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2017 BEST HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS BUYER’S GUIDE

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.  Law enforcement agencies report over 8 million property crimes every year.  Obviously, the smart money goes with a home security system.

But which system is right for you?  There are a lot of home security systems on the market.  That 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 safety system.  These are also the main categories we evaluate when conducting our home security product reviews.

  • Shopping Experience
  • Equipment & Set-up
  • Cost & Value
  • Monitoring Service & Reputation

In addition to passing our reviews with flying colors, every Best Buy provider on our recommend list has committed to providing their best value pricing exclusively through this InHomeSafetyGuide.org website.

You won’t find better pricing anywhere else.  It’s something extra special we managed to do for you.  Being the most trusted online resource for home safety systems helped us acquire that special pricing commitment from our providers.


Shopping Experience

First impressions still reign supreme.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a first date with a sweetheart, or simply shopping for a needed product.  What makes the huge difference is whether the other person is friendly and helpful, or sullen and pushy.  The same goes whether it’s a bricks-and-mortar store or an online website.

The first contact with a provider sets the tone for what follows.  When shopping for a home security system, consider these things – in addition to friendliness and helpfulness.

  • Does the provider have a comfortable array of product choices?
  • Does the product pricing look reasonable?
  • Does the provider make it easy to get a free, online quote?
  • Do you have the option of purchasing either by phone or online?
  • Are FAQs, how-to videos, and other useful information available on their website?
  • Can you use email, online chat, and telephone to get in touch?
  • Is it easy to reach technical support?
  • Is the provider-patient and understanding?
  • Or, does the provider use high-pressure sales tactics?

Updated 11/1/17 – Exclusive Deals & Discounts available to InHome site visitors
We believe in transparency – On occasion, a provider we have reviewed has discounted pricing for InHome visitors. Only after our Top 5 providers are selected do we allow providers to offer purchase links and guaranteed pricing to our site visitors – we have been doing this since our inception in 2012.  About 30% of the time, InHome receives a nominal commission if a purchase through our links – it helps us support our website.  First and foremost, we ensure all rankings and reviews are accurate and unbiased.  For more information about how we rank and review each provider visit our how we rank page.

Current Deals & Discounts available to InHome Visitors

TOP-RATED HOME SECURITY PROVIDER DISCOUNT PRICING WEBSITE PHONE NUMBER
ADT by SafeStreets
Our Top-Rated Home Security Provider
From $36.99/mo
includes $100 Visa Gift Card
Visit ADT by SafeStreets 1-866-311-2479
Vivint From $49.99/mo with 3-Year Agreement Visit Vivint 1-877-432-5383
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

Equipment & Setup

In the past, home alarm systems were generally controlled by a numbered keypad that was mounted up on a wall somewhere in your house.  They’re still around.  However, with today’s high-tech approaches, now we’re seeing a lot of touch screens and smartphones also being used as command centers.

home security equipment, reviews

Most people will be fine with a company’s starter kit, which includes a central hub, entry sensors, motion detectors, and a siren.  Here are some other things to look for when choosing a system.

  • 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
  • Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Home automation equipment, Z-wave & IFTTT Support
  • App for your smartphone

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

After looking over the equipment list, the question is inevitably going to arise – “do I have to install all this myself?”  Well – yes – unless the provider offers professional installation.  Some do; some don’t.  Professional installation will ensure that the setup is flawless, and performing perfectly before the technician leaves your house.

On the other hand, if you have a little bit of the “geek” in you, a do-it-yourself installation (DIY) can be educational, easy and fun – especially the wireless ones.  Wi-Fi routers and batteries make short work of those endless wires and cables.

InHomeSafetyGuide Top Tip!

Batteries are usually overlooked when talking about 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.

Lithium batteries can be expensive, and often need to be special ordered.  Standard (AA, AAA, 9V) batteries are normally much easier to deal with.

 

Wireless high-tech has also brought to us home automation, more popular 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:

  • Nest Learning type thermostats
  • Z-Wave Integration
  • IFTTT Integration
  • Smart light bulbs
  • Smart dimmers
  • Smart locks like August Locks
  • Integration with Amazon Echo and Google Home

Cost & Value

It has to fit into one’s budget, right!  We can’t spend money like Uncle Sam – that bad boy gets to print it, we don’t.  Cost usually turns on two factors.  One, will you be signing a contract, or will it be month-to-month?  Two, will the system be professionally installed, or will you do it yourself?

Here are some additional questions to get the most “bang for your buck”

  • Do you have to buy the equipment, or is it included in the plan?
  • How much does additional equipment cost?
  • How much is the monthly fee?
  • Is there an activation fee?
  • Are there fees associated with canceling service?

Contract:  Traditional home security companies 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
  • 1-3 year minimum contract
  • A credit check may be required
  • Minimal up-front costs

No Contract:  As more people are turning to do-it-yourself (DIY) home safety systems, some companies are offering no-contract 24/7 home security monitoring to their customers.  Although there’s an upfront cost for the hardware (which you will own instead of lease), the monthly subscription fees are a lot less than that of a traditional security company.  If you currently rent, not having an annual service contract can make a lot of sense.

  • Month to month subscription – cancel anytime
  • No credit checks
  • Less expensive monthly payments
  • Must pay for equipment, but you own the hardware

It largely depends on your current living situation ~ whether to go with a traditional contract home alarm company or a do-it-yourself (DIY) no-contract provider.  Either way, every InHomeSafetyGuide certified company on our Best Buy list will provide you and your family with the maximum 24/7 around-the-clock protection.


Monitoring Service & Reputation

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 a home safety system in the first place!

home security reviews, reputation of companies

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

  • How long has the company been around?
  • How are their customer reviews?
  • Are negative customer reviews promptly addressed?
  • What is their rating with BBB?
  • Have other respected companies featured them?
  • Is the customer care center accredited by CSAA 5 Diamond Certified & UL-Certified.
  • Do they have a lot of online resources?
  • Can you count on fast response times?
  • How easy is it to get to a company executive?
  • Are professional monitoring services included with their plans?

It won’t hurt to pick up the phone and give them a call – to see how fast they respond.  Just click here to get to the telephone numbers of our recommended Best Buy providers.


 

Frequently Asked Home Security Questions

Q. What is home automation?

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A. Home automation means you have the opportunity to control other aspects of your home environment, 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 adjust the a/c or heat when you leave for the weekend, you can reset the temperature from a portable device.  That saves energy.  That saves you real money.

Locking the doors remotely is also a popular feature.  It allows you to double check that your spouse or child actually locked the doors 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 overnight.  Some home automation systems allow you to program lights to turn on and off randomly throughout your home.  The appearance that someone is at home is a known deterrent to intruders.

Some home automation systems even allow you real-time access to cameras.  Not only can you check in and see if everything is safe, but you can also keep an eye on children that get home from school before you get home from work.  Some even have 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.  The kids should just love that, right!


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

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A. It depends a lot on the system and accessories you choose for your home.  Nearly every system includes at least one motion sensor best placed in a doorway, such as the primary entry point into your home.

There are a variety of other sensors that you can use throughout your home ~ window sensors, glass shattering sensors, garage door sensors, interior motion sensors, etc.  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 cameras available with many plans.

Don’t forget to advertise the home security system you use prominently in your yard.  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 the would-be burglar.  When they see that posted home security sign in your front yard, they’ll look elsewhere for easier pickings!


Q. How much does a home security system cost?

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A. It 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 require you to purchase all the equipment upfront, which can cost you hundreds of dollars.  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 do-it-yourself (DIY) option, which means you won’t have to pay an installation fee at all.  However, there are still companies out there who require 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.  That 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 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.  That helps to ensure that you don’t pay for additional equipment and features that may seem neat at the moment, but that you really don’t need.


Q. Are home security systems really worth the money?

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

The most obvious way a home security system protects 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 that system tag prominently in your front yard.

Home security systems do a lot more today than they used to.  They allow you to stay connected to what’s going on in your home while you’re away.  Home automation features are especially popular with families.

Many people believe having a home security system is worth the money simply because it provides them with some serious peace of mind.


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

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A. Apartments are almost twice as likely to be burglarized than homes.  A home safety 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, do-it-yourself (DIY) system.  Then, you can take your equipment with you when you move.


Q. Will a home security system affect my insurance?

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

It’s been statistically proven that homes without security systems are much more likely to be burglarized.  Homeowner’s insurance companies are willing to offer discounts on premium payments.  They anticipate avoiding expensive claims later.


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

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A. It all depends on the company you choose.  Some companies 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?

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A. In the past, it was common for an animal to trip a motion sensor.  That is as frustrating for homeowners as it is for home alarm system companies.  Fortunately, today’s sensors are much more intuitive.

Most sensors today have a weight limit.  That limit varies 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.

Ask about pet sensitive 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 a false alarm.


Q. Is a home security system tax deductible?

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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 to take the deduction, you must use that space solely for business purposes.

Before you attempt to deduct the cost of a home security system, touch base with your tax advisor.


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

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

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

Other approaches are not immune to power outages.  Systems that function with a land-based phone line or a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) are susceptible to outages.  Make sure that you understand what kind of system you’re installing so you’ll know whether it will work during a power outage.


Q. Should I choose DIY or professional installation?

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A. If you have some technological know-how, it’s usually in your best interest to choose a 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.

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 offer both DIY and professional installation options.  That way, if you wish, you can give DIY installation a try before paying for professional installation.

 

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