Home Security Systems Reviews
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Home Security Systems Reviews
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Frontpoint offers state-of-the-art home security systems at extremely affordable prices. Their forward-thinking approach to home security and focus on customer service has them leading the pack of home security systems.
To start with, Frontpoint is the only home security system that is 100% wireless and 100% cellular. Why is this important? In a traditional, landline home security system, burglars can disable the system simply by snipping phone lines or cutting cable wires, which renders the home security system powerless. Instead, wireless cellular systems are a safer and more reliable alternative. With Frontpoint, you're not required to have a landline phone, an internet connection, or any phone at all. The alarms from the Frontpoint control panel reach their monitoring center over a secure cellular network.
Installing the Frontpoint home security system is very easy. You may have heard horror stories about other home security systems, where a technician has to visit the home, drill holes in the walls, and hard-wire the system. Frontpoint heard these stories too - so they developed a pre-programmed, out of the box, do-it-yourself solution that you can set up in as little as 30 minutes. The Frontpoint home security components connect instantly to their Control Panel over a wireless frequency, which makes installation a snap. The Control Panel signals the monitoring station using its built-in cellular device, so there is no need for a connection with the home landline or internet cable. This also lets you grow, expand, and change your home security system whenever you want. You can even take it with you when you move!
Frontpoint's high-tech home security features don't stop there. Once you have your home security system installed, you can start receiving instant alerts if a window breaks, a door opens, the power goes out, or even when a child comes home. Plus, you'll be able to access your home security system with any device that can connect to the internet. If you're on a computer, a laptop, or a tablet device, you can use their online customer portal. If you have an iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, or Windows phone, you can enjoy their free smartphone apps to check on your home security system. Their advanced home automation features let you control lights, thermostat and door locks, from the road, adding convenience while saving energy. And with their optional video surveillance features, you can even see what's going on as well.
Frontpoint's equipment is very affordable and can be easily customized to meet your needs. You can choose from one of their 3 monitoring plan options:
To make things even more affordable, all of their home security equipment comes with Free Shipping.
One great thing about Frontpoint home security systems is how easily they can be expanded. Frontpoint offers a wide variety of sensors that can be added onto your home security system at any time. These sensors can help you monitor for intrusions, fires, environmental concerns, and even medical emergencies. Plus, your monthly monitoring fees remain the same - no additional charge. Some of these extra home security sensors include:
One thing that we especially liked about Frontpoint is their extraordinary focus on customer service. There are hundreds of customer testimonials in support of their products and service. They have an "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau and are one of the only home security companies that carry an accreditation with the BBB. They've also earned the Angie's List Super Service Award, which is the highest honor given by that organization to companies that have achieved a superior service rating.
Perhaps even more impressively, Frontpoint offers a 30-day risk-free money-back trial with their home security system. If you're not happy with the system you receive, you can ship it back within 30 days with no restocking fees and no return shipping charges - no questions asked.
Frontpoint sets the standard for home security systems. They offer cutting-edge technology that includes wireless sensors, free mobile apps, and countless customization options. Their support staff is top-notch and their customer focus shines through. If you're looking for a safe, simple, high-tech, feature-rich, and affordable home security system, Frontpoint (1-866-363-8426) should be your first stop. They earn our highest rating.
Protect America offers one of the best deals in the entire home security industry. Their customer-focused home security packages include free equipment and all-inclusive monitoring solutions. Customer support is friendly and knowledgeable. If you're looking for a home security system, Protect America is an excellent choice.
Protect America has served over 400,000 customers since its founding over 20 years ago. They provide sophisticated and reliable home security solutions for the lowest possible price. With their Lowest Price Guarantee, Protect America will even match advertised offers on their monitoring service. Every Protect America system is self-installed, which saves you the unnecessary intrusion of salesmen and technicians in your home. No one will come into your house and try to sell you more than you need. Simply call Protect America's toll-free customer service department (1-888-951-5127) to receive a free home security consultation. Customers are free to make their own decisions without pushy salesmen.
Protect America offers five wireless home security plans that meet the security needs of any household. Every plan comes with a wireless GE home security system that includes a talking control panel, motion detector, internal siren, door chime, battery backup, one-button arming, a Lifetime Replacement Parts Warranty, three window decals, and a yard sign.
For comprehensive home security, you'll want to place a sensor on all ground level entry points, like doors and windows. The number of sensors you need varies depending on the size of your home. Many houses will be adequately served by the 3 sensors provided in the Copper package, the most basic level of security offered by Protect America.
For most homeowners, we think the Silver package offers the best value. This package provides an impressive amount of home security equipment - including 10 security sensors and a motion detector - for no upfront cost. The only fees are for your monitoring solution, which is very competitively priced at $37.99.
The wireless home security systems from Protect America are designed to be installed by the homeowner. Installation is very straightforward and easy to understand, and supported by Protect America's knowledgeable and friendly staff. Choosing an easy-to-install wireless home security system can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars compared to a traditional home alarm system.
In addition to home security systems, Protect America has a number of security accessories that further enhance the safety of your home. Available home security equipment includes:
A home security system from Protect America can even save you money. Most insurance companies will give you a discount on your homeowner's insurance if you have a home alarm system installed. After activating your home security system, Protect America will send you a certificate of installation to show your insurance provider. I this way, getting a home security system from Protect America can even pay for itself.
Protect America is a great way to get a home security system for no upfront cost. They have a variety of home security packages that provide cutting edge technology and reliable nationwide monitoring. When combined with their competitive pricing and knowledgeable customer support, Protect America (1-888-951-5127) shares our top 5-star rating and is an excellent option for your next home security system.
ADT has been in business for many years and most people are familiar with this common name in home security. ADT provides a number of home security plans to fit your needs. These plans can accommodate both land lines or cellular users, fire detection, or simple intruder protection. With ADT you can speed several hundred dollars or your life savings establishing your home security system, depending on the amount of security equipment you want to fill your house with.
ADT prefers to send an associate for their evaluation of your home security needs prior to installation. Most of the systems are wireless but hard coding is required with certain add-on equipment.
ADT offers a basic home security package for a $99 customer installation charge plus a monitoring fee of $36.99 per month. The equipment in this package includes:
This is a competitive initial price point when looking at the competition. However, most homeowners will probably want more than the three entry point sensors that come in this package, which means additional equipment cost.
Overall, ADT provides dependable home security systems with all the bells and whistles that you may be looking for. Their equipment is designed to meet the needs of anyone, but comes at a price point that is slightly higher than others. Still, if you have needs for a very unique security system and don't mind spending the extra money required, ADT (1-866-305-4104) may be an option worth considering.
Vivint has been in business for over 13 years and currently serves over 500,000 customers. They offer a nice combination of home security and home automation features for those that like to take control.
Via a cell phone or computer, located anywhere in the world, the Vivint system allows the resident to control the homes lighting, appliances, thermostat, alarm system and more with just a few clicks. Z-Wave technology, is the brains behind the Vivint system, and in a nut shell is a wireless system that facilitates the communication to the home security and home electronics via remote control. The system may be managed at home using a functional control panel.
For a starting price of $53.99 per month, Vivint provides a wireless system that includes a control panel, 3 sensors, a motion detector, smart thermostat, 1 appliance control, a door lock, and 1 video camera. At an additional cost, supplemental sensors, for just about anything, are available to customize the home security and automation system to fit any customer's needs.
Vivint offers a life-time warranty on all products as well as a three day trial period in the event you should change your mind. The equipment may also be moved if relocation is needed. If you have any questions or concerns about the system, their customer service team is helpful. In fact, customer service has been a recent focus at Vivint to improve customer satisfaction levels that floundered in the past.
The positives with the Vivint home security option are the high tech attributes that allow the resident to take control of their home. Monthly monitoring and wireless access are more expensive than other home security companies. While the company has recently won awards for customer service, some customers have complained of pushy salesman. In the end, if you like the idea of an interactive home security system that incorporates smart home technology, Vivint is worth a closer look.
GetSafe is one of the newest all-wireless home security systems to hit the market in recent years. In spite of this newness, or perhaps partly because of it, current customer reviews indicate an extremely high level of satisfaction with GetSafe's easy DIY installation, smartphone-controlled system, and contract-free monthly protection regardless of the number of sensor points.
Customer service is easily accessed via toll-free number, email, online chat, or even through Facebook and Twitter. The website also has a number of easy-to-follow videos that make installation simple.
24/7 monitoring costs $29/month and is provided from a nationwide control center. Customers have made glowing comments on the responsiveness and professionalism of the monitoring representatives, even during the initial setup and testing process.
One difference in GetSafe's home security system is the upfront cost of $249 to purchase Starter Kit, which contains:
With many companies offering "free" equipment and installation, that may seem cost-prohibitive; on the other hand, once the customer makes the initial purchase of the Starter Kit and any desired add-ons (e.g. additional door/window sensors, pet-friendly motion detectors, flood detector, connected smoke alarm, Nest thermostats, wireless cameras, etc.), the equipment belongs to the customer and does not have to be returned when the service is terminated. Owning the equipment makes it incredibly easy and convenient to move the equipment to a new location-whether the customer is changing dorm rooms from one semester to another or making a cross-country relocation.
And, with no unsightly control panel hardware-all sensors, cameras, and other equipment can be monitored and controlled through a smartphone app or the available keyfob-both moving and using GetSafe's home security system is easy, modern, and completely wireless.
GetSafe also has a reasonable 14-day return policy: get a full refund, minus shipping costs to return the equipment, for any reason.
The only significant drawback we found is that GetSafe is not currently licensed in Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, or Rhode Island, making it unavailable in several major metropolitan areas such as Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore.
In general, we're impressed with the number of options that GetSafe offers for the same monthly monitoring cost of $29; most other home security companies charge incrementally more for the number of sensors and features covered. We're confident that customers will appreciate the ability to get 24/7 coverage with no required contract, despite the somewhat steep upfront costs to purchase the equipment. GetSafe is a terrific option for home security systems.
SimpliSafe is a relative newcomer to the home security field, but they are rapidly gaining traction through positive word of mouth and recommendations from many well-known sources including NBC, Fortune Magazine and the New York Times. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, a no-contract policy, and good customer service, SimpliSafe is rapidly gaining a good repuation in the home security business.
In order to separate themselves from the pack, the SimpliSafe website highlights some major differences between them and some of the larger home security companies. One of the main differences is that SimpliSafe claims no hidden fees and requires no commitment or service contract. As highlighted in the New York Times articles on SimpliSafe, many home security systems require up to a three year contract that can cost thousands of dollars, and often have add-on fees that raise the actual cost of the service from what is stated as the monthly home security monitoring fee. SimpliSafe requires no such contract and no auto-renewal fees.
Another important difference between SimpliSafe and some of the more traditional home security systems is that SimpliSafe is 100% wireless. Not only does that mean a less expensive and difficult installation process, but more importantly the system cannot be shut down by a clever thief with wire cutters. In fact, the home security installation is so simple that the customer can begin installing the system in as little as 5 minutes, as shown in a helpful video on the website. This is a nice incentive for those folks who don't want a hefty installation charge or permanent wiring added in their home. Of course, it could also be a negative for people who don't trust themselves to install the system on their own.
SimpliSafe advertises low costs as well. From a monthly home security monitoring fee standpoint, they are indeed among the lowest priced services we found. SimpliSafe's monitoring starts at $14.99 per month for dedicated 24/7 professional monitoring and police dispatch service. However, unlike some other home security systems we've reviewed, the equipment is not free. Depending on the size of the system you want, the initial package can cost anywhere from $229 to $539 and up.
SimpliSafe does offer advanced options in their home security system. In addition to 100% wireless security system, they also offer wireless monitoring and control through a smartphone or other wireless device. SMS text and e-mail alerts can be sent notifying the homeowner of any disturbance - including a window opening, fire, carbon monoxide, or even if the liquor or gun cabinets have been opened.
SimpliSafe offers a state-of-the-art home security system with good customer service. While they're the new kid on the block, they're gaining a good repuation. We wish their initial equipment cost was more affordable. Still, this is a home security company worth keeping an eye on.
Guardian Protection Services is a Pennsylvania based company that has been in business for over 60 years. They've recently upgraded their home security offering with a redesigned website, a focus on customer service, and updated equipment. The result is an impressive home security offering worthy of consideration.
Guardian utilizes GE products in their home security systems. They've created 5 home security packages for you to choose from, each of which can be tailored further depending on your needs. These packages include:
All packages come standard with 3 sensors - which, unless you live in a small apartment, will probably not be enough for your home's protection. So, you should expect to add more sensors to these offerings. For the Plus, Premium, and emPower packages, Guardian will include up to 10 sensors at no additional cost, which makes the Plus system a very attractive package.
To enhance these packages, you can further tailor your home security system with options such as a color touchscreen, additional motion, door, and window sensors, a carbon monoxide detector, medical pendant, smoke and heat communicators, glass breakage detector, and wireless cameras for video surveillance.
Guardian's 24/7 nationwide home security monitoring center is state-of-the art and (UL) certified. It's double-backup power protected, and has earned a Five Diamond rating by the Central Station Alarm Association. This is a dependable monitoring center as good as any on the market.
In recent years Guardian has placed a priority on customer service. This focus on the customer has really paid off. They currently hold an A rating as an accredited business with the BBB, and earned a Super Service Award with Angie's List.
Guardian does require you to call and speak with a salesperson to discuss your home security needs. Once you decide the right equipment for your home, Guardian schedules a professional to come and install your system. Because of this, you should expect to pay more than the home security companies that offer do-it-yourself home security installations. The trade-off is that the professional will be there to answer any questions you have during the installation process.
Guardian Protection Services has really stepped up their home security system offering. Their equipment rivals any on the market today, and they offer optional features such as smartphone integration and home automation. Their monitoring center is reliable and customer service is top-notch. If you're more comfortable with a professional installing your home security system rather than installing it yourself, Guardian is definitely worth consideration.
Alarm Force started in 1988 and is currently an A+ Better Business Bureau rated company. Their straightforward home security product line allows customers to quickly understand what is included and how much it will cost. If you're not looking for too many frills and have a smaller home or apartment, Alarm Force is budget friendly option.
Alarm Force offers two different alarm packages with the perks of an expensive system but without the cost. All equipment is installed by Alarm Force, leased to customers and may be relocated if the resident moves.
One feature at Alarm Force that we liked is their Video Relay system that lets you see, via video surveillance, anyone at your front door. If someone rings your door bell you instantly receive a phone call and email that allows you to see that individual at the door and talk with them if needed. This works for those with a Smart Phone and is a great option if you're willing to pay a little more each month.
Alarm Force can be a good value for those that have a smaller residence or don't have much extra money to spend. Free installation and low monthly monitoring charges can bring peace of mind to those on a tight budget. The Video Relay system is a nice feature but only if you already have a Smart Phone and are willing to pay the extra costs associated with the product. Overall, we liked the customer history at Alarm Force and feel it's a decent option for the right customer.
Live Watch is a home security company that has been in business since 2002 with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Live Watch offers a very robust menu of modern home security and monitoring services, however their website makes it very difficult to tell what kind of value the consumer is receiving.
Live Watch isn't short on accolades according to their website. Besides the A+ rating from the BBB, they have received a gold medal "Stevie Award" from the Stevie Customer Service review company for superior customer service, as well as numerous positive reviews in publications such as Inc.500 and Tech Crunch. They have also been featured on NBC, CNN, CBS, Fox News and even the Oprah Winfrey Network.
The technology that Live Watch offers is all wireless and self-installed. As mentioned with other home security systems that feature self-installation, this can be a positive or negative depending on the individual consumer. On the one hand, there is no additional installation cost. On the other hand, you are your own service person in the case of technical problems with the system. The security system seems easy enough to install; Live Watch calls it "plug and protect". All a consumer needs to do is contact a security advisor at the toll free number, create a custom security system for their home based on individual needs, and the equipment is pre-programmed and shipped. You simply follow the instructions to set up and activate the totally wireless home security system.
Regarding the equipment and services, everything offered by most of the other advanced home security companies is available. 24/7 dedicated monitoring, alerts for burglary, smoke and fire, carbon dioxide, flooding, as well as remote access through laptop or smart phone so customers can monitor everything from wherever they happen to be. For additional fees you can add options that control the lights, heat and locks in the house remotely as well.
The main issue we found with the Live Watch website was that they make it very difficult to tell how much all of this will cost you. Many of the other home security websites very clearly define what their various packages are, what options each one has, and what the monthly and up-front costs will be for each. Live Watch is quite the opposite. Each link on the website that promises details about the various options instructs the consumer to enter a zip code or phone number or to contact a customer service representative for a quote. We're always wary of companies that refuse to give transparent cost structures. The only details we were able to find was a page with a limited time offer that included a home security system with only 2 door/window monitors and no cameras for $149. The basic monthly alarm monitoring is $29.95/month and the more advanced option that includes text/email alerts, lights and lock remote control is $35.95/month. Presumably any additional equipment or services would increase this cost.
Live Watch has a good reputation and it may very well be a good option for home security systems. However it doesn't appear to be any great bargain compared to other similar services, and we can't give a higher rating to a company that isn't forthcoming about their costs to the consumer.
First Alert Professional is a nationwide home security company, owned by Honeywell, that works through authorized dealers for sales and installation. They offer a good range of home security equipment, however their home security system costs and installation fees are set by their individually owned dealers. This means that pricing and installation costs can vary greatly depending on which dealer you talk to.
First Alert offers an impressive array of home security equipment that can be included in your system. Besides their base control unit and keypad, you can add any of the following:
The First Alert home security monitoring is available 24 hours a day and staffed with well trained professionals. Should an alarm trigger, an operator will attempt to communicate with you first before contacting police or emergency assistance - preventing any unnecessary response.
Since the home security equipment cost, monitoring fees, and contract length can all be set by their individual authorized dealers, it's impossible to compare with other home security companies. You're on your own to find a dealer that can offer you the best price or one that will negotiate with you. You just won't find transparent pricing or guidelines on their website.
Overall, First Alert Professional offers a quality home security system with a good variety of features available for you to customize as you need. Unfortunately their authorized dealer business model prevents the standardization that we'd like to see. If you're comfortable working with a local dealer to determine pricing and contracts, then First Alert can be an option for you.
Protection One is a Kansas based home security company that currently holds an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. In business since 1988, Protection One asserts themselves as the second largest security system in the United States but we were surprised to see the large areas in the region that they don't service.
Protection One uses Honeywell built security equipment that comes with a lifetime guarantee, for a small monthly fee, as long as you employ their respective monitoring service. However, Monitoring service comes at a lower end price starting at $24.99 per month with a three year minimum commitment. Protection One uses their own proprietary monitoring company to service clients. Customer service is important to them and a quick response, during an emergency, is their ultimate goal. If the alarm is triggered the monitoring system will attempt to call your or whomever is on your list of contacts after a short period of time lapses. Protection One does offer a panic button option for a break in or other emergencies.
The security equipment at Protection One are each sold separately. This means there are no available packages to give you a feel for the financial commitment related to purchasing and installing their security system. The website overall was a disappointment in that limited pricing and equipment information was available. We found several links that lead us to no additional information as well as an online wizard that didn't assist as expected. Instead, we were directed to provide our personal information to receive a phone call back from a salesman.
Protection One does offer cellular back-up in the event of a phone outage. A new service for customers is the option for remote control of the security system via the internet or cell phone but is not a home automation system by any means. Additional wireless options including smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and more.
While we liked the BBB rating at Protection One as well as the low monthly monitoring cost, we felt the website lacked the forthcoming information we needed to help in our decision making. Protection One is not available in many US cities across the US and we found several complaints related to the respective warranty plan with this equipment. Overall, we weren't as impressed with the nation's second largest home security provider as we would have liked.
Monitronics is a Dallas based home security company that started in 1994 and currently serves approximately 700,000 customers. This is another home security company that utilizes local dealers to distribute their product. If you want to learn more about Monitronics the website is not the place to go. Detailed and transparent information is not available on the website and is only provided by a salesman once they've assessed the security needs of your residence.
Reviewing Monitronics is a challenge as the brand of equipment varies by the location of the dealer. The cost of the actual equipment and installation charges are specific to what you are sold by your local salesman. The only benefit to that is if you have an existing home security system, they may be able to transfer the monitoring to their company.
An available option at Monitronics is installing an interactive system. This would allow you to adjust your security systems via the internet or smart phone. You may also choose to establish some smart home features to gain control over lighting, temperature and other electrical appliances while outside the home. All equipment comes with a life time guarantee but may be limited to times in which you're utilizing their proprietary monitoring service.
Monthly monitoring charges generally start at $32.00 per month and come with a 36 month contract. Monitoring includes 24 hours coverage by Alarm.com and may be established via a home phone line, cell or VoIP. The Monitronics' monitoring company houses two back-up sources to allow continuous operation even during a power outage.
Should you have any questions you may call the corporate headquarters at Monitronics but you may need to speak with your local dealer. We found most of our questions were answered with vague responses unless we were willing to have a salesman show-up at our house.
We were generally unenthusiastic about Monitronics due to the dealer relationship, varying contracts and product lines as well as lacking website and evasive customer service agents.
Alarm Relay offers remote home security alarm monitoring services at rock bottom prices. However a less than informative website makes it difficult to tell what you get for your money, and most additional services above the standard monitoring seem to cost extra.
The Alarm Relay website looks professional enough at first glance. Highlighted on the main page is the very low monthly monitoring cost of $8.95 a month, along with some industry accreditations including an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Alarm Relay has been in business since 1987 so their high rating and longevity lends credibility to their business model. However there are some other things we didn't love about the presentation of their home security products and services.
We wanted to review the various home security plans available to the consumer, so we navigated to the "monitoring solutions" page where there are options for residential plans or commercial plans. Clicking on the residential plans we expected to see choices between various levels of home security systems and services available, and the cost of each, like we do on many other home security websites. Instead there is a just a paragraph explaining that "our monitoring packages will bring you peace of mind". Nowhere could we review the actual monitoring packages to determine what services or equipment was included.
We figured we might find more information on the pricing page, but when we went there it gave us only one pricing structure, which is the $8.95 per month plus a $35 one-time administration fee. The only real piece of information we could find on this page was in the form of an asterisk which tells us that a requirement of the home security service is that it needs to be connected to a land telephone line. So we were able to figure out that the home security system is not wireless like some of the other systems we reviewed.
We then navigated to the "additional services" page where we found a list of services such as e-mail notifications, cell phone monitoring, internet monitoring and fire alarm services. None of these options say how much they cost, although there is a note that instructs you to call the folks at Alarm Relay to find out about adding these features to your monthly alarm monitoring package. With that said, we know that none of these options are included in the $8.95 per month fee.
As mentioned, Alarm Relay has a high rating from the Better Business Bureau and has been in business for a long time. It's entirely possible that a consumer could find a good home security system with Alarm Relay. However with no wireless home security option, no good information on their website to provide details on their services or technology, and an a la carte list of options that come standard with most other home security systems, we find it hard to give Alarm Relay a very high rating.
Comcast Xfinity, the well-known cable television, telephone and internet provider, also offers home security systems and alarm monitoring packages. Overall we found Comcast's offering in the world of home security to be overpriced and less impressive than many of the other similar services.
We'll start with the positives and say that the Comcast home security system offers some of the most modern features in remote home security today. All plans come with the standard professional 24/7 alarm monitoring, remote cell phone or laptop access to your security system, live video monitoring, even the ability to remotely control the lights and thermostat in your home through your favorite electronic device. Fire, flood and carbon monoxide alerts, easy to use touch screen controls and many other bells and whistles are available with the Comcast security system.
The problem is that it's all quite expensive when compared to other similar services. The entry level package that is being offered for $24.95/month is only available for Comcast "triple-play" customers, which means you must also purchase cable TV, telephone landline, and internet services to get that price. If you don't, the entry level package goes up to $39.95/month, with an installation fee that starts at $99. What's more is that the $39.95/month package includes bare-bones equipment with only 3 door/window sensors and 1 motion detector.
We would think most people have more than 3 doors and windows, and would require the next level package which goes up to $49.95/month and a whopping $399 minimum installation cost. Even then you still only get the 3 door/window monitors and 1 motion detector, but they throw in some video cameras for the live video monitoring and a thermostat/light controller. There is, of course, the option to purchase additional sensors or door/window monitors, over and above the cost of the package.
The security system page is just an add-on to the main Comcast website, and it feels very much like an afterthought. There are no links to testimonials or reviews of any sort for their home security systems and most of the links lead you back to the standard cable TV or internet services for which Comcast is widely known. In comparing the other home security companies we've reviewed against Comcast, nearly all of them either offer a cheaper price, a better package of equipment, or both. It's hard to give Comcast Xfinity home security a very high rating when so many other home security systems seem to offer a lot more for the money. Plus, customers won't be forced to deal with yet another cable company and all that entails.
CPI Security is a home security systems company that offers traditional hardwired security systems, wireless home security systems, as well as a host of remote control options for various items in your home such as locks, thermostats, and even garage doors. The equipment is modern and the services provided are equal to many of the other home security providers we have reviewed, but the cost is quite a bit higher. In addition, we found many instances of customer complaints.
The basic CPI system is called In-Touch, and it functions much like other 24/7 rapid response alarm monitoring systems. If something triggers the home security alarm, an emergency operator responds in seconds to address the alert. The security system is completely wireless, so it does not rely on a hard line that can be cut or knocked out in a storm. The basic home security package comes with one motion detector, one HD video camera, a fire detector, 6 window and door monitors and a remote keyless door lock. Additional equipment, such as glass break detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, can be purchased separately and added to the system. As with many other modern alarm systems, the customer can monitor the system remotely via their smart phone or other electronic device. Additionally, the system can be set up to control the heat, lights, and locks in the house remotely as well.
Our main objection to CPI Security is the expense. The website describes a promotional offer of $29.95 a month for the first three months of home security monitoring services, but neglects to say anywhere how much the cost goes up after that period. As it turns out, the increase is up to $49.95 per month, much higher than most of the other similar home security providers we have reviewed.
Additionally, as we reviewed CPI's reputation we discovered a long list of customer complaints, mostly surrounding their sales practices and hidden fees. Many customers complained of being locked into a 5 year commitment period without ever having been informed of it. Several others complained of hidden upgrade charges and promised refunds that were never delivered.
With all the other home security companies out there, we can't recommend taking your chances on a company that charges among the highest fees in the industry and appears to have a fairly spotty reputation. We suggest looking at one of the higher rated companies.
Home Security Systems
Home Security Systems are more important than ever before. Crime is on the rise in many areas of the country. Over 2 million burglaries occur every year, with the average dollar loss over $2,000 - not to mention the potential harm to personal safety. Many experts point to the nation's current economic troubles and high unemployment as leading indicators for a continued rise in the crime rate.
Safeguarding your home is vitally important to the protection of your property and family. Properly placed exterior lighting and good dead bolts can help reduce your odds of being a victim - but unfortunately, an experienced criminal can generally get through nearly all locks within 60 seconds. As a result, most experts suggest investing in a home security system - preferably one that is monitored by a live service for the utmost protection.
Statistics show that the majority of criminals will choose a home without a security system and bypass those better protected. Home security systems can vary greatly in protection and cost. Some home security systems provide free equipment along with a monthly monitoring contract, while others charge hundreds of dollars for installation as well as monitoring services. The best home security systems are flexible with or without home phone line requirements.
Before reading any home security systems reviews it's important to be familiar with some important home security aspects and features. These include:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best home security systems available today. We hope these reviews will help you find the right home security system to keep you and your family safe for years to come!
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 and Cons: Monitored
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