A Comparison of 5 Top Home Security Control Panels

The control panel or hub is the brain of a security system. Since you'll be using these devices a lot, you want to find one that works for what you want—whether that's a simple keypad or something with a that you can review video from.

Each alarm panel or hub on list our falls into three categories: touchscreen panel, separate keypad and base station, and mobile app-controlled device (that may or may not have a keypad).

Notepad
What's an alarm panel?

An alarm panel controls practically every aspect of your security system:

  • Arms and disarms the system
  • Sounds a siren and informs monitoring center when an alarm goes off
  • Shows system status, adjusts system settings, and adds new security devices


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1. Vivint Smart Hub

The Vivint Smart Hub panel's seven-inch color LCD touchscreen display serves as an interface for Vivint’s security system features. This smart home control panel aggregates data from every sensor and homeowner habits to offer tips on how to use the system more effectively.

Safety features

  • Offers one-button alarm activation.
  • Streams live HD video from Vivint video cameras and doorbell camera. Provides recorded video clips via a DVR application.
  • Allows for direct two-way communication with alarm monitoring professionals via built-in microphone and speaker.

System security features

  • Communicates via cellular technology—more reliable than landline or Wi-Fi connections.
  • Updates the system automatically so you always have the latest features.
  • Allows you to add up to 50 user codes.
  • Has a battery backup that lasts at least 24 hours.

Home automation features

  • Offers direct control of door locks, window and door sensors, motion detectors, connected power outlets, and smart thermostat.
  • Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Z-Wave smart home platforms.

Other features

  • Capacitive touchscreen responds to a light finger touch, instead of applied pressure.

2. Frontpoint Keypad and Hub

Frontpoint uses a combination of a keypad and hub, similar to what you find on SimpliSafe. But unlike SimpliSafe's keypad, Frontpoint's lacks a screen. If you're willing to pay extra, Frontpoint also sells a touchscreen panel, but it isn't the default option like it is on brands like Vivint and ADT.

Safety features

  • Arms and disarms the system with the touch of a button.
  • Includes 104.5-decibel siren.

System security features

  • Includes a 24-hour battery backup.
  • Offers simultaneous cellular and Wi-Fi connection for redundancy backup and improved speed.
  • Is compatible with Crash and Smash protection, which enables the system to send an alarm signal even if it has been damaged.
  • Allows you to program unique user codes.

Home automation features

  • Supports up to 80 individual sensors, including smoke and heat, carbon monoxide, and water and flood sensors.
  • Works with home automation devices using Z-Wave, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.

Other features

  • Easily mounts on a wall or rests on a table.

3. SimpliSafe Keypad

SimpliSafe security keypad

The SimpliSafe Keypad works in tandem with a base station (similar to Frontpoint) to control any combination of security sensors, smart locks, and security cameras. SimpliSafe sells components a la carte or in starter kits—all starter kits include a keypad and base station.

Safety features

  • Keypad has a hidden panic button.
  • Base station includes a 95-decibel alarm.

System security features

  • Cellular and internet connections let you communicate with the monitoring center even if one loses connection.
  • Base station has 24-hour battery backup for when the power is cut.
  • System contacts monitoring center if someone smashes the keypad.

Home automation features

  • Base station controls up to 100 sensors—plenty for all but the biggest of homes.
  • System works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and August smart locks.

Other features

  • Keypad easily mounts on your wall.
  • Light-up keypad display is easy to see at night and turns off when not in use.
  • Keypad display doubles as directional button for selecting settings from the menu.
  • Base station uses voice prompts for easy setup.

4. ADT Command®

ADT Command Panel

The ADT Command interactive touchscreen panel has a seven-inch color HD screen to manage your ADT-monitored home alarm system. This ADT control panel like a tablet, so you can use it on the go anywhere in the house.

Safety features

  • Panel camera with Apple Watch video streaming.
  • Phone notifications, like disarm snapshots that can be sent to phone.
  • Video package that accommodates 8 cameras and 6,000 clips.
  • Monitoring available for carbon monoxide, fires, and floods.

System security features

  • Bluetooth disarming when user is close to keypad.
  • Remote door locking/unlocking for visitors.
  • Encrypted alarm sensors for added security and increased wireless range.

Home automation features

  • Automation for smart home devices like lights, thermostats, cameras, and deadbolts.
  • Security system status updates for all home entry points.
  • Built-in Amazon Alexa voice controls and support for Google Assistant smart home platform.

Other features

  • Two-way voice over cell.
  • Built-in how-to videos.
  • Crash and smash protection.

5. Blue by ADT Smart Home Hub

Blue by ADT Smart Home Hub

The Blue by ADT Smart Home Hub is similar to SimpliSafe's base station in design. But instead of using a separate keypad, it places it on top of the base station. The keypad is one of the simplest on this list (no screen) since Blue by ADT allows you to control system with a mobile app and no subscription.

Safety features

  • Includes a built-in siren.
  • Offers a one-touch panic setting to send an immediate signal to the monitoring center for police, fire, and medical emergencies.

System security features

  • Communicates with the central monitoring station by cellular signal.
  • Run off AC power and has a rechargeable 24-hour backup battery.

Home automation features

  • Uses Wi-Fi to connect to the Blue by ADT mobile app (no subscription required to self-monitor system).
  • Integrates with system components such as cameras, door and window sensors, and doorbell.
  • Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Z-Wave smart home devices.

Other features

  • Rests on a shelf or tabletop—there's no wall-mount option.

Final word

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a home security system. Having a home security panel that is user-friendly and meets your needs and lifestyle is among the most important. For homeowners who have many entry points to manage and enjoy bells and whistles, the HD touchscreen tablet panels from Vivint and ADT would fit the bill.

If you live through your smartphone, Frontpoint and Blue by ADT might be best. And for those who don’t like or need potentially complicated interfaces, the straightforward LCD screen and rubber keypad security panel from SimpliSafe is ideal.

Now that you know more about the popular control panels on the market, research the best home security systems and find the system that’s right for you.


Compare the best home security systems

Top pickReader favoriteWhole-property pickPro monitoring pickNo-contract DIY pick
Brand
Vivint
Vivint
SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe
Frontpoint
Frontpoint
ADT
ADT
Blue by ADT
Blue by ADT
Lowest monitoring price
Starter equipment price$599.00$229.00$99.00$0.00$199.15
Contract required
Icon Yes  LightNo *
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon No  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightNo
InstallationProDIYDIYProDIY
Smart home compatibilityIcon Tooltip  DarkAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Amazon, GoogleAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Amazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Amazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Learn more
Read review

Info current as of 05/03/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*$0 due up-front with consumer financing.
†No-contract options available with outright equipment purchase.
‡Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer)
**With $99 installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies. See full disclaimer for full offer details, terms, and conditions.​

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help people find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She continues to report on local news as a volunteer with the community paper. For the last six years, she’s led a Girl Scout troop, teaching girls about safety and preparing for whatever life throws their way.

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