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      December 6, 2019

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Protect America vs Vivint

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 Vivint.

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

2019

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.

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.

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 some 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
Vivint

VIVINT

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Features:

Installation fees from $49-$199

No contract required when equipment is bought upfront

42- or 60-month contract with Flex Pay equipment purchase

Monitoring fees from $29.99-$44.99/month

Medical pendant support if desired

Entry, smoke and CO detection included on all plans

You may be familiar with Vivint because of their door-to-door salesforce. The company has more than 1.4 million customers throughout the US and Canada.

As with most of the larger providers of home security systems, Vivint relies on partner resellers and servicing companies to provide your coverage - so be aware that when you request a quote through the main Vivint site, your information will be passed along to one of those partners.

The Vivint site itself doesn't give too many specifics about their packages and pricing - so we took a look at some of their authorized resellers' websites. While availability and fees in your specific area may vary, here's a good general idea of what to expect from Vivint's services:

  • Smart Security Monitoring: you'll pay $29.99/month for the most basic coverage, which includes mobile access to your home security system, entry/smoke/carbon monoxide detection, medical pendant support, and 24/7 monitoring.
  • Smart Home Monitoring: for $39.99/month, this package includes smart home integration, letting you control your system through Google Home or Amazon Echo.
  • Smart Home Video Monitoring: if you want to add video surveillance to your home security system, this is the package for you. It starts at $44.99/month.

All of Vivint's systems require professional installation, and you can expect those fees to range from $49 to $199, depending on the equipment you choose. Unlike most of the home security systems we evaluated, Vivint doesn't seem to have pre-configured packages of equipment. Instead, your system will be customized to your specific needs.

The only equipment package we found advertised was the Flex Pay Starter Home Security System: 4 door/window sensors and a motion detector, starting at $9.17/month with a lengthy 5-year commitment. Vivint offers Flex Pay plans on all of their equipment, but you're locked into a contract for up to 60 months. You can also pay for your sensors and other devices upfront with no contract requirement, but until you schedule an appointment with a Vivint sales rep, you won't know exactly how much your system may cost.

Vivint lists a few of their product prices - Doorbell Camera ($249.99), Element Thermostat ($169.99), Outdoor Camera ($399.99), etc. - but don't give you an idea of how much you'll pay if you need more than 4 door/window sensors or any other equipment. We love that Vivint has so many ways to make your home "smart" and secure, and that they include smoke/CO detection in all of their monitoring plans, but customers want to know how much they're going to spend ahead of time.

Where Vivint comes up really short is in reputation. No other home security systems provider we evaluated had the high number of complaints we found regarding Vivint. On the BBB site alone - where, incidentally, Vivint has a disappointing "D" rating - there were more than 2700 complaints closed in the most recent 12-month period and a whopping 8900+ closed in the last 3 years. Other than a few compliments for "friendly, nice" salespeople, it's hard to find anyone with something positive to say about Vivint's home security systems.

When you're looking for increased peace of mind and safety, but your equipment has frequent outages, your smart home doorknobs unlock at random times, and you can't get help from the company you're locked into for up to 5 years, that's worse than having no home security system at all. Unfortunately, those are just a few of the problems customers report experiencing when using Vivint.

While Vivint initially seems to have all of the bells and whistles you could want for your home protection needs, the actual experience of having their service is almost guaranteed to be a let-down. Because of Vivint's poor reputation, we strongly recommend you go with one of the higher-ranked home security systems in our review.

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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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