Best Home Alarm Systems of 2016 – A Close Look At The Top Companies
Your home is your personal sanctuary. It’s where you go to escape and find peace in a world full of madness. For this reason, it’s imperative that you create an environment that is safe for the sake of you and your family. A burglary is something that can greatly inhibit the amount of comfort you feel in your home. It is one of the most traumatizing violations you can experience, both emotionally and physically.
While it’s true that you can recover some physical things after a home invasion, it’s not so easy picking up the pieces emotionally, after you’ve been violated in such a manner. Implementing a home security system can give you and your family just the peace of mind you need to feel safe in your home. Not to mention that homes with security systems are 300% less likely to be broken into. But it can be a little intimidating getting started. Not to worry because we’ve got you covered.
Not all security systems are created equal. We’ve created the ultimate homebuyer’s guide to take all of the complicated guesswork out of purchasing a home security system. We will be covering the myriad of systems out there – from DIY home security, professionally installed to affordable and automated. We will break down the types of equipment you need, as well as other things to consider that most homeowners overlook when working with a company, such as warranties, activation fees, and contracts.
Secure Penguin's Choices For The Best Alarm Systems of 2016
- Frontpoint Security - Best DIY system on the market.
- Protect America - Most affordable home security system.
- ADT - Best system for professional installation.
- Vivint - Best home automation system.
Frontpoint Security - Best DIY Security System
If you’re on a budget, or simply like doing do-it-yourself projects, then you may want to install your own alarm system. We’ve taken the liberty of researching the best company for DIY home security system and FrontPoint Security came out the clear winner. Frontpoint has been ranked as the number one home security system for years now.
Touch Screen Control Panel - Unprecedented control and customization are just a touch away. This 7" touch-screen panel gives you power and simplicity at your fingertips with touch arming/disarming, simple settings management, automatic updates and more. The best part about the control panel is the crash and smash protection. Even if a burglar tries to destroy your control panel, Frontpoint Security will still receive alert signals, even if it's damaged.
Advanced Environmental Protection - Frontpoint Security is one of the few security systems on the market that goes beyond just carbon monoxide and fire detection. In addition to detecting flooding in your home, this system can also detect if there's a break in your natural-gas line.
Portable System - Because you’re installing everything yourself, if you decide to move, you can easily transfer the system with you, which ultimately means more convenience for you in the long run.
Advanced Home Automation Features - With the Ultimate Plan from Frontpoint Security, they offer many great home automation features such as automatic lighting controls, live video streaming, motion-activated video recording, automated door locks, and energy management controls.
No Professional Installation - Some people may still consider this a positive. But Frontpoint doesn’t provide any professional installation whatsoever. While it is less costly, some people prefer the comfort of having a technician install it.
Protect America - Most Affordable Home Security System
We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy being in a safe environment, regardless of what they can afford. Believe it or not, but you can get a high quality alarm system at an affordable rate. After doing a ton of research, we have found that Protect America leads the charge in alarm system affordability.
No Hidden Fees: A lot of what turns of consumers off from purchasing home security is the extra fees that they need to pay, in addition to purchasing the alarm itself. Protect America is completely upfront about all costs and fees. In fact, you do not need to pay for installation, or activation. They offer simple price plans that are completely no-nonsense.
Price Lock Guarantee: The last ting you want to be concerned about as a consumer is a price increase. Protect America offers a guaranteed price lock. They also have very affordable monitoring rates, starting at just $19.99 per month. Their lock in rates are unbeatable and in place for life.
Lifetime Warranty: Protect America is one of the few systems that offer a lifetime warranty on their product, including free re-installation and equipment. Of course, you should make sure you read your contract carefully, as there are very specific rules for eligibility.
A No-Risk Trial: If you want to try out the alarm system before committing, Protect America is generous enough to offer exactly that. There’s a 14-day free trial for their customers, before you are locked in to committing to their three-year contract. Just know that the 14-day trial starts at time of shipping, and not when you actually receive the alarm.
Basic Features: One of the downsides of Protect America is that their technology is a little dated. They offer a basic control panel and limited home automation. Also some customers have expressed concern over their smart home app.
ADT Security - Best Professional Installation
If you can afford it, professional installation is definitely the way to go. Without question, ADT is the number one system for professional installation in North America. They have over 100 years experience, with over 6 million customers worldwide. A fun fact: ADT invented the very first telegraph-based alert system. With such a rich history, it’s no wonder we’ve chosen ADT as our top choice for professional installation.
Same Day Installation: One of the reasons that homeowners choose the DIY route is for convenience. No one wants to sit around waiting for hours or days for the installation technician to show up. With ADT, you can pay for your service, and have an installer at your home same day.
Wireless and Voice Technology: ADT offers all of newest technological features including wireless and voice technology. This equipment easily synchs with other features and can also be easily upgraded. Their modern technology includes watching live video, controlling appliances and lights, temperature adjustment, activating alarms and more.
Trusted Reputation: At the end of the day, a reputation is all a company has. People love ADT because it’s a name that’s recognizable. They also have lightening fast response time, including connecting the homeowner with emergency response team within two minutes of the monitor center being contacted. ADT is reliable, professional and values their customers.
Many Monitoring Options: ADT has customizable plans including choosing your monitor system. They have two options landline ($36.99/mo.) and cellular ($48.00/mo.), or ADT Pulse ($55.22/mo.) Their monitoring systems should absolutely be your go to, as they don’t rely on clunky cables and wires, which an experienced burglar can easily uninstall.
Must Commit to Contract: ADT doesn’t have many downsides, but one that may cause pause is the mandatory contract that is required upon purchase. All ADT users are required to sign a 36-month contract. It allows them to charge such a low rate for installation and equipment. Now before you guys write off ADT, you should know that signed contracts are industry standard for home security systems that install professionally.
Must Pay Installation Fees: All professionally installed alarm systems require you to pay for installation and activation. But some people who aren’t familiar with home security may not realize this. ADT charges $99 to $199 for activation.
Vivint - Best Home Automation System
One of the best things about a high tech alarm system is the home automation features. Vivint is one company that has really separated itself from the pack. While they may be pricier than some other systems, all of the features that you get with their system make it well worth the investment.
Easy to Use: One reason that customers shy away from home-automated features is that they don’t want to deal with a lot of fuss. Many users have reviewed that the Vivint system is very easy to use. And should you need any help with their system, their customer service reps are extremely knowledgeable and can easily walk you through any issues that you may have.
Lifetime Warranty: When you’re spending a pretty penny on home security, you also want the security of knowing your equipment will be covered, should anything happen down the line. Vivint offers a lifetime warranty on all of their equipment.
Many Home Automation Features: Vivint offers many home automation features including remote control access over lights, thermostats and door locks. Best of all, you don’t have to tear your house down to achieve a high tech modern security system. Vivint does not employ the use of drilling holes into your walls. So your home is kept safe and in tact.
Monitor From the Palm of Your Hand: Homeowners can monitor their home activities all from the palm of their hand via a smartphone app. Vivint is excellent about communicating through a variety of channels about security issues around the home. You will receive an email, text and notification through your smart phone app that there has been a security breach with the system.
Doorbell Camera With Voice: The Vivint system comes with a unique doorbell camera that allows you to view visitors from your smartphone device. There’s also two-way voice communication so you can communicate with the person at the front door, and the central monitoring station.
It’s Costly: There’s no getting around the fact that if you want the best in high tech home security, then you are going to have to pay a pretty penny. Their installation costs are expensive, as are their monthly monitoring service.
Aggressive With Sales: They’ve been known to be aggressive with their sales approach. Some people have remarked that salespeople have even shown up at their doorstep uninvited.
How Did We Rank The Best Home Security Systems?
We did not arrive at these rankings lightly. The selection of a home security system is extremely important, so we approached this task with the seriousness that it deserved.
To begin, we explored all major home security companies and their reputation. This began with a review of BBB records and then morphed into a careful analysis of customer reviews. Such reviews were located both online and via customer testimonials. It was important to hear what actual customers had to say about the home security system they had chosen for their property. The companies that you read about here are highly regarded by both the Better Business Bureau and current customers.
Quality of Security Equipment
Realizing that not every home security system offers the type of equipment today’s property owner requires, we also conducted a careful analysis of what was available for each system. The quality and workmanship of the equipment was also examined to determine longevity. Little is more frustrating than installing a home security system this year only to discover that it is obsolete and lacking in functionality the next. The systems recommended by us have been found to have superior equipment that you can count on to last.
Pricing and Packages Offered
Price is always a consideration, so that formed a basis for these recommendations as well. While we understand that you do get what you pay for, that does not mean that you deserve to be gauged by a company offering an inferior product. We looked at an assortment of packages offered by home security companies today and compared them to one another. This played a part in our decision to recommend these four companies.
Finally, we looked at the responsiveness of the alarm monitoring centers for each system examined for this report. As a property owner, you want to know that the company standing behind your chosen home security system is actually paying attention to your home. When a break in happens, you want the assurance that the monitoring center is going to check it out in a reasonable amount of time. Failing this, you might as well stick with the dog in the backyard method of protecting your home. Again, the systems that you read about in this recommendation come with a monitoring system that has been proven responsive.
What You Should Look for in a Home Security System
There are many different types of home security systems on the market. All vary in price, and the amount of features that they contain. Regardless of the type of system you install, there are certain important things that you just shouldn’t skimp on. Here are some must have features that your home security system should provide.
1. Affordability – At the end of the day, what you can purchase really boils down to how much you can afford. Don’t’ be fooled into thinking that you can’t get a great system if you’re on a budget. Obviously, if you want things that are super high tech and can afford it, then go for it. But if you can’t afford all of the fixings, shop around for the system that will fit within your budget. You may be surprised how much you can get for a little amount.
2. Strong Company Reputation – At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what type of awesome discount you are getting. If a company’s reputation is poor, then you shouldn’t do business with them. Always research any professional company that you plan on purchasing from. Don’t be swayed by crazy discounts. The safety of you and your family is so much more important than saving a few extra bucks.
3. Wireless Equipment – Wireless security equipment is a great feature for any home security alarm system. Some people think that if it’s wireless, it will be very expensive. But many wireless systems are not only affordable, but much easier to install than wired systems. Best of all, they are safer. And should an emergency power outage occur, you’ll be covered. Most alarm systems come with a backup rechargeable battery, which will take over where the wireless operating system has left off.
4. Cellular Connection – The beauty of a cellular alarm system is that you don’t need the Internet or a landline phone, in order for this type of alarm system to work. Additional non-cellular systems are much more susceptible to being compromised. Because cell-based alarm systems are controlled via cell phone towers, it’s nearly impossible for intruders to beat them.
5. Modern Technology – While some systems have refused to move with the times, others make great use of modern technology. These features can really enhance your security system and give you an even greater peace of mind. Look for the availability of home automation, mobile applications, remote arming and disarming capability, and more.
6. Customizable Equipment Options – There should never be a one-size fits all approach to alarm systems. What may work for one household will not work for another household, or business. So when shopping for alarm systems, be sure to check that you can customize certain features depending on your needs. If the company you are thinking of buying from doesn’t offer customizable features, then you should consider looking elsewhere.
7. Professional Monitoring 24/7 - Many who are on a budget may be tempted to skimp this very important feature. Just know if you do decide to go with do-it-yourself (DIY) monitoring, you won’t have the comfort of knowing someone is watching your home 24/7. Whether you are at home, or on vacation, a reputable company is always within reach, should a home burglary occur.
Overview of Home Security Equipment You May Need
When many people think about the primary reason for a home security system, the need for intruder protection is the typical response. This is certainly a primary use for such a system, but it is not the only one. Modern home security equipment can also be useful for environmental protection purposes, as well as for the conduction of surveillance operations.
Let us touch for a moment on the need for intrusion protection.
Door Sensors - Home security systems should begin with an effective door sensor. If an intruder breaches a locked door, your home security system should immediately notify you.
Glass Break Sensor - The same goes for a sensor placed on all glass windows located throughout the property. This is a primary point of entry, so your system should be activated when any window is broken, no matter what the reason might be.
Motion Sensors - If an intruder were to somehow get into the property without being noticed, a motion sensor can also prove invaluable at detecting movement anywhere within the home or office.
Smoke and Fire Detectors
Smoke and fire detectors are equipment that you should have installed in your home, regardless if you have an alarm system or not. This is a vital piece of equipment that can save your life, in the event of a fire. If you have these detectors installed, when they are activated, an alert is sent to the monitoring system and the fire department is immediately dispatched. But don’t worry. The monitoring system always verifies that it’s a real fire first, just in-case these sensors are accidentally set off.
While protection from intrusion should be the main focal point of any system, you should also consider environmental protection as an add-on feature. This option includes sensors that go off, in the event of environmental hazards such as floods, water leaks, freezing temperatures and carbon monoxide.
An emerging use for modern home security equipment is found in surveillance operations. This entails employers monitoring for employee theft, parents watching over their nannies, and vacationers checking in on their property while enjoying the sun and surf of Hawaii.
Whatever reasons you might have, modern equipment does allow for a variety of surveillance related activities. This includes the use of a wireless indoor camera, wireless outdoor camera, and a tilt and pan camera. This provides a complete 360-degree picture of your property at all times, accessible from nearly anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection. Digital storage is also possible.
More Things to Consider Before Choosing a Home Alarm Company
By this point, you should have a good idea about which home security system you are leaning towards. But there are some other key things that we’d like for you to keep in mind when choosing the right alarm system for you. Some things you may have already discovered through research. But others you may be surprised to learn about with regards to choosing a home alarm system.
Lower Insurance Premiums
Did you know that you can actually get a discount on your home insurance, if you install an alarm system? According to our research, installing a home security can decrease your insurance by up to 20 percent. This is a cost that is rolled into your mortgage. So we definitely encourage you to check in with your insurance company to ensure that those adjustments are added, as soon as you install your system.
Oftentimes, people think all they do is purchase an alarm system and that’s the end. But usually there are other costs involved that the homebuyer isn’t necessarily made aware of upfront. When shopping around for alarm systems, ask if there is a contract, and for how long the contract is for. Usually they are about 24 months or longer. You also need to know how much money you’ll have to pay if you break that contract. Some alarm systems charge hundreds of dollars for breaking the contract, so it’s imperative that you know that information upfront.
If you have had your alarm system professionally installed, and you decide to move, the company you have used may charge you a relocation fee. A company like Vivint has a policy that they will move your system for free, if you commit to signing another 42-month contract. If you opt out of the contract, you’ll be charged $100 for the moving fee. Each company has their own policy, so research thoroughly before committing.
DIY or Professional Installation
The last thing you need to consider is whether or not you’d like to install your home security yourself or have it professionally installed. As we’ve covered in earlier chapters, you’ll see that each options offers it’s own pros and cons. The main things to keep in mind is that while DIY is significantly cheaper, you may not get all of the features that you desire. We recommend making a list of all of your must have items, and your budget, and narrowing down your list accordingly.
A home invasion is very scary, and people often wonder was there anything they could have done to prevent it. While you don’t want to ever live your life in fear, there is nothing wrong with being proactive. Your best line of defense with regards to home invasions is a high quality alarm system.
There is a home security system to suit every unique need and budget. All it takes is a little bit of research on your end. Staying and alert and taking preventative measures is your biggest weapon, with regards to protecting yourself against home invasion. So look into purchasing the best home safety alarm for you and your family today. Your peace of mind thanks you.