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      December 14, 2019

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SimpliSafe vs Protect America

Best Home Security Systems

To help you find the Best Home Security Systems, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of SimpliSafe and Protect America.

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.

Continue reading below reviews

Best Reviews

2019

Home Security Systems Reviews

5 stars
SimpliSafe

SIMPLISAFE

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Features:

All DIY installation

$14.99/month monitoring fee regardless of number of sensors

No required service contracts

Strong features like Secret Alerts and Duress PIN

60-day money-back guarantee

SimpliSafe wants to make it beyond easy for you to have a home security system that works for you, without any high-pressure in-home sales pitches or requirements to have a technician for the install. Every piece of equipment they offer can be set up quickly and easily by even the least tech-savvy consumers in just a matter of moments. (But, if you'd prefer some expert help, SimpliSafe can refer you to a certified pro in your area.)

SimpliSafe has the rock-bottom lowest monthly monitoring costs on the market: no matter how many sensors and devices you have on your system, you'll just pay $14.99 per month. You get the same round-the-clock protection as the home security companies that charge four times that amount.

This is also one of the only home security systems on the market today that lets you try it for 60 days. If you don't love it, you can get a full refund - and you won't even have to pay for the return shipping on your equipment. That's a big plus over their competitors.

That being said, you do have to pay for your equipment upfront when working with SimpliSafe: you don't get it for "free" (in other words, paying for it through higher monthly monitoring fees) or on an installment plan. While you can always create a customized a la carte package for yourself - SimpliSafe clearly displays pricing information on every sensor and component, which we appreciate - there are also a few ready-made packages to choose from:

  • The Foundation: regularly priced at $229, this entry-level kit is ideal for apartments and small homes. It comes with one motion sensor, one sensor for your main door, and the base station + control pad.
  • The Essentials: for $259, you increase the coverage of the first plan by adding two more door sensors.
  • The Hearth: at a retail price of $374, this package tacks on a 105dB alarm, a smoke detector, and a key fob to control your system.
  • The Knox: priced at $449, this tier expands your protection with twice as many motion detectors and entry sensors as the first three packages. You'll want to consider this package if you have more than three bedrooms in your home.
  • The Haven: as one of SimpliSafe's top tier of equipment packages, this set adds a panic button, freeze sensor and water (flood) sensor. You'll pay $489 for the package.

Not seeing what you're looking for in those packages? The Stonefort, the Keep, and the Fortress have varying arrangements of sensors that might be a good fit. (For example, if you live in the South and never have to worry about your pipes freezing, you can select a package that takes out the freeze sensor but adds on a camera or an extra control pad.) You can also custom-build your own package with whatever devices you need.

SimpliSafe is also the only home security system in our review that offers refurbished equipment packages, which could save you some extra cash when setting up your protection for the first time.

SimpliSafe has some features you may not find with home security systems. The two that really stand out to us are the Secret Alerts and the Duress PIN. Do you have an area in your home that you want to monitor without setting off loud alarms (maybe the cabinet where you stash your favorite candy or the closet where you hide the Christmas presents)? You can get a notification through Secret Alerts that lets you know - without the person doing the snooping finding out! And, if you're ever in the unlikely-but-terrifying position of being forced to disarm your system, the Duress PIN (separate from your regular arm/disarm PIN) makes it appear that you've complied while still sending a silent alert to the authorities.

SimpliSafe also uses redundancy in their monitoring centers, in six different locations throughout the US. So whether a hurricane is pounding the Florida panhandle or California is experiencing wildfires, you can be assured that no disaster - man-made or natural - will interrupt your home security system's coverage.

At the time of our most recent visit to the SimpliSafe site, there was a promo in place offering a discount of 25% off any new system, plus a free camera ($99 value). So, be sure to look around for any sales that might be in effect when you're shopping for your home security system.

SimpliSafe continues to enjoy an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. We recognize that this means the company has done a good job at responding to complaints. That's important because we found mixed reviews about SimpliSafe's customer service after their home security systems are installed. While the average of the reviews linked to from the SimpliSafe website was a strong 4.6 out of 5 at the time of our review, most of the comments described customers who were happy with the purchase and install process.

On the other hand, the reviews posted to the BBB site focused more on the customer experience with the monitoring service and equipment - people were frustrated that parts of their system stopped working and they couldn't get anyone to help them get it up and running. Another troubling comment was that the system often triggered false alarms and sent the police to the home - even after the customer had cancelled the monitoring service twice and removed all of the equipment. You'll definitely want to pay close attention to your home security system and how it's working for you in the first two months - knowing that you're protected by SimpliSafe's 60-day satisfaction guarantee if it doesn't meet your expectations.

Because of their upfront pricing, extremely reasonable monthly fees, and top-notch rating from the BBB, we still recommend SimpliSafe as one of our favorite providers of home security systems.

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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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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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