Best Home Security Systems: January 2017
Top Home Security Systems
Thinking of home security? Here are our top picks. Read our expert review to find out why they are the best in class.
In this article, we'll talk about what homeowners need to know when shopping for home security systems. Then we'll compare top home alarm systems so you can protect your home with the right system.
What to Look for in Home Security Systems
Home security systems come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. With so many to choose from, how do you know which one is best? Here are key areas to pay attention to when weighing your options.
With home security systems, you get what you pay for. For minimal protection, a simple alarm setup could cost you just a hundred dollars upfront if you’re willing to do the monitoring yourself, from your smartphone. A complete home security system with cameras, sensors and around-the-clock monitoring will require a monthly investment and possibly a multi-year contract.
Tip: If your biggest consideration is price, consider a provider like Protect America, our top choice alarm system for value. 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.
Protect America: Get Free Home Security Quote
Get up to $1,400 in free equipment, 24/7 professional monitoring, easy setup in about an hour, and no installation fees.
How does the alarm company you’re considering stand up to the competition? Scope out customer reviews online to determine if they deliver on their promises. You can also check with your local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been many—or any—complaints filed. Be sure to ask friends and neighbors about their experience too; word of mouth goes a long way to getting a sense of how a company operates after you’ve become a customer.
Tip: Want the best alarm system for the money? Read our FrontPoint review to see why their customer service is outstanding.
Installation: Professional vs. DIY
Some home security providers offer wireless do-it-yourself systems. You’ll save money since you won’t need a professional to get your system up and running.
But if this is a bit out of your league, don’t fret. Companies are still willing to come and install your system, but it’s probably going to cost you.
Tip: If you want professional installation, a company like ADT or Vivint will send a technician to your house to install your system. Otherwise, many consumers now opt for the do-it-yourself route, which is usually wireless and requires no drilling.
Most home security systems include 24/7 monitoring that notifies law enforcement at the first sign of an emergency, even if you’re unavailable. However, it’s up to you to choose the type of connection. Your options are:
Whether you’re home or away, video surveillance ensures no activity in your home goes unnoticed. This means you can find out if the cat has knocked your plant off the table—or if a bad guy is the culprit. And the babysitter will have to come clean if suspicious behavior is caught on tape. As for the burglar, his alibi won’t stand a chance in court.
Did you know: You could skip the cost of live security cameras and install fake ones. The appearance of a surveillance system, even if it’s just a camera showing a red dot instead of a light—can be enough of a deterrent for burglars.
Modern alarm systems allow you to arm/disarm, receive alerts, and even control lights, small appliances, and locks remotely from your Internet-connected device. No matter where you are, you’ll have control and a connection to your home.
Look over the details: This is one aspect where lots of fancy marketing words can be confusing, so you may not be sure what your actual system capabilities will be. If a home security system will be a big priority for you, make sure you understand what you’re getting and how much control you’ll actually have.
If you’re always on the go, home automation may be ideal. This technology allows you to schedule and remotely manage your thermostat, lights, small appliances and locks.
Pay attention: This is a fairly new aspect for security companies and one way they can set themselves apart from each other. So figure out what you want to be able to control when you’re away on a trip and see which companies most closely align with what you want.
Contract / Terms and Conditions
It’s easy to get sucked into the idea of not having to pay for equipment. The catch may come with the terms and conditions, though, if you end up with a binding home security contract. Most companies tie you down into a 3 year contract, while SimpliSafe requires no contract at all and lets you cancel anytime.
Plan to stay in your house for three years and have the dough to spend? Then maybe it’s not an issue.
Tip for renters: Look for a wireless system. That way you can move it with you. If you decide to go with a hardwire system instead, check with your landlord to see if it's OK.
Watch Out for Scams
Beware of fraudsters who travel from door-to-door posing as sales representatives. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), common signs of a security system scam include:
If faced with any of these scenarios, shut the door and immediately notify the security provider. Otherwise, you may unknowingly agree to more than you initially bargained for.
Deciding on a new home security system becomes a balancing act between the things you want and what you can afford. What are your priorities and nice-to-haves? And what are the things you don’t want anything to do with (like multi-year contracts)? Can you handle a DIY installation or would you rather leave it to the pros? Are you determined to have round-the-clock monitoring (the costliest option) or could you make do with ways that deter would-be burglars?
You don’t want to spend more on your new system than the amount of money and possessions you may possibly lose during a burglary. Do some comparison shopping—we recommend comparing at least three providers side by side—and it’ll become clear which one deserves the right to watch over your home.
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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