July 12, 2017

Top 5 Best Home Security Systems: July 2017

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A good home security system should be affordable, reliable, and easy to use. Find the best home security companies to consider.

With startling burglary statistics, a home security system is a great protective measure to keep your home safe.

Often, just the sight of a security camera is enough to turn a burglar around. It can offer you greater peace of mind and make your home feel safer.

But with so many alarm companies, how do you choose the one right for you?

Best Security System for the Money: If price is your top concern, we like Protect America. Plans start at $19.99/month. You install the system yourself, you get a bunch of equipment upfront at no cost, and your monthly bill can be lower than you'd get with competitors.

Read on for our picks for the top home security systems.

What to Look for in a Home Security System

Before we get into our recommendations, here are some factors to consider when making your choice.

  • Price: Some security systems are cheaper than others, but they have less functionality. Some systems include the equipment for free, while some require you to purchase the equipment. Make sure you understand the costs so you have a realistic idea of what the upfront and monthly fees are.

    Tip: Think about just how much you stand to lose. If you don't have too many valuables and it's more a matter of personal violation, then maybe just the cheapest one will do the job. On the other hand, if you have a lot of jewelry, guns, and fancy electronics, consider getting an advanced system.

  • Monitoring connection: Monitoring by landline will be the cheapest, but thieves can cut the cord and leave you unprotected. Cellular and broadband monitoring will cost more but are safer. And you can be alerted right away if something happens.

    Did you know? A burglary occurs every 15 seconds. The average loss for homeowners is $2,230.

  • Flexibility: One major downside of home security is that you often have to sign a lengthy contract (as long as 3 years). If you're a commitment-phobe, look for a company with a shorter contract length, or even no contract at all.

    Note: Most home security companies give you a trial period. However, if you do not cancel before it ends, you can be faced with a large penalty. This can even be as much as the entire contract amount. And sometimes, if you have paid for the equipment, you'll be stuck owning it. So make sure you ask all the questions regarding cancellation.

  • Home automation: In our technology-obsessed era, many home security companies also offer complete home automation. This allows you to remotely manage your thermostat, lights, small appliances and locks through your smartphone. If that's important to you, look for a company that offers this feature.

Best Home Security Systems

With the above considerations in mind, here are our favorite home security systems.

Note: Information including pricing, features and terms were updated on July 12, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed. Pricing may vary depending on system configuration, equipment, and service.

Best Home Security System for Value: Protect America

Protect America

Starts at $19.99/month; no equipment fees:
Protect America has a low base plan starting at just $19.99/month, which comes with 3 door/window sensors, a motion detector, and the new Simon XT Control Panel. The highest tier is priced at $54.99/month and comes with cellular monitoring and home automation. All plans include free equipment, no installation fees (as it's a DIY system), and 24/7 monitoring.

However, note that the base plan only comes with landline monitoring. To get cellular monitoring, the price jumps to $41.99/month, which is on par with other companies. But then again, you do get free equipment with Protect America, so some people still find that the cost is lower overall. There is a 3-year contract and you only have a 14-day return period if you're not satisfied.

    Get Free Home Security Quote

    Get up to $1,400 in free equipment with Protect America, a CreditDonkey #1 recommended partner for the best home security system for the money. Includes 24/7 professional monitoring, easy setup in about an hour, and no installation fees.

Best Customer Satisfaction: Frontpoint

Frontpoint

Starts at $34.99/month; $99 for equipment:
Frontpoint has been a solid customer favorite due to its stellar customer service. Plans start at $34.99/month for basic protection and go up to $49.99/month for home automation services. All plans support 100% wireless and cellular monitoring with all-inclusive 24/7 professional monitoring (for burglary, fire, carbon monoxide, and water damage). The setup is DIY so there is no installation fee.

Frontpoint offers a 1-year and a 3-year contract. If you only want to try it out for 1 year, you must pay an upfront equipment cost of either at least $99 for the lowest tier, or $199 for the higher two tiers. With a 3-year contract, you will get a $300 equipment credit. Frontpoint offers a 30-day money-back guarantee (no questions asked) if you're not happy with the system.

Most Established Name in Home Security: ADT

ADT

Starts at $28.99/month; call for equipment:
ADT is the oldest and most popular name in home security. Plans start at $28.99/month for the most basic protection to $58.99/month for video monitoring and home automation. Note that the base plan only comes with 24/7 burglary monitoring by way of landline. Cellular monitoring is available at an additional cost. Fire/smoke, carbon monoxide, and flood monitoring equipment are also extra costs.

You only get the option of professional installation with ADT, which means that you'll have to pay for the labor that comes with that. There is a 3-year contract and a 6-month money-back guarantee, but only if there is an equipment or service problem that ADT can't solve.

Related: ADT Review

Best Home Security System Without Contract: SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe

Starts at $14.99/month; $229.96 for equipment:
SimpliSafe does things a little differently by having no contract whatsoever. You can cancel anytime without penalty. It also has one of the lowest monthly fees, starting at just $14.99/month. Even the highest tier plan is just $24.99/month and offers access to the mobile app and customizable alerts. All plans support 100%, all-inclusive cellular monitoring.

But the downside is that the system is very basic. There is no video monitoring feature and no home automation. You also have to pay an upfront equipment fee, starting at $229.96 for the 5-piece starter set. Or you can custom build your own per your needs. There is a 60-day money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the system.

Most Advanced Home Security System with Cameras: Vivint

Vivint

Starts at $39.99/month; call for equipment:
Vivint is one of the priciest home security services on the market, but it offers high-tech features that set it apart. Plans start at $39.99/month and go to $60.99/month. All plans include 24/7 wireless monitoring, remote access, and a state-of-the-art touchscreen panel. Optional features include various cameras and smart locks that allow for total smart home control.

Vivint also has one the longest contract terms, starting at 42 months. And their cancellation policy is restrictive. Vivint also requires professional installation, which means you'll have to pay an activation fee. Vivint will appeal to the technophiles who must have the latest gadgets. It's more expensive than other systems, but some may find it's worth it, as even their base plan includes more advanced features.

Related: Vivint Review

Home Security Systems with No Monthly Fees

If the idea of being locked into a contract and paying monthly is too intimidating, you can opt for a completely DIY system.

With these options, you purchase the camera and set it up in the areas you want monitored. The camera will pick up any sound or motion and send alerts to your smartphone right away. You can even watch what's going on through your phone and alert the cops. But note that with these, you'll have to be more hands-on and do all the monitoring on your own.

Here are some other options for security cameras WITHOUT monthly fees.

  • Blink: What's special about Blink cameras is that they have a long, 2-year battery life. They're cordless so they can be set up anywhere. It's also integrated with Amazon Echo, so you can arm and disarm your cameras with your voice. Blink offers both indoor and outdoor cameras. You can install up to 10 Blink cameras per system.

  • Arlo: Arlo cameras are also cordless, with battery life of up to 6 months. Arlo offers a variety of indoor and outdoor products to suit your needs. One special feature of Arlo cameras is their two-way audio feature. Through the Arlo app, you can hear what's happening and talk back through the built-in speaker. You can connect up to 5 cameras for free, and 15 with an upgrade.

  • Canary: Canary offers one of the most advanced indoor cameras. In addition to motion detecting and sending alerts, Canary cameras will also set off a 90dB siren to scare off thieves. You can also call the police right away from the app. Canary is an indoor-only camera. It is not wireless, so a robber could just pull the cord, but you'll be notified if that happens. Canary can also monitor your home for air quality and temperature.

Is a Home Security System Right for You?

Getting a home security system is a pretty big financial investment. Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating if you should invest in one.

  • Is anyone home during the day? About 60% of burglaries occur in broad daylight, when the inhabitants are at work and won't be home for hours. So if you live alone or in a household where everyone is away during the day, it's smart to think about some extra protection for your home.

  • Do you have valuables? Most burglars head straight for the master bedroom to search for valuables. They're most interested in: cash, jewelry, drugs, portable safes, and guns. If you have any of these in the house, it's a good idea to protect them. Also, if you drive a fancy car, you're advertising wealth and are more likely to be the target of a burglary.

  • What kind of area do you live in? It goes without saying that if you live in a high crime neighborhood where burglaries frequently occur, you will benefit with a home security system. But these kind of homes or areas are also often targets for smart burglars:

    • Low traffic areas: cul-de-sacs, places were houses are far apart, houses next to an alley, etc.
    • Neighborhoods with a lot of foreclosures: more empty homes around = attractive to burglars
    • New neighborhoods: burglars are counting on the fact that you're not friends with your neighbors yet
    • Affluent neighborhoods: they know you'll have nice things inside

  • Do you need disaster monitoring as well? Many home security systems also come with fire, smoke, flood, and carbon monoxide monitoring. These services can be invaluable if something was to happen, and can minimize your losses if experts can be notified quicker.

    Protect America

    Low Price Guarantee

    If you find a lower price for the same amount of wireless home security package, Protect America will match the price. See terms and conditions for details.

There Are Other Options Too

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Not sure if you're ready for a home security system? Here are other camera-free ideas to keep your home safe:

  • Install a high security lock. This should be the first line of defense for your home. Most burglars enter through a door, and they prefer to kick it down. Install a high security lock on your door entry points (this one was tested to be kick-in proof, pick-proof, and drill-proof).

    Tip: If you have doors with a glass panel, consider also installing a floor lock. That way, a burglar can't just break the glass, reach in, and unlock the door. Also get window locks for your first floor windows. A burglar most likely will move on if your house takes too long to break into.

  • Protect your home with smart gardening. First, regularly trim all your bushes and hedges (but not too short that someone can just easily climb over). Thieves love nothing more than hiding in overgrown bushes. You can also plant thorny bushes or vines that will send a thief running once he encounters their painful spikes. Some ideas are the firethorn bush (pyracantha), bougainvillea, and holly shrub.

  • Get lights on a timer. This way, even when you're not home, you can have the lights go on and off in different rooms to make it look like you're home. This is especially useful if you're away. Don't just leave the lights on all the time. If a burglar has been watching your home for days, this is a strong signal that no one is home. Also get outdoor lighting, which usually deters a burglar attempting a night robbery.

  • Get a dog (or pretend to have one). Burglars will usually leave if they see a dog, especially the big or yappy kind. If you don't actually have a dog, get a "beware of dog" sign. Or even set up a doghouse, toys, and water bowl in the yard to make it look as if you have one.

Common Questions

How do professionally monitored systems work?
When an alarm is triggered, it goes to the security company's communication center. A security expert will call you to let you know of the trigger. If it's not set off by you, they will dispatch the cops. If you don't answer, the cops will be dispatched as well. Usually, they will try calling your main number and backup number before calling the cops.

The problem with this is that this calling process takes quite a bit of time. So by the time the cops are sent over, the burglars could have already taken off with your stuff.

So is a home security system even worth it then?
Often, just seeing that your house has a security system is enough to deter thieves. Or the siren that goes off could send them running. 60% of burglars said that if they see an alarm system, they would target another house. So your house has less chance of being robbed if you have a security system.

Another plus: you can also get professional monitoring for disasters such as fire, carbon monoxide, and flood. The communication center will be alerted if any of these are sensed and send out firefighters.

What is usually included in a basic home security system?
A basic home security system should have:

  • Window and door sensors
  • Motion detector
  • Loud decibel siren

More advanced features may include: video surveillance, panic buttons, glass break sensors, and doorbell cameras.

What is the false alarm rate?
Unfortunately, the false alarm rate for security systems is high - as high as 95%. Small things can cause sensitive systems to go off. Your pet running around, a strong wind, and hanging decorations can all trigger a false alarm. If you don't turn it off or don't confirm with the security company that you're fine, the police will be dispatched and you could be penalized for wasting their time. The best thing is to do all you can to prevent false alarms.

What is the difference between landline, cellular, and broadband monitoring?
Each have their pros and cons:

  • Landlines: the cheapest kind, but risky because thieves can cut the cord, leaving you unprotected
  • Broadband: uses an Internet connection and is safer than using a landline
  • Cellular: uses cell towers and is comparable in price to broadband technology

What is home automation and is it worth it?
Home automation allows you to control your home remotely through your smartphone. Common features include:

  • Arm and disarm home security systems
  • Set your thermostat so the house is nice and cool (or warm) when you get home
  • Turn lights on and off
  • Turn off appliances to save energy
  • Smart locks that allow you to lock/unlock your door remotely
  • Doorbell camera so you can see who's at your door and talk to them as if you're home

Most home security companies offer home automation features at the highest tier. A lot of people like it to make their home safer or just to have a more efficient home. Many people report significant electricity savings, which can help offset the price of the system.

Will having home security reduce my insurance?
Usually yes. Your homeowner's insurance premium can be reduced up to 20% if you have a professionally monitored home security system.

How do those DIY security cameras work? What's the difference between them and professionally monitored ones?
If you're not sure whether you want a professionally monitored system, you can certainly buy your own cameras and monitor yourself. Usually, these cameras will detect unusual motion or sound and send you alerts. You will need to respond fast (in other words, if you're out hiking in the wilderness without reception, it won't do you any good). You can watch a live feed on your smartphone and call the police if you see a burglary taking place.

The difference is that with a professionally monitored system, the company's monitoring center will also receive alerts. They will dispatch the police if you're not answering your phone (so you're covered even if you're hiking in the woods).

However, there are pros and cons to each. If you catch a thief on your video and call the police, the police will almost always give higher priority to this kind of direct call. If the monitoring center calls the police, more time will have passed and the police may not prioritize this since they know the majority are false alarms.

Bottom Line

A home security system can offer everyone a greater piece of mind. Most burglars say that they will not enter the house if they see cameras or if a loud siren goes off. It'll greatly reduce your risk of being robbed.

When choosing the right home security system for you, think carefully about your needs. Are you okay with just the most basic equipment and monitoring? Or do you want total home automation? Do you need environmental disaster monitoring as well? Are you more comfortable with no contract? Do you live in an area that may require a higher level of security? How many valuables do you stand to lose?

See which systems have the features you need and do some comparison shopping. Make sure you understand all the upfront and monthly costs and the contract length.

    Protect America

    Free Equipment and No Installation Fees with 3 Year Monitoring Agreement

    Requires standard home security alarm monitoring agreement with approved credit

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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