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      December 12, 2019

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Best Home

Security Systems

  1. SimpliSafe
  2. Brinks
  3. Protect America
  4. Xfinity
  5. Guardian
  6. ADT
  7. Vivint
  8. Alarm Relay
  9. Protection One
  10. CPI Security
  11. Get Safe

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Best Home Security Systems Better Business Bureau Reliability Seal

Best Home Security Systems

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
Frontpoint

FRONTPOINT

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Features:

30-day risk-free trial

Free shipping on orders and returns

No contract required

Monthly monitoring from $34.99 to $49.99 per month

DIY installation, no technician required

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Frontpoint has been leading the pack for over a decade, as the first nationwide alarm company to include smart security in every home system they sell. Frontpoint has always had a great reputation, and it only keeps getting better: since the time of our last review, the company's rating with the BBB has gone from a respectable "A" to a flawless "A+", indicating that they show no signs of slacking off when it comes to responding to any of their customers' concerns.

One way they take great care of their clients is with a 30-day risk-free trial. If you order a Frontpoint system and don't love it, you'll get a full refund when you return the equipment. Not only will they pay for the shipping to your home, but they also cover the costs if you have to send it back. Compared to other retailers of home security systems that lock you into a lengthy contract and then make you keep paying even if your protection isn't working properly, Frontpoint comes out way in the lead with their customer-friendly guarantee.

Frontpoint continues to offer three packages for home security systems:

  • Protection ($34.99/month): as the most basic tier of service, this plan gives you intrusion protection, environmental protection, fire protection, and life safety monitoring.
  • Interactive ($44.99/month): this plan includes all of the features of the basic plan, plus geo services, crash & smash protection, remote access and control, as well as email/text alerts.
  • Ultimate ($49.99/month): this is the most robust of Frontpoint's packages, adding live video streaming, motion-activated alerts, HD/night vision camera capabilities, light controls, automated door locks, and energy management control to the features of the first two levels of service.

So, how much does the equipment cost? Like many home security systems companies, Frontpoint lets you request a free quote; once you've entered your name, number, email and some basic details about the level of coverage you need, you'll get a call from one of their sales reps to help determine what equipment fits your situation.

But, you can always click on the "Shop" button at the top of the page (or the "Shop Online" button after you've requested a free quote) to see what pre-made packages might be a good match for your home. Here are some to consider:

  • Safe Home Starter: in this 7-piece system, you'll get 1 hub/keypad, 2 door/window sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 yard sign, 1 door sticker and 5 window decals. While the site says that the retail price for this package is $430.95, their everyday price is more like $69. That's extremely affordable - a great value if you have a small home or apartment.
    There is another package for the same price of $69 that includes 1 more door/window sensor and an extra motion sensor, listed as the Safe Home Everyday system. You may want to look for that package as you shop, since it didn't pop to the top like the Starter kit did.
  • Safe Home Select: with this 12-piece home security system, you'll get a total of 4 door/window sensors, 2 motion sensors, plus 1 glass break sensor and 1 smoke/heat sensor, in addition to the components of the Starter and the Everyday packages. Again, Frontpoint lists a retail price ($701.90) that is much higher than what they actually charge ($201.90) for the equipment.
  • Safe Home Preferred: if you want to add an indoor camera to your package, this set might be the right one for you. You'll get everything included in the Select plan, plus an extra door/window sensor (total of 5). Retail price is shown as $834.88, but actual cost is $334.88.
  • Safe Home Elite: if you want the most comprehensive package Frontpoint offers, consider the 18-piece Elite set. You get the usual decals, stickers, hub/keypad and yard sign. Plus, you'll receive a total of 6 door/window sensors, 2 glass break sensors, 2 motion sensors, 1 smoke/heat sensor, 1 indoor camera, 1 outdoor camera, and 1 doorbell camera. Despite a retail price of over $1300, you'll pay just $832.84.

Any of Frontpoint's packages can be customized to add any extra monitoring devices or sensors you may need. You may want to add a carbon monoxide sensor ($89.99) or a flood sensor ($44.99) in the laundry room or bathroom. Or, you could be looking for home automation options like a garage door controller ($69.99) or a smart door lock ($179.99). It's easy to add them to your equipment, and you won't pay extra for your monthly monitoring when you include additional devices.

At the time of our most recent review, Frontpoint was offering a free doorbell camera with any purchase over $69. Keep an eye out for any promotions that might be in place when you shop the site.

All of the equipment they offer is self-installed. Many customers love not having to endure a pushy in-home technician/sales rep, and people say that every component is easy to set up DIY-style. And, if you need any extra help, Fronpoint's friendly customer service team stands at the ready to answer your questions and help you get it all set up with minimal hassles.

Because you pay for your equipment upfront, it could be more expensive initially to get a home security system from Frontpoint. But, the good news is, you can add equipment at any time. So, if you're on a tight budget, maybe you'll start with one of the $69 starter packages until you can afford to add the extra coverage you'd like to have.

Frontpoint doesn't lock you into a service contract, but they do lock in your rates: you'll never get an unexpected price increase on your monthly monitoring fees. Good luck finding another home security systems company that offers you that promise! Of course, you may need to upgrade your monitoring plan if you start with basic equipment and then add video monitoring, for example, but that will always be your choice, no unpleasant surprise rate hikes.

If you're looking for the industry's best home security systems, your first consideration should be Frontpoint. From 24/7 monitoring that you can afford to equipment packages with all the bells and whistles you could ask for, this company gives customers all of the peace of mind they want. And, if problems arise, you're protected by an exceptional satisfaction guarantee and refund policy in your first 30 days, with no contracts to lock you into a service you don't need or want. Frontpoint continues to earn our highest rating among providers of home security systems.

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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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4 stars
Brinks

BRINKS

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Features:

30-day risk-free guarantee with no termination fees

DIY or professional installation available

2-year warranty on equipment

Award-winning customer service

Some systems require 3-year monitoring contract

Monitoring fees of $29-$39/month

With more than 1 million subscribers, Brinks offers some of the most popular home security systems available today. J.D. Power and Associates named this company as their top-rated provider for customer satisfaction, clearly demonstrating the business' success in providing peace of mind through excellent security system coverage.

Brinks gives you lots of choices. Do you prefer professional installation or do-it-yourself? Would you rather order online or over the phone? The decision is yours. That's a breath of fresh air, compared with many of the big-name home security systems providers that won't do anything until you meet with an overly eager sales rep.

Let's take a look at the four home security systems packages Brinks offers:

  • Nest Secure: this is the only one with no required contract. You'll pay $399 for your equipment (or $11.08/month with no interest), and $29/month for monitoring. The package consists of the Nest Guard (keypad/motion detector/alarm/panic button all in one, plus Google Assistant), Nest Detect (a sensor that detects motion as well as open/close), and Nest Tag (a key fob that you tap on the Guard to arm/disarm the system). Your package comes with 2 Detects and 2 Tags, and you can add more as desired.
    Some of the features incorporated into the Nest devices are, frankly, very cool. The Detect sensors have Pathlight, which turns them on and off as people pass - a default nightlight. Remind Me alerts can be set up to let you know if you're the last one to leave home or the first one to get back, so that you can arm/disarm accordingly without forgetting. You may also want to check out the features of Quiet Open, Dog Pass, and even everything Google Assistant can do with your Brinks system.
  • Smart Security Essential: billed as "easy DIY install at an affordable price", this package has an equipment cost of $199 and monitoring fees of $29/month. A 36-month service agreement is required. This entry-level package gives you 2 wireless door sensors, a wireless motion sensor, and a touchscreen control panel that can be used as a smart home hub for any home automation device you may already have or choose to add on to your home security system.
  • Smart Security Complete: adding on to the Essential package, this tier gives you access to 24/7 video monitoring via smartphone. Your equipment will cost $499 (or $13.86/month with no interest fees) and it comes with 3 wireless door sensors, 2 wireless motion sensors, an indoor camera with night vision, and the Home Touch control panel. This plan also requires a 3-year service agreement, and monitoring costs $39/month.
  • Smart Security Ultimate: as the only package that comes with free professional installation, it should be no surprise that it's also the most expensive at $1099 (or $30.53/month with no interest) for your equipment. The package comes with the touchscreen control panel, video doorbell, 2 wireless motion sensors, 3 wireless door sensors, and an outdoor camera. You'll pay the same $39/month (with a 3-year contract too) for your monitoring service.

We appreciate that Brinks offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If you don't love your home security system, you can end your service without paying a termination fee. While we'd like to see them up the ante by offering a refund of any fees already paid, this is still a decent way to give you a low-risk way to see if their coverage and equipment is a good fit.

While you can get home security systems that are less expensive equipment-wise, you can't go wrong with everything Brinks has to offer if you're willing to spend the money and don't mind committing to a 3-year service agreement on most packages. Their reputation is stellar, and your safety is in very good hands with any Brinks home security system.

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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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3.5 stars
XFINITY

XFINITY

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Features:

Equipment costs ranging from $360 to $600Equipment costs ranging from $360 to $600

Professional installment required (fees of approx. $100)

Monthly monitoring costs of $30-$50

Customizable with most smart home brands

View cameras and more on your TV with Xfinity X1 service

No required contracts

Limited service areas

Xfinity has come a long way since our last evaluation. In the past, you were only able to use their home security systems if you were a subscriber to their X1 TV service. While it's still true that you'll get more out of your package if you have it - like being able to see your cameras and more directly on your television - you can still get a robust package of equipment and monitoring as a standalone service.

We like that Xfinity keeps their options simple. You only have to choose between two plans: the $40/month Home Security Plan or the $50/month Home Security Plus plan. Both packages give you 24/7 professional monitoring, the ability to control smart home devices (from a variety of brands, like Phillips and Yale), real-time alerts, cellular system backup, live HD video, all controllable through the Xfinity Home app. When you upgrade to the Plus package, you also get motion-activated, 24/7 recording (that can differentiate among people, vehicles and pets). (You may also find an autopay and paperless billing discount as you go through the ordering process. That brought our monthly costs down to $30 or $40/month.)

Then, choose your equipment package. Each one can either be paid for in interest-free monthly installments over two years, or as a one-time fee:

  • Base Home System: $15/month or $360. This includes 1 touchscreen controller, 3 door/window sensors, 1 pet-friendly motion sensor, battery and cellular system backup, and an Xfinity Home Security yard sign
  • Complete Home System: $20/month or $480. You'll get all of the equipment from the Base package, along with 2 extra door/window sensors, 1 wireless keypad, and 1 HD indoor/outdoor Xfinity Camera.
  • Ultimate Home System: $25/month or $600. This expands the equipment from the lower tiers by giving you 10 door/window sensors and 2 HD cameras.

Xfinity also offers an array of add-on equipment that can be monitored. For example, you can get a smoke detector ($70), an outlet controller ($50), or a Zen thermostat ($120).

The biggest drawback to the Xfinity Home Security System is the limited service area. Unless you have Xfinity available in your area, you can't subscribe to their service. For example, in one major metro area we tested, we were referred to their partner, Spectrum. Unfortunately, Spectrum doesn't offer any home security systems with their TV/Internet/Phone packages. That could eliminate a lot of prospective customers.

If you live in an area where Xfinity is available, congratulations! You've got access to an affordably-priced, contract-free home security system that has all of today's bells and whistles. If not, you'll need to check out the other providers we evaluated to find the one that's right for you.

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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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3 stars
ADT

ADT

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Features:

Installation fees starting at $99

Required contracts of 24 to 36 months

Monthly monitoring ranging from $27.99 to $58.99/month

Landline or wireless monitoring packages available

ADT enjoys some of the highest name recognition in the home security systems industry. It's no wonder - with more than 140 years of experience providing security of many different kinds, this company has been around for a long time.

One of the advantages of ADT's size is their 24/7 monitoring centers: with six locations throughout the US, you don't have to worry that a natural disaster or other event will disrupt your coverage. This is a huge benefit compared with smaller companies that use a single location to provide their monitoring services.

As with many products, however, brand names can equal more money from your wallet - and ADT is one of the most expensive home security systems available today. Their entry-level package, the Basic, sounds like a good deal at just $27.99/month - but you'll have to have a landline. That's great if you haven't made the switch to purely mobile for your phone usage; otherwise, you'll need to factor in the costs of installing a landline and paying for its monthly service separately from your ADT package.

There's a big price jump from the Basic to the next level of service, ADT Pulse. You won't need a landline because this package is monitored wirelessly, but you'll be paying $53.99/month for the service. And, if you want to add video surveillance to your home security setup, ADT charges a hefty $58.99/month for their highest level of coverage.

There are three main packages offered by ADT, which may be named differently depending on your part of the country and the partner provider servicing your area. In a nutshell, here's what you can expect:

  • Traditional: ADT's most economical home security system, this includes a digital panel, entryway contacts/sensors, wireless keychain remote, motion detector, yard signs and window decals, and 24/7 monitoring. While ADT doesn't specify on their site exactly how many entryway sensors are included, customer comments indicate that you should expect to receive 3 in your initial equipment package and you can add more as you need them.
  • Control: this level of coverage adds remote arm/disarm, smart home controls, and customizable alerts, schedules and automations to your home security system.
  • Video: as the top tier of service, this package increases your protection with security cameras that can be live streamed from mobile devices, and that allow you to record and save video clips.

All ADT systems require professional installation, with fees starting at $99 and increasing as you add more equipment.

Be aware that all of these prices may vary, depending on where you live. ADT doesn't publicize their rates on their main website, because the monitoring, installation and equipment charges depend on your local service area. So, take all of the amounts in this review as a ballpark figure.

ADT offers a 6-month money-back guarantee. It states that you "may receive a refund" of the installation price and any monitoring fees already paid if the company can't resolve any service- or installation-related concerns, but certain restrictions apply. Looking at the fine print, these conditions just require you to have all equipment fully removed before your refund is processed, and any system-related issues can't have been caused by you.

While ADT gives you the advantage of a long history and the comfort of brand recognition, their prices and packages are not transparent - and many customers complain about hidden fees, the lengthy contract requirements, and charges they didn't expect. Most of the home security systems ADT puts together can be found with other providers - who charge much less, with no required contracts.

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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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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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2.5 stars
Protection One

PROTECTION ONE

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Features:

4 levels of monitoring ranging from $34.99 to $54.99/month

Landline or wireless communication available

24- to 36-month monitoring contract required

90-day equipment warranty

$99 installation fee

Since our last evaluation, Protection 1 has undergone some massive changes. Why? The company merged with well-known security company ADT in 2017. That means that everything you see on the Protection 1 site - from service plans to links to their Better Business Bureau rating - all redirect to ADT.

That left us wondering if there were any significant differences between starting the process of ordering a home security system through the Protection 1 site vs. going directly to ADT. Here's what we found: first, it looks like you'll still get Protection 1-branded equipment. If your system includes a control panel, and if you use the mobile app, you'll see Protection 1 on all of it.

Next, the package naming and pricing between the two companies is not identical. Where ADT's entry-level Basic monitoring package is priced at $27.99/month, Protection 1 charges $34.99 for the same coverage in their Secure plan. On the other hand, Protection 1 offers three higher tiers of service, ranging in price from $44.99 to $54.99 per month, where ADT only offers two (and they cost more!).

In every other aspect, we found Protection 1 and ADT to be the same. Both companies require professional installation of your home security systems, with a fee of $99. You'll also have to sign a contract for 36 months of monitoring (24 months if you live in California) - and, on top of that, you may be charged the full balance of your contract if you terminate service before the end of the 24 or 36 months.

Looking at the whole picture, it seems that the only reason to go with Protection 1 over ADT is if you want to save a few dollars a month on some of the higher tiers of service. Other than that, everything they have to offer is functionally identical to what you'll get through ADT - and with ADT being the leader in terms of brand recognition and market share, there's no guarantee that your service won't be handed over to them anyway. (As a matter of fact, when you fill out the Free Quote form, it specifically tells you that you'll be contacted by either an ADT or Protection 1 specialist: their choice, not yours.) For all of these reasons, we recommend that you either start your home security system purchase through ADT itself, or that you go with one of the more affordable, no-contract-required options in our review.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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1 star
Get Safe

GET SAFE

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Features:

No longer accepting new home security customers

Only offers medical alert systems

Since our last review, GetSafe has expanded their service and is now licensed in all 5 states. We were excited to see this expansion, because GetSafe had some of the pest packages and pricing in the home security systems industry: no installation charges, fixed monthly monitoring costs of $29, and no lengthy service contracts required.

You might get equally excited as you click through the site and see all of the cutting-edge technology their systems employ to keep you safe: sensors and other equipment that can move wherever you do. Integrated with Nest smart home devices like thermostats. Simple DIY set-up that can be easily controlled by a smartphone app. It all sounds fantastic, right?

It took us several minutes of clicking through sales pages and intriguing product descriptions to make this important discovery: GetSafe's home security systems are no longer being sold to new customers. They still service their previous customers' systems, but GetSafe now focuses solely on medical alert systems.

We're all for businesses changing their focus to a different niche or serving a more specific group of customers - but we think most customers would be aggravated to have to click through so many pages, thinking this could be the right home security system for them, only to then discover that GetSafe isn't accepting new customers for anything outside of medical alert systems. At best, that's a huge waste of time for consumers.

It's time for GetSafe to revamp their website to more accurately reflect their core business - so that it's clear who they serve (and who they don't). You won't find any home security systems for sale there.

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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!

Home Security Systems Terminology

There are many terms used by home security companies to describe their products. Here we have described what many of these terms mean so you can use them when looking at our home security systems reviews.

  • 2-Way Intercom: This refers to the ability for homeowners to communicate directly with their home security monitoring service with provided equipment.
  • 24-Hour Monitoring: When a home security system has 24 hour monitoring, it means that the alarm company has a monitoring facility that is staffed by real people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that any time of day your home alarm sounds, someone is watching your system and you'll receive notification from your monitoring service.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Recently, home security companies have started including carbon monoxide detectors as a part of their home alarm packages.
  • Cellular Monitoring: a cellular connection is the safest home security option, since your alarm system won't go down if your telephone lines are cut or your wireless connection goes down. Cellular monitoring is only considered 100% dedicated if the home security system provides a cellular signal between your sensors and the control panel, as well as between the control panel and your monitoring station. Some providers only offer a cellular connection between the sensors and the control panel.
  • DIY Systems: Do It Yourself systems cut out the professional alarm system installation fees that many security companies charge. These systems are usually wireless in order to make installation as easy as possible. They tend to be good for renters since these alarm systems can usually be moved.
  • Door and Window Sensors: Door and window sensors are a basic component of any home security system. They notify your alarm monitoring service when a door or window is opened and the contact between two sensors is broken.
  • Equipment Manufacturer: Depending on your home security company, the manufacturer of the actual alarm equipment you receive may be provided by a 3rd party technology company, developed by the alarm company themselves, or intermingled between a number of different manufacturers. If you choose to change home security companies in the future, this can make upgrading or changing your alarm system expensive and complex.
  • Equipment Warranty: This refers to the coverage provided if the home security equipment you install is faulty or malfunctions in any way. Depending on your home security company, your equipment may be covered by a full lifetime warranty, a limited time warranty, or an optional warranty for additional cost.
  • Flood Sensors: For homes with basements or close to water sources, flood sensors can be an important feature. Flood sensors will trigger the home security system if it determines that excess water may be accumulating in your home.
  • Freeze Sensors: Freeze sensors help prevent damage from burst frozen pipes or other cold-related damage that can occur in homes that experience extremely cold temperatures.
  • Heat Sensors: Some home security systems provide heat sensors that can help detect the threat of fire by measuring changes in temperature. Heat sensors do not provide smoke detection.
  • Home Automation: Home automation refers to the ability for a homeowner to control certain events in their home, such as lighting, heating, and cooling, through their security system. These functions can be controlled by the homeowner whether they're at work or on vacation.
  • Interactive Monitoring: Many home security companies now offer the ability to monitor your system through online websites or smart phone applications. These utilities will let you turn on your home alarms, receive messages if your alarm sounds, and in some cases even control certain events in your home through home automation.
  • Garage Door Sensors: Garage door sensors are similar to Door and Window sensors, except they are specifically designed to work with garage doors.
  • Glass Break Sensors: When a window is broken, the glass break sensor notifies your monitoring service.
  • Personal Security Devices: These devices usually come in the form of bracelets or ceiling pulls that can be used to call for medical attention through the security system monitoring service. They are usually requested by elderly people or individuals who have special medical needs.
  • Relocation: Systems that can be relocated let homeowners take their home alarm system with them if they move, and have it installed in their new home for free or for a minimal fee. Relocating a home security system can be important for people who move frequently or live in rental properties.
  • Upfront Cost: A home security system's upfront cost is the amount of money needed to have a security system installed. This includes the cost of installation and equipment.
  • Wireless Sensors: Wireless sensors do not have to be hardwired into home security systems in order to work. They're more convenient to install and are more practical because they can be moved without drilling holes in your walls.

 

Features You Can Expect To Find In A Home Security System

Here are a few things you can expect to find in a home security system:

Control Panels
These panels are the ‘brains' of home security systems. They are physically or remotely attached to electronic sensors and detectors throughout the house. They usually have a keypad with them to allow you to control, disable or activate your home security system.

Alarms
Home security systems can use sounds to alert you to the presence of an intruder, but it's important to remember that alarms can be useful in the case of carbon monoxide, fire, flood or other disasters too. Safety systems should be installed in your home along with home security systems.

Door and Window Sensors
These home security sensors have two parts - one that goes on the door or window itself, and another on the corresponding frame. Magnets keep a charge running through the home security sensor while the door is closed. When a door or window is opened, the circuit is broken and the sensor triggers an alarm via the main control panel. Keep in mind that window sensors won't work on windows that don't open - for that, you'll need a glass break sensor to recognize the sound of a window being broken.

Motion Sensors
Motion detectors are ideally used in large areas that either aren't or can't be secured with door or window sensors (for example, a large room with many windows or a backyard). They can generally detect motion from 40 to 80 feet away and can be connected to your home alarm system or to a security camera. There are two main types of home security motion sensors: active detectors, which emit light, sound or other forms of energy and recognize when that energy is being disturbed; or passive detectors, which recognize incoming signals sent from the disturbance, such as heat or sound waves.

Security Cameras
CCTV cameras are used for surveillance and are designed to transmit images to a specific place and a limited number of monitors. Analog or digital surveillance cameras are simply a camera attached (either by a cable or wirelessly) to a digital video recorder (DVR) that's used to record the images picked up by the camera.

IP/network cameras are similar to analog/digital cameras, but have an IP address assigned to them, allowing owners to view images on their computer through the internet, anywhere in the world.

Outdoor perimeter Protection
Fences, gates and outdoor lighting are all simple ways to deter intruders. However, there are also motion sensors and security cameras similar to the ones in your home that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Perimeter home security systems can also be used to sound alarms before an intruder crosses the border into your property (let alone into your home). Infrared, microwave and radar detectors, and buried cables are activated by someone crossing the boundary and can be placed around your yard for added protection.

These can be set up to sound a home alarm or turn on outdoor flood lights. They can also communicate with your systems within the house to alert you or your home security company of the breach. Outdoor protection can be mistakenly activated by natural factors such as trees, wind, and animals.

Homeowners today have a variety of options they can use to tailor a home security system specific to their needs.

 

Alarms, Cameras and Locks; How Home Security Can Help Prevent Home Invasion

The first thing anyone needs to realize in any given home security situation is an unfortunate truth: if a smart, determined, burglar wants to get into your house while you're out, they will.

But now for the good news: you can stall most, if not all burglars, long enough for them to be discouraged and move onto easier targets. How? Simple. Here are three easy things to consider in order to make your home more secure.

Be Aware
Simply being aware of your surroundings can save you, your loved ones, and your neighbor's headaches later. Google, or your local police department, has statistics on crime in your local area.

For example, recently a Seattle woman witnessed two suspicious men emerge from a neighbor's backyard. She took down descriptions of the men, a partial license plate and called the police. While police discovered her neighbor had indeed been burglarized, the woman gave them enough of a description that police recognized the suspects from previous offenses and were able to make an arrest.

Being aware also necessitates that you're aware of your property's weaknesses. Take the time to scan your property. Look for any easy entry points a burglar could use to invade your home. Once you've done that, consider ways to prevent it. It could be as simple as taking down a lattice on the side of your house for ivy, or installing more secure window and door locks.

Don't open the door for unexpected strangers, even if they claim it's an emergency. Home invasions, where criminals force their way into your house while you or loved ones are inside, are on the rise and the perpetrators are using increasingly deceptive methods to gain access to a home.

Fortunately, the same precautions used to prevent burglaries can help to prevent home invasions. Peepholes, or windows around the front door, are a good method of identifying and judging a stranger before opening your door. Doors with solid cores, bolt locks and reinforced windows can also buy you the time needed to call the police if an invader tries to force their way in.

Finally, talk with your family about burglaries and invasions, and be sure to discuss home security plans for both situations.

Upgrade Your Home
Adding upgrades to your home can also help prevent burglaries. A solid core door and deadbolt locks can go a long way in deterring potential pilferers. Upgrade the locks on your windows, make sure you have a thick glass and prevent your windows from opening more than six inches with dowel. Even small things, like buying signs showcasing your security oriented thinking, can make a criminal reconsider a possible burglary.

Get strong outdoor lights which automatically turn on when movement is detected at night. Burglars hate being bathed in light, and besides, a sudden light coming from your home while you're away can alert a neighbor to a potential burglary in progress.

Home security systems are an excellent way to protect your home and family. The best home security companies offer affordable systems that utilize the latest in technology, including wireless systems, motion detectors, and remote access while you're away. If you're considering a home security system, make sure you choose one that has a good reputation and a budget that meets your needs.

Finally, if you're going to be gone for a long while, perhaps on a vacation, consider purchasing light timers which can turn lights on and off automatically while you're away.

Lock Up, Be Safe
Lock your doors and lock your windows. That's the easiest and most overlooked way to prevent robberies or home invasions.

The vast majority of burglaries occur through open, or unlocked, windows and doors. If you want to prevent any trespasses, closing and locking any obvious entry points into your home is a good start — even if you're only out of your home for just a few minutes.

Do you keep a spare key? Do you have a nice hiding spot for it? Is it under a rock (or in a fake rock) near your front door? Unfortunately, that's too easy. Burglars know all the good hiding spots for spare keys. The first solution is, of course, to not lose your keys in the first place. The second solution, according to home security experts, is to give your spare keys to a trusted neighbor for safe keeping.

Burglars often discover the layout of a targeted house by posing as salesmen, delivery men, or contractors. They plan before they strike, and usually target someone they consider to be an easy victim. You can prove them wrong by planning ahead and being prepared.

 

How A Burglar Targets Your Home

Not all burglaries can be stopped, but most can be prevented. By knowing what a burglar is looking for in a target, you can better anticipate what home security measures you should take.

Here are four ways a burglar targets homes:

They Look For The Right House
Burglars often look for nice, out-of-the-way houses with, as retailers call it, "curb appeal". Typically they'll look for houses that are both remote, and have enough overgrown vegetation to keep their illegal activities relatively secret.

They also look for homes with easy access to the inside. Homes with windows that can be opened at ground-floor level, represent an easy mark, especially if the house doesn't have a home security system.

Homes with small compact backyards, are secluded from neighbors, or are located next to forests and woods are frequently targeted thanks to both the ease of access, and the ease of escape.

They Stake It Out
Staking out a house is no small matter to the professional burglar. In fact it can often be the most difficult part of the job.

There are a few ways crooks can learn your habits. First, there's the traditional stake out - where the burglar sits in a car, or a nearby hiding spot, in order to watch and observe the habits of whomever lives in your home.

Then there's the kind of intruder that you invite in. Not intentionally, of course, but ill-meaning contractors, such as plumbers, painters, or home renovators, can take the opportunity track you and your family's habits while working on your home. They can determine whether you have an active home security system, which can be a strong deterrent to their plans. They can also use this opportunity to make their theft all the easier by leaving doors and windows unlocked for when they return.

They Learn Your Habits
Most burglaries take place in the middle of the day when homeowners and their neighbors are away at work. But they typically don't just pick a house at random and wait for everyone to leave. Instead, during their stake-out phase, they learn the habits of a household in order to get a better understanding of what they're dealing with.

Through the stakeout they also discover ways that you get in and out of your house. Say, for example, that you have a spare set of keys hidden nearby that you, or a loved one, frequently uses. If this is used too often, burglars will see it and discover an easy way to enter your home. Burglars can also learn what sort of items you may have in your home. While a burglar may not steal your 60-inch big screen television, but they'll know you can afford it, and probably have small, more manageable possessions they can swipe.

Burglars also tend to keep track of family habits. They can easily learn what time everyone leaves the house and when they return. Some burglars may even keep track of the habits of nearby neighbors for an added touch of awareness.

The more risky burglars, and the ones more likely to get caught, will sometimes walk right up to a targeted house and knock on the door to see if anyone is home. If someone answers the door, they'll typically make up a cover, like they're landscapers looking for work. If not, they'll poke around the perimeter of the house looking for a way in. If your house isn't protected, they can easily gain entry this way.

They Steal, Then Steal Again
Unfortunately, statistics show that if you've already been the victim of a burglary, you're at a high risk of it happening again. A burglar will often hit the same home a second time after the homeowner has replaced their stolen items and have fallen back into their normal habits. Unless home security precautions are taken, it's not hard for the burglar to do, especially considering they've already hit the home once before and know the layout of the property.

 

Which Home Security System Sensors Are Right For You?

There are a variety of home security system sensors to choose from today, many which can provide multiple functions. Here's a quick run-down of the most popular home security sensors available today, and what they can do for you.

Door and window home security sensors
Door and window home security sensors are the basic sensors of home security. These sensors protect their respective elements by using magnets, and alert the main control panel if one is disturbed. If a sensor is disturbed in an unauthorized manner — such as late at night or while you're away during vacation — they will result in an activated alarm.

Door and window sensors are ideal for homes with only a few entrances and opening windows. In large houses with many entrances, it may not be practical or cost-effective to arm every single window in the house, but in a small house these home security sensors can provide a good deal of security. Door sensors can also be programmed to sound a chime to notify owners when a door is opened, which is ideal for households with small children.

Glass break home security sensors
Unlike window sensors, glass break home security sensors are more useful for windows that don't open and close. Like their name implies, these home security sensors are capable of recognizing the sound or sensation of glass breaking. If a break-in occurs, the home security alarm is raised. If you're concerned about people breaking your windows rather than forcing them open, they can be installed along with regular magnet window sensors.

Such home security sensors don't have to be an external accessory, either. Some windows are built with thin strips of metal in them that, when broken, can also trigger a home security alarm.

Motion home security sensors
Motion sensors are usually set up inside the house as another layer of protection after door and window monitors. These home security sensors can easily monitor an entire room, and are best used at night or when the house is vacant.

But motion home security sensors can be an imperfect solution. When armed, they can go off for any detected motion, including a family member or a pet. It's best not to place these home security sensors in frequented areas of the house (for example the kitchen or bedrooms). With recent technology, some motion security sensors have logic that can differentiate between an animal and a human moving around a room. This can cut down on the number of false alarms if you have pets.

Also, remember that motion detectors aren't necessary in every room of the house. Rooms without windows or doors can only be accessed from other rooms, so it's a better idea to spend money on extra protection in those more accessible rooms instead. Some motion sensors also include glass break sensors, so check the features of the model before installing both.

Security cameras
Security cameras can be positioned around your house with a home security system as a way to identify intruders if they break in. They can also be useful if you like to keep tabs on your household throughout the day - to check who's at the front door, make sure the kids are playing safely, and ensure that the pool door is closed.

If you're away from home on a regular basis, you can have network cameras installed that will allow you to "see" into your house through the cameras and your computer from wherever you are.

Outdoor perimeter protection
Arming the outdoor perimeter of your property is especially beneficial if you have a large or rural property that can't be adequately covered by motion sensors or home security cameras. These home security sensors notify you when someone crosses the boundary into your property and can either sound an alarm or alert you of the trespasser.

 

Customize Your Home Security System

There are many ways you can customize your home security system. Here are a few options for your consideration:

Wired or Wireless
When choosing a home security system you can opt for one that is installed with wires or without. A home security system with wires is usually best to install when the house is being built. Otherwise, the home security company will have to tear through your existing walls in order to install the system. Wireless home security systems, on the other hand, can be easily installed into either new or existing homes.

For example, a wired home security camera can be tedious to install into an existing home. Since a wire needs to run from the camera proper to the recording device, it needs to be either safely secured to the walls, floors and ceilings between the two devices, or it needs to be installed within the walls, a process that can significantly increase the cost of the equipment installation. Wireless home security cameras, on the other hand, are much easier to install and move after installation. Wireless home security cameras can take high quality visual (and audio) footage.

The downside of a wireless home security camera system is that it is more susceptible to interference from microwaves, the Internet, bad weather, cell phones, and so on. This interference can result in grainy or even lost footage. Because of the cables, wired home security camera systems aren't affected by interference. Wireless cameras are also much more easily hacked by outsiders; their wired counterparts are more secure.

Monitored or Non-Monitored
Many homeowners find that they're able to set up a non-monitored home security system on their own. That's mainly because installing the desired wireless features and connecting them all to one control panel is a relatively easy task.

These systems, when activated, will produce a loud alarm with the intention of notifying the owner to a break in or to scare off the intruder. The owner (or neighbors, if the owner is out of town) is then responsible for dealing with the situation or calling the authorities if necessary.

However, there is also an option, which is to have your home security system monitored by a home security company for a monthly fee. Monitored systems give owners the peace of mind that their home is being watched at all times, whether the owners themselves are at work, having dinner, in bed, or on vacation. They can wait a predetermined amount of time to see if the alarm is deactivated by the owner (in case of accidental activation). If it isn't deactivated, the home security monitoring company will call the appropriate authorities, whether it's police, fire or medical.

Choose Your Features
There are many different features available for home security systems and there are many different ways to customize those features. Home security can range from something as cheap and simple (albeit quite unreliable) as a fence and some floodlights to an expensive high-tech, multi-device, monitored, wireless, internet-connected system. With some systems you can install the home security monitors and sensors yourself, and some home security systems require a professional installer.

 

Differences Between Monitored and Non-Monitored Home Security Systems

What is a non-monitored system?

A non-monitored home security system is composed of whatever features you select for your home which aren't monitored by another human through a digital connection. Door and window sensors, motion detectors and surveillance cameras can all be set up as a non-monitored system, and can be installed either by you or by professionals. Non-monitored systems can be wired or wireless - technological advances allow wireless systems to be accessed remotely from your smartphone, tablet or computer to make it easier for you to keep tabs on your property when away from home.

What is a monitored system?

Monitored systems have the same components as a non-monitored system, but include the added security benefit of being monitored 24/7 by a security company. If an alarm goes off, the company will give you a few seconds to rule out accidental activation. If you don't enter a code into the alarm, or if you're not home, the security team will contact the police, fire or medical departments depending on what type of alarm has gone off.

Companies charge a fee for monitoring services, and those fees will have to be paid in addition to any costs associated with the equipment you choose to have installed. Most companies provide a lease service, allowing you to not rent the security features instead of outright buying them. These rental costs are added to your monthly fee to cover the equipment.

Pros and Cons: Non-Monitored

Pros:

  • Cheaper long term costs: Since you're not paying a monthly service fee, the only money you'll have to put out is for the security equipment itself. It also means that you own the equipment, so you won't have to deal with contracts or the hassle of changing your address.
  • DIY: Most home owners find that they are able to get their non-monitored wireless security system up and running within a matter of hours, cutting on installation costs.

Cons:

  • Depend on your neighbours: If you're not home and an alarm does goes off, you might have to count on your neighbours to check it out for you. Depending on who your neighbours are, this might not be an ideal solution.
  • Authorities won't be notified: You (or your neighbours) are responsible for calling the authorities in case of an emergency.

Pros and Cons: Monitored

Pros:

  • Added security: Having someone look out for your home while you're away from it can give you a peace of mind you might not get from a non-monitored system.
  • Call for help: Knowing that your security provider will call the authorities in the event of a problem can help you rest easy.
  • Proper installation: Since most companies will send an installation team, you can be assured that everything is set up properly.
  • Lower insurance costs: While many insurance companies offer discounts for home security features, having a monitored security system can save you 15-20%.

Cons:

  • Monthly fee: You'll have to pay for renting the equipment, installation costs, and a monthly service fee. This service fee can cost anywhere from $6 for less well-known companies to $40+ for large national companies.

 

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$99 Customer Installation Charge. 36-Month Monitoring Agreement required at $36.99 per month ($1,331.64), 24-Month Monitoring Agreement required at $36.99 ($887.76) for California, including Quality Service Plan (QSP). Form of payment must be by credit card or electronic charge to your checking or savings account. Offer applies to homeowners only. Local permit fees may be required. Satisfactory credit history required. Certain restrictions may apply. Offer valid for new ADT Authorized Premier Provider customers only and not on purchases from ADT LLC. Other rate plans available. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Licenses: AL-15-1104, AK-35221, AZ-ROC217517, AR-2008-0014, CA-ACO6320, CT-ELC.0193944-L5, DE-07-212, FL-EC13003427, DC-602513000006, GA-LVA205395, HI-CT30946, ID-ELE-SC-39312, IL-127.001042, IN-City of Indianapolis: LAC-000156, IA-AC-0036, KY-City of Louisville: 483, LA-F1082, LA-F1914, LA-F1915, ME-LM50017382, MD-107-1626, MA-1355C, MI-3601205773, MN-TS01807, MS-15007958, MO-City of St. Louis: CC354, St. Louis County: 89767, MT-247, NE-14451, NV-68518, City of Las Vegas: 3000002944, NJ-34BF00021800, NM-353366, NY-Licensed by the N.Y.S. Dept. of State UID#12000286189, #12000286451, NC-1622-CSA, OH-53891446, City of Cincinnati: AC86, OK-1048, OR-170997, Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor Registration Number: PA22999, RI-3582, SC-BAC5630, SD-1025-7001-ET, TN-C1520, TX-B13734, ACR-3492, UT-6422596-6501, VT-ES-2382, VA-115120, WA-602588694/PROTEYH934RS, WV-042433, WI-City of Milwaukee: PAS-0002640, WY-LV-G-21499. 3750 Priority Way South Dr. Suite 200 Indianapolis, IN 46240 ©2014 Defender Security

 

Vivint Disclaimer:

Activation Fee and 42-Month Monitoring Agreement at a minimum of $49.99/mo., home ownership, and satisfactory credit history required. Local permit fees and/or sales tax may apply. Services not available in all areas.

 

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