March 15, 2016

LiveWatch Review: Cancel Anytime, So Why Not?

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LiveWatch offers home security at a low monthly fee. You can cancel anytime, so what's the catch? Read this in-depth review for the pros and cons.

LiveWatch

Overall Score

3.9

Discount

3.0

Home Security

5.0

Customer Service

3.5

Equipment

3.0

Mobile App

5.0

Packages

3.0

Cancellation

5.0

Installation

4.0

Yard Sign

3.0

Home Automation

4.5
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Plans start at $19.99/month
  • Cancel anytime
  • Easy installation
  • Equipment cost

Bottom Line

Excellent home security system for short-term needs

When you’re worried about keeping your home and loved ones safe, installing a home security system can help put your fears to rest.

Usually, in exchange for some peace of mind, you have to lock yourself into a three-year contract for an alarm system and monitoring services.

LiveWatch, a newer company on the market, is giving more established brands a run for their money by asking for just a one-year commitment. That’s one of the main reasons we found in our review of LiveWatch that it’s worth considering for your home security needs.

Read on to find out whether you agree.

10 REASONS TO CHOOSE LIVEWATCH

Before you put money into something, you want to know what you’re getting in return. Here are the top 10 benefits to choosing LiveWatch over other security systems.

  1. You’re not stuck with a long-term contract. One of the most troublesome parts about installing a home security system is having to sign a lengthy contract that will cost you a hefty fee to break it. LiveWatch limits the contract to one year and after that, your service continues on a month-to-month basis. You can cancel your service any time without a fee, and if you cancel within the first year, you can even get a full refund on any equipment purchases.

  2. Installation is easy. LiveWatch systems are self-installed but even first-time users should be able to get their alarm set up without any major snags. The system is pre-configured for you, so once it arrives at your door, you just have to unpack it, plug it in, and activate it.

  3. You can choose a plan that fits your budget. While some security companies charge a flat rate for their services, LiveWatch offers four plan tiers, starting at $19.95, so you’re not stuck paying for features you don’t need.

  4. Response times are quick. When your alarm triggers an alert with the central monitoring station, an agent is responsible for contacting you to see if there’s a true emergency. According to LiveWatch, the average response time is just 30 seconds, which means you won’t be wasting precious minutes waiting for help if something does happen.

  5. You can automate your entire home. Home automation is the next big thing, and LiveWatch offers security systems that incorporate Z-wave technology to modernize your home. This feature allows you to control things like your lights, door locks, and thermostat all from your mobile device.

  6. You can take your system with you. Unlike traditional hard-wired systems, LiveWatch security alarms don’t become a permanent fixture in your home. That means if you move you can just unplug it and set it up in your new home without disrupting your service or paying additional installation fees. This is especially useful for renters.

  7. You can change your plan to fit your needs. Another sticking point with other security companies is that once you choose a plan, you can’t change it until your contract’s up. With LiveWatch, you can upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time, so you’re only paying for services and equipment you want.

  8. You don’t need a landline to keep your home safe. LiveWatch systems operate using cellular technology — you won’t need a separate landline to keep it operational. The alarms are designed to use any cellular signal that’s available, so you don’t have to worry about there being gaps in your coverage based on where you live.

  9. You can use the system to contact more than just the authorities. While the primary purpose of an alarm is to alert the police or fire departments when there’s an emergency, LiveWatch lets you take things one step further. Using ASAPer technology, you can use your system to send out text, voice, and email alerts to anyone on your emergency contacts list so that they’re kept in the loop.

    What is ASAPer?
    ASAPer (As Soon As Possible Emergency Response) is LiveWatch’s original emergency messaging system, which contacts your emergency contacts for you in the event of an alarm. When an alarm goes off, the system immediately sends a link via voice calls, SMS, and/or email notifications to all your emergency contacts simultaneously.

    Clicking on the link automatically adds your contacts to a group chat room. You can then communicate as a group to find out what’s happening, and quickly determine if it was a threat or false alarm. If it’s a false alarm, you can click the ‘False’ button which will prompt for the emergency code to disarm the system, but if it’s a real threat, you can click on ‘Help’ to contact the authorities.

    LiveWatch claims that this method works much faster compared to traditional methods of having the monitoring companies contact your emergency contacts in sequence, taking up an average of five and a half minutes. ASAPer does it in 30 seconds.

  10. You get more than just burglary protection. Safeguarding your home against burglars may be your number one reason for installing an alarm system, but it’s not the only kind of security LiveWatch provides. You can also add fire and carbon monoxide monitoring to the list of threats you’re protected against.

3 REASONS TO TRY ANOTHER SECURITY SYSTEM

As great as all those benefits sound, LiveWatch isn’t going to be right for everyone. Here are three things that may sway you in favor of another home alarm system.

  • You’re not comfortable handling your own installation. One of the reasons LiveWatch is so much more affordable than other security systems is the fact that you’re not paying any expensive installation fees. The trade-off, however, is that you’re responsible for setting up the system on your own. If you’d rather have a professional do the heavy lifting for you, LiveWatch probably isn’t a good fit.

  • You need a lifetime guarantee on equipment. When you spend a lot of money on security equipment, you want to know that it’s going to last. While LiveWatch does offer a two-year limited warranty, a lifetime warranty is not automatic. If you order online, it’ll cost you an extra $49 to purchase a lifetime warranty. We spoke with a LiveWatch service representative who said that sales consultants may offer to discount or waive the fee when you order with them directly, but those decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

  • You don’t want to spend a lot upfront. LiveWatch does run specials on its equipment from time to time, but purchasing the initial system typically doesn’t come cheap. You can easily spend between $200 and $300 to get set up, whereas other security companies may offer equipment packages for less.

ADDING UP THE COST

© gerlos (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Aside from the equipment fees, you also have to consider the cost of the monthly monitoring service before signing up with LiveWatch. There are four different plans you can choose from:

  • Basic Monitoring – For $19.95 a month you can get the basic monitoring package, which gives you 24/7 protection in case your alarm is triggered. You also get ASAPer, which allows for faster communication with your emergency contacts.

  • Mobile Pro – If you’re willing to pay a little more, you can get the Mobile Pro plan for $29.95 a month. You get the same coverage that goes along with basic monitoring, as well as access to smartphone control over your system and crash and smash protection in case anyone tries to destroy your control panel.

  • Total Home – The Total Home plan runs $39.95 a month, but there’s a big step up in terms of what you get. This package includes home automation, LiveVoice Assist, which lets you use your control panel like a walkie talkie to communicate with the monitoring center, and location-based controls.

  • Total Home + Video – At $49.95 a month, this is the most expensive plan, but it really is the total package if you want complete home security. You’ll get all the same features as the Total Home plan along with a free security camera, so you can stream a live feed of your home whenever you want and even capture screen shots when the alarm is triggered.

Free shipping is included when you purchase your equipment but again, those equipment fees can quickly add up. Currently, LiveWatch is advertising equipment packages as low as $99 for homeowners with qualifying credit, and the estimated retail value of these packages ranges from $499 to $599. If you don’t have great credit, however, you could end up paying a lot more. There’s also a separate $19.95 activation fee you’ll have to pay before you can start using the alarm.

LIVEWATCH SECURITY APP

If you choose the Mobile Pro monitoring plan or higher, LiveWatch includes access to their mobile security app, which gives you the ability to control your systems wherever you are. The app is available for download on Android, Apple, and Windows devices.

You can use the app to activate or deactivate your system, turn appliances on and off if you’re using home automation services, and check your security camera feeds if you’re using video monitoring equipment.

LIVEWATCH EQUIPMENT

LiveWatch offers a variety of equipment to help you customize your system. Here’s the rundown on some of the most important components you’ll need.

  • Control panel – The control panel is the brain of your alarm system and you can choose between two versions. The Plug & Protect XT package includes a Simon XT alarm panel, which features a 24-hour backup battery and a 104db siren. The Plug & Protect IQ system includes a 7” Android touchscreen control panel that comes with a built-in camera and home automation support.

  • Motion sensors – Both the XT and IQ systems come with one wireless motion sensor, which features a 25X25 foot coverage area. Each additional sensor costs $78.

  • Door sensors – Both systems also include two door sensors, which have a 200-foot range. LiveWatch doesn’t offer separate window sensors, but additional door sensors can be purchased for $30 each to use as a substitute.

  • Security camera – LiveWatch offers five different security camera options, including two different outdoor camera models and indoor camera with night vision capabilities. Prices range from $199 to $349, depending on which one you choose.

  • Home automation – If you want to turn your house into a smart home, you’ve got a few different tools you can use to do it. These include an advanced Z-wave thermostat, wireless keypad door locks, Z-wave dimmer switches, and Z-wave wall receptacles. These items start at $57 and go up to $249 each.

  • Accessories – LiveWatch customers get a keychain remote, 2 yard signs, and 6 door stickers as part of their equipment package. Additional accessories can be purchased separately.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

LiveWatch offers several ways for you to get in touch when you have a question or an issue with your service. Live chat is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time. The same hours apply for the customer service hotline.

You get more access if you have monitoring service, with phone help available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

INSTALLATION

As we’ve mentioned, LiveWatch customers are responsible for installing their own alarm systems. When you purchase a system, a security consultant pre-programs the control panel according to the monitoring plan you choose, the number of sensors you’re using and any add-on products, such as cameras or timers.

Once you receive your equipment, all you have to do is plug in the control panel, place your sensors and contact LiveWatch to activate the unit over the phone. Installation can be completed in about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how many sensors you need to set up and whether you’re installing any additional equipment.

REVIEWS AND COMPLAINTS

We checked several consumer review websites to see what current and past users are saying about LiveWatch. For the most part, the reviews were largely positive although there were some unhappy customers in the mix. Most of the negative reviews seemed to center on LiveWatch’s limited warranty policy.

LiveWatch is a BBB accredited business (it’s listed under SafeMart, the company’s former name). There were 17 complaints closed against the company in the last 3 years, which isn’t a huge number considering that LiveWatch claims to serve more than 200,000 customers. Most of these complaints involved issues with the alarm system not working properly.

HOW IT COMPARES

LiveWatch is just one of many home security systems on the market and you shouldn’t make your move without taking a look at what else is available. To make it easier, we’ve compared it to two of the most popular security providers.

LiveWatch vs. ADT:

ADT is one of the best-known names in home security, and to their credit, they do offer a solid product. However, when you put it side-by-side with LiveWatch, there are some flaws that become apparent.

For instance, ADT requires a three-year contract versus the one-year agreement that LiveWatch imposes. ADT's monthly monitoring plans are also usually more expensive.

ADT does offer professional installation, which may be appealing to some homeowners, but it comes at a cost of $99. ADT balances that out, however, by offering a deal on equipment. For instance, we've seen ADT run promotions where new customers can get an $850 equipment package for free when they sign up for monitoring services through an authorized ADT dealer.

 LiveWatchADT
 Learn More
 

LiveWatch

ADT

 

Benefits and Features

Home SecurityPlans start from $19.95/month to $49.95/month. All plans include 24/7 monitoring.
$29.95 Mobile Pro Plan includes smartphone control.
$39.95 Total Home Plan includes home automation.
$49.95 Total Home+Video Plan supports video streaming.
Plans start from $28.99/month to $58.99/month. All plans include 24/7 monitoring for burglary.
$58.99 ADT Pulse Video Plan includes remote secure video and smartphone control.
Customer ServiceMonday through Friday from 7am to 9pm Central. Saturday from 8am to 5pm Central. 24/7 monitoring.24/7 customer support and monitoring.
Return Policy
45 days
6 months money back guarantee if there is a problem ADT cannot resolve
Warranty
Lifetime
After 90 days, there is a charge for servicing broken equipment. Or you can choose to pay a monthly fee for equipment warranty
Equipment
$99 for basic equipment
Basic equipment included
Mobile AppLiveWatch app (requires LiveWatch Interactive services) allows you to arm and disarm your home security system remotely, view sensor activities (up to 10 sensors), get notifications on system events and pending alarms, and view video from cameras (if applicable). App is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android.ADT Pulse app allows you to activate alarm, check sensors, watch live video feeds, control lights and appliances, adjust thermostats and view history of home activities. Available on App Store and Google Play.
Contract
Cancel anytime with no fee
3 year contract
Installation
Do It Yourself
Professional installation available.
Yard Sign
ADT-branded yard sign
Home Automation
ADT Pulse allows you to arm/disarm your house, control your lights and thermostats remotely.
Control Panel
ADT Pulse touchscreen control panel allows you to know alarm status, arm/disarm your alarm, control lights, check weather, and view live video from security cameras. Also allows you to quickly send an immediate alarm (medical, fire, or police).
Door Lock
ADT Pulse door locks allow you to remotely lock/unlock your door from any internet-connected device.
Door Sensor
Wired and wireless door sensors. Wireless door sensors can be installed yourself with no drilling or hardwiring necessary.
Glass Break Sensor
Detects if a pane of glass is shattered
Lowest Monthly Price
$29.95
$28.99
Motion Sensor
Outdoor Camera
Security Camera
Thermostat
Touch Screen
Water Flood Monitoring
Window Sensor
Z-Wave

LiveWatch: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 8, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

ADT: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 8, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

LiveWatch vs. FrontPoint:

In terms of the services and features that are included in monitoring plans, FrontPoint is similar to LiveWatch. For example, you can get crash and smash protection, location-based controls, home automation, and live video streaming. Instead of four plans, you have three to choose from, with monthly fees ranging from $34.99 to $49.99.

FrontPoint offers a three-year warranty on equipment, which is one year more than you get with LiveWatch. You also have a 30-day risk free trial period to try the system out before you commit, but if you decide to keep the FrontPoint system, you’re locked into a three-year contract (w/ equipment discount). Like LiveWatch, installation is DIY, which can save you some money up front. Another plus: There is no activation fee.

 LiveWatchFrontpoint
 Learn More
 

LiveWatch

Frontpoint

 

Benefits and Features

Home SecurityPlans start from $19.95/month to $49.95/month. All plans include 24/7 monitoring.
$29.95 Mobile Pro Plan includes smartphone control.
$39.95 Total Home Plan includes home automation.
$49.95 Total Home+Video Plan supports video streaming.
Plans start from $34.99/month to $49.99/month. All plans offer 100% wireless and cellular system with 24/7 professional monitoring. $49.99 Ultimate Plan supports video streaming, automated door locks, and advanced thermostat control.
Customer ServiceMonday through Friday from 7am to 9pm Central. Saturday from 8am to 5pm Central. 24/7 monitoring.Monday to Friday from 8am to 11pm Eastern. Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm Eastern. 24/7 Monitoring.
Return Policy
45 days
30 Days
Warranty
Lifetime
3 Years
Equipment
$99 for basic equipment
Minimum $99 for lowest tier/$199 for upper tier
Mobile AppLiveWatch app (requires LiveWatch Interactive services) allows you to arm and disarm your home security system remotely, view sensor activities (up to 10 sensors), get notifications on system events and pending alarms, and view video from cameras (if applicable). App is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android.
Alarm.com mobile app
Contract
Cancel anytime with no fee
1 year or 3 year contract
Installation
Do It Yourself
Do It Yourself
Yard Sign
Home Automation
Automate your lights, door locks, and thermostats using Z-Wave technology.
Control Panel
Standard control panel includes cellular technology. Optional touch screen control panel upgrade.
Door Lock
Supports Z-Wave door locks.
Door Sensor
Wireless door sensors. Recessed door sensors available. Garage door sensors available.
Glass Break Sensor
Lowest Monthly Price
$29.95
34.99
Motion Sensor
Pet-friendly wireless motion sensors.
Outdoor Camera
Wireless outdoor camera (requires power)
Security Camera
Indoor and outdoor wireless camera options available (requires power)
Thermostat
Supports many Z-Wave thermostats
Touch Screen
Water Flood Monitoring
Window Sensor
Wireless window sensors.
Z-Wave

LiveWatch: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 8, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Frontpoint: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 13, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

BOTTOM LINE: IS LIVEWATCH WORTH IT?

While LiveWatch isn’t the cheapest security system around, it’s a better bargain for renters compared to other services like ADT or FrontPoint. You do still have to sign a contract to get the service, but unlike other companies, you’re not going to have to cough up a penalty fee to break it if you decide to return the system.

In terms of the services and equipment, LiveWatch offers cutting-edge technology, and being able to pick and choose what you want of their toolbox is a plus. Just keep in mind that if you start piling on extras, the upfront cost of buying a system may exceed what other security companies charge.

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a home security comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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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Are Home Security Systems Worth It?


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