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      January 28, 2020

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Guardian vs Alarm Relay

Best Home Security Systems

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

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

3.5 stars
Guardian Protection

GUARDIAN PROTECTION

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Features:

Strong reputation for excellent customer service

Professional installation required

Limited service area

With almost 70 years in the home security systems market, Guardian Protection has delivered peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of customers. The company has won several awards for their monitoring center's fantastic service and even won the coveted Angie's List Super Service Award. As you can see, Guardian Protection has an excellent reputation, as demonstrated by an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau and hundreds of 4- and 5-star reviews from satisfied customers. From the sales associates to the installers and customer service reps, Guardian does a fantastic job of being friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient.

Since our last review, Guardian has changed its packages for home security systems. Here are the three plans you can choose from now:

  • Standard Security: this entry-level package gives you standard devices (1 touchscreen keypad, 3 door/window sensors, 1 motion sensor, yard sign/window decals), wireless and cellular coverage, 24/7 monitoring, smart home control, and life safety features.
  • Essential Security: this plan includes home automation, HD video doorbell (or your choice of 4 other home automation devices, like a thermostat or door lock), standard devices, wireless and cellular coverage, 24/7 monitoring, smart home control, and life safety features.
  • Premium Security: as Guardian's top-tier package, this service level gives you all of the features of the first two plans, along with video surveillance and your choice of a video doorbell, indoor camera or outdoor camera.

Every system lets you arm and disarm from anywhere using your internet-connected tablet, smartphone or computer. You'll also get event-driven email or text alerts when a sensor has been activated or the alarm goes off. Regardless of which one you choose, all packages require professional installation by a Guardian technician.

Guardian has a limited service area. You may want to consult their coverage map to see if your area is included; if you don't live in Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Indiana, Tennessee or Arizona, you may not be able to use Guardian as your home security system provider.

What we don't love about the Guardian website is that it is extremely tight-lipped, so to speak, about what you'll pay for their services. Many of today's top providers of home security systems are very transparent with their equipment costs, installation fees, and monthly service charges, but Guardian - like several of their "old guard" competitors - require you to speak with a sales rep to assess your security needs and get recommendations for equipment and monitoring features.

From what we gathered from other customer comments, it's safe to assume you'll pay installation fees of at least $99 with Guardian - but as for what the equipment costs and what you'll spend month-to-month, that depends on your service area, any deals or discounts the rep may offer to try and close the deal, and so on.

Because Guardian Protection has established such an outstanding reputation for service and quality, we've kept their rating steady at 3.5 stars. But, to really compete with our top home security systems, this provider would need to be much more open about their costs and have a greater coverage area that could serve a wider range of customers.

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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'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.

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.

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.

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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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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