2017 Home Security Systems Buyer’s Guide
|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.
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
- 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