5 Best Home Security & Alarm System Reviews of 2017 | SafeWise

The 5 Best Home Security Systems of 2017

We've researched and reviewed the top home security providers on the market. Check out our picks below.

#1 9.1/10 Safewise Rating

Pros

  • 30-day, risk-free trial
  • 100% wireless system
  • DIY, no cost installation

Cons

  • 3-year equipment warranty, which is less than most companies
#2 8.4/10 Safewise Rating

Pros

  • 6 monitoring centers
  • 140 years of home security experience
  • Theft protection

Cons

  • No trial period and long contracts
#4 8.1/10 Safewise Rating

Pros

  • Lifetime equipment warranty
  • Low up-front costs
  • Locked-in rates for life

Cons

  • Cellular monitoring in only certain packages
#5 7.5/10 Safewise Rating

Pros

  • Flexible financing
  • Energy management
  • Sleek, state-of-the-art equipment

Cons

  • High-priced monthly monitoring

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Home Security System Reviews

Top 5 Home Security Systems:

Pros

  • 30-day, risk-free trial
  • 100% wireless system
  • DIY, no cost installation

Cons

  • 3-year equipment warranty, which is less than most companies

Consultative approach

We’ve heard a lot of good things from customers about Frontpoint’s sales approach, so we decided to try it out for ourselves. And it did not disappoint. When we called, there was practically no wait time, and the consultant took her time to answer all of our questions. She spent over an hour customizing a plan unique to our needs. Throughout the whole conversation, there were no pushy or high-pressure sales tactics. Not only was she knowledgeable, but she also created a plan that gave us the safety we wanted without upselling us on equipment and features. Whereas most companies would be happy to add on features, she did her best to ensure we got everything we needed without unnecessary extras.

No hidden fees

Transparent pricing benefits you in the long run. When we spoke to Frontpoint staff, they were very clear about their pricing. You pay a flat monthly payment, a specific amount up front for your equipment, and a cancellation fee if you discontinue the service before the contract is up. That’s it—and that’s pretty standard. What you won’t find with Frontpoint are fees for moving with your equipment or a reactivation fee to set up your service in a new location. To top it all off, whereas a lot of security companies will restart your term when you move, Frontpoint will continue your term from where you left off. And if your credit score is 600 or above, the company will give you a $300 discount on your equipment.

Advanced technology

One of the most advanced, and frankly coolest, features that Frontpoint offers is its Crash & Smash protection. Like most home security systems, the monitoring center receives a notification if a burglar triggers a sensor inside your home. But here’s what sets Frontpoint apart: even if a burglar destroys the control panel in an attempt to disable the system, authorities will still be notified. With Frontpoint’s Crash & Smash technology, once a sensor is tripped, you can rest assured that emergency responders are on the way unless you disable the alarm with your passcode.

Easy installation

Frontpoint’s DIY installation is simple. In fact, it’s one of the things customers really love about this security system. First, take all the components out of the boxes, plug in your control panel, place the sensors and devices around your home (within 100 feet from the control panel), and then call Frontpoint to activate your system. It’s really that simple. From what we’ve seen, most customers can complete the whole installation and setup process within an hour or so, depending on their plan and how many components they ordered. And there’s no drilling, wiring, or any other complications. It’s a peel-and-stick process, making it easy to place equipment practically anywhere without causing damage. However, you want to place your equipment in dry areas away from humidity.

Bottom line

Frontpoint cares about its customers—and it shows. The company is attentive, knowledgeable, transparent, and does everything it can to make sure you get the security system and features you need without hidden fees or extra costs.

View Frontpoint packages

Pros

  • 6 monitoring centers
  • 140 years of home security experience
  • Theft protection

Cons

  • No trial period and long contracts

Trusted name

With more than 140 years of experience, the name ADT is practically synonymous with home security. Over the decades, ADT has learned the ins and outs of what it takes to protect someone’s home—and that’s exactly what people love about it. The company has had years to test and refine its process, making it the leading provider in the home security space. And it shows no signs of slowing down. Today, ADT serves 6.4 million customers nationwide. In our research, no other company came close to the years of experience that ADT has under its belt. If you’re looking for a home security company with a proven track record of success, ADT is definitely a name to consider.

Top notch security

In the event of an emergency, response time makes a big difference. Unfortunately, there’s no response time guarantee. But with six monitoring centers—four nationwide and two in Canada—ADT can respond fast when it matters most. And if one of the monitoring centers is down, ADT can seamlessly transfer the volume to another center, ensuring that you’re always protected. We think this is a huge advantage because every second counts in an emergency. According to ADT, it is able to answer nineteen million alarm signals each year—we haven’t found another company with comparable stats.

ADT Pulse®

ADT’s mobile integration technology, ADT Pulse, lets you control your security system with your smartphone or other web-enabled device anywhere, at any time. One thing that stood out to us with ADT is that you can use voice commands to control many aspects of your home. Once your voice is authenticated, you can do things like arm and disarm your system, lock and unlock doors, and turn lights on and off. ADT Pulse uses IF This Then That (IFTTT) channels, so you can customize your system beyond the basics. For example, we found that you can set specific requirements, like adjusting the temperature in your home based on weather conditions. If you have a wearable device, you can have your system arm or disarm based on whether it’s set to “sleep” or “awake.” These are just two of many examples, and we’re pretty pumped about what the future holds. ADT’s ability to connect to 100 channels through IFTTT not only keeps your home safe, but it also simplifies the day-to-day aspects of your life.

Great Guarantees

You invest a lot in your security system, so it’s nice when it comes with guarantees. And in our research, we found that ADT has a few that stand out.

- Theft Protection Guarantee

An alarm system gives you a sense of safety. But what do you do in the event that your alarm system goes off and you still lose precious valuables in your home? That’s where ADT’s Theft Protection Guarantee comes in. If your home is broken into and you lose possessions while your alarm system is armed, ADT will pay up to $500 of your homeowners insurance deductible. This is a unique offer that adds comfort and reassurance at one of the hardest times.

- Relocation Discount Guarantee

Moving can be unpredictable: from a new job opportunity to growing your family, there are many reasons that you may suddenly find yourself in a new home. ADT makes it easy to move with its relocation discount guarantee. Basically, ADT will help you save up to hundreds of dollars on installing your security system in a new home. We like this guarantee because it gives people the flexibility to move without interrupting their security needs.

Bottom line

There’s a reason ADT is the most trusted and well-known name in the home security industry. With decades of experience and the most monitoring centers nationwide, it provides unbeatable security.

View ADT packages

Pros

  • Lifetime equipment warranty
  • Low up-front costs
  • Locked-in rates for life

Cons

  • Cellular monitoring in only certain packages

Lifetime Equipment Warranty

All equipment breaks over time. But with Protect America, you won’t have to worry because its lifetime equipment warranty has you covered. When we called to talk to one of the company’s representatives, they reassured us that as long as we’re under contract with them, the equipment will be covered. They also claimed that they can get us up to $1,400 of free equipment with no installation fees, which is noted on Protect America’s website. This is great news because one of the biggest hurdles to purchasing a security system is the equipment cost. Saving on equipment and maintenance makes it easier to get started today and costs you less in the long run.

Low Up-Front Costs

Purchasing a home security system often costs hundreds of dollars up front. That’s where Protect America is different. It is perhaps one of the best home security solutions if you’re on a budget. The company offers a very low up-front cost without sacrificing on quality, so you can get started for less. In fact, you can get started for just $19.99 a month—this price is basically unheard of when compared to most of the other home security companies. And even though you won’t get all the bells and whistles, you’ll have the essential security monitoring you need to keep your home safe. One thing to keep in mind is that the $19.99 price tag comes with a landline, so you’ll need to have that type of connection. You can also upgrade to a better and more reliable connection for a bit more.

Great Package Variety

It’s great to have choices—and Protect America has more choices than most. It has five different plans to choose from and offers the ability to customize your own security system so you can get exactly what you want within your budget. Protect America even lets you select from three monitoring options: landline, broadband, and cellular. Because there are so many options, it’s useful to talk to a representative before deciding. When we spoke to a Protect America representative, they were very helpful in walking us through the entire process.

Vehicle Tracking

One of the coolest features we came across when comparing the best home security systems is Protect America’s vehicle tracking capabilities. When you think about it, your car is an extension of your home: you use it to commute, go on family outings, and keep personal items. It’s also likely your second-most expensive purchase, so it’s good to know you can get a tracking device in case it’s stolen. Protect America’s GPS tracking device plugs in to your vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) port, letting you know where your car is at all times. What’s really cool, and most parents will love this, is that you can set up email and text alerts to monitor your child’s speed and see where they’re going. We like this feature because it’s different, showing that Protect America thinks of new ways to innovate and add quality to its offering.

Bottom line

Protect America offers a wide variety of options for your home security needs. Not only that, but it’s also the lowest starting point we’ve seen, which is great if you’re on a budget.

View Protect America packages

Pros

  • Flexible financing
  • Energy management
  • Sleek, state-of-the-art equipment

Cons

  • High-priced monthly monitoring

Innovative Automation

Now you can have the smartest house on the block with Vivint Smart Home. From essential lock, light, thermostat, and small appliance control features to advanced Amazon Echo and Nest integration—you have absolute control. And with Vivint’s hands-free voice control features, you can lock doors, close your garage, arm your security system, turn lights on and off, and adjust your thermostat without touching anything. Vivint is by far the most innovative and technologically advanced home security company on our list, continuously pushing the bar of what’s possible when it comes to home automation and security. With its SkyControl panel, your system can learn and react to your habits, offering added convenience and comfort. And it doesn’t stop there. Vivint’s mobile app has a clean and simple interface, making it the most user-friendly app we’ve seen—no wonder it’s rated 4.5 stars in the Google Play store.

Professional Installation

Unlike some DIY security systems, Vivint requires professional installation, mainly because its system is pretty high tech. But we were pleased to find out that Vivint offers this service for free. We also found that the one thing customers love most about Vivint is the professional installation process. According to a wide variety of customer reviews, the certified technicians are thorough, detail oriented, and patient. They take their time to answer any questions and will help guide you through every part of the installation process room by room.

Flexible Pricing

Contracts are becoming a thing of the past as more and more companies offer flexible pricing options. This is something that Vivint recently embraced. Vivint changed its pricing structure to include a month-by-month service option along with a traditional contract plan. With its monthly payment option, you pay for the equipment up front—around $550, depending on your plan and added features. With this option, your monthly bill will include only the monitoring price.

As an alternative, you can finance the equipment and pay for the cost over the lifetime of your contract. Keep in mind that $550 is the minimum amount required for financing, and your cost can vary widely because you’re building your own package. With this option, your monthly payment will include monitoring costs plus equipment fees. If you go the finance route, Vivint offers 0% APR, so you’ll pay the same amount for the equipment as you would with the month-by-month plan. Whatever you choose, it’s nice to have options. Although, if you decide to do a contract, you’ll want to settle in for the long haul—Vivint’s contracts are longer than most companies, ranging from forty-two to sixty months.

Advanced Energy Management

Saving money by lowering energy costs is a growing movement across America. And there’s no better company to help you take that leap than Vivint Smart Home. Vivint’s reputation for high-end technology in the home security space easily transfers to its energy management solutions. The company’s home automation plan gives you complete mobile access to your home with any web-enabled device. You can even set standards to have your lights and thermostat adjust according to your schedule. So not only will you save money, but you’ll always be comfortable because your home knows your schedule.

Another thing you won’t find with other security companies is solar panel installation, which can help you reduce, if not eliminate, your electric bill. Even though Vivint is on the higher end in terms of price, its energy management solutions can help you save some serious money, and over time could pay for the solar panel costs.

Bottom line

Vivint is one of the best home security systems, going far beyond security to include advanced home automation capabilities and energy management features.

View Vivint packages

How We Picked the Top 5

We’ve done the research—so you don’t have to. We scour the web, read through hundreds of customer reviews, test various products in-house, and have our fair share of conversations with each company’s sales and support representatives. And once we have the info we need, we do a comparison of the things most people consider when purchasing a security system including ease of use, price, packages and customization capabilities, technology features, the installation process and more. Finally, we condense that information to bring you only the best of the best of what’s out there today.

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What to Consider When Choosing a Home Security System

We’ve listed the seven most important things to consider when searching for the best home security system. This list gives you a good baseline of the different factors to think through as you weigh your options.

Vivint Sky Monitoring Panel
System Price

System Price

Securing your home can be a big investment. And knowing how much you’ll pay up front makes a big difference in the long run. When you’re thinking about pricing, consider three things: the monthly cost, the equipment and activation fees, and the installation fee. There are many routes you can take—some companies let you buy the equipment up front, others have only leasing options, and some might have higher up-front costs with lower monthly payments. Whichever way you go, we suggest keeping a list of companies’ different pricing options to compare because there’s a lot out there, and it can be overwhelming.

Customer Service

Customer Service

As an owner of a home security system, you’ll likely communicate with customer service on more than one occasion, so you want to make sure they’re responsive and knowledgeable. We recommend always doing a thorough search of what people say about a company’s customer service. You can also check the Better Business Bureau to see the company’s rating, as well as review Consumer Affairs and other reputable sites. And of course, get a feel for the company by calling customer service and assessing how attentive they are and how much time they take to ensure you have the information you need.

Installation

Installation Methods

There are two types of installation: professional and DIY. Both of these methods have pros and cons that depend on your needs. Professional installations take the guesswork out of everything. A professional will set up the system, make sure the sensors and devices work properly, and answer tons of questions as they configure your home. But there’s usually a fee associated with professionally installed security systems.

If you go the DIY route, you’re more or less on your own. But this shouldn’t necessarily deter you. Some home security systems are very simple to use and install, and you can always call the provider for help if you get confused. The best part about DIY home security installations is that there are no fees attached to the process. Before deciding what makes sense for you, check out what the companies say about their installation processes and read reviews from actual customers to get a better idea of their reputation.

Cameras

Cameras

Some companies don't offer cameras, and others offer different kinds: indoor fixed, indoor pan and tilt, and outdoor. An indoor fixed camera is stationary, while an indoor pan and tilt camera moves to look around a room. An outdoor camera can monitor a backyard or see potential trouble before it reaches your front door. Most security camera companies allow you to remotely view live footage or recorded clips through a smartphone or other web-enabled device. Video surveillance monitoring is usually an additional monitoring fee, and it varies widely depending on how companies construct their packages. Check out the list of the best home security cameras of 2017.

Automation Features

Automation Features

Home automation turns your home into a smart home. Most security system companies offer packages with advanced technology features that let you control just about everything in your home, from door locks and small appliances to lights and even the thermostat. And you can easily control these features from your smartphone or other web-enabled devices. Keep in mind, though, that these features usually come with upgraded packages and plans, so you might end up paying a little more for the added convenience.

Monitoring Fees

Monitoring Fees

A monitoring fee is the monthly bill you’ll pay your security company for having monitoring representatives ready to help you with an emergency at any time. Your security system will connect with a monitoring center through a cellular uplink, broadband internet connection, or landline phone. Usually, a cellular monitoring package is the most expensive and secure, broadband monitoring is mid-range, and landline monitoring is the least expensive and secure because intruders could cut your landline to disable your system.

ADT Pulse® Voice App
Mobile Access

Mobile Access

Mobile access gives you control of your home security system from anywhere at any time. You can do everything from arming and disarming your system and receiving alerts to setting up custom notifications and controlling features in your home. The extent of your mobile access depends on the security company and the type of package you choose. More sophisticated plans let you control your locks, lights, and appliances, so you won’t have to stress if you run out of the house and forget to turn something off. And some plans even let you remotely view a live camera feed in case you want to check in on your kids or loved ones. When you’re searching for a security system, think through what features matter to you most and how much mobile control you need to feel safe and comfortable.

Three Ways to Monitor your Home

Monitoring is an important aspect of home security systems. Some methods of monitoring are more susceptible to tampering, so take a close look at this component before making a final decision.

Corded Phone

Landline

Landline monitoring uses a phone line to contact the monitoring center in the event of an emergency. For a long time, landlines were the only option for security systems, and they still work today. A landline connection is definitely cheaper than other monitoring methods; however, we don’t recommend it because it’s not as safe. With a landline connection, a burglar can simply disable your entire security system by cutting the wires.

Router

Broadband

Broadband monitoring uses a broadband internet connection to communicate with your control panel. This is the middle-of-the-road monitoring method; it’s faster and safer than a landline and cheaper than a cellular connection. And with broadband, you’ll be able to add all the home automation features you want. The only downside is that internet connections are not always reliable, which can impact the effectiveness of your security system.

Mobile Phone

Cellular

Cellular monitoring uses a cellular uplink to communicate with your control panel. It’s the most technologically advanced monitoring connection, and it’s quickly becoming the new standard for home security systems. Some of the benefits of a cellular alarm system include easy installation, no required landline or internet, and reliable connectivity. One of the only downsides is that if you live in a place where you can’t get a cellular signal, this option won’t work.

Different Types of Home Security Services

There are many different services for home security—from monitoring and automation to personal emergency response. Take a look at the list below before you decide what makes sense for your lifestyle.

Security

Monitoring

Every home security company provides security monitoring—at a minimum. When you compare security systems, look for the types of sensors they come with, which can include door and window, garage door, glass break, motion, and image. Some of these sensors depend on the plan you choose, so be sure to go over everything in detail with the sales representative. Also, certain sensors might be better than others in some instances, so factor in your home’s layout and size when deciding which sensors make the most sense.

Home Automation

Home Automation

Adding convenience to home security is a win-win. Home automation is a fast-growing trend with more and more people hopping on board. It lets you control just about anything from locks and lights to thermostats and smoke detectors with a mobile app or device. Besides the convenience, it can also come in handy if you leave the house and forget to turn your appliances off or lock the front door. But before you go all out and purchase all the bells and whistles, think of what will be most useful for your lifestyle.

Services Energy

Energy Management

Energy management is a smart way to save money—without doing a thing. Integrate your devices to create a smart home that adjusts settings based on your routine. You can set your thermostat, lights, and other features to turn on and off based on the time of day, week, or other specified factors so your home is always comfortable. And if you want to reduce energy costs, some companies will let you track your usage over time.

Personal Response

Personal Response

In the event of an emergency, it’s not always possible to act quickly and get help—especially if you have limited mobility. That’s why we recommend adding a personal response pendant to your security system. A pendant can be worn around your neck or carried inside a pocket, making it easily accessible when it matters most. All you or your loved one has to do is press the panic button and help will be on the way.

Environmental Detection

Environmental Detection

Gas leaks and smoke often go unnoticed until it’s too late. Although you can purchase alarms that will go off if they detect smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) in your home, they won’t be able to help you take action unless you have a security system. Adding environmental detectors to your home security system will not only notify you if there’s unsafe CO levels, heavy smoke, or a fire hazard in your home—they’ll also contact the authorities. And if you have pets at home, an environmental sensor can save their lives.

Advanced Sensors

Advanced sensors

Not all sensors are created equally—some are more advanced than others. When you’re researching different home security packages, take a close look at the sensors. The ideal package should include sensors like CO, heat, and fire detection. But you’ll also want to consider window, door, garage, freeze, glass break, image, motion, and water sensors. You might not need all of these, but keep this list in mind as you shop around.

Professional versus DIY Installation

When you’re shopping for the best home security system, take a close look at the installation process. We’ve found that some security companies require professional installation, while others let you install the system yourself.

Professional Installation

Professional Installation

A professional installation makes things simple. You have an expert by your side who understands the best setup for your home security system. They assess the layout of your home for optimal performance, know where to place the sensors and devices, install all the equipment, and are able to resolve any issues along the way. And because the installer is certified with years of experience on the job, you have added peace of mind that the installation was done right. The only downside to professional installation is the up-front cost and lack of flexibility. Most security systems with professional installation have restrictions on moving with their equipment. And there’s usually a higher up-front cost associated with the service.

DIY Installation

DIY Installation

DIY installations can also be simple—if you know what you’re doing. The two biggest drawbacks that you might run into are the lack of professional help and second-guessing yourself. But beyond that, DIY installations give you a lot more control because you can decide where to place your devices and sensors. And if you encounter any issues or feel stuck, you can always call and have a professional help you over the phone. That being said, depending on the security system, it can take you longer to set up and get everything running. But with a DIY installation, not only do you have a sense of pride in your accomplishment, you also save money because most DIY installations are free.

If you find you need help, you usually have one of two support options: electronic prompts or verbal walk-throughs.

Electronic Prompts: With electronic prompts, your security system company will give you verbal guidance (in the form of a robotic voice) as you set up your system. It will also let you know how to ensure that all your sensors are connected and working.

Verbal Walkthrough: In contrast, with a verbal walk-through, you'll call an installation professional who will guide you through the process over the phone and make sure your equipment works properly.

Mobile Access

Mobile Access

Mobile access helps you know what’s happening at home when you’re away. Most security companies offer mobile app features, but the extent of what you can control depends on your plan.

Mobile access lets you control your entire home security system remotely, so you’re never too far from home. If you have a basic home security plan, your mobile app access might be limited to arming and disarming your home. With more advanced plans, you can receive notifications and stream live video. And if you have automation features set up, you can use the app to control everything from your lights and locks to your thermostat and small appliances. Most mobile apps work on smartphones, tablets, computers, and other web-enabled devices. You’ll want to check with your provider for details on its plans so you know exactly what to expect.

Mobile Apps
Security Cameras

Security Cameras

Security cameras help you keep an eye on your home from anywhere, at any time.

There’s nothing worse than coming home and realizing you’ve been robbed or finding out that the package you’ve been waiting for was stolen. That’s where security cameras come in handy. There are a wide variety of security cameras, including indoor, outdoor, and doorbell options, so you can see what’s going on in every part of your home. Some home security providers even let you view live surveillance footage from your mobile app and save recorded clips to review later.

Cameras might also deter potential intruders who want to avoid getting caught on film. Honestly, besides the price, there’s really no downside to having security cameras—they provide your home with an added layer of protection and your family with the feeling of security. When you’re deciding on a security plan, think through all the areas in and around your house that could benefit from a security camera. You might need only a few in high-traffic areas like the living room, kitchen, and front door.

If you want to learn more about the security cameras from these top-five brands or ones you can purchase separately, check out our list of the best home security cameras of 2017.

Frontpoint Wireless Outdoor Camera

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