providers', CPI still winds up towards the bottom of our rankings.

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Continued from above

You may feel like your home won't be a target because you live within a gated community or you have strong deadbolts and motion-activated floodlights. While those preventative measures can make it less likely you'll be the target of a home invasion or robbery, the most determined criminals can still gain access to your house. For that reason, the experts strongly recommend that you invest in a 24/7 monitored home security system. Not only does it make it less likely that a criminal will target your house to begin with, but it also ensures that any attempts to break into your home will be detected immediately and reported to you and to local law enforcement.

When considering the many home security systems on the market today, you'll quickly see that they vary widely with respect to features, provided equipment, and service fees. Some providers give you all of the sensors and other equipment at no cost, with the understanding that you'll install the needed components on your own. Other services require you to make an appointment with a technician who will set up your home security system for you. Also, while most systems are monitored using wireless connections, some companies still use landlines - which can add to your costs if you are one of the millions of homeowners who rely solely on mobile phones and need to add a landline to use the home security system.

As you look through home security systems reviews, it's easy to get bogged down in the numerous packages, price points, and add-on features. Keep in mind the following basic criteria, to help you narrow down the options to find the right protection for your home:

  • Equipment and Installation Costs: What will you pay to get the equipment needed for the level of coverage you want? If the equipment isn't given to you free of charge, do you own it outright or do you pay monthly to rent it? If there's no charge, are there add-ons not included with the basic setup that you'll need to pay for? If a technician install is required, how much will you pay for the service?
  • Monitoring Service. Will your home security system be monitored around the clock? What do customers say about the response time of the service? Will local authorities be contacted directly and immediately, or will the company reach out to you first (e.g. false alarms)? How much does the monitoring cost per month?
  • Satisfaction Guarantee. If you're unhappy with your home security system for any reason, can you get a refund? Is there a warranty period on any provided equipment?
  • Reputation. What do current and previous customers say about their experience with the home security system? Has the provider been rated by the Better Business Bureau? Does the company deliver on its promises to keep you safe?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best home security systems available today. We hope this information gives you all of the insight needed to identify the home security system that will protect you and your loved ones now and in the future!

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