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      July 8, 2020

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Protect America 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 Protect America 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
Protect America

PROTECT AMERICA

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Features:

Home automation capabilities

$53.99 per month monitoring charge

Customer Information: 1-855-881-3071

For almost 30 years, Protect America has helped protect over 500,000 homes with self-installed security systems. This Austin-based company enjoys accreditation and an "A" rating from the Better Business Bureau, and more than 8000 customers gave their service a perfect 5-star satisfaction rating.

Free quote

However, Protect America isn't as upfront with their pricing as they used to be. You can enter some basic information to get your free quote, but the email you receive doesn't tell you anything about what their packages or monitoring will cost - only that you'll get a call or text from a Protect America representative. We'd like to see them go back to being more transparent, so that customers can more easily compare home security systems across multiple providers.

Pre-made home security packages

Alternately, you can click to build your system under the "Security Your Way" option: enter your street address to verify coverage in your area, and you'll be shown several packages of equipment that you can modify to suit your needs. Here are a couple of examples:

  • 11-piece home security system: 3 door/window sensors, 1 key fob, 1 motion detector, 4 window decals, yard sign, and touchscreen control panel. You'll pay $39.99/month if you don't want to pay for your equipment package upfront. Otherwise, you can pay $454.98 for the equipment and then $24.99/month for the monitoring service. That saves you $110.01 over your required 3-year contract.
  • 24-piece home security system: 14 door/window sensors, 1 motion detector, touchscreen control panel, 1 key fob, 4 window decals, yard sign, plus indoor video camera and video doorbell. Your monthly monitoring will cost $54.99/month and that includes the cost of your equipment over the 3-year contract. Or, pay $799.99 for the equipment package upfront and your monthly monitoring drops to $24.99, saving you $280.01 over the length of the contract.

Clear pricing for add-ons

No matter which package you choose, you can always add on extra equipment. You may want additional door/window sensors or motion detectors, a glass break detector, extra keychain remotes or a video doorbell. Those prices are clearly spelled out under the package you create.

Best Home Security Systems

Smoke/fire/carbon monoxide questions

One type of protection we didn't find with Protect America's build-your-own packages is smoke/fire/carbon monoxide. You'll see that smoke detectors are listed under their equipment heading, described as "life safety", but there was nowhere in the custom build section that even indicated that coverage as a possibility. So, caveat emptor : they offer the service, but you'll probably have to speak with a representative to ask for it, and there's no advance notice on the site to tell you what you'll pay for the sensor or its monthly monitoring.

Home automation hard to find

Protect America also doesn't place much emphasis on home automation in their build-your-own packages. While their available products page shows integration with most Z-Wave compatible devices, such as using Alexa to dim lights or using August Lock keyless entry doorknobs that can be secured remotely, there was almost no mention of that in the custom-design page. Once again, you'll have to work with a sales rep to get smart home devices in your home security system.

3-year contract

While Protect America, like any big business, gets its share of complaints, most of them revolve around customers who didn't understand that they were committing to a 3-year contract - despite the company clearly spelling it out multiple times during the sales process. We feel like Protect America could go the extra mile by offering a satisfaction guarantee of some kind, but that still wouldn't stop the problem of customers who want to cancel before their 3-year contract is up.

Positive customer reviews

On the other hand, we found many reviews from happy customers who report that the home security systems sold and serviced by Protect America are easy to install, the technicians and customer service reps are friendly and helpful, and most importantly, the 24/7 monitoring is responsive and keeps them safe.

Although Protect America has been passed by some of their competitors, this company still offers home security systems that are worth considering - and you may appreciate being able to get all of your equipment at no cost upfront, even if it means you'll pay more per month for your monitoring.

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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 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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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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