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View Top 4 Home Security Companies for 2017

2017 Home Security Systems Buyer’s Guide

Company Pricing Website Phone Number
Vivint From $49.99/mo with 3-Year Agreement Visit Vivint 1-877-432-5383
ADT by Safestreets From $36.99/mo with 3-Year Agreement Visit ADT by Safestreets 1-888-234-2203
Frontpoint From $44.99/mo with 3-Year Agreement Visit Frontpoint 1-888-456-6942
Protect America From $19.99/mo with 3-Year Agreement Visit Protect America 1-888-286-3909

Updated 2/11/2017: Your home should be a safe place, a place where you feel protected. Unfortunately, burglaries, break-ins, and other emergencies are more common than you might think (estimated 8,277,829 property crimes reported by law enforcement), which is why you should consider a home security system. But, which system is right for you? We’ve reviewed some of the best home security systems on the market so you can protect your family, your assets, and your peace of mind.

HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS CHECKLIST

There are a lot of wireless home security systems on the market which can make it difficult for you to find the one that’s right for your family. To help you narrow down your choices, we created a checklist of things you should look for in a quality home security system. These are also the items we evaluate when conducting our home security reviews.

1. Contract vs. No-Contract

The first and most important factor to decide is whether you’re okay with signing a long-term contract.

Annual Contracts:

Traditional home security companies, like ADT, have always required a service contract. The main advantage to signing up for a service contract is to save on the initial upfront cost of the hardware. Since you’re obligated to pay for a minimum of 1-3 years of service, companies can amortize the cost of the equipment into your monthly subscription fee. Also, if you own your home and know you’re going to be there for the long-haul, being locked in for a few years wouldn’t matter much.

  • Cheaper Equipment Fees
  • 3 Year Minimum Contract
  • Credit Check Required

No Annual Contracts:

As more and more people across the nation are turning to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home security systems, some companies are introducing no-contract 24/7 home security monitoring to their customers. Although there’s an upfront cost to the hardware (which you eventually own instead of lease), the monthly subscription fees are a lot less than that of a traditional security company. And if you currently rent, not having an annual service contract is a no-brainer.

  • Month to month subscription – Cancel anytime
  • No Credit Checks
  • Less expensive monthly payments
  • Must pay for equipment but you own the hardware

The choice to go with a traditional home alarm company versus a DIY no-contract provider largely depends on your current living situation. Either way, every InHomeSafetyGuide Certified company on our list will provide you and your family the maximum 24/7 around-the-clock protection.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself:

  • How long will I be living in my current home?
  • Do I mind signing a long-term contract?
  • Do I mind paying upfront for the equipment?

2. Professional Installation vs. Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

In the past, if you wanted a home security system, the process would require a few steps. First, you’d have to call the security company and schedule a sales person to come into your home and provide a consultation with a price quote. Second, you’d have to schedule an appointment with a technician and from there, they would install all of the equipment, run wires throughout your home and get everything up and running for you.

With nearly every home in America now having Wi-Fi, the days of a traditional home security system are starting to phase out. Although traditional home security companies are still doing well and will be for years to come, we’re seeing an upward trend with consumers switching to wireless DIY home security systems (sometimes referred to as home-security-in-a-box).

If you’re like us and don’t want to deal with setting appointments with sales reps, technicians, and paying installation fees, a DIY system is definitely the way to go.

  • Instead of using wires, all DIY devices are connected wirelessly to your Wi-Fi router.
  • Instead of power cables, all DIY devices use long-lasting replaceable batteries.
  • Instead of drilling holes in your home, all DIY devices mount with heavy-duty double-sided tape.

3. Monitoring Services

No home security system is complete without stellar monitoring services. After all, the ability to monitor your property is the whole reason why you’re considering to purchase a home security system in the first place!

When looking for the best home security system, you should ask:

  • How well are the customer service representatives trained?
  • Is the customer center accredited? Make sure they are CSAA 5 Diamond Certified and UL-Certified.
  • Can you count on fast response times?
  • Are professional monitoring services included with their plans?

4. Customer Service

Great customer service usually comes with outstanding monitoring services, but great monitoring services don’t necessarily mean high-quality customer service is included. You should consider the quality of customer service offered by each company you’re interested in, which includes:

  • How easy it is to obtain non-emergency help (e.g., technical support, installation help, customer service hold times, etc.)
  • The ability to get in touch via email, online chat, phone-based customer service, and more
  • How-to videos and instructions on the website for setting up and using their equipment
  • Blogs, FAQ pages, and other quality information are available on their website
  • No pressure sales tactics
  • Ease of cancellation

5. Equipment & Technology

In the past, all home security systems were controlled by a numbered keypad that was wall mounted somewhere in your home. Traditional systems like these still exist and are very popular. Some companies have replaced the old-style keypads with touchscreens and other companies have ditched this method altogether in favor of having your smart phone be the central hub to your alarm system.

InHomeSafetyGuide Top Tip!

Batteries are usually overlooked when dealing with home security hardware. Unless your security equipment is hardwired throughout the home, it’s a good idea to ask the service provider how long the battery will last and how much it will cost to replace the battery.

Some companies use very expensive lithium batteries that need to be special ordered. Other companies use standard AA batteries in all their devices to make it easier for the customer.

Here’s a list of common home security devices to look for when choosing a system. Keep in mind that most people will be fine with a company’s starter kit, which includes a central hub, entry sensors, motion detectors, and a siren.

  • Keypads, either traditional or touchscreen options
  • Sirens and alarms
  • Base stations
  • Entry sensors
  • Motion sensors
  • Glass break and garage door sensors
  • Freeze sensors and water sensors
  • Video and picture-taking sensors
  • Video cameras
  • Remotes
  • CO and smoke detectors
  • Home automation equipment, Z-wave & IFTTT Support
  • App for your smartphone

Not every provider offers every piece of equipment on this list, so look carefully at the equipment that’s available before you make a decision.

6. Cost and Value

Cost is always an important consideration. As discussed above, the cost of your home security and monitoring package will depend largely on the selection of a contract vs. no contract or professional install vs DIY.

Here are some questions to ask to get the most bang for your buck.

  • Do you have to buy the equipment, or is it included with the plan?
  • Do you have to sign a contract?
  • How much does additional equipment cost?
  • How much is the monthly fee?
  • Can you cancel at any time, or are there fees associated with cancelling service?

7. Home Automation

Home automation is being adopted now more than ever. When purchasing a home security system, you definitely want to consider the ability to expand your system with home automated products. Some of the most technologically advanced systems offer:

  • Thermostats like Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Z-Wave Integration
  • IFTTT Integration
  • Smart lightbulbs
  • Smart dimmers
  • Smart locks like August Locks
  • Integration with Amazon Echo and Google Home

Frequently Asked Home Security Questions

Q. What is home automation?

Show Answer

A. Home automation means you have the opportunity to control other aspects of your home, in addition to monitoring and controlling your home alarm system.

The most popular home automation feature is the ability to control the temperature in your home. If you forget to turn the heat down when you leave for the weekend, you can adjust the temperature from a portable device, which saves energy and saves you money.

Locking the doors remotely is also a popular feature because it allows you to double check that your spouse or child locked the door behind them when they left for work or school.

The ability to adjust the lighting in your home is a great feature if you’re away on vacation. Some home automation systems, like ADT, allow you to program lights to turn on and off randomly throughout your home, giving the appearance that someone is inside.

Some home automation systems even allow you real-time access to cameras. Not only can you check in and see if everything’s safe, but you can also keep an eye on children that get home from school before you get home from work. GetSafe even has a two-way communication feature so you can remind your children to get started on their homework when you see them playing a video game instead!


Q. How can a home security system protect my home?

Show Answer

A. The answer to this question depends a lot on the system and accessories you choose for your home. Nearly every system includes at least one motion sensor that’s best when placed in a doorway, as it’s the primary entry point into your home.

There are a variety of other sensors that you can use throughout your home that include window sensors, glass shattering sensors, garage door sensors, and interior motion sensors. Some sensors can even take a quick snapshot when they’re tripped so you can see exactly who, or what, caused the sensor to go off.

Although sensors are the backbone of every home security system, cameras are an especially good feature to add to your system. There are both indoor and outdoor, weather-friendly cameras available with many plans.

Not only can a home security system help identify an intruder if you experience a break-in, just having the system is usually enough to deter a burglar. Don’t forget to post the home security system you use prominently in your yard!


Q. How much does a home security system cost?

Show Answer

A. Once again, the answer to this question depends on the system you choose. One thing you’ll want to keep an eye out for is whether or not you have to pay for the equipment, or if the equipment is included in the price. Some systems, like SimpliSafe, require you to purchase all the equipment upfront, which can cost you hundreds of dollars before you even get the system up and running. However, once you have the equipment, monthly fees are relatively low.

You also have to look out for installation fees. Many systems today offer a DIY option, which means you won’t pay any fee at all. However, there are still companies out there who will require a professional installation. If you are interested in one of these providers, keep your eye open for special deals. Many of them will offer free installation from time to time, which can save you a lot of money.

The monthly cost of a home security system can vary widely, depending on the equipment and level of service you require. Some of the cheapest systems start at just $14.99 per month, but that cost can skyrocket if you choose to add additional sensors, cameras, and services, like home automation, to your package.

It’s best to determine a budget before you go shopping for a home security system to ensure that you don’t pay for additional equipment and features that may seem neat, but that you really don’t need.


Q. Are home security systems really worth the money?

Show Answer

A. Definitely! The key is in finding a system that works for you and provides you with a return on your investment.

The most obvious way a home security system helps you and your home is the fact that intruders can more easily be identified and apprehended. However, simply having a home security system is usually enough to deter burglars in the first place, so make sure you display the system tag prominently in your yard.

Home security systems do a lot more today than they used to. Paying for a system is worth it to many families because it allows you to stay connected to what’s going on in your home while you’re away. Home automation features are especially popular with families.

At the end of the day, many people believe having a home security system is worth the money simply because it provides them with peace of mind.


Q. Is a home security system a good idea for renters?

Show Answer

A. When most people think of protecting property, they think of protecting a home, but did you know that apartments are 85% more likely to be burglarized? A home security system is definitely a good idea for renters.

Although nearly any system can easily be installed in an apartment, it’s best to choose a flexible, DIY system that allows you to take your equipment with you when you move.


Q. Will a home security system affect my insurance?

Show Answer

A. When you install a home security system, don’t forget to give your homeowner’s insurance company a call! You can reduce your premium by up to 20%!

That’s because it’s been statistically proven that homes without security systems are much more likely to be burglarized. Homeowner’s insurance companies are willing to pay a little money upfront in the form of discounts on monthly payments in order to save on expensive replacement costs later.


Q. Can I use my existing equipment with a new provider?

Show Answer

A. It all depends on the company you choose. Some companies, like Protect America, are happy to modify an existing system so that you can enjoy their services without paying equipment fees. However, not all companies allow this, so it is important to ask the company you’re interested in about this before signing up for service.


Q. Will my pet trigger a motion alarm sensor?

Show Answer

A. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for an animal to trip a motion sensor, which caused frustration for the homeowners as well as the home alarm system company that was monitoring the property. Today, sensors are much more intuitive.

Most sensors today have a weight limit, although that limit may vary between carriers. That means a small pet wandering by shouldn’t trip the alarm. However, these sensors aren’t foolproof. Sometimes accidents happen. This is especially the case if you have a large dog.

Make sure you ask about pet immune motion alarm sensors when you’re in the process of purchasing a system. A customer service representative will be able to provide you with additional ideas and equipment that will reduce the likelihood of your pet setting off the alarm.


Q. Is a home security system tax deductible?

Show Answer

A. Since you can save on your homeowner’s insurance with a home alarm system, you may be wondering if your system is also tax deductible.

The short answer is no, but there are a few exceptions. You cannot claim a deduction when monitoring personal property, but if you use a portion of your home as an office, or if you run a professional daycare service, a portion of the cost may be tax deductible. In order for the deduction to be appropriate, you must only use that space for business.

Before you attempt to take a deduction for a home security system, it is important that you speak with a tax professional first.


Q. Will my system still work if the power goes out?

Show Answer

A. Understanding what kind of system you have is essential to understanding the answer to this question.

Many systems today are cellular, which means the system can continue to function in the event of an outage, thanks to a backup battery. Because of this feature, it is the most popular home alarm system option.

There are other options as well that are not immune to power outages. Systems that function with a traditional phone line, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), or over the internet are susceptible to outages. Make sure you understand what kind of system you’re installing so you know whether it will work during a power outage.


Q. Should I choose DIY or professional installation?

Show Answer

A. If you have just a little technological know-how, it’s usually in your best interest to choose DIY installation. Not only will you save money on installation costs, but you can easily customize the system to fit your needs. In addition, you are able to pack up the equipment and reinstall it at a new location quite easily. Keep in mind that if you can install a new computer and printer, you should very easily be able to install a DIY home security system.

However, if you plan on staying in the same home for many years, or if you are truly electronically challenged, you may want to consider professional installation. Some companies require it, but others, like Protect America, allow both DIY and professional installation options. That way, you can give DIY installation a try before paying for professional installation.

 

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